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The Language of Defamation Cases$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391329

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391329.001.0001

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Infighting in the Hair Care Products Industry

Infighting in the Hair Care Products Industry

(p.171) 10 Infighting in the Hair Care Products Industry
The Language of Defamation Cases

Roger W. Shuy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with a videotaped speech given by the head of a large hair care products company. One person in the audience sued the speaker for defamatory statements he made in that speech and for extensive quotations from him in a later magazine article. Clues from topic analysis showed that the speaker's intentions were on other matters, not the alleged defamation. He made no accusations, imperatives, laments, or complaints. His tone of voice contained no emotional characteristics of anger and his gesturing was consistently benign. The analysis also showed that the speaker's language exhibited no evidence of linguistic features that associate with a person having malicious intent and that the speaker's non‐native English skills led to at least some of the plaintiff's misperceptions of what was said. The speaker's use of verb tense, pronouns, and noun plurals supported this conclusion.

Keywords:   topics, accusations, malicious intent, non‐native English skills, verb tense, pronouns, noun plurals

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