Courtroom Discourse in China

Meizhen Liao

in The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199572120
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Courtroom Discourse in China

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  • Linguistics
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Language Families



This article examines courtroom discourse in China in terms of its three components: the contextual, the interactional, and the propositional. After briefly introducing the Chinese legal culture and system, it considers courtroom questioning and interaction patterns as well as a courtroom judgment. For the analysis of the interactional component, the article uses the transcription of a criminal trial involving a charge of destruction of private property. The data for the analysis of the propositional component is a judgment from a lower court in Shanghai. Courtroom discourse in the article means criminal courtroom discourse, rather than courtroom discourse in general. Fa and Li are two core concepts in traditional Chinese legal culture, and represent the debate between the doctrines of Legalism and Confucianism. The article also introduces some of the key points about judicial proceedings in China, along with courtroom judgment (sentencing).

Keywords: China; courtroom discourse; legal culture; judicial proceedings; courtroom judgment; sentencing; Legalism; Confucianism; criminal trial; courtroom questioning

Article.  5483 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Forensic Linguistics ; Language Families

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