A sociolinguistic study of communication processes in a court of law in Gaborone, Botswana
The overarching discipline of the study is the sociolinguistics of law in which the analytical methods of discourse, genre and narrative analysis are brought together in the enterprise of describing language in its social context. The issues addressed in this study relate to communication processes in a court of law in Gaborone, Botswana. These have been identified as issues relating to the various stages of the trial process that some writers have labelled sub-genres of the courtroom genre and some have simply labelled discourses. The process typical to the Botswana courtroom are the administrative processes of Mentions Reading of Charge Sheets and Readings of Facts and the substantive processes of Direct and Cross Examinations, Submissions and Judgements. The study also includes the description of the bilingual nature of the Botswana courtroom including code switching and courtroom interpreting. The views and awareness of the legal practitioners - police prosecutors and lawyers - on and of the uses of language in the courtroom were sought and tested by a short questionnaire. These are cross-referred with observations and recordings of the court's proceedings with the aim of revealing the nature of bilingualism in this court. Many studies have described and critique different aspects of the trial such as courtroom questioning and jury summations, but few have attempted to describe the trial as a whole as this study has done. This broad focus has enabled the perception of the trial as a site for interlocking discourses, which together bring about the outcomes of trials. It has found out, for example, that while some processes are, ordinarily, unacceptably coercive of witness, like cross examinations, some are empowering, for instance, direct examinations. In which witnesses are allowed longer turns at talk where they give narrative accounts. The data comprises forty hour of recordings transcribed into texts comprising several examples of each of the stages of the trial.