Text Commenting in Mediatized Legal Discourse: Evaluating Reader Understanding of (International) Criminal Law Michael S. Boyd, Università Roma Tre Isabel Walbaum Robinson, Università Roma Tre Abstract This paper is based on the assumption that the often complex and impenetrable nature of legal discourse can lead to misunderstandings by non-experts. Such misunderstandings are further complicated when a foreign legal system is involved. The empirical data in the study are drawn from a ca. 400,000-word corpus of the comments written in response to a number of articles in The Guardian online about a criminal case that took place in Italy (2007-2011). The quantitative and qualitative corpus-assisted analysis aims to determine commenters’ legal lexical foci as well as to uncover instances of misuse and misrepresentation of legal concepts and the Italian criminal procedure. These misunderstandings are closely tied to the nature of on-line communication, on the one hand, and Gudykunst’s underlying concept (1995) of intercultural communication (ICC) such as Anxiety and Uncertainty Management along with ethnocentric assumptions Neuliep (2012) about what is considered optimal and what is considered inadequate legal procedure. We argue that the high frequency of certain legal terms in the comment corpus, such as, for example, the words evidence and guilty, is indicative of both a strong emotional reaction by commenters and, often, a disregard for commenters’ system-based meanings which can diverge quite considerably from source-system meanings. Keywords: law English; text commenting; mediatized discourse; comparative legal procedure.
Boyd, M., & Walbaum Robinson, I.A. (2015). Text Commenting in Mediatised Legal Discourse: Evaluating Reader Understanding of (International) Criminal Law. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LAW, LANGUAGE & DISCOURSE, Volume 5.1(2015), 1-37.