Intentionally Encouraging or Assisting Others to Commit an Offence: The Anatomy of a Language Crime

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Since at least as far back as the infamous Derek Bentley case of the 1950s [6], the issue of incitement has been positioned firmly as an object of interest for forensic linguists. An example of a language crime [23], the features of incitement – formalized as intentionally encouraging or assisting others to commit an offence in the law of England & Wales under section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 [22] – have been widely debated by linguists and legal scholars alike. This paper draws on two webinars hosted by The Hunting Office in August 2020, which were subsequently leaked by the Hunt Saboteurs Association. Featuring senior figures from the hunting community addressing a nationwide audience of hunt masters, the webinars led to a police investigation and subsequent prosecution and conviction of one of the main speakers, Mark Hankinson, for encouraging or assisting others to commit an offence under the Hunting Act 2004.
In this paper I explore what, linguistically, is meant by encouraging or assisting. Through corpus-assisted pragmatic and discourse analyses I interrogate the webinars to address the question of how precisely Hankinson implied his encouragement of illegal hunting with dogs. The phenomena of collocation and semantic prosody are crucial for understanding how such meanings came to be attached to the contributions Hankinson makes to the webinars. Moreover the paper will examine the contributions of other speakers and demonstrate that the same incriminating linguistic patterns in Hankinson’s talk are also evident in that of those who were not prosecuted.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use [], but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:[DOI here when available]


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