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.
- How the virus of political correctness spreads: none dare call it “looting” - 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 —... Read more »
- From etiquette to coercion: language police threaten harsh punishments - Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell It has finally happened. The language police have gone from etiquette... Read more »
- “The Biden Administration…”– evading responsibility through impersonal language. - Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ― George Orwell Governments and organizations of every kind evade personal responsibility by making the organization the subject of an active sentence, as if it moved of its own will. Granted, it’s sometimes a... Read more »
- On the futility of International Pronoun Day - Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities. From the home page of International Pronoun Day Woke/left tampering with and manipulation of language provides... Read more »
- Not “chain of command” – but “pyramid of obedience” - “A wise man changes his mind, but a fool never.” Arabic proverb “Unadvised hasty judgment is a token apparent of a very slender wit.” Anne Askew, 1520-46 America’s chaotic and humiliating exit from Afghanistan did not just happen. Human decisions instigated and implemented it. But the key question, if we are ever to hold... Read more »
- “War” or “defense”? Propaganda and the value of repetition - “The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often.” Paul Josef Goebbels The quote is from the man who served as Hitler’s Propaganda Minister and who (BTW, he was a linguist like me, with a doctorate in philology) would today feel quite at home in a PR... Read more »
- Government creates a new “domestic terrorist threat.” And where are the linguists? - “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.” – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass The government has created a new “domestic terrorist threat”... Read more »
- “The goals migrated:” malicious obfuscation in political speech - “Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, a retired rear admiral, recently said that during the long U.S. undertaking in Afghanistan ‘the goals did migrate over time.’ Did the goals themselves have agency – minds of their own?” George Will When I listen to or read the speech of the people who represent the government and the military-industrial... Read more »
- Calling for an end to pronomania - Pronomania [pro-no-MAY-nee-ah], n. an obsession with multiplying third-person personal pronouns to indicate a large number of genders, subjectively defined, resulting in the proliferation of personal pronouns, the announcement of “my” pronouns, and the user’s enhanced self-image and feeling of virtuous sensitivity to gender. Some people think they know about pronouns. They know nothing. They think... Read more »
- “Critical Race Theory,” Part II: Where are the linguists? - “Linguistics is virtually invisible to most people…” — Roger Shuy, Language Crimes, 1996 “Critical Race Theory” is not going away. Although the slogan is heard almost everywhere in academia and education, almost no one inquires into what it actually means in practice. It means a lot of different things, which is a good thing for... Read more »