CV/Professional Experience


I have spent over 40 years in linguistics.

My career falls into three phases (they overlap — I’m not 120).
Linguistics I: academia.  I took and taught courses in various aspects of linguistics. observed language usage and language change, analyzed them, noted how my observations supported this or that theory, wrote papers that only academics read.
Linguistics II: Language in Action
Linguistics II began when I left academia. I call this phase “Language in Action”: the audiences for my work (mostly speeches but also books and articles) was much wider — and there were consequences. People paid attention, newspapers quoted the speeches, and, in some small way, attitudes, feelings and behavior were affected.
Linguistics III: Language in Conflict
That’s what this site is about — legal and personal disputes rooted in language. I employ the tools and techniques of linguistics to support or refute a particular hypothesis.
In phase III, money and other forms of compensation are involved in the answers to questions I deal with — what a particular sentence or paragraph really means (insofar as it can be determined); who the author of an anonymous document actually is; whether a trademark is protected or infringed upon; and, a real growth category over the last few years, whether similar passages are evidence of plagiarism..
Plagiarism is a growth category because of over-reliance on turnitin and other electronic tools which purport to — but really do NOT — detect plagiarism. For elaboration, please see post devoted to this subject.
I am constantly baffled by the way academics unquestioningly accept machine results, conduct unjust inquisitions, and destroy a student’s entire career without ever proving dishonesty. Somewhere out there, there’s a class action suit waiting to be brought, seeking huge sums in compensation for careers and reputations falsely damaged.
Along with I,II, and III, I practice language advocacy, typically around issues of political correctness and control through language.
I will always be a staunch opponent of people who choose to be offended by mere words. And people who make up whole new sets of pronouns to reflect dozens of exquisitely defined gender categories — they’ll always be good for a laugh.
Court-certified lay witness

I am a court-certified lay witness under Rule 701 of the Federal Rules for Evidence.  I have an unusual if not unique combination of academic credentials (AB in linguistics, Brown University; MA and PhD in linguistics, University of Chicago) and real-world experience in the effective use of language.

After 13 years of academic research, teaching, and publishing, I used my linguistics training to become, in just four years, one of the country’s leading corporate speechwriters, writing for the CEO and other executives of Burroughs Corporation,[1] General Motors, Philip Morris and Kraft Foods, largely because of my ability to use style analysis to write in the voice of each individual speaker.  I ghost-wrote or edited many other works and published four books of my own.

Analyses of language in real life and real time

While writing speeches and doing forensic work, I developed original knowledge and shared my expertise in various venues.  My sociolinguistic and pragmatic analysis of buzzwords was published in The Journal of Employee Communication Management[2] and excerpted by The Harvard Business Review.[3]

Books on speechwriting

In 1997 I published my first book on speechwriting, Writing Great Speeches: Professional Techniques You Can Use (Allyn & Bacon).  The book, part of the publisher’s “Essence of Public Speaking” series, applies principles of stylistic, syntactic, and content analysis to create a linguistics-based, step-by-step process for composing, editing, and presenting a successful speech. The section on ceremonial speeches is completely original and was the first account of its kind.  One reviewer wrote that “[the] chapter on ceremonial speeches is worth the price of the book.”

In 2006, my second book, Perfect Phrases for Executive Presentations (McGraw-Hill), included original advice, developed from linguistic principles plus real-world experience, on what to say in dozens of kinds of speeches.  The book also tells readers how to speak to employees, avoid gender issues, address audiences who are non-native speakers of English, and vary writing/speaking style to suit the occasion, audience, and context.  I also provide a chapter on “the most persuasive words in the language.”

I have published numerous articles in professional publications and given many talks on effective communication.

A lifelong student of language

For decades, I have studied language variation and style, in many roles and contexts, and I have composed, edited, analyzed, and taught others to compose thousands of documents of every kind.  I have applied linguistic concepts to the understanding of a wide range of written and spoken data and even to jazz improvisation.[4]

The following sections elaborate on the above:

ACADEMIC/PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS: I have devoted a professional lifetime to the analysis of language and the understanding of language variation and stylistic nuance: Here is how my experience qualifies me for a variety of legal cases.

  • 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.
  • Sociolinguistics and stylistics: Much of my education was in sociolinguistics (language in its social context) and one of its investigatory methods, stylistics — the qualitative, comparative, and contrastive study of texts, at every level of language, to uncover information on authorship (and, in some cases, to gain knowledge of the assumed author). Relevant to authorship, plagiarism/copyright, and contract interpretation cases.
  • Thirteen years of teaching English linguistics and composition, devising and teaching graduate seminars in stylistics and in the structure and process of written language, plus my prior coursework in grammar and semantics, have given me extensive and intensive experience in identifying the particular linguistic features and variation patterns favored by individual writers and in analyzing and interpreting ambiguous, ungrammatical, or otherwise obscure words, sentences, and larger units. Relevant to authorship/plagiarism and contract interpretation cases.
  • Twenty years as a corporate speechwriter/ghostwriter have provided a deep theoretical and practical understanding of the nature and variation of individual style. Relevant to authorship/plagiarism cases.
  • Examination/analysis/editing of thousands of student papers, corporate publications, and countless other written documents is relevant to plagiarism cases and to interpretation of contracts, wills, laws, regulations.

Extensive practice in transcription (in my basic linguistics courses, doctoral thesis, and ghost/speechwriting) qualifies me to accurately transcribe audio texts and to evaluate the accuracy of transcriptions (from handwriting to typing and from audio to writing).


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.

1965-79: 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.

FORENSIC EXPERIENCE, 1979-present (examples):

  • Expert opinion on status of compound words (trademark infringement litigation).
  • Expert opinion on plagiarism of song lyrics (copyright litigation involving musical group The Who).
  • Authorship analysis of e-mails in Florida internal union dispute.
  • Expert opinion on plagiarism of online home-study course.
  • Preliminary analysis of authorship issues in malpractice litigation.
  • Expert opinion on authorship issues in business partnership dispute involving anonymous writings.
  • Authorship analysis of anonymous letters of complaint to a corporation’s Board of Directors.
  • Expert opinion on the semantics of trademark infringement in litigation by an apparel firm.
  • Authorship analysis of anonymous letters (possibly written by disgruntled employees) for major Midwestern corporation.
  • Authorship analysis of emails to website of a “cult deprogrammer.”
  • Expert opinion on linguistic similarities between plaintiff’s and defendant’s trademarks.
  • Authorship analysis of defamatory emails written to an individual in a corporation.
  • Authorship advice on a possibly forged stock transfer document.
  • Authorship analysis of letters involved in the Son of Sam case.
  • Analysis to support allegations of plagiarism of online course material.
  • Analysis to refute charges of plagiarism in various academic settings; defendants range from high school students to university professors.
  • Interpretation of contract language regarding the disposition of acquired corporate entities.
  • Assessment of the complexity of equipment rental contract language.
  • Analysis of chat transcripts to determine whether defendant engaged in enticement or seduction.
  • Authorship analysis of emails in divorce and custody disputes (numerous cases).
  • Expert opinion on whether parts of Dan Brown’s novel The DaVinci Code were plagiarized from the client’s writing.
  • Expert opinion on the meaning of “Ecstasy” in a criminal indictment.[5]
  • Interpretation of contract language definition of “family member.”
  • Expert opinion on authorship of legal documents.
  • Authorship analysis of verbatim duplication in two police reports to determine who copied from whom.
  • Interpretation of the phrase “first refusal” in lease provision.
  • Cases listed by law firm (except as noted), case name/number, approximate date of service, contribution (A, “affidavit” [court document]; C, “consultation;” D, “deposition”; E, “expert witness statement” [court document]; R, “written report on the data”; RR, “conduct research and write report;” R/R, “rebuttal report); excludes current cases.

[]     Bach Law Firm (Austin, TX), Jason J. Bach, Esq.; re: Patel v. Texas Tech, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS, LUBBOCK DIVISION, Civil Action No.. 5:17-cv-174 (E).

[]      Barshay Sanders, PLLC (Garden City, NY), David Barshay; re: Joshua Paul Tilatitsky, Plaintiff, v. Medicredit, Inc., Defendant, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI, EASTERN DIVISION, Case No.: 4:16-cv-00811-JCH, August 2016 (E).

      The Brusch Law Firm (St. Thomas, VI); David Cattie; re: interpretation of contract language (Coinsurance Clause), Oct. 2005 (R).

      Charles Jacquin et Cie, Inc. (corporate client; Philadelphia, PA), Paul Lewis; re: Quantum v. Quintus, Dec. 2003 (RR).

      Cohen Lans L.L.P (New York, NY), Gary J. Lerner; re: Landmark Education v. Rick Ross, July 2004 (R).

      Connolly Sheehan Harris, LLP (Chicago, IL), Terence Smith; re: Garibaldi Versus Anixter Inc. (Case Number 05-CV-60 75L W.D.N.Y.), July 2006 (R).

      Consolidated Consultants Co. (Chula Vista, CA), Louis Zayas, Esq.; re: Wiggens vs. Hackensack; State vs. Inez Danels, Nov. 2006 (R).

      Cook & Franke S.C. (Milwaukee, WI), David J. Hase; re: Shovers v. Shovers, Oct. 2004 (R).

      Cranfill, Sumner, & Hartzog, L.L.P. (Wilmington, NC), Colleen Shea-Collis; re: Vicki Morgan v. Bruce Whealton, Jan. 2003 (R).

      Denner Pellegrino, LLP (Boston, MA), Vikas S. Dhar, re: Khan v. Klein, Middlesex County  Probate and Family Court, Docket No. 06E-0176, May 2007 (R).

      Gentle, Pickens and Turner (Birmingham AL), Diandra Debrosse; re: Burgin v. LaHaye, et al., File #4743-1, March 2009 (R).

      Heisinger, Buck & Morris (Carmel, CA), Chris Campbell; re ESTATE OF DORIS PRUST, June 2008 (R).

      Kallas and Associates Ltd.  (Minneapolis, MN), Michael Kallas; re: Rocco Altobelli v. William L. Anderson et al., State of Minnesota, County of Hennepin, District Court, Fourth Judicial District, Court File No. 27-CV-08-5087, March 2008 (A).

[]    Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett, P.C.  (Erie, PA), Bryan G. Baumann; Re:  THE FIRST LIBERTY INSURANCE CORPORATION, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant v. PAUL MCGEEHAN AND ROSANNE MCGEEHAN, HUSBAND AND WIFE, AND ADAM MCGEEHAN AND LAURA MCGEEHAN, HUSBAND AND WIFE, Defendants/Counter-Plaintiffs. CASE NO. 1:16-cv-00199-SPB (R, R/R).

      Law Offices of Mitchell A. Chester (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Dawn Miller; re: Mercury Insurance Company of Florida, Plaintiff, Versus Marlaina Law and Lincoln Pujan, Defendants (Circuit Court for the 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County Florida, Case Number 04 — 1132 [21]), Nov. 2005 (R).

      Law Offices of Joseph K. Jones, LLC  (Fairfield, NJ), Joseph Jones; re: Angela F. Mims vs. Phillips & Cohen Associates, Ltd., Feb. 2008 (R).

      The Law Offices of Robert P. Spretnak (Las Vegas, NV), Cheryl A. O’Brien; re: Audrey Robert v. David Rahm, et al., Dec. 2005 (R).

      Law Offices of Jennifer L. Zito (Meriden, CT); re: Mainardi et al. v. Prudential insurance Cos. of America, April, 2009 (R).

      Levine Blaszak Block & Boothby, LLP (Washington, DC), Stephen J. Rosen; re: American Bankers Insurance Group, Inc., Plaintiff, v. United States of America, Defendant (United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Case Number 03-21822-CIV-Huck/Turnoff), Feb. 2004 (RR).

      Levine & Spatz (Pittsburgh, PA), Max A. Levine; re: meaning of language of prenuptial agreement, June 2007 (R).

      Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell (New York, NY), Sara Chen; re: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Guardian Life Insurance Company of America et al., Supreme Court of the State of New York, Index No. 0860046, Feb. 2008 (A).

      McGrath North Mullin & Kratz PC LLO (Omaha, NE), Patrick J. Barrett; re: Conagra Foods, Inc/Andrew Branham, Nov. 2004 (R).

      Middletons (Melbourne, Australia), Stuart Gibson;  re: MedEntry & Anor v Rockefeller  Management Corporation & Anor (V1289 of 2004), April 2005  (R).

      Notario & Michalos P.C. (Orangeburg NY), John Zaccaria; re: Biofutrura Pharma, S.P.A. (Opposer), v. Day Corporation (Applicant), Application Serial No. 78/541,059, Jan. 2005 (E).

      Parsons Behle & Latimer (Salt Lake City, UT), Lawrence Leigh; litigation consultant, April 2007 (C).

[]      David Pearline, Attorney at Law (Virginia Beach, Virginia), David Pearline; re: Dr. Widad Elmahboub, Plaintiff, v. Hampton University, and Dr. Meena Katdare, Defendants; VIRGINIA: IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF HAMPTON, PART I, Case No.: CL11-2568, Oct. 2012 (R).


      Reach, Ranney & Carpenter, P.C. (Ann Arbor, MI), Ian James Reach; re: Kassa v. Washtenaw County et al., Court File # 04-60215, Jan 2005 (C).

      Nathan Reitman, Attorney at Law (Salem, OR); re: Oregonians for Honest Elections v. Oregon Education Association et al., in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon, for the County of Marion, Case No. 08C25088, Nov. 2009 (A).

      Rybicki & Blevans, LLP (Santa Rosa, CA), Brandon Blevans; re: Marriage of Greene, Janette and Avery (Superior Court of California, County of Solano (Case No. SF032826), Aug. 2006 (E).

      Seabaugh, Benson Keene & Denny (Shreveport, LA), Todd Benson: re: Jayn Robison v. Cardiology Associates, U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division, Civil Action No. CV05-1581 S, April 2007 (R,D).

      Seyfarth & Shaw (Chicago, IL), Bart Lazar; re: the Bandanna Co. Inc., Plaintiff, Versus Linens ‘n Things, Inc., Defendant (Civil Action Number 03-CV 211-C), February 2005 (E).

      Seyfarth & Shaw (Chicago, IL), Bart Lazar; re: Nygard v. Haggar, United States District Court, Central District of California (Case No. 02-8781-JFW (RCX), Nov. 2003 (E).

      Shernoff Bidart Darris, LLP (Claremont, CA), Evangeline Grossman; re Blue Shield Rescission Cases (first case: Mottaghi vs. Blue Shield, Superior Court for the State of California for the County of Los Angeles (Case No.: B.C351475), April 2007 (E).

      Skadden Arps (New York, NY) Joseph Goodman; re: Appeal of Santiago Batista (BSGB No. 2004-065), March 2004 (R).

      State Bar of Michigan (Lansing, MI), Danon D. Goodrum-Garland; re: State Bar of Michigan v. Elgardo L. Perez DeLeon, Circuit Court for the County of Wayne, 030320403-CZ, April 2008 (R,D).

[]     Tolpin & Partners, PC, Chicago, IL (Mark R. Bagley). UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION.  Deckers Outdoor Corporation v. Australian Leather Pty. Ltd. and Adnan Oygur a/k/a Eddie Oygur, Case No. 1:16-cv-03676, (R/R, D) Sept. 2017.

      White and White, LLC (Indianapolis, IN), Mary Stuart White; re: Auberry vs. NationsRent, April 2005 (R).

      Williams and Associates (Sacramento, CA) Kathleen Williams; re: Henson v. County of Lassen et al., August 2006 (R).

      Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP (White Plains, NY), Sheilagh dePeter; re: Gerling v. Nestle Waters North America, Aug. 2005 (E).

Legal cases, direct client service (examples)

      Michael P. Hays, re: Hays vs. Barbee (S05-05-376), June 2005 (R).

      Eric and Gail Taylor, re: State of Indiana, County of Marion, Co-Guardians’ Petition to Compromise and Settle Minor’s Claim for Personal Injuries (Docket No. 49 D08 0299), July 2006 (R).

CONSULTATION WITH ATTORNEYS AND PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS.  In addition to cases that went into litigation, I have consulted on numerous occasions and provided forensic linguistic advice to attorneys in cases that sometimes did not go to court, as well as to private individuals and private investigators, under the same circumstances.


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.  Dissertation topic: Grammatical Structure and Style Shift in Hawaiian Pidgin and Creole.

Linguistic Institute, Indiana University, summer, 1964.

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).


“When a Lawyer Needs a Linguist,” Association of Forensic Document Examiners, Milwaukee, WI, Nov. 8, 2009.

Conducted 35 other workshops, courses, seminars, and presentations on speech writing, stylistic analysis, semantics, rhetoric, word usage, and related subjects (list available at ).

ARTICLES:  Numerous articles on forensic linguistics, language, speechwriting, and related topics (list, including academic publications, available at ; also see Blog section of for original articles and Internet publications on language and forensic linguistics.

Recent publications:

“Malicious obfuscation”

“Plagiarism: What it is and what it is not

Review of Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech

“Another groundless plagiarism charge”

“The most overrated mind of the 20th century”

“How not to use PowerPoint”

Other articles at and


 Write Choices: New Options for Effective Communication, Charles C Thomas, 1989.

  • “It Gives Me Great Pleasure…” — A Guide to Writing Ceremonial Speeches, Ragan Communications, 1992.
  • Writing Great Speeches: Professional Techniques You Can Use, Allyn & Bacon, 1997.
  • Perfect Phrases for Executive Presentations, McGraw-Hill, 2006.


[1] Became part of Unisys via merger in 1986.

[2] Nov.-Dec. 2001

[3] Harvard Management Communication Letter (Tools, Techniques and Ideas for the Articulate Executive), Vol, 5, No. 3, March 2002

[4] (With Daniel Greenblatt) “Noam Chomsky Meets Miles Davis: Observations on Jazz Improvisation and Language Structure,” in The Sign in Music and Literature, ed. Wendy Steiner (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press), 1981.  The article now generates over 70,000 Google hits.


Recent Posts

  • Latest language crime: “equity” -   [In George Orwell’s 1984] Syme [a Party official] encourages Winston to recognize that the ‘whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought’.   He explains that ‘in the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.’  Syme refers to the fact that individual... Read more »
  • The language of Fox News: Two views - ‘Why can’t human beings live simply and naturally?’  The trouble is that, as Susan K. Langer has said, ‘The symbol-making function is one of man’s primary activities. . .It is the fundamental process of the mind, and it goes on all the time.’ S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action   If you are on... Read more »
  • Latest language abuse: “deprogramming Trump supporters” - Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. — Nietzsche We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things; and once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavor to erase them. — Goethe To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting. — Stanislaus I of Poland... Read more »
  • American chaos: Did Trump incite? -   Where the laws are not supreme, there demagogues spring up. — Aristotle, 4th c. BCE The people are capable of good judgment when they do not listen to demagogues. — Napoleon I (1814-5) Demagogy enters at the moment when, for want of a common denominator, the principle of equality degenerates into a principle of... Read more »
  • Riots in DC: the power of conflicting narratives -   On Jan. 27, 1838, Abraham Lincoln spoke before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, about “the perpetuation of our political institutions.” During that address, he said: “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot... Read more »
  • P.c. atrocities roll on; linguists still silent - Amen. < Old English, from ecclesiastical Latin, from Greek amēn, from Hebrew ‘āmēn ‘truth, certainty’, used adverbially as expression of agreement, and adopted in the Septuagint as a solemn expression of belief or affirmation. [The version I learned in Hebrew School:] The Talmud teaches homiletically that the word amen is an acronym for אל מלך נאמן (ʾEl melekh... Read more »
  • Christmas message: On the emptiness of vague “hope” - “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” — Proverbs 13:12 “He that lives upon hope will die fasting” — Benjamin Franklin “The reason of idleness and crime is the deferring of our hopes.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson “There is nothing so well known as that we should not expect something for nothing – but we do... Read more »
  • UNIFORMITY = DIVERSITY: Modern Newspeak hits Orwellian rock-bottom -   “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In... Read more »
  • On titles, respect, and doctor-flaunting: who’s a “doctor”? -   “Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title.” Thomas Paine I admit, they had me.   I really thought that Jill Biden was an MD.  It’s not implausible that such a high-level official as the VP would have a high-achieving wife.  But then the truth came out, and I realized I’d fallen for... Read more »
  • On slogans — especially the one that dominates our lives -     “Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords” -Robert Louis Stevenson (NOTE: a catch-word is technically what we today would call a “pull-out quote”; I’m using it in a broader sense here, to refer to slogans, mottoes, taglines, and catch-words.) I keep quoting Stevenson because his observation... Read more »