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Conley and O'Barr show how the ...
Conley and O'Barr show how the microdynamics of the legal process and the largest questions of justice can be fruitfully explored through the field of linguistics. Each chapter covers a language-based approach to a different area of the law, from the cross-examinations of victims and witnesses to the inequities of divorce mediation. Combining analysis of common legal events with a broad range of scholarship on language and law, Just Words seeks the reality of power in the everyday practice and application of the law. As the only study of its type, the book is the definitive treatment of the topic that will be welcomed by students and specialists alike.
Just Words: Law, Language, and Power, by Conley and O'Barr, is a self-conscious exercise in translation. Troubled by both the impenetrability of most sociolinguistic research and its inattentiveness to matters beyond the logic and organization of discourse itself, Conley and O'Barr have written a book that maps the connection between what they call microdiscourse (or, talk) in legal settings and structural and cultural patterns of inequality. They do this in a language that is transparent and teacherly. Indeed, the entire organization of the book is intended (or so it would appear) to introduce to a relatively uninformed audience the basic conceptual and analytic tools of socio-linguistic research and its usefulness for understanding the persistence of inequality in the law.
Posted February 4, 2010
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