CDA-Thesis by Heba Aboul-Enein (Egypt)

Teun A. van Dijk teun at HUM.UVA.NL
Mon Feb 14 13:22:44 UTC 2000

Heba Aboul-Henein (Egypt) sent me the following abstract of her thesis, in which
I thought you might be interested. In her letter to me she also mentioned that
there is much interest in CDA in Egypt, and several students are completing
their PhD theses in this area.


>                                ABSTRACT
>   Aboul-Enein, Heba. Discourse Analysis of Legal Discourses with Reference
> to Dickens, Cozzens, Kafka, Lee and Melville. Doctor of Philosophy, Women's
> College, Ain Shams University, Egypt, 1999.
>   Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a theory that examines and analyzes
> power asymmetry in discourse. It depicts instances of injustices in social
> interaction, and aims at raising people's consciousness of them. Hence, it
> is a democratic approach to language.
>   The thesis applies this theory to legal discourse, in an effort to shed
> light on the linguistic forms that create an unequal balance of relations
> between professionals and non-professionals in English, Egyptian and French
> legal discourses. For this particular purpose, English, French, and Arabic
> legal texts, statutes, contracts, and trials are examined from the semantic,
> syntactic, and pragmatic points of view, following a CDA framework.
> Moreover, the thesis undertakes to prove that legal literary trials are
> equal to real ones, following Fowler's approach to literature as social
> discourse. Thus, English and Arabic legal literary trials are also analyzed.
>    The thesis is divided into four chapters. The first chapter offers a
> general background of the theory of critical discourse analysis and
> definition of terms in this theory. Moreover, it briefs on the concept of
> law and legal theories from both historical and social perspectives. The
> second chapter examines different semantic issues like the use of synonymy,
> antonymy, and hyponymy in  English and Arabic real and literary discourses.
> The chapter also presents analyses of metaphors, similes and other figures
> of speech in Arabic  and English legal discourses. The third chapter offers
> an examination of different  processes in the three languages,  mental,
> material, verbal, etc. and underlines  the use of passivization and
> nominalization in these legal discourses. In addition, it studies the use of
> modals, imperatives, and subordination in the three languages.  Chapter four
> projects the use of or the violation of the CP and the PP in English and
> Egyptian courts and projects different examples on turn-taking from both
> courts.  Finally, different speech acts in English and Egyptian discourses
> are examined and the promulgation formula is studied with reference to the
> Egyptian, French, Canadian, Russian Albanian, and Bosnian Statutes.
>   The results reveal that the legal discourses of these languages are
> greatly similar in their contents of laws, being tools of social
> (in)justice and control. Moreover, the linguistic means to accomplish such
> social goals, whether  semantic, syntactic or pragmatic, are    analogous.
> In addition, the literary works under study show the commitment of many
> writers to follow real legal linguistic forms in their works, hence, there
> is no literary discourse per se; rather it is a true representation of
> reality.
>     The thesis offers different recommendations to alleviate power
> asymmetry in legal encounters, and to raise people's consciousness  of their
> laws. Of these suggestions are the following.   Laws should be taught in
> different universities to inform students of the legal principles and
> procedures of their countries. Legal programs  should also be projected on
> TV.  Such programs can guide people to act   properly in awkward situations,
> therefore, they learn their laws and  avoid destroying their careers with
> unlawful acts.

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