Fit to provoke fear? Uptakes and textual travels of threatening communications in legal genres

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.18869

Keywords:

Threatening communications, Legal genres, Uptake, Textual travels, Language evidence, Genre chain

Abstract

This article examines what happens when two disparate types of genres collide, here the heterogeneous and illicit genre of threatening communications on the one hand and the fixed and institutional legal genres of legislation, indictments and verdicts on the other. By following the different uptakes (Freadman 1994, 2002) – including the specific types of textual travels (Heffer, Rock and Conley 2013) – of threatening communications into judgments from 50 Danish threat cases, the author both considers how this central piece of language evidence is relayed to the courts and how the overall genre of threats is taken up by the Danish legal system. The findings show that some of the instability of the genre of threats rub off onto the indictments, specifically in their task of relaying the linguistic evidence of oral threats as accurately and transparently as possible. The study concludes that each genre in the legal genre set (Devitt 1991) plays a distinctive role in managing the collision between the heterogeneity of threats and the stringency of the legal system.

Author Biography

Marie Bojsen-Møller, University of Copenhagen

Marie Bojsen-Møller holds a PhD degree in genre and linguistics from the University of Copenhagen. Her research interests include threatening communications, textual travels within the law and everyday writing genres. She has been a visiting researcher at Cardiff University and Aston University, and she has presented at different forensic linguistic conferences on threatening communications, and has published research on threatening communications and Danish grammar. As part of the research project ‘Understanding threats: Language and genre’, she has developed a framework for ‘illicit genres’, which are genres that are societally proscribed.

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Published

2022-09-14

How to Cite

Bojsen-Møller, M. (2022). Fit to provoke fear? Uptakes and textual travels of threatening communications in legal genres. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 29(1), 1–36. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.18869

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