Original Articles

Some observations on answers to courtroom questions

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 19, issue 4, 1999 , pages: 237–244
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.1999.10587402
Author(s): RosemaryH. MoeketsiDepartment of African Languages, South Africa


This article is the third in a sequel of papers that investigate African Languages in Forensic Linguistics. The primary concern here is the linguistic involvement of the courtroom discourse participant who should provide almost all the answers in a criminal trial. He is usually male, less eloquent, less legally equipped, less powerful and, thus, less confident in his participation in the trial. Most of the time, this participant is Black, uneducated and poor, and can, thus, neither conduct his legal defense satisfactorily, nor can he afford a lawyer to defend him. He is normally overwhelmed by the intimidating judicial setting. This article describes how these factors affect the answers he provides to the court and then ends by assessing the content of the ultimate evidence as produced by this participant.

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