P.O. Box 2173
Alameda, CA 94501 USA
510-534-0614
joe@devney.com

 
Linguistic Consultant  
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Forensic Linguistics/
Language and Law

The broad meaning of Forensic Linguistics covers any area in which linguistics—the study of language and how it works—intersects with the law. Linguists’ knowledge can contribute to cases involving:

  • the meaning of the language of a statute
  • plagiarism
  • copyright infringement
  • language in contracts
  • jury instructions
  • translation issues in court

The narrower meaning of the term refers specifically to linguistic analysis of evidence in a criminal investigation or trial. This includes answering questions like the following:

  • Could the suspect/defendant have written a particular unsigned communication?
  • For a document (such as a ransom note) with an unknown author, what can be surmised about the author by the way he or she uses language? (Whether he/she is writing in his/her first language, regional origin, educational level, etc.)
  • What was actually said by a suspect/defendant in a voice recording?
  • Does the suspect’s accent in a voice recording reveal a regional dialect?