PROFILE An academically-trained linguist with 30 years’ experience in the study and analysis of style, grammar and meaning.
FORENSIC LINGUISTICS: The application of the principles and methods of linguistics to the language of legal proceedings and documents.
AREAS OF FORENSIC EXPERTISE:
Syntax and Semantics: Analysis of and expert opinion on the meaning of words, phrases, clauses, paragraphs, etc., in legal, personal, and commercial communication (e.g., contracts, wills, cases of copyright infringement).
Stylistics: Analysis of the syntax, style, word choice, spelling, punctuation, rhetorical strategies, and other features of anonymous, disputed, or forged documents (including e-mails) in order to provide expert opinion on (i) authorship and/or characteristics of author; (ii) evidence for/against plagiarism.
- A language expert who has devoted a professional lifetime to the analysis of language and the understanding of language structure, variation and style.
- 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) identify and interpret ambiguous or ungrammatical portions of a text. 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): enables analysis of the intended or possible meaning(s) of a text. Relevant to authorship, plagiarism/copyright, and contract interpretation cases.
- Twenty years as a corporate speechwriter/ghostwriter: deep theoretical and practical understanding of the nature and variation of individual style. Relevant to authorship and 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; distinguish plagiarism from prosaic background information or failures in attribution (both of which are called plagiarism, but neither of which constitutes dishonesty). Relevant to interpretation of contracts, wills, laws, regulations.
- Extensive 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).
- 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).
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..
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. Forensic Linguistics, 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 executive 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.
- Interpretation of contract language regarding the disposition of acquired corporate entities.
- Evaluation of the complexity of equipment rental contract language.
- Angry periods: P.c. virus spreads to punctuation - A period is to let the writer know he has finished his thought and he should stop there if he will only take the hint. Art Linkletter, A Child’s Garden of Misinformation (1965) To a generation of children who are trained to be sensitive to an ever-increasing body of words deemed offensive because of their... Read more »
- Triumph of the TelePrompTerTM: What has it done to public speaking? - Here comes the orator, with his flood of words and his drop of reason. Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1735 [Disclaimers: I am not a conservative, a Republican, or a supporter of Donald Trump. This is about the relationship of a speaker to his speech.] The ubiquitous double screen has triumphed in Presidential politics.... Read more »
- “Alternate facts”: Latest language crime - You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts. (Daniel Patrick Moynihan) Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. (attrib. James Madison) Just the facts, ma’am. (Jack Webb... Read more »
- Gender-neutral “they”: Let it start here - Many languages. . .have no gendered pronouns. English needs a gender-neutral singular pronoun, and as Winston Churchill said about democracy as a form of government, “they” is the worst option, except for all the others. -Anne Fadiman, Harper’s, August 2020 Language changes, perhaps in response to social pressure or a communicative need... Read more »
- Political correctness — ubiquitous and relentless - “The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often.” -Josef Goebbels “[The English language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts… if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” George... Read more »
- Language change — up close - “Language change is not a disease, any more than adolescence, or autumn are illnesses.” ― Jean Aitchison, Language Change: Progress or Decay? “It’s hard to see what the problem is. Language speakers and writers have always been inventive, and texting is just one further example of human creativity. As David Crystal has expressed it: ‘it..is the... Read more »
- Warning: political correctness is an attempt to control you - “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” — Lewis Carroll “Offending and being offended are now... Read more »
- Can’t handle homonyms: the difference between a virus and a beer - Being inoffensive and being offended are now the twin addictions of our society. Martin Amis Corona beer? Coronavirus? What do they have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing. They’re homonyms – multiple meanings for the same sequence of sounds. The English language is full of them, but only a few cause trouble, by which... Read more »
- Pronouns and gender politics - Tens of thousands of years have elapsed since we shed our tails, but we are still communicating with a medium developed to meet the needs of arboreal man. . . We may smile at the linguistic illusions of primitive man, but may we forget that the verbal machinery on which we so readily rely, and... Read more »
- Overwhelmed by political BS - Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds. Henry Adams, 1907 The politician is an acrobat. He keeps his balance by saying the opposite of what he does. Maurice Barres (1896-1923) Political BS, a noxious blend of mendacity, manipulation, and meaninglessnss, is all around us, as it has... Read more »