School of Foreign Languages, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China
To ascertain the truth is the main goal of a criminal trial. In criminal trials, narration plays a very important role, for evidence chains are constructed when the prosecution side and the defense side represent the fact of the case and evidence usually by way of verbal narration. However, in this process, the prosecution party and the defense party may produce different versions of narrative or even confrontation due to their different purposes and positions. Based on the construal theory, this paper is intended to explore the narrative confrontation between the prosecution party and the defense party in the investigation discourse of the trial of Lao Rongzhi’s alleged intentional murder case from four aspects: scope and background, perspective, salience, and specificity. What’s more, with the assistance of KH Coder software, the co-occurrence of words between the prosecution party and the defense party in the narrative at the trial investigation stage is also analyzed in order to objectively visualize the differences in salience and specificity between the two parties in the narrative. It is found that there is evident confrontation between the prosecution party and the defense party and different images of the defendant are constructed in their narratives in court trial process. The prosecution party mainly activates the conceptual domain of “murder demon”, makes the intentional murder of Lao Rongzhi become salient from an objective construal perspective, and uses highly specific representation of details to describe the case process, constructing the image of Lao Rongzhi as a “murder demon”. The defense party mainly activates the conceptual domain of “victim”, highlights the inadequacy of the prosecution party’s evidence from a subjective construal perspective, and uses details of lesser specificity to obscure the course of the case, creating an image of Lao Rongzhi as a victim. The analysis of courtroom discourse from a cognitive perspective not only helps people understand the construction of courtroom narratives in a scientific way to give full play to the function of the courtroom, but also helps to promote the substantive process of China’s courtroom trial so that the claims of the prosecution party and the defense party can be fully displayed to contribute to the judge’s scientific and just judgment.
construal theory; courtroom discourse; narrative confrontations
Wang Jie. A Study of Narrative Confrontation between the Prosecution Party and the Defense Party in Criminal Trial Discourse Based on Construal Theory. The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology (2023) Vol. 5, Issue 16: 56-63. https://doi.org/10.25236/FSST.2023.051610.
 Phelan, J., & Rabinowitz, P. J. (Eds.). (2008). A companion to narrative theory. John Wiley & Sons, 415.
 Chris Heffer. (2010). “Constructing crime stories in court”, in Malcolm Coulthard & Alison Johnson (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Forensic Linguistics, Routledge, 199.
 Wang Y.(2011). Cognitive Linguistics. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
 Evans, V., & Green, M. (2006). Cognitive Linguistics: An introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
 Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of Cognitive Grammar (Vol.1): Theoretical Prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
 Langacker, R. W. (1991). Foundations of Cognitive Grammar (Vol.2): Descriptive Application. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
 Langacker, R. W.(1999). Losing Control: Grammaticalization, Subjectification, and Transparency. In A. Black & P. Koch (eds.), Historical Semantics and Cognition. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 147-175.
 Wang, Y. (2008). The Explanatory Power of Cognitive Linguistics “Experiential Conceptualisation” on Translation Subjectivity and Objectivity: A Study Based on 40 English Translations of the Ancient Poem "Night Poetry on the Maple Bridge". Foreign Language Teaching and Research (03), 211-217+241.
 Wang, Y. (2021). Embodied Translation. Beijing: Peking University Press.
 Wang, Y. (2006). Introduction to Cognitive Grammar. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
 Zhang, S. J. (2014). The application of corpus in critical discourse analysis. Journal of Zhengzhou University (Philosophy and Social Science Edition). 47(03):130-133.
 Hubscher-Davidson, S. (2017). Translation and emotion: A psychological perspective. London: Routledge.
 Liu, D. (2017). Situational scene as a stylistic variable and the structure of viewpoint guidance in scene description discourse. Contemporary Rhetoric. No. 204(06):1-22.
 Liang, Y. (2011). Focusing on courtroom narratives: The triadic system of litigation proof: on the limits of the adjudicator’s freedom of mind. Journal of Chinese and foreign law. 23(06):1260-1275.
 Chen, B. (2019). The way to realise the legal doctrine of civil trial substantiation. Tianfu Xinlun, No. 208(04):115-123.