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May vs. Might in native vs. non-native English: Implications for inference and judgement in legal and educational contexts

May vs. Might in native vs. non-native English: Implications for inference and judgement in legal... Abstract In this paper we discuss the empirically documented difference in a mock-jury judgement task between native speakers of English and speakers of English as a second language. We discovered a difference between these two populations in the understanding of events described by witnesses with regard to the use of verbs may and might . The events described with may were scored much higher on the possibility and witness certainty scales than when the same events were described with might by the non-native English speakers. On the other hand, the native speakers of English did not judge the events described with may and those with might differently. Further, the results for the non-native speakers did not vary based on their L1. A closer look at a sample of textbooks has provided support for the hypothesis that it is the L2 instruction materials and a specific learner strategy that are the most likely causes of the significant difference in inference and judgement between the two speaker groups. We discuss these findings in light of their applicability in, and their relevance for, legal contexts of witness testimony and jury judgement as well as their pedagogical implications and applications. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Applied Linguistics Review de Gruyter

May vs. Might in native vs. non-native English: Implications for inference and judgement in legal and educational contexts

Applied Linguistics Review , Volume 7 (2) – Jun 1, 2016

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by the
ISSN
1868-6303
eISSN
1868-6311
DOI
10.1515/applirev-2016-0008
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract In this paper we discuss the empirically documented difference in a mock-jury judgement task between native speakers of English and speakers of English as a second language. We discovered a difference between these two populations in the understanding of events described by witnesses with regard to the use of verbs may and might . The events described with may were scored much higher on the possibility and witness certainty scales than when the same events were described with might by the non-native English speakers. On the other hand, the native speakers of English did not judge the events described with may and those with might differently. Further, the results for the non-native speakers did not vary based on their L1. A closer look at a sample of textbooks has provided support for the hypothesis that it is the L2 instruction materials and a specific learner strategy that are the most likely causes of the significant difference in inference and judgement between the two speaker groups. We discuss these findings in light of their applicability in, and their relevance for, legal contexts of witness testimony and jury judgement as well as their pedagogical implications and applications.

Journal

Applied Linguistics Reviewde Gruyter

Published: Jun 1, 2016

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