Dr Bronwen Innes

BA (Linguistics and English Literature), Victoria University of Wellington, 1971-73. MA (Linguistics) Victoria University of Wellington, 1974. Dip Tchg (English and French), Auckland College of Education, 1979. PhD (Linguistics), University of Auckland, 2001.


My life in linguistics began with my bachelors and masters degrees, completed at the Victoria University of Wellington in the 1970s. I then took a break, during which I became a secondary school English teacher and a mother. An interest in the way language is used in the law sparked a return to linguistics, and I completed my PhD at the University of Auckland in 2001. I have tutored and lectured in linguistics at the University of Auckland over many years as well as doing editing, training in plain language writing, and consulting as a forensic linguist (including providing expert evidence). My research interests continue in language and the law, where I have been looking at language in judges’ summings-up for juries and the comprehensibility of information about legal rights.

Research | Current

Did he understand his rights? Assessing the comprehensibility of police cautions in New Zealand. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law. Vol 25.1 2018: 21-51.

Language in Legal Settings. 2017. In Bernadette Vine, ed. The Routledge Handbook of Language in the Workplace. Routledge.

Summing up in jury trials as interactive discourse – one plank in the New Zealand judiciary’s effort to improve communication with juries. 2016. In Dr. Robert Lawson and Dr. Dave Sayers, eds. Sociolinguistic Research: Impact and Application. Routledge.

R v David Bain – a unique case in New Zealand legal and linguistic history.  2011. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law July, 18.1.

Well, that’s why I asked the question, sir’: Well as a discourse marker in court. Language in Society Vol 39 No. 1 February 2010.  

‘Everything happened so quickly?’ HRT intonation in New Zealand courtrooms. Research on Language and Social Interaction  2007 Vol 40 No. 2-3.

Why do things go wrong in court?  A linguistic perspective on misunderstanding. The New Zealand Law Journal, June 2004.

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