Curriculm Vitae/Qualifications & Education

PROFILE

An academically-trained linguist with 30 years’ experience in the study and analysis of style and meaning.

ORIGINAL METHODOLOGY: My original, multi-dimensional approach to stylistic analysis goes beyond language elements and uses a proprietary method to identify a wide range of stylistic similarities and differences.

A language expert who has devoted a professional lifetime to the analysis of language and the understanding of language variation and stylistic nuance:

Doctoral dissertation (University of Chicago, 1973): an analysis of code-switching (i.e., variation in the speaking style of an individual).  Relevant to authorship/plagiarism cases.

 Undergraduate and graduate studies of English syntax, semantics, and style; in-depth understanding of language structure: (1) identify the vocabulary and grammatical choices that characterize an individual writer’s style. (2) Recognize errors that no native speaker would make and thus determine whether a document has been written by a speaker of a foreign language. Relevant to authorship, plagiarism/copyright, and contract interpretation cases.

 Twelve years of teaching English linguistics and composition (including graduate seminars in stylistics and in the structure and process of written language): (1) the correlation between a writer’s level of education and his/her  deviations from Standard English; (2) the particular locutions favored by individual writers. Relevant to authorship/plagiarism cases.

Twenty years as a corporate speechwriter/ghostwriter: deep theoretical and practical understanding of the nature and variation of individual style. Relevant to authorship/plagiarism cases.

 Examination/analysis of thousands of student papers, corporate publications, and countless other written documents: formulate expert opinion on plagiarism and anonymous or disputed authorship by judging whether particular words, phrases, or other linguistic elements could occur by chance in two separate documents – or whether the documents are the product of the same hand.   Also relevant to interpretation of contracts, wills, laws, regulations.

Extended practice in transcription (basic linguistics courses, doctoral theses, speechwriting); qualified to evaluate the accuracy of transcriptions (from handwriting to typing and from audio to writing).

Education

B.A.  (1964), Brown  University,  Providence  RI,  1964; linguistics (summa cum laude, high honors, Phi Beta  Kappa).

M.A.  (1967), PhD (1973), University  of Chicago,  Chicago  IL;  linguistics.

Research  Assistantships (computer applications to language analysis),  University  of Chicago,  summers, 1966-68.

Russian  language (Harvard  University;  University  of Michigan),  summers 1962, 1963.

PRSA/NYU  seminars: “The Speech as an Effective PR/PA Tool” (1981); “PR/PA Writing  Workshop” (1982).

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

1991-2002: Director, Executive Communications (reporting to Sr. VP, Corporate Communications), Kraft Foods, Northfield, IL 60093.

1984-91: Speechwriter, Public Relations Staff, General Motors Corporation, Detroit MI 48202.

1981-83: Manager, Speechwriting, Burroughs Corporation, Detroit MI 48232.

1979-81: Staff Supervisor, Marketing Communications, Michigan Bell, Detroit and Southfield MI.

1968-79: Assistant Professor of English (most recent position: Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1974-79); taught English linguistics and composition at the college/university level; published scholarly articles; organized a composition program and helped establish a graduate program in the theory and structure of writing.

ACADEMIC COURSES TAUGHT: (partial list)

History of the English Language; Language and Dialect; Introduction to English Dialects; the Structure of Modern English; English Stylistics; Structure and Process of Written Language; English Composition; Introduction to Linguistics; Phonetics and Phonology…

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

PhD, University of Chicago, Chicago IL, 1973; linguistics.

M.A., University of Chicago, 1967; linguistics.

BA, Brown University, Providence RI., 1964; linguistics (summa cum laude, high honors, Phi Beta Kappa).

Research Assistantships (computer applications to language analysis), University of Chicago, summers, 1966-68.

Russian language (Harvard University; University of Michigan), summers 1962, 1963.

PRSA/NYU seminars: “The Speech as an Effective PR/PA Tool” (1981); “PR/PA Writing Workshop” (1982).


 

Recent Posts

  • Alan Perlman reviews Tom Wolfe’s “The Kindgom of Speech” - I just finished “The Kingdom of Speech,” by Tom Wolfe (2016, Little, Brown), author of “The Right Stuff” (about the first astronauts), “Bonfire of the Vanities” (a shot at NY’s elites), “A Man in Full,” (about the vulgar wealth of the New South), and many others I enjoyed immensely.  Apart from his stylistic peculiarities, Wolfe... Read more »
  • Intro. to blog; Turnitin.com: Mindless Machine Requires Human Brain - An intro to the blog.  What is a linguist?  To a lot of people, it’s someone who knows multiple languages.  But to many other people, including most who call themselves “linguists,” it is somebody who is fascinated by language. That’s the first prerequisite.  That’s why George Carlin, with his exquisite ear for language, is a... Read more »
  • The forensic linguist and the Artful Dodger: Can people deliberately fake their writing style? - Perhaps 25% of the cases I handle involve the authorship of anonymous, disputed, or forged documents. The client wants to know who’s writing those nasty, threatening emails or letters. I typically ask the client for writing samples from the suspected author. Sometimes there’s more than one suspect, and I have to decide which of them... Read more »
  • Alan defends the humanities in the Keene Sentinel - Alan defends the humanities in the Keene Sentinel
  • On the Quasi-plagiarism of Rand Paul - All of a sudden, Plagiarism Rand Paul gets over 40 MILLION Google hits. But the charge is somewhat bogus. Plagiarism, in my experience, is one of those charges that is meant to question someone’s basic integrity. Whether true or not (and it’s hard to decide; see below), the mere accusation brings stigma. I have more... Read more »
  • Alan is quoted in the Chicago Tribune. - Alan is quoted in the Chicago Tribune.
  • Memo to National Pork Board Lawyers - By Alan M. Perlman. A geek site, as an April Fools prank, launches a new product — unicorn meat – which it calls “the new white meat,” and lawyers for the National Pork Board issue a cease-and-desist order, because they’ve gone to great lengths to copyright “the other white meat” as a synonym for “pork,”... Read more »
  • Malicious Obfuscation (Internet article) - Malicious Obfuscation (Internet article)
  • When a Lawyer Needs a Linguist… - By Alan M. Perlman. When does a lawyer need a linguist? As Roger Shuy, one of the most pre-eminent forensic linguists, has observed, the interpretation and application of the law are overwhelmingly about language. Thus, there are many situations in which the expertise of a linguist – someone trained in the precise description and analysis... Read more »
  • Alan is quoted in the Washington Post. - June 13, 2004, Sunday WASHINGTON POST A LINGUAL PARADIGM SHIFT By Amy Joyce Susannah Rast got a letter from her employer at the beginning of the year that said the company was “implementing a reduction in force to your position.”Not only did her boss not say she was being let go, but it was additionally... Read more »