Word Scene Investigations: Toward a Cognitive Linguistic Approach to the Criminal Analysis of Open Source Evidence in War Crimes Cases
“Propaganda, War Crimes Trials and International Law: From Speakers’ Corner to War Crimes” (Routledge 2012)
77 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2012
This article demonstrates how a cognitive linguistic approach to the criminal analysis of open source information can effectively be used to define and utilize propaganda-related evidence in pre-trial and trial phases in international criminal cases. The article explains the paths, logic and criteria for identifying and categorizing open source evidence in the given context (historical, political, cultural) and lays out the conceptual instruments needed for a cognitive linguistic analysis and interpretation of specific types of textual material potentially useful for the investigative and prosecutorial purposes within the frameworks of the existing war crimes trial records, jurisprudence and international law. Part of this instrumentarium includes concepts such as intentions and intentionality, causality (physical and mental), intentional causation, semantic analysis, speech acts, conceptual framing and priming, institutional facts, free will. A novel analytical model, evidentiary feedback loop, is offered for prosecutorial purposes. The main objective of this methodological framework is to explore and explain the multiple meanings and links emerging between words and actions, or words as actions, that is, ultimately, the criminal acts that may have occurred as a direct or indirect consequence of widespread and systematic propagandistic actions and communications of semantically sensitive or specifically designed units of linguistic information in the sphere of public life.
Keywords: international criminal law, open source evidence, cognitive linguistics, speech acts, intent, causation, action, framing, priming, free will
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