'Language has a heart': linguistic markers of evaluation in selected TRC testimonies

20 Oct 2011

This paper explores how two testifiers at the Human Rights Violation hearings of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1996 used selected markers of evaluation (shifts in tense, the inclusion of direct speech and code-switching) to express evaluative meanings and position themselves, the police and their audiences in relation to their narratives. Both testifiers are mothers of young activists who were pursued, detained and tortured by police in the 1980s. The paper argues that it is through the subtle though significant linguistic choices the women make that their perspective is construed and their 'narrative truth' realized.