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.
- Language change: getting it right - The attitudes and prejudices of speakers towards various languages and dialects is important “peri-linguistic” data. They may influence the development and differentiation of language itself. Or they may not — just voices in the wind. Gripes of a pseudo-expert Thus, when a major, even venerable magazine, Harper’s, publishes an essay “Semantic Drift” by Lionel Shriver,... Read more »
- Code-switching and pandering – a new low - Spare me the sight / of this thankless breed, these politicians / who cringe for favors from a screaming mob / and do not care what harm they do their friends / providing they can please a crowd! Euripides, Hecuba (c. 425 BCE) This post introduces my Blahblahblah Award, bestowed upon the politician using the... Read more »
- On baby talk and language change - Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care. William Safire I admire John McWhorter so much for the breadth of his accomplishments, his accessibility to the media, his eloquent lectures. I recently saw a video clip in which he pegged Trump’s speech as characteristic of... Read more »
- Words, maps, territories, and the political abuse of language - The truth is what most people believe. And they believe that which is repeated most often. Paul Josef Goebbels Here is the text of a letter I sent to the Manchester NH Union-Leader (published 6/21/19): March 19, 2019 Dear Editor, Let me add my voice to the chorus of people outraged by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s... Read more »
- The Babel problem and the dangers of multilingualism - And they said, “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world.” The Lord came down to look at the city and tower that man had built, and the Lord said, “If, as... Read more »
- Who’s got the sexiest accent? Not me. - I just read an article on “who’s got the sexiest accent?’, and when I Googled the article, I discovered that “sexiest accent” generates over four million hits. As Trump said about health care, who knew there were so many surveys? The ones I skimmed through seemed mostly intended as tourism boosters, at least for the... Read more »
- The difference between code-switching and pandering (pay attention, Hillary) - “…style is intrinsic and private, like…voice or gesture, partly a matter of inheritance, partly of cultivation. It is more than a pattern of expression. It is the pattern of the soul.” -Maurice Valency Think of language as haberdashery: you have a closet full of clothes for every occasion. Your clothing choice expresses yourself in a... Read more »
- Biden’s plagiarism alone disqualifies him - Don’t forget why God made your eyes — plagiarize! Tom Lehrer, “Lobachevsky” I’m involved in a fair number of plagiarism cases. In non-fiction allegations, I typically represent a student who has omitted quotations marks, possibly because he/she was lifting what appeared to be basic background information. There are very few ways of saying... Read more »
- Political language 2019: simpler but no less devious - Definitions of “politician”: An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. Ambrose Bierce (One who) divides mankind into two classes: tools and enemies. That means he knows only one class: enemies. Friedrich Nietzsche [Someone] who identifies the sound of his own voice with the infallible voice of the... Read more »
- “You have the right to remain silent…”: On understanding the Miranda warning (it’s not so easy) - 1. You have the right to remain silent. 2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. 3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned. 4. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one... Read more »