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Dennis Kurzon, professor in the Department of English Language and Literature, and has served as Head of Department (2006-2010).

His fields of research include legal pragmatics​, the pragmatics of silence, writing systems and the sociolinguistics of India

  • Personal Information
    His main field of research has been in legal language. He has written two books on legal language: His 1986 It is Hereby Performed…: Explorations in Legal Speech Acts (published by John Benjamins), partly based on his PhD dissertation, analyzes legal acts as speech acts according to the model set out in Austin's and Searle's pioneering research.

    In A Tale of Two Remedies: Equity, Verb Aspect and the Whorfian Hypothesis (Deborah Charles Publications, 1998), Prof. Kurzon looks at the growth of equity in the Anglo-American legal system through the use of verbal aspect, especially the distinction between the perfective and the imperfective aspects. These ideas were previously published in a number of articles (1995, 1996, 1997)

    In his book Discourse of Silence (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1997), Prof. Kurzon devotes a chapter to the right of silence in the legal process, a topic which is also discussed in several articles (1992a, 1992b, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2008).

    Among his numerous articles on legal language He has written on the essence of legal language (1997), on incitement (1998), on the politeness of American and English judges in relation to their colleagues on the bench and to lawyers that have appeared before them (2001), on defamation (2002), on the semiotics of the Ten Commandments in American legal landscapes (2008), and on foreign and archaic words and terminology in legal texts (2013).

    Following the sudden death in 1998 of Roberta Kevelson, one of the leading Peircian philosophers, Prof. Kurzon edited a special issue of International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (1999) consisting of articles written by a number of scholars who work within the field of legal semiotics and who have been inspired by her work.
    Prof. Kurzon co-edited with John Gibbons the section on legal language in the Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (published in December 2005) .
    Prof. Kurzon has published extensively on silence. In his 1997 book, mentioned above, he looks at silence in answer to questions not only in the context of the law, but also in everyday conversation, in literary and biblical contexts, in music, and finally in the cinema. He has extended his research into silence in the legal field in other articles (2008, 2010, 2011) but has also looked at silence in the concert hall (2011) and in other domains. He has set up a typology of silence (2007, 2009, 2011), and has contributed articles on silence to encyclopedias and handbooks of pragmatics and of applied linguistics.
    Another topic that Prof. Kurzon has researched is Indian sociolinguistics. In 2003, his book Where East Looks West: Success in English in Goa and on the Konkan Coast was published by Multilingual Matters. In this work, he examines the success in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) among Konkani speakers (who live in Goa and on the Konkan coast of India), who have constantly achieved the highest average grade in the world in the test. Work on Indian sociolinguistics has led him to examine issues of writing systems and of transliteration both in the context of India and in general (2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013).
    Prof. Kurzon has also studied, among other things, applause as audience response based on recordings of various diplomatic ceremonies concerned with the Arab-Israel peace process (1996, and an article in Hebrew in 1997), Thomas Hardy's major novels from a pragmatic perspective (1993, 1996), linguistic landscape (2008, 2011), and adpositions, editing two books on the topic. The first, which he co- edited with the late Susanne Feigenbaum, is a collection of papers on the pragmatics, semantics and grammar of prepositions (published by John Benjamins of Amsterdam, 2002). The papers were presented at a conference on prepositions which he co-organized (with Susanne Feigenbaum) at Haifa University in June 2000. His paper was on the multifunctional preposition long in the Melanesian pidgin English, Bislama, spoken in Vanuatu.

    The second book, consisting of articles on adpositions, (, Prof. Kurzon co-edited (with Silvia Adler) with contributions from Israeli, European and American linguists (2008). His own article in the book deals with the status of the English adposition ago. He has also contributed the article on Adpositions for the Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2005).

    Prof. Kurzon is a member of the Editorial Boards of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, the Journal of Pragmatics, the International Review of Pragmatics, Research in Language, and a member of the Advisory Board of Pragmatics and Discourse.

    Present Research
    One of the topics Kurzon is now working on is the silences of Sir Thomas More, relating to More’s own writing,  and  to events in his life, focusing on his silence when imprisoned, put on trial and eventually executed for refusing to take the oath supporting Henry VIII’s break from Rome.  
  • Courses
  • Publications
    It is Hereby Performed...: Explorations in Legal Speech Acts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    Discourse of Silence. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    A Tale of Two Remedies: Equity, Verb Aspect and the Whorfian Hypothesis. Liverpool: Deborah Charles Publications.
    with Yosef Tobi (eds.) Studies in Language, Literature and History: Presented to Joseph
    Chetrit. Jerusalem: Carmel Publishing.

    1984. “Themes, hyperthemes and the discourse structure of British legal texts”. Text, 4:1-3, 31-55.

    1985a. “Signposts for the reader: a corpus-based study of text deixis”
    . Text, 5:3, 187-200.

    1985b. “Clarity and word order in legislation”. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 5:2, 269-275.

    1985c. “The tales lawyers tell: Narrative aspects of a lawyer's brief”. Poetics, 14, 467-481.

    1987. “Latin for lawyers: Degrees of textual integration'. Applied Linguistics, 8:3, 27-34.

    1988a. “Prolegomena to a speech act approach to hearsay evidence”. International  Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 1:3, 264-273.

    1988b. “The theme in text cohesion”. In Y. Tobin (ed.), Prague School and its Legacy. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 155-162.

    1989a. “Iconic syntax and rabbinical codes”.
    Jewish Law Annual, VIII, 71-83.

    Nomen rosae: Latin and ‘the ambience of the period’ in Eco's novel”. Hebrew University Studies in Literature and the Arts, 17, 36-51.

    1989c. “Telling the truth: the oath as a test of witness competency”. International
    Journal for the Semiotics ofLaw, 2:4, 49-63.

    1989d. “Sexist and non-sexist language in English legal texts”. International
    Journal of the Sociology of Language, 80, 99-113.

    1989e.“'The sign, its addresser and addressee: aspects of legal and liturgical
    . In Y. Tobin (ed.), From Sign to Text. Amsterdam: John Benjamins,297-305.

    1992a. “When silence may mean power”. Journal of Pragmatics, 18, 92-95.

    1992b. "Guilt invokes the privilege of silence"
    . Journal for Juridical Science, 17:2, 1-14.

    1992c. “Poetic language and court opinions”. In R. Kevelson (ed.) Law and Aesthetics.New York: Peter Lang, 281-302.
    1993. "Entrapped by words: Semiotic studies of Thomas Hardy's novels”. Semiotica,95:3/4, 261-323.
    1994a. "Linguistics and legal discourse: An introduction”. International Journal forthe Semiotics of Law, 7:19, 2-10.
    1994b. "Silence in the legal process: a sociopragmatic model”. In Oñati Proceedings16: Bernard S. Jackson (ed.) Legal Semiotics and theSociology of Law. Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law, 297-332.
    1994c. "Character silence and narrator silencing”. In S. C mejrkov, F. Danes and E. Havlova(eds.) Writing vs. Speaking:Language, Text, Discourse, Communication. Tü bingen: Gunter Narr, 367-371.
    1995a. "Right of silence: a model of interpretation”. Journal of Pragmatics, 23, 55-69.
    1995b."A Whorfian view of equitable remedies: A chapter in the semiotics of English legal development”. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 8(23), 155-180.
    1996a. "The White House speeches: Semantic and paralinguistic strategies for eliciting applause”. Text, 16(2), 199-224.
    1996b. "To speak or not to speak: The comprehensibility of the revised policecaution (PACE)”. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 9(25), 3-16.
    1996c. "The maxim of quantity, hyponymy and Princess Diana”. Pragmatics, 6(2), 217-227.
    1996d. "The anatomy of two promises: The cases of ‘The Rash Bride’ and Bathsheba Everdene”. Thomas Hardy Year Book, 13-21.
    1996e. "Judicial remedies and verbal aspect”. In J. Engberg & A. Trosborg (eds.)Linguists and Lawyers - Issues We Confront (HAFF 5). Hamburg: Attikon Verlag, 121-143.
    1997a. "Deixis and background knowledge in the humor of car-bumper stickers”. Semiotica, 113-3/4, 347-368.
    1997b. "He did his homework but failed: Applause elicitation in diplomatic speeches”. Hebrew Linguistics, 41-42, 95-108. {in Hebrew}
    1997c. "Legal Language: Varieties, Genres, Registers, Discourses”.International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 119-139.
    1997d. "Semiotic perspectives on equity: Two analogies”. In Proceedings of 2nd International Conference on Aequitas and Equity. Jerusalem: Sacher Institute for Legislative Research and Comparative Law, 212-227.
    1998. "The speech act status of incitement: Perlocutionary acts revisited”. Journal of Pragmatics,29, 571-596.
    1999. "A speech act approach to ‘a dead letter’ legislation”. In H. van Schooten (ed.)Semiotics and Legislation:Jurisprudential, Institutional and SociologicalPerspectives. Liverpool: Deborah Charles Publications, 123-137.
    2000. "The right to understand the right of silence: A few comments”. Journal of Forensic Linguistics, 7(2), 244-248.
    2001. "Politeness of judges”.Journal of Pragmatics, 33, 61-85.
    2002a. "The reader of defamatory texts”. International Journal for the Semioticsof Law, 15, 143-158.
    2002b. "Preposition as functor: The case of long in Bislama”. In Feigenbaum and Kurzon (eds.), pp. 231-248.
    2003. "Language choice as index: The case of India”. Semiotica, 147-1/4, 457-472.
    2005. "Transliteration or Transcription? Attempts at Bengali/Arabic Transliteration from Historical and Linguistic Perspectives”. Journal of the  Asiatic Society of Bangladesh – Golden Jubilee Volume, vol. 50, 641-665.
    2006. "One nation under God’: Where linguists and lawyers should meet”. In D.Bartol et al. (eds.) Langue, Droit, Société(Language, Law, Society). Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1-15.
    2007a. "Peters Edition v. Batt: The intertextuality of silence”. International Journal for the Semioticsof Law, 20, 285-303.
    2007b. "Towards a typology of silence”. Journal of Pragmatics, 39, 1673-1688.
    2007c. "One-minute silence and types of silence in social interaction”. In Michal Ephratt (ed.) Silences: Silence in Culture and Interpersonal Relations. Tel Aviv: Riesling, 83-94. (in Hebrew)
    2008a. "The systematization and typology of the instant messaging writing system used by young Israeli Arabs”. Written Language and Literacy, 11(1), 35-48.(with Sandy Habib)
    2008b. "What do the Ten Commandments do?: A study of lawyers' semiotics”.Semiotica, 172-1/4: 279-297.
    2008c."'Ago’ and its grammatical status in English and other languages”. In Kurzon and Adler (eds.),209-227.
    2008d. "Indian languages: Hidden English in texts and society”. In J. Rosenhouse and R. Kowner (eds.) Globally Speaking: Motives for Adopting English Vocabulary in Other Languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 208-226
    2008e. "The silent witness: pragmatic and literal interpretations”. In John Gibbons and Teresa Turell (eds.) Dimensions of Forensic Linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 161-178.
    2009. "Thematic silence as metaphor”. In Ken Turner and Bruce Fraser (eds.) Language in Life, and a Life in Language: Jacob Mey – A Festschrift. Emerald Group, 255-263.
    2010a. "Romanisation of Bengali and other Indian languages”. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 20(1), 61-74.

    2010b. "A pragmatic analysis of silence in an American constitutional issue"
    . Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 6:1, 49-66.

    2011a. "Speed traps and the right of silence". Research in Language, 9:1, 165-176.

    'Moment of Silence: Constitutional transparency and judicial control'.
     International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 2011, 29:2, 195-209.
    2011c. "Hush…The Lights are Dimmed: A Case of Situational Silence". Journal of Music and Meaning, Vol. 10, 26-44.
    2011d. "Editorial: On silence." Journal of Pragmatics 43, 10.

    2011e. "Languages in the landscape as an historical index". In Yosef Tobi and Dennis Kurzon (eds.) Studies in Language, Literature and history: Presented to Joseph Chetrit. Jerusalem: Carmel Publishing, 129-148.
    2012.  "A brief visit to the Apache, the Igbos, the Akan and the Finns: Thoughts on the pragmatics of silence and the maxim of quantity". Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 8:1, 115-130.
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