Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are You a Stenographer, or are You Just Happy to See Me?

Being deposed is interesting for me as a linguist.  The attorney for the other party (in this case, Chuck’s ex-girlfriend, Marianne) tries to trip up the person being questioned with terminology and there can be no assumption that the questioner and the person being questioned share common meanings for anything. 

She started the ball rolling by having me sworn in and then asking me what the oath means to me.  She actually asked me that (in words similar to these):  “'To tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'; what does that mean to you?”  Ooooh… Sunday school essay question. 
What about the word “statement”?  Did I make any written statements about the deposition?  Hmmm… well, I guess it depends on what one means by a "statement".  Does that mean an official document of some sort?  Or does it include a blog entry?  Facebook?  A letter to my mother?  When I asked for this clarification, she told me that all of those could be considered a statement.  Ahhh.  Well, in that case, yeah.  I've made lots of statements.

At any rate.  It was a lot of irrelevant questioning, if you ask me.  Lots of questions about the house on Regal Street.  Did Chuck encourage me to buy it?  Questions about the property line dispute between Chuck and Marianne.  What was my impression of where the property line was?  Geeze.  Who the hell knows?  That’s between Chuck, Marianne and more than one surveyor.  Their disagreement about the line between the two lots is one of the reasons for all these legal proceedings.  I don’t know how I am supposed to lend any wisdom to that. 
More interesting is Marianne’s choice of a lawyer who resembles her. But with a friendlier face. And the stenographer.  I was enamored.  She had a laptop on the table, but in her lap was the stenographer’s contraption.  I could see her fingers performing the church-organ rhythm that goes with the trade and I thought, not for the first time, what is that machine lkie?  What are you recording with those slow keystrokes? Show me how it works.  Truly.  When we were finished, and they asked me if I had any questions, I came so close to saying, “Could I please see the stenographer’s machine?" 

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