Judicial discourse in Cantonese courtrooms in postcolonial Hong Kong: the judge as a godfather, scholar, educator and scolding parent

Authors

  • Janny H.C. Leung The University of Hong Kong

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v19i2.239

Keywords:

courtroom discourse, legal language, legal bilingualism, judicial behaviour, postcolonialism, Hong Kong

Abstract

This paper presents how legal bilingualism, especially the use of the local language in postcolonial Hong Kong courtrooms, impacts upon judicial behaviour. Through analysing recent cases where local judges seem to be wearing many new hats, I will explore the dynamic relationship between language code and judicial practice, and argue that the use of their first language has unveiled the human side and the often non-legal ideologies of these judges, which were previously masked by a judicial formalism that the use of the ex-coloniser’s language has cultivated. The cases show that the judges perform monolingual style shift and bilingual code switch as a response to their audience and referees. I will attempt to explain their verbal behaviour and describe the slow transformation of legal culture in Hong Kong as a result of its recent move towards legal bilingualism.

Author Biography

Janny H.C. Leung, The University of Hong Kong

Janny Leung is Assistant Professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (1st hons) in linguistics and translation from the University of Hong Kong, an MPhil and PhD in psycholinguistics from the University of Cambridge, and an LLB from University of London. Her research interests cover interdisciplinary areas in law, linguistics and psychology, especially legal discourse and legal multilingualism.

Published

2012-12-30

How to Cite

Leung, J. H. (2012). Judicial discourse in Cantonese courtrooms in postcolonial Hong Kong: the judge as a godfather, scholar, educator and scolding parent. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 19(2), 239–261. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v19i2.239

Issue

Section

Articles