Trial proceeding transcripts represent a rapidly expanding area of research within legal communication. The use of audio, video and digital recordings have been accepted at various points of time as official records for trial proceedings. However, despite continual development in sophisticated technology, able to provide truthful and more reliable documentation of what happens in the courtroom, the issue regarding the use of technological support in courts still remains highly controversial. Nevertheless, a court reporter still has the task of producing a written version from the tape recording, especially if a judicial decision has been appealed against. As a consequence, “the written record continues to reign supreme” (Tiersma 1999: 179). Court reporters create verbatim transcripts of the trials, thus playing a critical role in Common Law courts where the spoken word must be preserved in the form of a written record. The latter will become in turn an “authoritative written text” (Tiersma 1999: 177). According to Gibbons (2003: 33) “(t)he decontextualization of written transcripts is most noticeable in the limited representation of non-verbal information”: paralinguistic features such as gestures, deeds and actions performed in the court are seldom reported. Throughout history and right up to present times, the written record has rarely been a real word-for-word transcription of “what was communicated in the primary context” (Gibbons 2003: 30), thus raising issues of accuracy and readability. In this paper trial proceedings transcripts will be considered as a genre in their own right. The objective is to investigate whether and to what extent the court reporters’ parenthetical comments such as “no audible answer” or “witness turns to jury”, representing non-verbal information otherwise observable only in the courtroom, can be considered not only as a possible bridge or link between primary and secondary reality, or as the two layers of action within courtroom discourse. More importantly, reporters’ parenthetical comments will be considered as powerful genre-specific recontextualization cues. In fact, the several changes underlying the transformation from speech to written records, such as those resulting from planning, editing, standardization and decontextualization, necessarily involve the non-speech elements that arose during a trial and which constitute the reporter’s comments in brackets.
|Titolo:||Trial proceeding transcripts as genre: decontextualization and recontextualization|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2014|
|Tipologia:||2.1 Contributo in volume (Capitolo o Saggio)|
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