False statements in a bankruptcy case

Roger W. Shuy

in The Language of Perjury Cases

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199795383
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919314 | DOI:
False statements in a bankruptcy case

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In this chapter I describe a bankruptcy case in which a businessman was charged with perjury, based on both on his written statement of affairs submitted when he filed for bankruptcy and the hearing that followed. Linguistic analysis showed that his application form 6B was unclear and sometimes ambiguous in the information that it expected the defendant to supply, in violation of the cooperative principle. In the follow-up oral hearing, the defendant’s explanations about his entries on this form were considered deceptive evidence of his perjury. One of the businessman’s many difficulties was the lack of mutual understanding of references to “income,” “salary,” and “assets.” By examining the businessman’s use of these lexical items throughout the process, it is shown that this matter was one of misunderstanding rather than intentional deception.

Keywords: false statements; ambiguity; lexicon; cooperative principle; deception; intention

Chapter.  3665 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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