Criminal Discourse and Gender Differences: A Forensic Approach
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The present study is concerned with the analysis of males’ and females’ criminal discourse. It is intended to determine whether male and female criminals are different with respect to the use of hedging, negation and evaluative adjectives. It uses Tannen’s (1990) Cultural Approach and takes into account Lakoff’s (1975) stereotypes regarding males’ and female’ linguistic differences. In order to gather the data, extracts from the Reality TV series Prison Diaries (2011), featuring first-person interviews, and Inside Death Row with Trevor McDonald (2013), featuring interviews conducted by the British newsreader and journalist Trevor McDonald, are randomly selected. In all, six hundred and twenty-four utterances in English are examined using Mixed Methods Research. The study, in fact, combines between quantitative and qualitative methods. It uses a descriptive statistical method to elicit statistical data, then, adopts a forensic approach along Critical Discourse Analysis for the interpretation and explanation of the results. The results obtained show significant differences between male and female criminals on the use of hedging, negation and evaluative adjectives. Although the findings do confirm that male and female criminals speak differently, they are neither in total conformity with the claims put by Lakoff (1975) nor with those postulated by Tannen (1990) at least with respect to the use of hedging, negation and evaluative adjectives within the corpus inspected in this research. The conclusion to be drawn from these finding is that the discourse of female criminals is a kind of rebellion against gender stereotypes. Females assert themselves in society and no more assume the victim role assigned to them within decades of sociolinguistic study on language and gender differences. This neither provides support for the Dominance Approach nor for the Difference Approach with regards to the study of language and gender differences. Males’ and females’ language differences are rather influenced by the context of language use.
- Département d'Anglais