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Discourse Studies

http://dis.sagepub.com Facts, norms and dispositions: practical uses of the modal verb would in police interrogations
Derek Edwards Discourse Studies 2006; 8; 475 DOI: 10.1177/1461445606064830 The online version of this article can be found at: http://dis.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/8/4/475

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Facts, norms and dispositions: practical uses of the modal verb would in police interrogations
Discourse Studies Copyright 2006 SAGE Publications. (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi) www.sagepublications.com Vol 8(4): 475501. 10.1177/1461445606064830


A B S T R A C T Two uses of the modal verb would in police interrogation are examined. First, suspects use it to claim a disposition to act in ways inconsistent with whatever offence they are accused of. Second, police officers use it in challenging the suspects testimony, asking why a witness would lie. Both uses deploy a form of practical inferential reasoning from norms to facts, in the face of disputed testimony. The value of would is that its semantics provide for a sense of back-dated predictability with regard to the actions in question. Further, although police officers provide minimal acknowledgement of suspects uses of the term, suspects tend to provide a response when police officers use it. This difference is explained by the different actions being done in each case normative self assessments by suspects, and challenges by police officers and their interactional and institutional relevance in and for police pursuit of factual testimony. KEY WORDS:

conversation analysis, dispositions, modality, moral character, police interrogation, would

Our topic is a specific, recurrent use of the modal verb would in police interrogations. These are cases where a speaker formulates an actors dispositions (in this case, what they generally would or would not do), in the context of disputed testimony about having done something specific. The focus is on recorded interactional practices in which would regularly occurs, rather than on the formal semantics and pragmatics of would as a type of modal verb. That is to say, there are other terms that may serve similar interactional practices (including specific uses of should, will, and going to), and other uses of would than those explored here (e.g. Would you pass the salt?). The prime concern is with how would is recurrently used in handling accountability, in and for police interrogation. The relevance of police interrogation is not that these practices are

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476 Discourse Studies 8(4)

restricted to that environment; indeed, they may also occur in mundane talk, and in settings such as court rooms and family therapy, which are fertile environments for disputation about personal actions, events, and responsibility for those events. But police interrogation appears to be a particularly relevant setting, given the prime orientation of participants toward eliciting, offering, examining and defending accounts of actions and their intentionality. The basic practice is exemplified in the following data segment, which is examined in more detail later in the article. S is a suspect being interrogated for his involvement in the theft of cigarettes from a shop.
S: I didn push the woman or nothin, (0.5) I really did not do that.= Im not that type of person yknow what I me:an. .h Fair enough I stole the ciggies, (0.9) I wouldn hurt an old lady.

The target expression I wouldn hurt an old lady occurs in the context of a dispute about Ss testimony. Ss deployment of would (in this case wouldnt) not only formulates something about his general disposition to act one way or another, but does so as a way of saying that he did not do the specific action of which he is accused that is, pushing (and in fact wounding) the woman in question. This is the essence of the practice: a generalized, normative and dispositional use of the modal would that provides a basis for asserting or denying a specific, disputed action. The analysis that follows focuses on two versions of the practice, the first generally deployed by S, the second by P (the police officer). 1) Exemplified by I wouldnt hurt an old lady, this is the use by S of a generalized dispositional formulation, a form of normative or moral selfassessment, in denying a specific accusation. This example takes the grammatical form of a negative-declarative use of I wouldnt; as such, it is designed for denial. Another form of the practice uses a rhetorical question, for example, What would I want to head butt an old bloke for? implying that he would not, and therefore did not. The notion that this is a rhetorical question relies on its understandability as such, and also the absence in all of our examples of any direct answer to it. 2) The police officer P also has available a similar practice, typically something like Why would she say that you did?, where she (or whoever) is the producer of the testimony that S is denying. The grammar is an interrogative-affirmative use of the modal would, designed to counter (or question) a prior statement or implication. When used by police interrogators, it counters the suggestion or implication that a witness may have given false testimony against the accused. The suspect S generally provides an answer. Examining these interactional practices contributes to several broad fields of study. First, it throws specific light on how police interrogations work, both as a

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 477

domain of mundane reasoning and social interaction, and also as a domain where the specific business of the institutional setting gets done that is, eliciting and exploring testimony and counter-testimony, their factual basis, and their relevance to whatever crime category S is accused of. For example, Ss denial of having pushed and hurt the shopkeeper, supported by his assertion of a disposition not to do so, is a key feature in resisting the accusation of robbery in favour of the less severe offence to which he confesses, which is theft. Second, the study extends discursive-psychological studies of the importance of managing stake and interest in factual disputes (Edwards and Potter, 1992), and related studies of how scripts and dispositions feature in everyday reasoning about factual narratives and their accountability (Edwards, 1995, 1997). Would is one of a range of scripting devices (Edwards, 1994) that formulate a persons recurrent actions and tendencies, as a basis for inferring or implying their character. Examining situated uses of would is therefore part of a general interest in how mundane practical reasoning invokes a range of psychological states and characteristics of persons, often tied to the central, defining business of whatever everyday or institutional setting they occur in (Edwards and Potter, 2001; Sneijder and te Molder, 2005). Third, the study is located with regard to ethnomethodological and conversation-analytic studies of mundane reasoning, particularly in legal settings (e.g. Atkinson and Drew, 1979; Komter, 1995, 1997; Lynch and Bogen, 2005; Pollner, 1987; Travers and Manzo, 1997; Watson, 1997), exploring in particular the ways in which people use norms to locate or decide facts. In that regard, this is a case study of the use of normative inferences in linking factual reality to psychological states, motives and dispositions, as part of an understandable, inference-rich, expectable world. In conversation-analytic mode, talk is examined here as a domain of interactionally and sequentially performed and occasioned social practices. A fourth domain, less directly relevant to the analysis offered here, is linguistic studies of modality. Linguistic treatments (e.g. Bybee and Fleischman, 1995; Palmer, 2001) focus mainly on classifying and distinguishing the range of modal expressions within and across languages, and describing their grammatical functions. Modal expressions include a range of auxiliary verbs in English, such as ought, will, would, could, can, might, should, and may. Standard classifications of modal meanings include epistemic (factual, what we can know), logical (what must be the case), and deontic uses of ought, should, must, etc., that express concepts such as obligation and necessity. Palmer (2001) provides a finer-grained distinction between two kinds of event modality, deontic (external to the person: constraints, permission, etc.) and dynamic (internal to the person: ability, willingness, etc.). In those terms, it is practices using dynamic event modality that we are mostly examining here, although when it comes to analysing actual, situated practices of accountability there is typically a range of epistemic, deontic and/or dispositional considerations at stake at any one time.1 Whereas linguistic studies present examples in the form of single-sentence instances, invented or selected as good exemplars of the logical type they

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478 Discourse Studies 8(4)

illustrate, studies of talk-in-interaction of the kind presented here focus on the social actions performed, and the interactional relevancies managed by their use. Although it has not been explicitly picked out for systematic analysis, there are various useful observations and data segments in the literature on courtroom and police interrogations, on participants uses of would. It occurs as a way of formulating actors dispositions, in a suspects or witnesss defence of what they did or did not do. Lynch and Bogen (2005) make relevant observations on Oliver Norths answers to questions in the Iran-Contra hearings, where North avoided providing factual answers about what he did, which would lay those factual descriptions open to cross-examination, in favour of what he generally does, or would do. Also Benneworth (2004) notes, in a study of police interviews with suspected paedophile offenders, examples where rather than claiming the offence didnt happen because I was doing this . . . the suspect is contesting the account with the allegation is implausible because the incident would not have happened (p. 127). The research literature also contains examples such as the following, in a police officers courtroom response to a lawyers suggestion that he failed to take action against an incipiently violent crowd (Atkinson and Drew, 1979: 150):
C: You were in a position to observe that? W: Yes, but not in a position to carry out the action I would have liked.

Komter (1995: 1189) notes that;

the device of corroborating ones version of the events by pointing out discrepancies between the accusation and what is generally held to be true is very common in the courtroom. This is often presented by way of conditional clauses:

If I had wanted to rob her, I would have been able to just take the money then. If I had wanted to kill him, I wouldnt have asked everybody where he lived. If I had needed the money, I would have asked my mother.

As in the present study, Komters examples are normative-dispositional uses of would, used in making plausible the suspects claims about the specific actions of which s/he is accused by appealing to what is generally held to be true. The following analysis examines two sequentially organized practices involving use of the modal would, in which normative-dispositional appeals are made, both by suspects and by officers during police interrogation. The aim is to examine the interactional contexts in which these uses occur, the kinds of practical reasoning they do, their combination with other features of talk at those junctures, and the nature and bases of any differences between suspects and police officers practices. The analysis is divided into two main sections: first, suspects self-assessments, where they formulate their own character within a moral or normative order; and second, police officers use of the term with regard to the normative-dispositional basis of contrary witness testimony. The data come from a British corpus of 142 police interrogations, sampling a range of

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 479

crimes, suspects and police officers, recorded by the police themselves as a routine part of interrogation, and subsequently made available to a research project into neighbour and community conflict.2 Data are transcribed according to Jeffersons (2004) conventions for conversation analysis. Names, places and other identifying details have been altered to preserve the anonymity of all participants.

Suspects uses of first person would

The data for this first section are examples of Ss first-person (that is, I rather than second-person you or third-person he, she, they, etc.) uses of would and wouldnt. These are occasions where S proposes for him/herself a generalized, dispositional principle or tendency that counters the accusation that S did some specific action. The item I wouldn hurt an old lady, that was used for illustration in the Introduction, was taken from extract 1. I will first examine this extract in some detail, and then pursue various generic features of it across a further set of extracts across a range of suspects and interviewers.
(1) PW:1:15 1 P: 2 3 4 5 6 S: 7 8 9 10 11 P: 12 S: 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 P: 20 S: But she said (0.2) that she was pushed backwards by yourself.= Now Ive been to see this lady yesterday. .hhh And at the (.) bottom: r:ight hand side of her back (0.4) shes got a (.) brui:se about the size about a fifty pence piece.= =Well then somebody else has done that mate. I wouldnI wouldnt do that. No Ill admit to stealin the ciggies, right .hh but they were on the counter, .h I did not jump over no counter for them. (0.3) NO I [DIDnt say you jumped over a count[er. [I[I didn even go behind the counter for them.= I didn push the woman or nothin, (0.5) I really did not do that.= Im not that type of person yknow what I me:an. .h Fair enough I stole the ciggies, (0.9) I wouldn hurt an old lady. (0.5) [Right. ] [ No. ] (.) Not a chance.=

Let us first note various components of the extract, considered as a sequence of actions. At line 1, P states a but-prefaced objection to Ss prior account of his actions (omitted here for the sake of brevity, but see lines 47). P says that Ss accuser, this lady (the female shopkeeper), has claimed (she said) that S pushed her, this being the action that caused a bruise (lines 45) that P himself has seen (lines 2 and 3). Let us say, then, that in lines 15 P presents contradictory testimony, and some related evidence, against Ss story. At line 6, S immediately

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480 Discourse Studies 8(4)

(in a latched turn) denies his accusers account, by invoking some other unknown perpetrator. Note how S selects the womans testimony (that S pushed her) as deniable, rather than Ps observation of the bruise. That leaves the matter as Ss word against hers: a matter of contrary testimony. At line 7, S produces the firstperson generalized dispositional expression I wouldnt do that, where the significance for S of wouldnt is marked by its repetition with raised pitch (a type of self-initiated self-repair: Schegloff et al., 1977). So the use of wouldnt is a displayed feature of Ss account (cf. Komter, 1997, on the accused persons orientations to their own character within a moral order, in the very different action of expressing remorse in a courtroom). In lines 714, S reiterates his testimony that he stole the cigarettes, along with the factual denial that he went behind the counter and pushed the shopkeeper. They were on the counter specifies that he was able to pick the cigarettes up without either going behind the counter, or assaulting the woman. S formulates (cf. Heritage and Watson, 1979), as a gist of what he is saying, I really did not do that (lines 1415). That is, he emphatically denies the specific offence that he is accused of. At line 15, S makes a first-person generalized self assessment: Im not that type of person, where the sense is of a general disposition on his part not to do the kind of action of which he is accused. At line 17, having again conceded that he stole the cigarettes, S reiterates his generalized dispositional wouldnt. This time S specifies just what he wouldnt do, in the form of a generalized version of the offence of which he is accused, hurt an old lady. These features of Ss uses of would combine with other features of the extract. For example, what makes his action-formulation generalized is not only the item wouldnt rather than didnt, but also the generalized membership category old lady (rather than the specific shopkeeper herself), the indefinite article an old lady (i.e. any old lady, rather than the old lady), and the semantically open verb hurt rather than the more specific descriptions already in play (push, bruise, etc.). Clearly S is at pains to provide a generalized, dispositional, normatively understandable basis for his version of his actions (cf. Jayyusi, 1984, on how membership categories are used in the production of moral accountability). Another feature of the extract is how, at lines 1819, P provides a minimal acknowledgement of Ss dispositional claim at 17, and does not directly pursue it. This is a recurring feature in the data under examination, which I will return to later. Yet P does offer a challenge to something else, at line 11. Notably, this is not a challenge to Ss dispositional would-based self-assessments but, rather, to a formulation that S offers, of what he is accused of doing, that he did not jump over no counter. P offers a correction: jump over is not the witnesss actual description, such that S is denying something of which he is not accused. The significance of this sequence is that it displays on Ps part an orientation to establishing the facts of what happened, including making direct, explicit challenges to Ss factual testimony. In police terms, the bases for that are material evidence (lines 35) and witness testimony about witnessable events. In contrast

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 481

to that, P offers no challenge to Ss generalized, normative self-assessments, at those junctures where they are produced at line 7 following the possibly complete TCU I Iwouldnt do that.3 and following the self-assessments in lines 1517. The central observation about extract 1, then, around which the rest of the analysis hinges, is Ss use of a generalized, dispositional would as a way of denying having done some specific action, in the face of contradictory testimony. I will return to the theme of Ps responses, and their interactional import, in the course of examining further examples. Extract 2 comes from a different interrogation with a different S and P. Before the extract begins, S has persistently denied accusations of threatening and verbally abusing a neighbour. In the extract itself, S denies head-butting the man, and in making that denial, deploys a first-person dispositional would (wha wd I . . . in line 14).
(2) PN:33:7 1 P: 2 3 4 5 P: 6 7 S: 8 9 P: 10 11 S: 12 13 S: 14 15 16 17 S: 18

Hes sayin that when youve walked towar:ds im youve leaned forward and head butted im on is nose. (0.5) Has that happen:ed (0.2) Wha- Ive it im:. (0.2) Youve head butted im. Youve lunged forward and [head butted im. [NO::: no I aint at a:ll. (0.3) Unless ycn ge any proof then: (1.5) Iv- (.) headbutted im wha wd I wanna head butt an old bloke fo:r. (2.0) Shtu:pi:d. (9.2)

Again we can identify a sequence of component actions that bear comparison to those of extract 1. P puts to S (line 5) a witnesss accusation (Hes sayin. . . lines 13), that S has in fact previously denied. As with most of the extracts we are examining, this follows a repeated line of questioning involving contradictory testimony between the accused S and Ps quotations from an accusing witness, who is generally the alleged victim. Ss denial of the specific offence, explicit at line 11, is prefigured at line 7 by Ss ironic, high-pitched and emphatic formulation of what he is accused of. Note how the generalized word hit substitutes in Ss formulation for the specific action description previously used by P and the witness youve leaned forward and head butted im on is nose. In denying the specific offence, therefore, S is already starting to generalize it as a category of

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482 Discourse Studies 8(4)

actions. The raised pitch and preceding Wha- (line 7), convey a sense of surprise, confusion or incomprehension at being accused of such a thing.4 At line 13, S implies the absence of definitive evidence to decide the matter; it is the witnesss testimony against Ss. At lines 1415, S deploys a first-person dispositional would, with regard to the accusation. In this case, it is an interrogative why would I? (more precisely, what would I . . . for?) rather than declarative I wouldnt. But it performs the same kind of action, of denying he did it on the basis that he would not do it. Again, Ss normative-dispositional would combines with a generalized membership category formulation an old bloke to describe the neighbour. Like with an old lady in extract 1, the indefinite article, and general category bloke, provide the sense that he wouldnt head-butt any old bloke as such, rather than just this particular one. Overall, extracts 1 and 2 contain a sequence of actions that can be typified as follows. 1) the establishment of conflicting testimony regarding a specific offence; 2) Ss use of a first-person normative-dispositional would, which may combine with the use of generalized person types or categories; 3) minimal if any acknowledgement, but no challenge by P of Ss dispositional claim. It is important to note that these actions are performed and/or oriented to by the participants. The conflicting nature of the available testimony is produced as such by S and/or P, rather than merely things noticeable by the analyst/reader. It is in the context of having produced those things, as a kind of testimonial or evidential stand-off, that S deploys the dispositional would. That is what provides for the items sequential position and relevance, and also the practical logic of its use, as a proposal for how Ss version of the facts under dispute can be inferred and known. There are other ways available to suspects for dealing with contrary witness testimony and evidence, of course, including the use of precisely designed alternative descriptions of witnesses versions (Drew, 1992); it is a particular practice we are examining here, rather than all and always what S may do. In the further extracts that follow, I examine how robust these general features may be, and how they provide a framework for how S and P deal with the specifics of each case. Relevantly to extract 3, S is a teenage boy who, having been legally banned from entering a local post office, is now accused of causing further harassment there. The extract follows detailed descriptions of Ss alleged actions: stealing sweets, disruptive and abusive behaviour.
(3) PN:34:6 21:30 1 P: A:nd ythen put (.) a bungee. (1.0) A ( ) 2 bungee round the doo:r ttry an stop people 3 [getting in the ] shop. Dyremember that. 4 S: [N o: : : : . ]

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 483 5 6 7 8 S: No:.

(.) S: W-wa- why would I put bungee on the doo:r. (5.6) ((S is next to speak))

Again, at lines 13 we have the initial establishment of a contradiction between Ss testimony and Ps quotations from a witnesss statement. P puts to S what the shopkeeper claims S did, and S rejects it using an emphatic, elongated denial at line 4, in overlap with P, and repeated in the clear at line 5 in answer to Dyremember that. As with most of our examples, the accusations made by P are based in quotations from a written witness statement, that S has been persistently denying for some time prior to where the extract begins. S then produces, at line 7, a first-person would in support of his factual denial. Ss stuttering start W-wa- why helps convey a sense of puzzlement, of S struggling with the sheer implausibility of the idea; why would he, or anyone do such a thing? Again, P produces no explicit uptake (line 8), despite having provided a possible answer already, at lines 23: ttry an stop people getting in the shop. Although there is not space here to explore systematic differences across many examples, there is probably a basis, or more than one basis, for the choice between the interrogative Why would I? of extracts 2 and 3, and the declarative I wouldnt used elsewhere. In the case of the interrogative form, the absence of an answer from P reinforces the sense of it as a rhetorical question in other words, an implicit assertion, and not as such requiring an answer. The sense of these questions as rhetorical is reinforced by their use with ironic repeats of the accusation: head butt an old bloke (extract 2, lines 1415, with the additional ridiculing of Shtu:pi:d, line 17), and put bungee on the doo:r (extract 3, line 7). The choice may also be based on a difference in answerability. For example, in extract 2 S is not being accused of butting the man in order to achieve some further goal, whereas in extract 1 S is accused of pushing the woman in order to rob her of cigarettes. So for S in extract 1 to ask Why would I? might hold greater prospect of being answered, by just the accusation he is at pains to refute that is, in order to accomplish the robbery. Nevertheless, whatever the grounds for choosing one form over the other, both forms assert a normative-dispositional basis for denying an accusation of having done some specific thing. Extract 4 provides another succinct example of our basic phenomenon.
(4) PN:38:215 1 P1: Right (.) so whos lying then. 2 (0.4) 3 P1: Cos one o yous lying arent they.= 4 S: =I haven- (.) I haven said nothing I- (0.3) 5 I wouldnt. yknow wha I mean. 6 (0.4) 7 S: ((sni [ffs)) 8 P1: [Well shes saying yhave.=

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484 Discourse Studies 8(4) 9 10 11 S: P1: =I- (0.2) cant be doing with (0.2) the trouble. I wouldnt say nothing. HHhhhhhhhhhh[hh.

In extract 4 the general kinds of actions we are identifying are identifiable as follows. First, there is an unresolved testimonial conflict between S and an accusing witness, explicitly formulated by P as one o yous lying (line 3). The relevance of line 4 I haven said nothing is that S is currently accused of witness intimidation, which involves talking to a witness in an upcoming court case, in the face of a prior court instruction that he should stay away from her. So S denies the specific action of which he is accused (line 4). S then supports his denial (again, this extract is the culmination of a series of repeated accusations and denials) with an emphatic first-person dispositional I wouldnt, framed as normatively recognizable: yknow wha I mean (line 5). In this case P does respond to Ss first-person dispositional would, but only to repeat the witnesss contradictory testimony (line 8). P specifically does not pursue the dispositional claim itself; in other words, there is no attempt by P to unpick or contradict Ss dispositional self-assessment as such. S then formulates an accountable basis for his dispositional claim (line 9) and re-asserts it (line 10). P responds with, literally, some ex-aspiration (line 11), but no pursuit of the topic. The further extracts (58) that follow, serve to flesh out the basic action sequence identified. There was no clear deviant case in the data sample but, rather, a range of specific instantiations and variations in detail, that show how the sequence provides a frame for an important and recurrent piece of practical reasoning deployed in these interrogations. In extract 5, S is a 17-year-old boy accused of breaching a court-imposed ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order), by assaulting a seven-year-old.
(5) PN:40:1 1 P: 2 3 4 5 P: 6 7 S: 8 9 P: 10 11 12 S: 13 14 P: 15 S: 16 17 S: <You were arreste:d,> earlier on today on suspicion of assaultin (0.4) u::m (.) a seven year ol::d, (0.8) which is (.) u:h (.) Jeremy. (0.6) Dyknow (.) who Im talkin bout, (0.3) Yeh, (0.2) Okay, (0.7) an do yknow the incident Im talkin about. (0.2) Not at a:ll. (0.6) Not at all. No. (0.9) Im not gonna beat a seven year old up.=

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 485 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 yknow what I mean. (0.2) I got morals. (0.2) s little kid. (0.7) A:lright, (0.8) so:: (...)

S: S: P:

Extract 5 contains the essential ingredients we have identified, that contextualize Ss use of the first-person dispositional modal in line 17. In this case, we have the variant not gonna rather than wouldnt5 (line 17), but it works in essentially the same way: that is, to propose that the specific action being denied (assaulting the boy) is an instance of a general category of actions that S is not disposed to do. That general disposition is both personal (S would not do it) and normative (it is the kind of thing that nobody should do). The normative sense is reinforced, as in extracts 1 and 4, by a contiguous yknow what I mean (line 18) which appeals to its recognizability as a claim, and also by Ss sequentially next, personal subscription to a moral order (line 20). As in extracts 1 and 2, Ss dispositions are invoked with regard to a generalized category of relevant objects, a seven year old (line 17, again using the indefinite article), and little kid (line 22). Note that there are alternatives available for describing the boy, including Jeremy, him, the lad, etc., but S is doing generalization. Again, P (lines 234) does not at this point attempt to unpick or question Ss generalized normative-dispositional avowals. The general action sequence is further instantiated in extract 6. Prior to the extract, S has been accused of saying to her neighbour, among other insults and threats, youre fucking dead, which S denies saying. Instead, S admits to verbals on both sides, framed as a normal kind of two-sided, reciprocal swearing and abuse.
(6) PN:16:8 1 P: 2 3 S: 4 P: 5 6 S: 7 P: 8 9 S: 10 P: 11 12 S: 13 P: 14 S: 15

(...) shes sayin that youve threatened to kill her. (0.3) N [ o:, ] [an then ] youre dead. (.) N [o:. [Whatever. (.) No. Tha [t is: [Is there any way at all you couldve said that in the heat [o the moment.= [No::. =[In the heat of an argument =[Not even if I was (fightin) no. (.)

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486 Discourse Studies 8(4) 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 S: An I wouldnt (even) say that. (0.5) S: I wouldnt say that. (0.6) S: I [ve- Ive never said tha*t to *er P: [(Okay) (0.5) S: when weve had an argument mm:? (0.8) S: Ever.

The action elements that we have identified are exemplified in extract 6 as follows: 1) the production of contrary testimonies regarding the particular offence accusation (lines 1 and 4) and denial (lines 3 and 6). 2) Ss generalizing, first-person dispositional use of wouldnt at lines 16 and 18. 3) minimal receipt/acknowledgement by P at line 21, in a turn following straight after Ss repeated clause (and TCU) containing wouldnt, and in overlap with As starting a new turn. We may also note a range of particular features in extract 6 that enrich that bare structure. As in all our examples, it is the interrogations crucial business that is being dealt with here the actual criminal offence with which S is being charged, in this case, the accusation of having made threats to kill. Note how in lines 713 P pursues Ss factual denial that she actually said those things, but typically, as noted, does not pursue Ss dispositional would claims starting at line 16. A difference is emerging across these extracts, between how P responds to Ss factual claims and denials, and how P responds to Ss generalized normativedispositional avowals. Another feature of extract 6 is the way that P, in responding to Ss factual denials, starts to generalize his interest in what she may have said: the expressions whatever (line 7) and any way at all (line 10) signal that the exactness of the witnesss quotation of S is not what requires denial but, rather, the kind of thing S may have said, that would make it recognizable as a case of threatening to kill. It is a generalizing, categorizing move by P that precedes Ss own move to a generalized disposition-based denial she would not say such a thing. Another feature of the extract, and one we will encounter in other data, is how S moves from the dispositional wouldnt say to the factual Ive never said . . . (line 20). In moving from dispositions back to facts, S effectively makes the link to which all of our generalized dispositionals are oriented, which is the work they do in denying the specific actions with which S is being charged. In extract 7, a middle-aged Asian man6 is accused of having opened the boot (i.e. trunk) of his neighbours car, and of having deliberately scratched the car when walking past it.

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 487 (7) PN:17:6 1 S: 2 3 S: 4 5 6 P: 7 8 S: 9 10 11 P:

(...) You know I dont understand this sir. (0.3) I mean Im (not daft) I mean Ive worked (0.5) Ive worked what I want to and God has given me what Ive got.= What I want. Mm. (0.3) I mean (0.3) opening somebodys boot I mean *u*u *I *a*a*a *I would feel ashamed of myself. (0.3) Okay. .hhh What about the scratch.

Extract 7 begins after a sequence in which P has accused S of the offences, based on testimony of Ss neighbour, and S has denied the charges. So again, we have a situation involving an unresolved conflict of testimony. S starts the extract by expressing incomprehension (line 1) and setting up a dispositional basis (lines 45) for not doing what he is accused of. At line 8, S quotes the specific action he is accused of (cf. the ironic repeats in extract 2, lines 7 and 14, and extract 3, line 7), and immediately follows it with a first-person dispositional would (line 9). In this case, S fuses his personal dispositions with a morally enhanced normative sense: I would feel ashamed of myself. Overall, Ss would account is produced as part of trying to understand the sense of what he is accused of, on the basis of how anyone in his position, with all that God has provided, along with a sense of shame, might be thought capable such a thing. He offers normative notions of motive and act, to warrant a factual denial, that he committed the specific action of opening his neighbours car boot. Ps response is a slightly delayed, finalintonation, softly spoken Okay, followed not by pursuit of whether S opened the boot, or would feel ashamed, but by a topical move to the second factual accusation, that S also scratched the neighbours car. Let us conclude this section with a final example. In extract 8, S has been accused of breaching a second harassment order, which is a courts binding instruction to stay away from an ex-partner that S has allegedly been pursuing. P is referring in line 1 to the accusers statement.
(8) PN:27:7 1 P: 2 3 4 5 6 P: 7 S: 8 9 10

Basic its got here that .hhh I was at ho:me in my flat when I heard a knock at the- (0.3) at my doo:r. I then heard John shout.hhh Come tthdoor so I can see your face. (0.5) [And do you (say [ ) [No thats not[( ) that thats one thing that- thats not my- I wouldnt come out with sh(0.2) come to the door n show my face thats not.hhh Id say (.) Sharon come to the door I wouldnt

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488 Discourse Studies 8(4) 11 12 13 14 15 mention Sharon come to the door and show my face.= .h Thats not my words I wouldnt use them wo(h)rd(h)s. [.hh Ill swear on me mothers life I (>hope me= P: [(Okay,) S: =motherd<) die tht I wd never say them words. .h

Again, we have an action sequence in which a witnesss testimony concerning specific actions is denied by S (line 7). Then we get Ss dispositional uses of wouldnt (lines 7, 10, 12 and 15), used specifically to say that S didnt say those actual things, on the basis that he would not say them, indeed would never say them (line 15; see Pomerantz, 1986, on rhetorical uses of extreme case formulations such as never). Ps minimal acknowledgement token at line 14 occurs in overlap with S, and (as in extract 6) straight after Ss wouldnt TCU/ clause in line 12. In summary, there is a robust sequence of actions within which S uses a firstperson normative-dispositional would. These are all contexts in which the major business of the interrogation, Ss culpability for a specific criminal action, is being handled. The essential sequence is this: 1) A testimonial stand-off is produced, regarding a specific factual accusation, in which P cites witness testimony against S, and S denies it. Often, but not necessarily, there has been an extended sequence of accusation and denial prior to the start of the extracts we have examined, and the citation of circumstantial but not definitive physical evidence7 by P. 2) S deploys a first-person, normative-dispositional would, or a modal variant on it, generally in the form of a negative declarative (I wouldnt . . .) or an interrogative (Why would I . . .). The generalizing nature of this dispositional claim may be accompanied by a relevant generalized membership category for S and/or the alleged victim (see also Watson, 1997, and Wowk, 1984, on links between membership categories, police interrogation, and the moral-normative order). 3) P may minimally acknowledge, but typically does not directly pursue or contradict Ss generalized, normative self-assessment. Possible explanations of point 3 will be considered after we have examined the other major use of dispositional modal would, in Ps challenging appeals to why witnesses would lie.

Police officers uses of third-person would

Here we examine Ps uses of would in challenging Ss refutation of a witnesss testimony. Although this reciprocates Ss use of the expression, and might be considered an effective (practical, logical) response to that, in fact there is only one case in the data where it is used by P in that direct, responsive way (see extract 13 later, where even then it is preceded by an okay receipt, and some

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 489

delay). As we have noted, Ps receipts of Ss would expressions are typically minimal acknowledgement tokens rather than direct challenges. Extract 9 comes 25 turns after extract 1, in the interrogation concerning the robbery/theft of cigarettes from a shop.
(9) PW:1:17 1 P: 2 3 S: 4 P: 5 6 7 S: 8 P: 9 10 11 12 13 14 S: 15

So shes implicated that youve gone (0.3) through that gap, Wro [ng [an youve pushed her (0.8) right, (.) and shes gone backwards. (0.2) Not at [all. [And (0.5) hit against (.)as I said (.) the bruise are there Ive seen the bruises Ive asked her to go tthe doctorn of course hell (0.3) hell confirm (.) those as well, .hhh I cant see (0.5) why (0.6) this lady: (0.3) would wanna (0.7) [lie ] [Nei ]ther can I? (0.4)

Ps third-person use of would (line 12), like Ss first-person uses, invokes normative and personal dispositions to do or say things. In this case it is formulated as a problem for Ps efforts to understand, against a normative backdrop of understandable actions, Ss denials: I cant see (0.5) why this lady: (0.3) would wanna (0.7) lie (lines 1113). The assertion I cant see why proposes a problem with, and challenge to, Ss story.8 The prior context is again the establishment of contradictory factual testimony (lines 17) along with some circumstantial evidence (lines 911). Again, we are finding ways in which common sense practical reasoning makes links between norms, dispositions, and factual accounts. P uses would dispositionally and normatively with regard to the shopkeeper; why would she invent this story if it were not true? P generates a sense of stake or motive what is in it for her to wanna make this stuff up? Ss response (line 14) overlaps the end of Ps query. Rather than leaving Ps why would she as a knock-down counter to his own story, S treats it as a puzzle for him too (echoed in the high-rising, questioning pitch contour of line 14). Extract 10 begins just after a sequence in which P has quoted a witness who claims to have overheard a telephone call in which S was swearing and making threats to kill Ss neighbour.
(10) PN:11:9 1 S: (...) but as for- (.) sayin thIm gonna put a 2 bomb through yr doo:r (1.1) no. 3 (0.2) 4 S: I dont do things like that.= I know hes got (0.4)

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490 Discourse Studies 8(4) 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 kids himself which stay round there (1.8) S: and look a hes- (0.4) look at the size aim es six foot fou:r (0.4) Im five foot seven, (1.2) P: Bt ydid make more than one phone c [all S: [Yeh I phoned im back bu I didnt (0.4) I made n- (1.0) no: sound on the pho:ne i-it lasted probably: (0.7) a s:plit second- one to two secon:ds, (0.2) P: Why wou [ld this lady say then. that she heard= S: [An uh P: =these things?= S: =U:m (.) because ath- u- I th- theres been a feu:d in Becknall Cou:rt f r a long time (...)

The actions in extract 10, prior to and following Ps use of would in line 16, are again similar to those in extract 9. There is a sequence of accusation and denial, formulated here in Ss first turn (lines 12). Additionally in this extract we have S offering a generalized dispositional basis for his denial: I dont do things like that (line 4), along with a normatively plausible basis for that denial (lines 48). Then P presents further non-definitive circumstantial evidence against S (line 10), which S acknowledges and re-formulates as irrelevant (lines 1114). It is at this juncture that P issues the third-person dispositional challenge: Why would this lady say then . . . (lines 1618). As also in extract 9, S provides an answer that retains the questionability of the witnesss motives for giving false testimony. Here in extract 10, this takes the more substantial form of a long-term feud (lines 1920). A pattern is emerging across Ps uses of third-person normative-dispositional would, in challenging Ss testimony. As with Ss first-person dispositionals, a stand-off is first established between S and a quoted witness (who is often but may not be the alleged victim), in their contradictory factual testimony concerning the alleged offence. There may also be some circumstantial, that is, inconclusive, evidence against S, which S refutes or minimizes. In response to Ss denials, P produces a third-person dispositional would, framed as a normative question, or expression of puzzlement, as to why the witness might lie (i.e. it invokes the witnesss possible motive, stake or interest in saying something false: cf. Komter, 1995). Unlike with Ss own first-position would expressions that were examined in section 1, that tended to elicit no direct response from P, Ps thirdposition dispositional question about the witness elicits an attempt by S to deal with it. Let us examine some further examples before returning to that point. In extract 11, S has been accused of harassing and threatening her neighbour and her neighbours children, a charge which S is in the process of denying.

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 491 (11) PN:46:7 1 S 2 3 4 5 P 6 7 8 9 10 11 S 12 13

(...) Iv- (.) kept meself tmeself, (0.3) kept in.hh when I see them, (.) yes, Im angry at them an I call them thieves.= bu thats it. (1.0) So (1.2) w-why: the*n l*astly about thi- why: .hh (0.6) hhh. Probly know your answer.= But Im gon ask the question anyway. .hhh <Why: would ythi:nk that she would make written statements (0.5) with regar:ds to the:se u:::h threats n n abu:se> that allegedlyve been made by you. Because she kno:ws the system. Shes tryina get me kicked out by the council. cos she wants to stay cos she gets (cash in hand) down the pub.

S formulates the actions, for which her neighbour is accusing her of harassment, as merely getting angry and calling them thieves (because, she elsewhere asserts, that is what they are), but that is all there is to it; as she puts it, bu thats it. So again, we have contrary testimony directly concerning the offence with which S is charged. In this case, Ps third-person would question (lines 710) is interestingly framed as a question he is apparently bound to ask, and to which he can anticipate the answer (lines 67). Note that we are some way into the interrogation, throughout which P has displayed a close familiarity with Ss case. The notion offered by P, that he knows her probable answer but Im gon ask the question anyway, orients to the questions normative askability in these circumstances, in whatever way those circumstances should be understood. I take those circumstances to be some combination of: unresolved conflicting testimony, inconclusive evidence to decide it, and doing proper police procedure, including getting the question and Ss answer into the taped record of the interrogation. Additionally, Ps expression l*astly about thi- (line 5)9 orients to it as a sequential item, as a possibly final question, or last in a series. In breaking off from asking the dispositional why would . . .? question, and inserting this lastly . . . phrase before continuing (see the transcriptional detail of line 5), P displays an orientation to the would-questions sequential placement as not only following, but also at the end of a sequence of factual interrogation and denial. Again, note that S does offer an answer to Ps would question, in the form of a dispositional or motivational account (lines 1113) essentially, that the witness has a self-interested motive in getting S evicted from her council house. Extract 12 is several minutes further into the interrogation from which extract 5 was taken, in which a 17-year-old denies assaulting a much younger boy.
(12) PN:40:6 1 P: So why: should this kid then whos seven 2 years ol:d, who lives on your roa:d, whos3 lived there: f seven year:s, to my knowledge

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492 Discourse Studies 8(4) 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 .hhh u:m why should he suddenly sa:y that you: have done- (0.3) well. basically assaulted im. I dont kno:w. (0.9) Well theres gotta be a reason [for it [HONestly I DON- (.) if I knew Id tell yer. Yknow whaI mea:n. (0.4) Ive been honest with yer. ( ) Ob [viously theres a reas- ] [Because it turns ] ou*t= =THERE AINT NO REASon yeh because I swear on my mums fuckin li:fe I didnt do fuck all I aint seen that little lad, (0.8) Alright. (0.3) So I dont care what you thi:nk (.) whether you say th- (.) theres must be a reason why es sayin it there aint no fuckin reason, .h thaint nuthin. (0.2) That hes a little twat. thats what. (0.5) Why: dysay that.

S: P: S:

S: P: S:


S: P:

The modal variant in extract 12 is should (lines 1 and 4), but like would, this also conveys the sense of a normative-dispositional account being required for why this witness might lie. Again, it is Ss testimony being set against that of the boy victim/witness. In this case, P works to build the boys status as unmotivated to lie; he is a long-time neighbour, who has suddenly (line 4), which is to say in no way accounted for by S, accused S of assaulting him. Similarly the category this kid . . . whos seven years ol:d (lines 12) formulates the witness in categorial and innocent terms devoid of grudge or motive. Ss initial response at line 7, I dont kno:w bears comparison to extract 9, line 14 (Neither can I?), in which Ss response is to share Ps puzzlement. Effectively, S bats the question back, not as a problem for S, but as a puzzle about the witness. So we have two different implications in play, concerning the witnesss absent reasons for making false accusations. P implies that, having no reason to lie, the witness is telling the truth. For S, on the other hand, the absence of any evident reason to lie implies some unknown reason (extract 12, lines 1012, 15), or else sheer irrationality (lines 1724). Ss eventual answer formulates the witness dispositionally, as a person whose reasons for saying things stem from character: hes a little twat (line 26). The coda thats what specifies hes a twat as the answer to the motivation puzzle, as to why he may have given false testimony. Formulating the boys nature also avoids addressing any notion of reciprocity on the boys part, for anything S may

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 493

have done to him. As a twat, he would tend to say scurrilous and unreliable things. Again, Ps pursuit of this particular formulation (line 28) lends some credence to the notion that it is specifically the normative self-assessment uses of would that are not pursued, rather than it being merely that police officers do not generally pursue things that Ss claim or deny. Extract 13 comes several minutes after extract 5, in an interrogation about alleged damage to a neighbours car, and opens with S making the kind of firstperson modal-dispositional generalization we have previously examined. In this case, the modal term used is should (line 3), and again its normative appeal is reinforced with a yknow what I mean (line 6).
(13) PN:17:9 1 S: 2 P: 3 S: 4 5 P: 6 S: 7 8 P: 9 10 P: 11 12 13 S: 14 15 S: 16 P: (...) Ive got two cars at home (.) [I mean why= [(I know) =should I be need (to be) open somebody elses car. (0.4) U [:h [>Yknow what I mean< (0.4) Okay (0.6) Can you think of any reason why: (0.2) the neighbours might make this sort of allegation against you? (0.8) Well I du- you know its thhuman nature my friend. (0.3) You know. Mm

The target lines are 1011, where P asks S if he can explain the neighbours possible motives for making a false allegation against him (indeed more generally, this sort of allegation). The specific modal that P uses is not would, but might (line 11), which combines with any reason why in producing the same sense of a general disposition or motive. S answers (line 13), using an idiomatic generalization to which P offers no further response (other than a yeh and Right. Okay through a further 10 TCUs by S, not included here). So again, we have a sequence in which conflicting testimony is addressed by P using a thirdparty dispositional-normative modal question about why a witness should/ would/might lie, and S provides an answer (however idiomatic or unspecific that answer might be). We will examine one further extract exemplifying the basic action sequence. In extract 14 a teenage boy Tommy has been accused by the alleged victim, of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl and also her baby sister. The boy has persistently denied the accusation throughout sustained police questioning (and in the presence of the boys mother).

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494 Discourse Studies 8(4) (14) PN:20:10 1 P: What I would say to you Tommy is i-if you have done 2 this (.) you need to tell me that you ha [ve. 3 S: [Didnt. 4 (1.7) 5 P: Because I cant see why a nine year old gir:l (.) 6 would (1.2) I can see (.) nine year olds= >Im not 7 saying< nine year olds dont lie because they do. 8 (0.3) 9 P: Children of all d- ages lie. .hhh But >what Im 10 saying is< why would she (.) m- (0.5) say this 11 about you. .h Its not- (0.2) i-its quite 12 specific what shes saying. 13 (0.4) 14 P: Ykno:w, (0.2) shes saying ypu- (0.4) yhand 15 downer pyjamas. 16 (0.6) 17 P: Shes saying you took Amandas nappy off. 18 (1.4) 19 P: An felt her between the legs. .h An then shes 20 talkin about you takin yr trousers down.= 21 Shes quite specific. 22 (0.9) 23 P: An an why did she make this up about you. 24 (0.4) 25 S: Don kno:w.

The sequence of actions in extract 14 is similar to the other extracts we are examining, but again the extract has its own interesting and telling details. There is, as we are finding generally, an initial presentation and rejection of witness testimony against S (lines 13), followed by Ps delivery of the third-person normative-dispositional would (lines 6 and 10), and eventually a response from S (line 25) that either refutes or, as in this case, leaves the puzzle unresolved. As we saw in dont know types of response in extracts 9 and 12, Ss high-rising and elongated intonation are important in conveying not merely ignorance or unresponsiveness to the question, but a sense of exasperation or puzzlement of his own. As in extract 9, P first frames it as a puzzle for P herself: I cant see why . . . (line 5), but then re-formulates it as a question, why would she . . . (line 10). As in extract 12, P provides some grounds for finding it hard to believe that the witness is lying; in this case, as with the boy cited in extract 12, we have the use of an age category, a nine year old gir:l (line 5), to characterize the witness (indefinitely a girl, rather than the particular girl Emily whose name they have been using). Further, P quotes graphic details from Emilys account (lines 1420), whose quite specific nature is explicitly offered by P, both before and after, as the point of quoting those details (lines 12 and 21). These are specifics that, in Ps presentation of them, give Emilys testimony the ring of truth. Two additional features of extract 14 are worth noting, although they should be understood as adding complexity and options to the basic sequence, rather

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 495

than being exceptions to it. One feature is Ps insertion in lines 6 to 9, into the production of her why would? question, of a possible response to it (nine-yearolds lie), and a rejection of that response (but why this lie in particular). This, along with Ps citation of the quite specific details on which we have commented, may help account for Ss lack of room for manoeuvre at line 25. Another feature is the specific way the question is re-iterated by P at line 23; why did, rather than why would (cf. comments on extract 6, line 20). In fact, given that why would is an unanswered question still on the table, we can understand why did here as a nice orientation to the whole point of asking why would. Across all of the examples we are analyzing, in both sections of this article, the dispositional would is deployed as a way of dealing with what did happen, actually, on some particular occasion, that being the criminal action that S is charged with. Indeed, that is the practical logic of the would turns following the factual and testimonial contradictions of prior turns. We end this section with one further extract, but markedly different from the others, in that S replies no comment to all questions put to him concerning an accusation of assault on his accuser.
(15) PN:14:4 1 P: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 P: 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 S: 16 Why would- why would- (0.4) Tony Bla:ke. (.) O:nly yve not denied anything. (.) Youve noactually said no that didnt happen, so youve not denied or confirmed anything, .hhh youve said no comment so: (.) I Im sortf duty bound to ask you (0.4) further questions in relation to this. .hhh (7.2) Why would Tony Blake ma- make- make this up as- (.) if he is making it up if- (.) if youre all (.) saying that it didnt happen, which youre no:t. .hh But (.) why would he say this if i- if it isnt the case.= Why: (0.2) whats his motive. f comin out n n accusing you of this assault. (0.3) No comment, (18.3)

The notable feature of extract 15 is how, in the absence of anything but no comment from S, P orients to the normative use and sequential relevance of the dispositional response, why would the witness lie. We have noted that the normal sequential location of these third-person dispositional modals is after a denial, a testimonial stand-off, and perhaps a first-person dispositional I wouldnt by S. But here we have P producing the third-person dispositional anyway, despite Ss denial not occurring. The thing of interest, of course, is Ps orientation to it as something to say next, following such a denial. Note particularly how P formulates the absence of Ss denial (lines 24) prior to asking the dispositional why would . . . (line 8), and in fact breaks off at line 1 from an initial why would-, to insert his observations on Ss absent testimony. This shows an orientation by P,

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496 Discourse Studies 8(4)

marked by doing a repair involving a break-off, insertion and re-start, toward raising the dispositional why would (he) sequentially following Ss rejection of a witnesss testimony. Although P pointedly notes that S has neither denied nor confirmed the witnesss testimony, it is only in the event of a denial that the challenge why would he say this arises. Indeed, a normative basis for P asking this specific question, just here, is formulated P himself: he is sortf duty bound (line 5) to ask it. Summarizing section 2, we find a sequential orderliness across Ps uses of a third-person normative-dispositional modal would (and its variants), that bears comparison to Ss first-person uses in section 1. There is an initial, produced-as and oriented-to contradiction between the testimonies of S and a witness, with regard to the factual status of whatever specific actions S is being accused of. P formulates a problem for Ss denials, in the form of a question or puzzle as to why the witness should lie. This may involve some descriptive building of the witnesss independence, innocence, or lack of motive. Unlike with Ss first-person modals, Ps third-person modals tend to elicit replies from S, either shared puzzlement or a dispositional account of why the witness might lie. In the concluding section of the article, that difference is explained in terms of the different action sequences being done, and in terms of orientations to normative practices of police interrogation with regard to factual testimony.

The focus of our analysis has been on a particular kind of discourse practice, or interactional practice, using the generic modal would or occasional variants such as going to, will, might or should. Clearly those alternative terms are not semantically equivalent, and further work may reveal interactional differences in their uses. The point is that they are used sometimes in the same kinds of social practices, in constructing a normative, generalized, and dispositional basis for claims and challenges concerning some specific disputed action. Ss first-person normative-dispositional avowals using would occur in action sequences as follows: 1) the establishment of contradictory testimony between S and a witness; 2) Ss generalized, normative self-assessment using would; 3) minimal acknowledgement of 2), but no pursuit, by P. Ps third-person invocation of a witnesss disposition to lie occurs in action sequences as follows: 1) Ss denials of a witnesss accusatory testimony; 2) Ps challenge, puzzling over why would the witness lie; 3) Ss response, in the form of shared puzzlement at 2) or an account for it. We are now in a position to consider the difference between the third components of the two sequences. The key is that we are dealing with different

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Edwards: Facts, norms and dispositions 497

kinds of adjacency pairs. Ss would-based claims, whether grammatically declarative (I wouldnt) or interrogative (why would I?), propose normative, generalized self-assessments. Although assessments in everyday talk normatively evoke second assessments (Pomerantz, 1984), our cases are special in being selfassessments, and in being produced in the context of police interrogation. The absence second assessments from P, whether agreeing or disagreeing with S, may partly be due to Ps having no independent grounds for providing a generalized assessment of Ss character, outside of the specific allegations being put. With regard to the special setting of police interrogation, we have also noted a strong orientation on Ps part to pursuing the details of factual evidence and quoted testimony. This orientation excludes entering a discussion of Ss generalized normative appeals. A related feature is Ps recurrent practice of questioning S by presenting details of witness testimony and physical evidence. Indeed, Ps own question Why would the witness lie? is a further example of this practice, referring back to the testimony rather than expressing Ps own views on the matter. This general orientation on Ps part works against P pursuing, or objecting to, Ss generalized self-assessments. Relevantly, the practice by question-askers, of putting questions in the form of quotations from other people, has been noted across other institutional contexts such as news interviews (Clayman, 1988; Clayman and Heritage, 2002), where it performs a kind of footing (Goffman, 1979) that displays the interviewers neutrality while nevertheless being adversarial. Police interrogators are doing something closely related to that, but perhaps displaying an orientation to evidence-based objectivity rather than neutrality as such, given that they are often making the accusation themselves, as the arresting officer, and may (as in extracts 1 and 9) be offering some accusatory witnessing of their own. With regard to interviewer neutrality and footing, police interrogation appears to be positioned normatively somewhere between news interviewing and courtroom crossexamination (Atkinson and Drew, 1979). Unlike news interviewers, barristers in adversarial courts of law are professionally on one side rather than another, while nevertheless also, normatively, in pursuit of the facts. Police officers appear to be less strongly positioned than lawyers, displaying an orientation to factual inquiry rather than factual rebuttal, yet not so neutrally as news interviewers. Of course, these are arenas of interaction requiring close empirical examination, rather than normative stipulation, for precisely how they compare and differ. The use of would in formulating normative-dispositional claims or assessments rests on its grammar, being the past tense of will. In the context of the data and analysis provided here, would is used to propose a kind of back-dated predictability. It proposes something like going back to a time prior to the particular event or action in question, and seeing that it was then predictable it was expectably, predictably, going to happen (or, in the case of wouldnt, not going to happen). So, I wouldnt hurt an old lady proposes that, if we place ourselves prior to the event, then, knowing what we know about this person, and lifes normative order, we can see that hurting an old lady was not, then or ever, in

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498 Discourse Studies 8(4)

prospect. Similarly, why would she say that you did? proposes the requirement for some prior state of affairs, some motive or circumstance, that makes her saying it predictable. This same semantic of back-dated predictability also provides for counter-factual uses of would, as in I would if I could, where what one would do is back-datedly or dispositionally predictable, if it were not for circumstances preventing it. Hence the rich usefulness of would and its variants, in handling disputed factuality with regard to motives, norms and character. We also found a relationship between deployments of modal reasoning and the invocation of membership or identity categories (an old lady; an old bloke; a seven-year-old, a little kid, a little twat, a nine-year-old girl, etc.). These categories fit with uses of would in invoking normative knowledge as a route or criterion for the truth of specific, disputed factual claims. Old ladies, old blokes and little kids are not only generalized membership categories to which normative expectations are inferentially attached (Hester and Eglin, 1997; Sacks, 1992; Stokoe, 2003; Watson, 1997), but they are also categories emblematic (along with, say, the disabled and infirm) of people that are not to be hit, kicked, robbed, or otherwise assaulted. Heydon (2005) refers to the invocation, in police interrogation, of the moral or normative (rather than strictly legal) rule, it is wrong to hit women and those smaller than you (p. 203). In Heydons analysis, this is largely a device that police interrogators can use in questioning Ss conduct, and rejecting mitigating accounts. In the examples analysed here, it is primarily used by S in constructing a counter-dispositional formulation of Ss own conduct in a particular case. The same normative injunction against hitting women and children (and old people, etc.), that makes the offence particularly heinous, is exactly what is used by S to say that he didnt (because he wouldnt) do it. Other person descriptions may have a different logic, while still arguing that a particular offence was not committed because it would not have been (e.g. extract 10, lines 78, where the category is that of a man one would be foolish to attack: look at the size aim es six foot fou:r (0.4) Im five foot seven). Another link was made to analytic work on scripts and dispositions (Edwards, 1995, 1997). Would, along with invocations of membership categories, are among a range of devices by which specific actions or events can be given a generalized, timeless quality, and by which the built-in characteristics of persons, places and objects can be proposed and implied. Back-dated predictability, the semantics of would, lends itself to saying what a person can or could be expected to do, in fact or hypothetically, and at any time. It lends itself to characterological formulations of persons their tendencies, dispositions, moral nature, desires and intentions. And it is useful in the production and disputation of factual accounts, whether in promoting a version as consistent or consensual, or in characterizing that version and its producer as in some way motivated, interested, and false (see also Komter, 1995, and Sneijder and te Molder, 2005).10 Clearly these devices and practices are of special and endemic relevance to police interrogation, but they have a common sense practical logic that lends itself to a wide range of settings not explored here.

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1. In a different but related setting, that of courtroom legal examination, Matoesian (2001) notes an expert witnesss use of the perfect tense epistemic modal may have as a device for speculating about unwitnessed possible events (cf. Heydon, 2005: 1423). The work they do in that setting is to cast doubt on a witnesss actual testimony by providing alternative, plausible accounts for the same evidential effects or events: epistemic modals do more than merely encode alternative possibilities. They also index the speakers authority with respect to the truth or falsity of a given representation of reality (Matoesian, 2001: 187). 2. ESRC project RES-148250010 Identities in neighbour discourse: Community, conflict and exclusion held by Elizabeth Stokoe and Derek Edwards. 3. TCU is Turn Constructional Unit the building blocks that make for potentially complete turns at talk, in conversation analysis (Sacks et al., 1974). What makes this a possibly complete TCU is its potential grammatical completeness as a clause or sentence, its final intonation contour (marked by the full stop or period), and its hearable completeness as accomplishing an action (self-assessment), such that P is, at just this point, in a position to respond. 4. It is not appropriate to assign a specific emotional description to Ss prosody, but clearly some such epistemically relevant reaction is conveyed, in aid of Ss rejection of the idea that he hit the man. 5. Gonna, or going to, is an alternative to the modal will in English, for expressing a future and/or intended event or action. Would is, grammatically, the past tense of will (Oxford English Dictionary, 2002). Accordingly, we also find in the data similarly dispositional uses of will and wont such as this, from the same interrogation as extract 1 (with will/wont italicized): S: I wont do it if its if th- dy wont pu- they wont put the ciggies on the counter, (0.2) Ill say oh Ive left me money in the car or Ive left me money in ours an Ill walk out the shop an Ill leave it. 6. These details are provided as possibly relevant to Ss unusually polite address form sir (line 1), and perhaps also the grammatical glitch in line 4. 7. These are my own observations about the status of that evidence, but they reflect orientations to it by S and P themselves, in that S may offer alternative interpretations or dismissals of the evidences significance, and P does not insist on the matter. See extract 1, line 6; extract 2, line 13; and extract 10, lines 1114. 8. There is something in the manner of Ps delivery at line 12, including the pauses, that conveys a sense of significance, deliberation and/or puzzlement. Ss overlap at 14 comes just where Ps objection is projectable, reinforcing the sense of Ps objection as somewhat expectable; see the discussion of that notion regarding extract 15. 9. The asterisks mark a croaky vocal delivery. 10. A notorious example was coined by Mandy Rice Davies, a witness in the Profumo trial of 1963, and the topic of the 1989 Michael Caton film Scandal. A British government Defence Minister, John Profumo, was accused of liaisons with call girls including Davies, who were also entertaining a Russian military officer during the cold war. In the trial, a barrister says to Davies that Lord Astor, another government minister, denies having had sex with her. The court famously burst into laughter at her reply: Well, he would say that, wouldnt he? (see also Edwards and Potter, 1992).

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500 Discourse Studies 8(4)


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D E R E K E D WA R D S is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University. His interests are in the analysis of language and social interaction in everyday and institutional settings. He specializes in discursive psychology, in which relations between psychological states and the external world are studied as discourse categories and practices. His books include Common Knowledge, with Neil Mercer (Routledge, 1987), Ideological Dilemmas, with Michael Billig and others (Sage, 1988), Discursive Psychology, with Jonathan Potter (Sage, 1992), and Discourse and Cognition (Sage, 1997). A D D R E S S : Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK. [email: D.Edwards@lboro.ac.uk]

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