Detection of Deceptive Speech Acts in Chinese Courtroom Trials

  •  Zhanghong Xu    
  •  Xin Tian    


Confronted with a trial, litigants tend to focus on disputed facts, and when their interests are threatened they may resort to deceptive statements in order to obtain a judgment in their favor. Making deceptive statements in the court, referred to in this paper as deceptive speech acts (henceforth, DSA), will affect court’s judgment, waste judicial resources and harm social justice. Therefore, detection of deceptive speech acts (henceforth, DDSA) is of considerable forensic interests in improving efficiency of courtroom trials and enforcing the authority of legal system. Based on seven authentic cases of Chinese courtroom trials, this study attempts to find out reliable linguistic deception indicators in Chinese courtroom context and establish a model of DDSA. As one of efficient cues to deception, linguistic manipulation enables liars to take deception strategies (i.e., concealment, falsification and distortion). Drawing on the notion of linguistic manipulation, a coding scheme is established, which shows that deception strategies are principally realized by six linguistic indicators (vagueness, generality, intensifiers, formulaic expressions, references to the other, and minimizing markers). Linguistic analyses are made to present how DDSA is achieved in each extract. This research sheds light on data-based studies on DDSA, and offers implications for other judicial practices, like police interrogations, and prosecutor’s questioning.

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