Formalising clarification speech acts for discourse analysis of a corpus of court interpreting

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Formalising clarification speech acts for discourse analysis of a corpus of court interpreting

 

Author: Cheung, Lai Fan Jennifer
Title: Formalising clarification speech acts for discourse analysis of a corpus of court interpreting
Degree: DALS
Year: 2015
Subject: Law -- Language.
Conduct of court proceedings -- Language.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xv, 283 pages : illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2859542
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/8266
Abstract: This thesis examines the speech act of clarification in a transcript of interpreter-mediated proceedings of the High Court of Hong Kong by employing a formal ontology under which the speech acts and reasons for clarification are defined in higher-order logic. It has two aims. First, it defines and creates a method for measuring clarification acts. Second, it documents patterns of clarification among participants in a corpus of authentic speech, including under what circumstances clarifications occur. Previous studies on interpreter's intervention focused mostly on the rendition level using comparative analysis, failing to consider the utterances by other participants and responses the interpreters have before and after the rendition concerned. A more objective understanding of interpreter{174}s intervention can be achieved by observing the clarification dialogues as a whole. This research has two components: methodology and application. The methodology for clarification research has not previously been rigorously defined in discourse analysis. It has been hard to compare findings from different researchers coming from different languages, cultures and legal systems. Clarification by the interpreter is equivocal while some studies regard it as an integral part of interpreters' coordination effort; others see it as a kind of intervention, which should, therefore, be avoided at all costs. This thesis shows the application of a new framework for discourse analysis by treating clarification as a meta-speech act, which manifests itself as a repair mechanism in conversations. Clarification dialogues are broken down into observable and measurable linguistic units in component speech acts and repair turns. The subjectivity of human analysis could be minimized. Findings from this thesis may apply to the Anglo-Cantonese interpreter-mediated courtroom with co-participants speaking English as a second language, apart from the interpreter. The judge asks most clarifications and is rarely called to answer any clarification requests because of his institutional role and power. Self-initiated clarification is prevalent for the questioning lawyers as they have the control of the dialogue. The court interpreter appears to ask more clarifications in Cantonese, which is rendered into English as the official language of record. However, this gap of clarification in language direction appears to be functional. These findings can be used as a reference for further empirical verification across languages and jurisdictions, leading to more generalised and scientific claims.

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