LING-402 Forensic Linguistics
Spring for 2017-2018

This course provides students with an overview of the broad field of Forensic

Linguistics – namely, linguistic science applied in legal settings. Topics covered

include the language of police and suspects (e.g. the language of ‘consensual’

searches, interrogations, confessions, advising of/requesting right to counsel);

language crimes (e.g. solicitation, conspiracy, bribery, threats, perjury, plagiarism);

and linguistics as evidence (e.g. identifying anonymous authors of documents

associated with criminal activity, identifying anonymous voices). We will also

discuss the status of linguistic evidence in court and how best to disseminate

relevant knowledge about linguistics to law enforcement practitioners, judges,

lawyers, juries, etc. The course will incorporate lecture, class discussion,

demonstrations and exercises pertaining to language crimes and linguistic evidence,

and presentations by practitioners in the field. Students will conduct a term

research project and present their results in (1) a final paper suitable for

presentation at a professional linguistics or forensic linguistics conference or

publication in an appropriate academic journal, and (2) a final presentation to be

presented at the end of the term. Students will also be expected to participate

actively in class and complete all in-class exercises.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: For upperclass undergrads and graduate students, with a strongly recommended prereq of Introduction to Language (LING 001) for undergraduates; helpful prereq. of an undergrad. Sociolinguistics course

Sections:

LING-402-01 Language and Law
Spring for 2017-2018
Faculty:
Lawyers, and particularly judges, spend most of their professional lives reading legal texts: constitutional provisions; statutes; and judicial opinions. Unfortunately, lawyers, and particularly judges, have little or no training in linguistic theory or discourse analysis. In this seminar, we will look at the current approaches that lawyers and judges use to interpret legal texts. Specifically, we will look critically at what is called “textualism,” the approach most closely associated with Justice Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. In its strongest form, textualism assumes that sentences have meanings that do not require reference to their context. The goal in interpretation is to find the meaning of the “plain words” without reference to outside texts. This approach is quite different from the approaches to discourse analysis that have gained currency in linguistics. Specifically, we will compare the textualist approach to that used by Bakhtin, which assumes the inherent heteroglossia of all texts and dismiss monoglossic approaches to interpretation of texts. In addition, we will investigate the utility of the concept of intertextuality in the interpretation of legal texts. Readings will include primary legal texts, textualist legal scholarship, and works in discourse analysis. Students will be responsible for weekly readings and at least one class presentation related to the topic of their seminar papers.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: For upperclass undergrads and graduate students, with a strongly recommended prereq of Introduction to Language (LING 001) for undergraduates; helpful prereq. of an undergrad. Sociolinguistics course
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.