Testimony Used as Evidence
Expert Testimony from Thought into Speech:
When I began this project I thought that one important difference between absolute and relative pronouns would be the greater distance absolute pronouns would allow between antecedents and the pronoun. I thought that relative pronouns would be limited to a single sentence. Although it is true that absolute pronouns have greater freedom, that freedom is seldom exercised. When an absolute pronoun has a reference within the text, the reference is overwhelmingly likely to occur in the phrase that immediately precedes the pronoun in question. The really important difference between relative and absolute pronouns lies in the ability of absolute pronouns to refer to things outside of the discourse -- to people engaged in the discourse and to the context of the discourse. (85)
The Psychology of a Language by James Deese
Comment on Deese
James Deese was a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and an expert in psycholinguistics, having conducted research and published books and articles on how people produce and comprehend language.
This paragraph is a comment on one of his research findings. He speaks in the first person using the pronoun "I." What he says can be accepted as valid because he is reporting facts uncovered by the careful analysis of actual conversations he recorded.
From "The Return of the M1 Carbine"
More than 6 million M1 Carbines were made between August 1941 and June 1945 (6,221,220 to be exact). Intended to be a better personal arm than the M1911A1 .45 ACP pistol for support troops and those encumbered by heavy weapons, the "U.S. Carbine Cal. 30, M1" ended up being the U.S. military's most-procured arm ever. (51)
by Mark A. Keefe, IV
Comment on Keefe
Keefe is the Editor-In-Chief of the American Rifleman magazine, an official publication of the National Rifle Association. He would not hold this position if he were not an expert on firearms. If he permitted erroneous information to appear in the magazine, he would be corrected by hundreds of readers who are collectors, military historians, and experts in their own right.
In this brief paragraph, Keefe presents a number of facts about the M1 Carbine which can all be verified by research into the records of the government as well as the records of various manufactures of the rifle. A person in Keefe's position might well be called to testify as an expert witness regarding firearms in a court trial.
From E. B. White: A Biography
The summer world of the Belgrade Lakes in Maine was Elwyn's favorite biology laboratory. Summertime was glorious in itself, but it was particularly so at the lake in Maine, because there he had greater freedom to roam and observe nature than in Mount Vernon. After school was out in late June, "July was waiting time at 101 Summit Avenue." Elwyn spent its sultry nights, as he remembered long afterwards, swinging in a hammock on the screened-in porch "with the mosquitoes buzzing outside, and school all over with for the year, and the smell of honeysuckle." He felt content. "Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch," he observed in Charlotte's Web7.(26-27)
by Scott Elledge
Comment on Elledge
This paragraph comments on E. B. White's interests and feelings at a young age. How does Elledge know these facts and what prompts him to make these interpretations? The answer is that he has spent time, probably years, in researching his topic. This is indicated by the note reference at the end of the paragraph.
At the end of the book, the notes for each chapter are listed. For chapter II, from which this paragraph is taken, there are thirty notes. Note number 7 refers the reader an edition of White's letters as well as to his book Charlotte's Web. The role of an expect is often to interpret facts as well as to present them.
From War as I Knew It
During the course of the advance of the Third Army from Avranches to the Moselle, many instances occurred where it was necessary to use considerable persuasion to permit the uninterrupted progress of the Third Army, and naturally to assume considerable risk should the spectacular advance fail.
by General George S. Patton
One of the more important hazards encountered was that of leaving the right flank of the Third Army completely open from St. Nazaire to a point near Troyes. This decision was based on my belief that the Germans, while they had ample force, did not have sufficient mobility to strike fast, and that the ever-efficient XIX Tactical Air Command would spot any force large enough to hurt us and be able to hold it down long enough to permit the greatly superior mobility of the American troops to intervene. The soundness of the decision was indicated by the result. (328)
Who is better qualified to testify about a war than a general of the army who has actually conducted the battles? The facts of the allied advance across France are well documented, and Patton's narrative undoubtedly comports with the facts. However, Patton's strong ego may lend some bias to the interpretation of events. In this passage, his pride is evidenced in the his concluding comment.
From: The "Introduction" to Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson
To see Emerson's original approach to the enterprise of thought we must return to his starting point, the moment of immediate insight. This was not only, he came to believe, the source of a special kind of truth; it was the source of any truth. In fact, truth existed, lived only in a present act of vision and ceased to live as that ended. Such an act did not have merely an instrumental value as it led to a "true" statement; rather, the statement it led to was to be valued as an organic part of the process that created it. What mattered, then, was not so much truth as truth-making, not thoughts but thinking. It was not important that the statement of one moment might contradict that of another. Emerson's verdict here was simple and final: "Damn consistency!" any statement of truth is necessarily partial anyhow and implies the potential of its opposite also. The essential thing is not any given insight but the vital capacity to move from one to the next according to the natural rhythm of thought. The life of the mind is a perpetual voyage of discovery, a swinging of one circle around the last with no end but "old age." (xviii-xix)
by Stephen E. Whicher
The title page notes that Whicher is from Cornell University which attests to position as an authority. In addition, at the end of the book there are forty-three pages of notes about Emerson's essays and poems complied by Whicher. To do this work, he must know his subject well.
The paragraph above is an interpretation of Emerson's ideas rather than a presentation of factual information about Emerson or his works. In the field of literature, we often look to experts to help us interpret the sometimes difficult writings of authors such as Emerson. Thus, an expert may not only be a source of facts but also a source of insight.