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'If it doesn't fit, you must acquit': metaphor and the O.J. Simpson criminal trial

Issue: Vol 5 No. 2 (1998)

Journal: International Journal of Speech Language and the Law

Subject Areas: Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.v5i2.141


This paper analyses the use of metaphor in the prosecution and defence closing arguments of the O.J. Simpson criminal trial as a conceptualizing device for both the trial and its participants. It studies the relative distribution of these representations, which include military, sporting and theatrical metaphors. Moreover it shows that these metaphorical constructs serve very different functions; in the prosecution closing argument as a structuring device, and in the defence equivalent as a dramatic highlighter of particular individuals and events. The paper continues with a detailed analysis of two specific metaphorical references: the criminal trial as the completion of a jigsaw puzzle and Simpson, the defendant, as an unpredictable time-bomb.

Author: Janet Cotterill

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