Dr Chris Heffer
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 70276
Location: John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff
Forensic linguistics, legal-lay communication, narrative, discourse analysis, language and culture, corpus linguistics, linguistic ideologies.
2007. ‘Judgement in court: Evaluating participants in courtroom discourse.’ [136Kb] In Kredens, K. and S. Gozdz-Roszkowski (eds.) Language and the Law: International Outlooks. Lodz Studies in Language series, vol. 16. Frankfurt am Mein: Peter Lang GmbH. 145-179. ISBN 978-3-631-57447-8.
2007. ‘The language of conviction and the convictions of certainty: Is sure an impossible standard of proof?’ International Commentary on Evidence 5(1) Art.5. ISSN: 1554-4567. Available at: Bepress: The Berkeley Electronic Press website.
2006. ‘Beyond ‘reasonable doubt’: The criminal standard of proof instruction as communicative act’. The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law 13(2). 159-88. ISSN 1748-8885.
2005. The Language of Jury Trial: A Corpus-aided Analysis of Legal-Lay Discourse. Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 13: 978-1-4039-4247-0; ISBN 10: 1-4039-4247-1.
2002. ‘If you were standing in Marks and Spencers: Narrative and comprehension in the English summing-up’. In J. Cotterill (ed) Language in the Legal Process. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 228-45.
2000. ‘Bridging the gap between dictionary and text: Towards a communicatively effective bilingual dictionary.’ In Heffer, C. & Sauntson, H. (eds.) (2000) Words in Context. Birmingham: ELR Discourse Analysis Monograph No. 18.
I have conducted the first large-scale linguistic study of English and Welsh trial by jury, based on a large representative corpus of courtroom transcripts. This is discussed in my book, The Language of Jury Trial (Palgrave 2005), which sets out a theory of ‘legal-lay discourse’ to account for the hybrid language that emerges when legal professionals attempt to communicate with lay people. In recent papers, I have explored the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard of proof in criminal trials and questioned what it means when we say we are ‘sure’ of something, issues which are central not only to the workings of jury trial but to forensic linguistics as a whole. My research is focused on language use but draws on insights from a wide variety of disciplines including linguistics, law, psychology, anthropology, sociology and communication science, and I combine corpus linguistic methods with discourse analysis and ethnography.
I was brought up in Guildford (Surrey) and moved to Auckland (NZ) when I was 12. I went to university at the age of 16 and completed a BA in English and Philosophy at Victoria University in Wellington. After spending a late gap year travelling through South-East Asia and living and working in the south of France, I moved to Italy and found a position at the University of Venice, where I taught English linguistics for many years. I also pursued parallel careers in translation, editing, publishing and voiceover artistry, as well as working for a humanitarian organisation in Croatia and Bosnia during the Balkans war in the early 1990s. While in Italy, I completed an MA in Applied Linguistics and, on returning to England, I undertook a PhD in Forensic Linguistics at the University of Birmingham. I worked at Nottingham Trent University for four years before coming to Cardiff in 2005.
I teach modules at all levels in the Centre for Language and Communication Research, including Introduction to Language (Year 1), Culture, Language and Communication (Year 2), Forensic Linguistics (Year 3) and MA Forensic Linguistics 1 & 2.
I am currently Director of the MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics, Chair of the Undergraduate Board of Studies and a member of the School Board. I am also Book Reviews Editor of the International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law.