"The Groundbreaking Science of Forensic Linguistics" Review Report example

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"The Groundbreaking Science of Forensic Linguistics" Review Report

The talk titled “The Groundbreaking Science of Forensic Linguistics” dwells upon the help that forensic linguists can provide. According to the speaker, Dr. Robert Leonard, this science can be useful in many legal spheres, from intelligence and countering terrorism to court trials and guarding officials or celebrities.

Forensic linguistics deals with the analysis of many types of linguistic evidence. It may be pieces of writing, such as mails, posts, notes and other short texts used as evidence. Paying attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation, dialect, word choice and stylistic peculiarities, an expert can either establish the authorship of the text or narrow down the circle of suspects. This helps to investigate death threats, kidnapping, espionage, incitement to different crimes, and even murders.

Business documentation is another part of the range of interests of forensic linguistics. Linguists can help in the issues concerning trademark infringement, contract disputes or the authorship of patents.

Then, forensic linguists deal with all the legal language data, because every instruction, every law or statute, every interview or interrogation is created with the use of language. Due to the fact that legal data is particularly important as it can change the destinies of people, it is crucial that the instructions and interrogations should be interpreted correctly and the text evidence thoroughly checked.

Experts can learn a number of facts about the author of the written or spoken text, simply analyzing the language. For example, it is possible to define what is his or her nationality and mother tongue; how he or she is educated; what is the occupation and workgroup identity of the author; how old he or she is and what sort of experience has gained.

However, some criminals intentionally mislead the experts by making deliberate mistakes and choosing inappropriate words and grammar structures. Experts should be aware of this and pay attention to inconsistencies in order to avoid misinformation.

It should be noted that the linguists have to use the basic methods but think about new hints working with every new piece of writing. For example, in the case of Hummert, a stalker and serial killer, they analyzed two letters, one from the stalker and another from the killer, and found many similarities between them. Using their conclusions about the author’s education and possible occupation, they detected the suspect and analyzed his other letters. There was an unusual peculiarity the experts had never come across before. It was the use of contractions – positive statements were not contracted while the negative ones were contracted rather often. It helped to confirm the authorship.

Thus, the forensic linguists have to learn all the way long. The Hummert case taught them that the use of contractions can be a hint. It shows that there are no step-by-step algorithms for analyzing letters. Instead, the experts have to be very attentive and notice everything that can shed some light on the author’s personality.

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