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.
- 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 »