A DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF THE LANGUAGE OF INTERROGATION IN POLICE/CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS IN THE KANO METROPOLIS

A DISCOURSE ANALYSIS OF THE LANGUAGE OF INTERROGATION IN POLICE/CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS IN THE KANO METROPOLIS

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ABSTRACT

This study is an attempt to examine the language of the police personnel in the Kano metropolis. The work intends to focus specifically on the language of interrogation which is a technique in police force communication. The study was aimed at, among other things, describing the structure and organization of the content of police/accused discourse and observing the communication strategies and motivation of the participants in negotiating the interaction. Three Police Divisions were selected for the collection of data; these Divisions are Fagge, Normansland and Nassarawa. Tape recordings of Police interactions with accused persons were made; personal observation of Police interactions was also undertaken. The data were analyzed using the eclectic model of Grice’s (1975) cooperative principles; Sinclair and Coulthard’s (1975) discourse analytic framework and Bruton’s (1981) work. The model is an all inclusive descriptive framework for the analysis of connected text. The data analysis focuses on the examination of the structure of interaction between the Investigating Police Officer and the accused person during interrogations and explicates the multidimensional functions of language, that is, whether it is a question, statement or command based on their grammatical structure and location in discourse. The study reveals that the prototypical patterns of discourse acts in Police criminal investigations are the question/answer sequences, which are indeed common to much institutional discourse, and that questioning forms are used to control the flow of discourse in Police/accused interrogation. Further to this, it was observed that one big factor that makes police personnel successful in their crime investigation is the asymmetrical relationship that exists between the Investigating Police Officer and the suspect. During interrogation, the IPO, occupies a higher position than the accused person. It is the IPO that initiate the talk, control the turns and also has the right to ask questions from the suspects. The research reveals that police/accused discourse is highly organized with predictable structures. The structural harmony achieved in the discourse is premised upon the linguistic ‘acts’ employed by the IPO during the interrogation of accused persons, since it is on all these act forms that the success of the interrogation lies.

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CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.0     Introduction

This chapter introduces a discourse analysis of an institutional

interaction, that is, the language of interrogation in police/criminal

investigations. Its major preoccupation is providing an insight into the

structure and organization of police/accused interaction

Language is a means of communicating thoughts and social control.

It is a means of individual self-expression, which makes it possible for

individuals to live in a society. Language has been described by various

scholars as the core of the communication process and is the pivot around

which man’s social, political, economic and environmental endeavours

revolve (Barber, 1967; Langacker, 1967; Ibileye, 1993; etc). Attempts have

been made to define language by various scholars. Such attempts include

that of Chomsky (1986:16) who conceives language as “the totality of

utterances that can be made in a speech community”. In the view of Cruse

(1990:140), “it is a system of conventional signs, all aspects of whose

structure serve the sovereign function of meaning”.

Language is a system of communication. It is what communication

hinges on. That means communication cannot take place without the use


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