Worlds of evidence: Visualising patterns in witness statements in the aftermath of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster

Patricia Canning, Yufang Ho, Sara Bartl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Hillsborough football stadium disaster (1989) in Sheffield, UK, led to the deaths of 96 football fans and resulted in the longest jury case in British legal history (2016). This article examines the witness statements of two Sheffield residents who claim to have attended the match. Using a mixed-methods approach that incorporates a cognitive linguistic framework (Text World Theory) with visualisation software (VUE) we consider both form and function of a number of linguistic features, such as meta-narrative, evaluative lexis, syntax, and modality to investigate how institutional voices permeate and potentially distort layperson narratives. Our analysis casts doubt on the veracity of the statements and raises questions about what can be considered evidential in a forensic investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-67
Number of pages43
JournalEnglish Text Construction
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

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