This article examines Russian jury instructions which have barely been treated or analyzed in terms of explanatory strategies employed in expert-lay discourse where a set of abstract concepts needs to be displayed in a way that enables a lay audience to understand them. The current study was thus motivated by the lack of explicit guidance for interacting with lay persons in Russian courtroom trials, and challenges faced by jury members in attempting to understand abstract and(or) unfamiliar legal concepts. The results underpin the article’s central argument that the explanatory strategies can overcome the incomprehensibility of expert texts indicating that efforts should be undertaken to explain abstract technical concepts to a lay audience. These strategies are 1) definitions selected to explain technical terms in a paradigmatic manner; 2) descriptions employed to communicate new knowledge by relating it to the existing knowledge in a narrative way; 3) examples used with the intention of avoiding communication problems by referring complex legal concepts to concrete objects or events; 4) metaphors that facilitate jurors’ comprehension of abstract legal information by bringing it closer to their everyday experience; 5) synonyms which provide alternatives to abstract legal concepts from everyday language. The research could be extended further by carrying out studies on explanatory strategies in other special domains where incomprehensible expert texts create a demand for expert-to-lay translation.
Copyright (c) 2022 Olga Boginskaya
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