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Linguistic Aspects of Pro Se Litigation (Pro se language use)
Start date: Aug 1, 2013, End date: Jul 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The proposal concentrates on linguistic difficulties faced by lay people who represent themselves in court without a lawyer (pro se litigants). The proposed research analyses pro se litigants’ linguistic choices during the most challenging stages of a trial (i.e. opening and closing speeches and witness examination). The research project will concentrate on the following problematic areas for pro se litigants: questioning strategies (types of questions used, function of questions used), power relations and witness resistance, turn-taking management, interaction between pro se litigants and witnesses, interaction between pro se litigants and legal professionals, politeness strategies, use of discourse markers, rhetorical devices, forms of address. The main outcomes will be two handbooks: (1) a handbook for lay people on linguistic features typical of courtroom discourse and features they need to incorporate in order to present their case effectively; (2) a handbook for judges and legal professionals with explanation of linguistic problems lay people are likely to experience and advice on what can be done to help them.The research project combines the following quantitative and qualitative research methods: corpus linguistics, conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, semantic-pragmatic approach.The proposal includes training directly connected with the research topic: use of quantitative methods, corpus linguistics, courtroom discourse, police investigative interviews and witness resistance. It also invloves training that will help the researcher build on her existing experience as a court certified interpreter and a forensic linguist expert in authorship analysis. The fellowship will help the researcher establish herself as an expert on linguistic aspects of pro se litigation and help her reinforce her expertise in authorship analysis, forensic text analysis, trainer of police forces and future interpreters.

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