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Revista signos

versión On-line ISSN 0718-0934


LOPEZ SAMANIEGO, Anna. Professional documents for a non-expert audience: The use of mechanisms of reference in the March 11 court sentence. Rev. signos [online]. 2010, vol.43, n.72, pp.99-123. ISSN 0718-0934.

The aim of this paper is to analyze one of the court sentences that has had a great impact on Spanish History: the sentence on the case of the terrorist attacks of March 11, 2004, in Madrid. The linguistic interest of this sentence is that its author was especially aware that the text would be widely disseminated not only in the legal field but also in the mass media. Our hypothesis is that due to this exceptional context, the M11 court sentence is an example of a real attempt to write a legal text comprehensible to a non-expert audience. Our study of this court sentence focuses on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of a linguistic aspect that clearly shows the effort made by the judge pronouncing the sentence to ensure clarity: the use of anaphoric demonstrative expressions ('this', 'this phenomenon'...). The analysis of this mechanism of reference in the M11 court sentence is contrasted with the same mechanism in six other sentences passed by the same court, the Audiencia Nacional (The High Court). The findings shed light on how Professional Discourse Analysis could contribute to the modernization of Spanish judicial discourse.

Palabras clave : Legal sentences; readability; professional discourse-optimization; demonstrative pronouns; anaphoric nouns.

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