Forensic-Linguistic Analysis of Grammatical Modality Features in Kenya Supreme Court judgements

  • Elijah Chege Ndumia Chuka University
  • Humphrey Kirimi Ireri Chuka University
Keywords: Forensic Linguistics, Legal discourse, Modality, Supreme court judgements, obligation, volition, authority

Abstract

Many modality studies have focused on political, media and classroom discourse. Studies based on legal discourse are limited. This study undertook a Forensic-linguistic analysis of Kenya Supreme Court judgements with a view to explore the grammatical modality features used. Guided by Systemic Functional Linguistics, different aspects of grammatical modality were investigated. These include deontic, dynamic and epistemic modality features. The study established that the deontic modal categories were used in the judgements to articulate the prescriptive nature of legal discourse. Modal verbs such as shall, must, should, ought to, need to, have to and had better were used in the judgements to articulate obligation, permission, or authority related to various legal obligations. Secondly, dynamic modal features were used to express ability and willingness concerning different legal requirements. The dynamic modals can, could and will were used in the Supreme Court judgements to signify ability, volition, intention and willingness. The epistemic modal categories in the court judgements helped to articulate different degrees of belief and conviction concerning legal issues. The epistemic modal verbs, adjectives, adverbs and nouns were used to articulate the speakers’ confidence or lack of confidence concerning different propositions related to the legal process

Published
2022-08-24
How to Cite
Chege Ndumia, E., & Kirimi Ireri, H. (2022). Forensic-Linguistic Analysis of Grammatical Modality Features in Kenya Supreme Court judgements. PAC University Journal of Arts and Social Sciences, 4(1), 31-49. Retrieved from http://pacujass.pacuniversity.ac.ke/index.php/PACUJASS/article/view/65