
WHAT IS FORENSIC LINGUISTICS?

MAIN BRANCHES OF FORENSIC LINGUISTICS
› Legal language.
› Legal processes.
› Linguistic evidence.
› Author identification.
› Forensic stylistics.
› Discourse analysis, Linguistic dialectology
&Forensic phonetics.

TYPES OF FORENSIC TEXTS
› Emergency call.
› Threat communication.
› Suicide letters.
› Death row statements.

NEW APPROACHES
› Terrorism cases.
› Cross-cultural communication.
› Similarities in large corpora.
› Multimodal aspects of victim's narrative.

CONCLUSION
 It
is a branch of applied linguistics.
 Forensic
linguistics is the application of
the linguistics to legal matters.
 Forensic
linguistics is based on the
study, understanding and use of the
LANGUAGE for forensic purposes.

The importance of LANGUAGE in forensic
linguistics:
-
In how conversations are constructed.
-
The kinds of moves speakers or writers make in a
conversation or a written text.
- The words and their meaning are very
relevant and they can vary depending
on the context.

Forensic Linguistics works in the JUSTICE SYSTEM
and some of the difficulties that linguists and
lawyers may have in understanding each
others’ viewpoints.
Law  INSEPARABLE TO  Language
Lawyers  CONFLICT WITH  Linguists
Lawyers and linguists  DIFFERENT AIMS.
Lawyers: to persuade the jury.
Linguists: to present an opinion and
explain that opinion.
One judge remarked to a phonetician: “A
linguist…is someone who speaks a lot of
languages, so what exactly are you doing
here?” (Storey White 1997: 281).
In another case a linguist was told by the
judge that ‘Surely there are only two kinds
of English — correct English and incorrect
English?’
Forensic linguistics is applied in these different areas:
Law language
 Judicial procedure language
 Linguistic evidence in judicial procedure:

“Anything you say with an accent may
be used against you”
LEGAL PROCESS:
- The investigative stage
- The trial stage
- The appeal stage
Analyze the gathered information during
the legal process
Laguage is used as an instrument
Were you provoked?
What was in your mind then?

Focuses on:
The STUDY of written
and spoken material
Admitted as a proof
BASED ON THE ANALYSIS OF
AUTHOR IDENTIFICATION
FORENSIC STYLISTICS
DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
LINGUISTIC DIALECTOLOGY
FORENSIC PHONETICS
GRAPHOLOGY
PHONETIC
MORPHOLOGY
SYNTAX
SEMANTICS
DISCOURSE
Unabomber and his manifesto “Industrial Society and
its Future”
Anders Behring Breivik
Emergency calls
 Ransom demands and other threat texts
 Suicide letters
 Final death row statements
 Confessions and denials by public
persons

› Operators’ skills
 Intonation
 VoiceSpeech
 Timely responses
 Cooperation
› How to discover a hoax call
 Hesitation
 Incomplete or short answers
 Avoid giving information
› More common characteristics
 To cause fear to the receptor to get what the
writer wants
 Anonymous
› Some examples of threat texts
 Hate Mail
 Mobile phone texts
 Terrorism
 Kidnapping
› Characteristics
 Brevity
 Concise
 Evasiveness
 Express guilt
› Look for forgiveness
› Speakers want to share something crucial
› They want to die with dignity
› Explain aspects of struggle
› To conserve honor

The intervention of a linguist in the
analysis of conversations before
these went to trial can be helpful
Audio recordings: always the major evidence in
the linguistic analysis of terrorism cases
Terrorism + Linguistics = linked words.
Problems derived from using language as evidence:
•
Finding the right suspect.
•
Determining who created the alleged crime.
•
Accurately determining the agendas of the target.
•
Lacks of careful intelligence analysis before suspects are
indicted.
To avoid all these problems linguists should use discourse,
phonetics,
morphological, syntax and pragmatic analysis to provide
accurate records of
“what was said by whom”
•
Use of ambiguity by
suspects to make the
taped conversation
appear to be about
something that, in fact,
the target does not
comprehend.
Example: use of “it” to refer
to an specific thing you do
not want to be discovered
and “he” to refer to a
particular person.

Identification of two large documents so
that you can solve problems regarding
to authenticity.
Length of the corpora = key
This kind of process is nowadays
more and more developed by
computers.

It is not enough to discover if the texts
are similar or different, we have to know
in which aspects they have significant
similarities.

•
Chi-square value: used to compare the observed
frequencies of a set of textual measurements in an
anonymous text to the sets of frequencies that would be
expected if the text were written by a particular possible
author.
The smallest chi-square value = the major
resemblance.

Problem! Lack of communication between those
engaged in the practice of the law and those in the field of
forensic linguistics.
If the work of forensic
linguists were to be
heeded by lawyers to a
greater extent than it has
been

legal system
would be
improved!
By removing at least some of the process from the
responsibility of the lawyers, and transferring it to the
responsibility of the experts, the giving of expert
evidence will be facilitated.

Importance of
gestures, gazes and
postural orientation.
Language
Coexpressive
semiotic
partners in
the legal
discourse
Embodied
conduct
Attorney
Witnesses
Judges

These kinds of actions co-occur with
speech instead of being isolated.
Multimodal discourse:
 Speech and gesture function as equal
partners in the embodied materialization
of meaning.

Forensic linguistics: is
a branch of applied
linguistics which is
based on the study,
understanding and
use of the language
for forensic purposes.
› Law, language,
crime investigation,
judicial procedure.

-
Main branches:
Legal Language
Legal Processes
Linguistic evidence

New approaches:
› Terrorism cases.

Forensic text types:
› Emergency call
 Operators’ skills
 A hoax call
› Threat
communication
 Characteristics
› Suicide letters
 Characteristics
› Death row
statements
 Problems
 Use of ambiguity
› Similarities in large
corpora
 Chi-square value
› Cross-cultural
communication
 Problem!
› Multimodal aspects
of victim's narrative
 Gestures, gazes and
postural orientation
 Co-expressive
semiotic partners in
the legal discourse






http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/03/thecorpus-in-the-court-like-lexis-on-steroids/72054/
Pascual Perez-Paredes, TEMA 5: A Review of text-oriented
tools and data mining essentials from Recursos, Herramientas
y Nuevas tecnologias para los Estudios Ingleses.
Gibbons, J. (ed.). (1994). Language and the Law. Londres y
Nueva York: Longman.
Olsson John 2004. Forensic Linguistics: An introduction to
Language, Crime and the Law. London, Continuum.
What is forencis linguistics? John Olsson Adjunct Professor,
Nebraska Wesleyan University, Lincoln, Nebraska.
An introduction to forensic linguistics: Language in evidence
written by Malcolm Coulthard, and Alison Johnson.
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Main Branches of Forensic Linguistics