Research article
Issue: № 4 (20), 2019


The article is devoted to the consideration of the semantic fields in English that reflect the conceptual field “Crime Scene Examination”, with attention to the possibilities of classifying nominative units based on the functional role principle, typical nomination mechanisms that appear in nominative units used to describe the reference zone “Crime Scene Examination” and related features of reference. As the differential parameters of this lexical cluster, strict designation of the content and nature of procedural actions, an unambiguous expression of legal concepts, the functional orientation of the nomination, the breadth of the thematic repertoire of the reference zone, the repetitive use of syntactic structures, the use of typified word-formation models, the constancy of use, and its performativity are highlighted. Specification of the significative meaning by introducing a lexical unit, metonymy, and also conversion are elicited as the dominant nomination mechanisms.


In the study, we approach the issue of classifying nominative units used to describe the reference zone “Crime scene examination” from the perspective of several approaches.

The first principle that underlies the study is the principle of categorization of vocabulary related to a specific reference zone [4]. The basis of this principle is actually a cognitive approach. That is why the term cognitive linguistics, namely the “conceptual field”, was chosen as the main term in the study.

We proceed from the fact that a conceptual field reflects generalized ideas about a reference zone, including typical models of behavior of actors in this area. A conceptual field is materialized with the help of the linguistic category of a semantic field, which is understood as a combination of meanings correlated with a certain area of reality and the language means of their expression.

In this sense, the conceptual field “Crime Scene Examination” can incorporate different semantic fields represented by nominative units in different languages if there are no differences in the crime scene search prescribed by the criminal procedure legislation of the countries in question.

Thus, we carry out the categorization of lexical units, relying on knowledge models (static and dynamic), which are embedded in our consciousness by experience. Among the many models of knowledge representation recognized in cognitive linguistics, which include frames, scenarios, schemes, situational models, we selected the proposition as the main model.

The most important premise of our study, which will be its fundamental postulate, is that the proposition is understood in accordance with the concept of J. Anderson [10], that is, as some model of reflection of reality, which can be represented by a subject-predicate language structure.

Further, inside the field and micro-fields, pointed out based on cognitive models of knowledge, we rely on the functional role principle of classification of nominative units. According to the functional role principle, the classification of nominative units that form the semantic field is carried out with regard to the functional roles of the actors in the studied field of communication, namely the Criminal Procedure Law and procedural actions of crime scene examination.

The functional role principle laid down by the research of Ch. Fillmore [5], [6], the reference role grammar of R. van Valin and W. Foley [1], as well as frame semantics [3] is based on the categorization of lexical units that form the semantic field, relying on the functional roles of actors in a certain area of communication.

Accordingly, in its most general form, such an approach can be represented through a series of questions: Who? What is he doing? What is the object of the action? / What is the action directed at? What are the characteristics of the facility? What are the circumstances of the action? What is the result of the action? What are the characteristics of the result? / What is the assessment of the result? [7, P. 168-169], [8, P. 193-194]. Of course, the general scheme may vary depending on the sphere of communication and the reference zone.

The third principle in presenting the conceptual organization of the semantic field is onomasiological, which is associated with the identification of the mechanisms of nomination.

The lexical material for the analysis was the cluster of nominative units predetermined by the logic of operational-investigative actions during the preliminary investigation aimed at crime scene examination. We considered it possible to turn to the nomination of certain aspects of the activities of employees of internal affairs bodies at the stage of crime scene examination as part of the preliminary investigation, on the one hand, and to the referential properties of nominative units, as well as to nomination mechanisms that manifest themselves in English, on the other hand.


In the course of our work, we created an interlanguage glossary, including interlanguage synonyms and functional-semantic analogues in Russian and English used to describe the reference zone “Crime Scene Examination”.

With reference to the fundamental principles outlined, we identified the following micro-clusters of nominative units in the semantic field under study: participants in the crime scene examination; main actions of police officers at the crime scene; technical means used during the examination of the crime scene; crime scene preservation; crime scene search; crime scene registration; gathering evidence at the crime scene; preservation and packaging of evidence; labeling and documentation of evidence; transportation of evidence; report on the results.

The analysis that was carried out further included the identification of differential characteristics of the nomination related to the activities of the police officer at the stage of crime scene examination.

The features found in the nominative units within the analyzed field “Crime Scene Examination” in the micro-fields mentioned above include the following parameters:

1) a strict designation of the area, certain aspects, content and nature of the action of criminal procedure law: to preserve the integrity of evidence; to maintain the chain of custody; to ensure the integrity of evidence (terminological synonymy); “Square” illuminator; a magnifying glass; fingerprints powders; columnar brush; photogrammetry; lasergrammetry;

2) accurate and unambiguous expression of legal concepts (often using terminologically fixed units typical of regulatory legal acts and frequently having analogues in the professional speech of an employee of internal affairs agencies): prima facie evidence; forensic exhibits (cf: material evidence, physical evidence); legal framework;

3) the functional orientation of the nomination, which is manifested in the correlation of mental concepts stored in our minds with the language system and the choice of adequate means of describing the studied area of reality (namely, examination of the crime scene) in accordance with the pragmatic functions of the participants in communicative interaction: to go out to a crime scene; to secure the crime scene with the crime-scene tape; to examine / to search / to observe / to inspect / to survey a crime scene; to conduct general observation of the crime scene; to tag the evidence; to tag the traces; take evidence, to take pictures of the evidence / the traces; to photograph the evidence; to collect physical evidence; to retrieve physical evidence; to recover physical evidence, etc .;

4) semantic diversity, manifested in the breadth of “the thematic repertoire” [P.52] of the reference zone (in the case of our study, we are talking about a wide “thematic repertoire”, predetermined by various circumstances of the crime, which we illustrate by nominative units from different microfields: a unique case identifier; evidence recovery plan; the perishable material; hand written notes; voice recorded notes; to reduce the possibility of cross contamination; to make plaster casts; to swab blood stains; operational staff; operative group; an expert witness in traceology;

5) the repetitive use of syntactic structures within the complex nominative units: the identity of the witness; the signature of the author; transportation arrangements; a unique identifying mark;

6) typified word-formation models with the dominance of the affixation method: justification; preservation; observation; contamination;

7) the constancy of use, due to the high level of canonization and formalities of interaction in the field of preliminary investigation, which in turn determines automatism in use;

8) performativity, manifested in the prescription of specific actions in a particular situation at the stage of the preliminary investigation: to cordon off a crime scene; to tag the evidence; to take pictures of the evidence; to retrieve the evidence; to bag the evidence.

Among the nomination mechanisms the list of which is outlined in [9, P. 143] we have elicited the following ones:

<>1.2.3.Conversion: to reconstruct the happening; working with micro-objects at the scene; carrying out static and dynamic inspection of the place of fire, establishing the source and cause of fire, ways of spreading fire, selecting and packing physical evidence of various nature. As can be seen from the examples, verbal nouns and gerunds are the most typical type of the semantic-syntactic transformation of meaning.


The study is based on the categorization of a fragment of reality associated with the procedural actions of a law enforcement officer at the stage of preliminary investigation while examining the crime scene, therefore, we recognize the use of a mechanism for categorizing lexical material based on models of reality situations stored in the mind. In fact, the functional role approach to the study of vocabulary, which proved to be effective, is based on the cognitive method, respectively, a priori, we recognize the fundamental provisions of this approach in our work.

The analysis of the nomination tendencies used to describe the reference zone “Crime Scene Investigation” in English allowed us to identify common features of the studied lexical subsystem. These include strict designation of the content and nature of procedural actions, an unambiguous expression of legal concepts, the functional orientation of the nomination, the breadth of the thematic repertoire of the reference zone, the repetitive use of syntactic structures, the use of typified word-formation models, the constancy of use, and its performativity are highlighted. Among nomination mechanisms the most frequently used is the semantic one, namely, specification of significative meaning by means of introducing a descriptive lexical item. Metonymic transfer is typically used to render the idea of transfer of the meaning from the process onto the result. The semantic-syntactic mechanism is that of conversion which manifests itself most frequently in verbal nouns and gerunds.


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