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.
- What is forensic linguistics? - …linguistics is virtually invisible to most people…Just as physicians are trained to see things in an X-ray that the average person with excellent vision cannot see, so linguists are trained to see and hear structures that are invisible to the lay person. Roger Shuy, xvii, Language Crimes A forensic linguist is sometimes a general practitioner... Read more »
- On “systemic racism” - The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often Josef Goebbels Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. George Orwell Linguists have long been fascinated with the question of how language originated. Our... Read more »
- “You have the right to remain silent”: Obstacles to understanding the Miranda warning, Part II — Workaround - In an earlier post, I offered some reasons why the Miranda warning, an 89-word text recited in less than a minute, is so often misunderstood, with the result that defendants give up rights they didn’t know they had. A summary of the obstacles (many of which occur simultaneously): Contains several complexities in vocabulary, grammatical... Read more »
- Musk affirms painful truth about President Puppet - What orators lack in depth, they make up to you in length Montesquieu, 1767 Here comes the orator, with his flood of words and his drop of reason. Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1735 Now that Elon Musk has dared to say what everyone, including Dr. Jill (who really wanted to be First Lady and... Read more »
- The (barely-) hidden agenda of racial equity glossaries - “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.” From Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass, and... Read more »
- Language control through perceived offense: how far can p.c. go? - But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. — George Orwell In these times of language abuse and language control – when a Supreme Court nominee cannot define “woman” (because she is so politically compromised) – I must once again note that manufactured offense knows no limits. There is no end to it,... Read more »
- What’s a “woman”? Supreme Court nominee creates watershed moment in left language lunacy - 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 was one of those moments when history, perhaps time itself, stopped for... Read more »
- The real pronoun problem: political “we” - Pronouns, considering that they comprise only a short list of words, are one of the most fascinating aspects of English grammar. All of them have multiple meanings, and there’s a lot of room for fuzzy interpretation and language deception. Let’s focus on “we.” It can mean ‘you (singular or plural) and I,’ but nobody... Read more »
- 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 »