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

Filipovic, Luna (2016) May vs. Might in native vs. non-native English:Implications for inference and judgement in legal and educational contexts. Applied Linguistics Review, 7 (2). 181–201. ISSN 1868-6311

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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 by might for 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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: jury judgement,l1 english vs l2 english,may vs might,modality
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 06 May 2016 14:00
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2020 23:48
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/58589
DOI: 10.1515/applirev-2016-0008

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