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The Common Law in Two VoicesLanguage, Law, and the Postcolonial Dilemma in Hong Kong$
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Kwai Hang Ng

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804761642

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804761642.001.0001

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English Courtrooms in Hong Kong

English Courtrooms in Hong Kong

The Haven of Formalism

(p.79) Chapter 4 English Courtrooms in Hong Kong
The Common Law in Two Voices
Stanford University Press

This chapter presents a detailed ethnographic account of juridical formalism in the English language courtrooms of Hong Kong. It describes the myriad of linguistic possibilities in English and Cantonese courtrooms by analyzing how different interactional structures are enacted there. It argues that English and Cantonese courtrooms invoke two visibly different interaction structures for legal processes. In contrast to the highly structured and semantically focused interactions characteristic of English trials, courtroom interactions in Cantonese trials exhibit a more opaque, playful style that borrows features from everyday conversation.

Keywords:   semantics, everyday conversation, interactional structures, juridical formalism, Cantonese courtrooms, English courtrooms

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