Dr. Chris Heffer

Senior Lecturer in Linguistics

Department of English and Media Studies

Email: chris.heffer@ntu.ac.uk

Location: George Eliot Building
Room: 005

Further information: Strategy in Communication (SinC)

Dr. Chris Heffer

Profile information

Born in Guildford (Surrey), I emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 12 and went to school in Auckland and, at 16, to university in Wellington (Victoria University). After returning to Europe, I taught English language and translation at the University of Venice for many years before coming to grey England to do a PhD in English (Forensic Linguistics) at the University of Birmingham. I have been a full-time Linguist in the Department of English & Media Studies since January 2002.


  • Director, Strategy in Communication Group (SinC)

Teaching Interests

  • Module Leader for:
    • LING 103 English Language: History & Society
    • LING 215 Discourse Analysis
    • LING 310 Forensic Linguistics
    • LING 395 Language, Strategy and Advertising
  • I also teach:
    • LING 101 Introduction to Language and Linguistics
    • LING 201 Sociolinguistics

Research Interests

My main areas of research are in the field of forensic linguistics, or the study of language in a legal context. My current focus is on the linguistic strategies judges employ when instructing juries.

I am happy to supervise students who would like to work on any aspect of language and law or the language of advertising.


Recent Books

  • Words in Context: A Tribute to John Sinclair on his Retirement. Edited with H. Sauntson. English Language Research Discourse Analysis Monograph No. 18. University of Birmingham. 2000.
  • Making a Case: Narrative and Paradigmatic Modes in the Legal-Lay Discourse of English Jury Trial. PhD thesis. University of Birmingham. 2002.
  • The Language of Jury Trial: A Corpus-aided Analysis of Legal-Lay Discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Forthcoming 2005.

Selected Papers

Recent Papers

  • 'If you were standing in Marks and Spencers': Narrative and comprehension in the English summing-up. In J. Cotterill (ed) Language in the Legal Process. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 2002.
  • 'Lawyer Language in the Courtroom’. In K. Brown (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. 2nd edition. Elsevier Science. Forthcoming 2005.

Current Projects

Evaluative Strategies in Judicial Comments

When summing-up to the jury at the end of a trial, judges in many commonwealth countries are permitted to make ‘relevant’ comments on the credibility of witnesses and the weight of their evidence. At the same time they are expected to be impartial. This creates a volatile communicative situation, where the judge is torn between strategies of persuasion and strategies of impartiality. In this study, I am investigating such conflicting strategies in a corpus of 100 summings-up to juries.

Juror Information Project (with Judy Delin, Leeds University)

This project draws on interdisciplinary work on jury instruction and document design to explore the possibility of designing a multimodal document which will provide jurors with all the key information they need to perform their task effectively. Unlike previous written documents, which have been restricted to non-legal aspects of the jury task, this document would also cover the key legal considerations, such as the burden and standard of proof, which jurors must bear in mind in all criminal cases.


Updated on 15 Oct. 2005

This website was created by LIU Weiming on 6 May, 2002.