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Interpersonality in Legal Genres


Ruth Breeze, Maurizio Gotti and Carmen Sancho Guinda

Few concepts in Discourse Studies are so versatile and intricate and have been so frequently contested as interpersonality. This construct offers ample terrain for new research, since it can be viewed using a range of diverse theoretical frameworks, employing a variety of analytical tools and social perspectives.
Studies on the relationship between writer/reader and speaker/audience in the legal field are still scarce, dispersed, and limited to a narrow range of genres and a restricted notion of interpersonality, since they are most often confined to modality and the Gricean cooperative principles.
This volume is meant to help bridge this gap. Its chapters show the realisation and distribution of interpersonal features in specific legal genres. The aim is to achieve an expansion of the concept of interpersonality, which besides modality, Grice’s maxims and other traditionally interpersonal features, might comprise or relate to ideational and textual issues like narrative disclosure, typography, rhetorical variation, or Plain English, among others.
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Interpersonal and Interactional Markers in Legal Research Articles


1. Introduction

The present chapter investigates interpersonal resources in legal research articles (RAs) focusing specifically on interrogative formulations, that is, those strategies that more openly than others presuppose and reveal a recognizable dialogical framework between the writer and the readers by appealing to them and rhetorically expecting a response on their part. The role and the function of questions in legal RAs are highly strategic. As a matter of fact, legal research − being primarily devoted to the discussion of legal principles and their application (or applicability) to practical cases − is very much a discourse-based phenomenon rather than an evidence-based one, and argumentation needs to be compelling in order to compensate for the lack of undisputable, quantifiable, and objective data with which to persuade the reader. For this reason, scholarly discourse about legal matters has often been claimed to benefit considerably from a detached and depersonalized treatment of the content, so as to rhetorically minimize the role of the writer in presenting claims and downtone the risk of bias (hence the preference for impersonal or passive constructions, cf. Hiltunen 1990). However, many authors of such texts are also professionals of the Court and expert users of forensic discourse, which is eminently interactional in that it linguistically presupposes a responding (if silent) audience whose possible doubts and objections need to be anticipated and neutralized (Pascual 2002, 2006; Gibbons 2003; Anesa 2012). Interrogative formulations are very effective resources to achieve this purpose, thus making claims more easily acceptable and...

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