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

  • Reply to student: suggested authorship project - This rarest of all things — a legitimate letter from Nigeria (at least, I think — it didn’t ask for money) landed in my in-box:   Hello Dr. Alan. I am N__________from Nigeria. I am a student of Stylistics at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. My professor requested for a term paper on ‘Forensic Stylistics’ and... Read more »
  • PS: Language judgments and prejudices - A PS to the previous post: We judge people by the way they speak, by which I mean we apply to them the generalizations we have gleaned from past associations with people who speak that way. I caution against being too hasty with these snap judgments. There are very good reasons why a non-stupid person... Read more »
  • No, I’m not peeved by people who can’t keep “their,” “they’re” and “there” straight - My sweet wife is peeved.  She wrote a Facebook post and started a thread.  Apparently others are peeved too.  As a linguist, I don’t get peeved. Well, sometimes I do.  But I try to observe and learn. [ I think there are some linguistic developments we can do without, but people have always thought that. ... Read more »
  • Linguist looks at 2nd Amendment - One thing I understand about New Hampshire, after eight years here, is that the state’s bold and famous motto, “live free or die,” refers mainly to the second half of the 2nd Amendment. A few years ago, its (not my) Legislature was considering laws that will make concealed-carry easier and (this one really make me... Read more »
  • Questions about the war on clickbait - “People tell us they don’t like stories that are misleading, sensational, or spammy. That includes clickbait headlines that are designed to get attention and lure visitors into clicking on a link.” Facebook blog So Facebook has declared war on clickbait.  The post defines three categories. “Spammy” I can understand. But we already have protection built... Read more »
  • What plagiarism is – and is not - I confidently predict that sometime in the next year, a public figure (or even someone you know) will be accused of plagiarism.  When that happens, read this first:   What plagiarism is — and is not A brief definition: plagiarism is knowingly appropriating another’s original words and/or ideas and presenting them as one’s own. As... Read more »
  • “Arrival” movie — an earnest but muddled attempt to render alien communication - Finally! A movie that makes an honest attempt to portray the way alien life-forms communicate — and actually stars a LINGUISTICS PROFESSOR who is tasked with figuring it out.   I was fascinated to see what they came up with. Previous efforts had the aliens either making unintelligible noises (as in “The Arrival,” a highly... Read more »
  • Push-words, Part II: The power of Push - Part II — The Power of Push From long years of observation, I’ve concluded that most people are not aware of the persuasive power of push-words – or of how blithely and frequently we call upon them. Most people believe that that their (portrayals of the) facts are THE facts. But serious observers of the language... Read more »
  • The most persuasive words in the language - How much would you pay for the most persuasive words in the language? And what do you think they would be? Are there really words that can get people to do anything you want? Reality check: there are no magic words, and we cannot always get people to do what we want with words alone... Read more »
  • Alan Perlman reviews Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom 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 »