• A common language and shared understanding?: Corpus approaches in support of system responses to family violence

      Penry Williams, Cara; Stebbins, Tonya N.; University of Derby; La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia (Edinburgh University Press, 2023)
      Family violence is an enduring social problem with devastating impacts. The Victorian Government (Australia) Royal Commission (state inquiry) into Family Violence (RCFV) noted that language is implicated in underreporting and under-recording of violence and emphasised the importance of agencies having ‘a common language’ and ‘shared understanding’ of family violence. Our analyses examine written submissions to the RCFV for frequencies and collocations, focussed on the construction and roles of human referents. We utilised corpus assisted discourse analysis to explore if community service and law-based professional bodies do have common vocabularies and if these represent shared ideas, responding directly to agendas set by those involved. Analyses show key differences but also undercover a shared lack of agency given to victims and a loss of focus on the role of those who inflict these forms of violence. We argue for the utility of corpus linguistic methods to empirically show how language is used to construct conceptualisations of family violence across key sectors of the service system. We intend this research as a starting point for discussion between professionals working to improve cross-sector communication, by bringing linguistic insights to this deep-rooted social issue.