We are happy to announce Rui Sousa-Silva and Ria Perkins have both passed their Doctoral vivas in the last two weeks. Rui's dissertation is on plagiarism detection and Ria's on native language identification.
\ Posted on 13 March 2013
Police interviewing project
CFL's Dr Kate Haworth and Dr Nicci MacLeod have received funding from the British Association for Applied Linguistics for their project "Language and Communication for Police Interviewers: Training, Evaluation and Development". This activity develops networks with the police specifically to create training packages which apply linguistic research to police interviewer training. After very successful visits to South Yorkshire Police and Sussex Police, their final training day of the series will take place at Greater Manchester Police early next year.
\ Posted on 5 December 2012
Regional IAFL conference
Last week CFL's Rui Sousa-Silva organised a very successful conference for the International Association of Forensic Linguists at his home university of Porto. Among the 70 papers presented were those by Rui himself, fellow doctoral student Andrea Nini, plus four CFL staff: Dr Jack Grieve, Dr Krzysztof Kredens, Dr Nicci Macleod and Emeritus Prof. Malcolm Coulthard.
\ Posted on 2 November 2012
Spreading the word...
We have recently been very busy running a number of events both here at Aston and outside.
Tim Grant delivered the opening plenary address to the 'Language in the Real World' conference, hosted at Portsmouth University. The theme of the conference was 'from theory to practice' and Tim discussed the importance of theories of idiolect and semantics to forensic case work.
Krzysztof Kredens held a day course entitled 'Linguistic Expert Evidence in the Courtroom' for 25 undergraduate and postgraduate students from Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands.
30 April Kate Haworth gave a presentation on forensic linguistics to members of the Schools of Law and Psychology at the University of Surrey. She has already been invited back to give further talks.
23 April Krzysztof Kredens ran an invited seminar on discourse analysis for PhD students at Cranfield School of Management.
16-19 April Kate Haworth, Nicci MacLeod and Tim Grant, in collaboration with Jessica Woodhams from the Centre for Forensic and Criminological Psychology (University of Birmingham), ran a four day course entitled 'Linguistic and Psychological Techniques for Sexual Crime Investigation'. The course was attended by 20 police officers and academics from the UK, Holland, Canada, Czech Republic, and Germany were among the speakers.
\ Posted on 22 May 2012
Prof. Finegan visits CFL
Professor Ed Finegan, Vice-President of the International Association of Forensic Linguists, is visiting CFL under Aston's Distinguished Visitor scheme this week. He has run workshops for undergraduate and postgraduate students and gave a talk at the English Language staff seminar.
\ Posted on 20 April 2012
Tim Grant's evidence contributed to this conviction at Shrewsbury Crown Court. His role was to clarify some slang terms which were used in the interviews with the child.
\ Posted on 9 April
IAFL 10 Conference Proceedings are now online. Click on the image on the right to download the pdf file.
\ Posted on 27 March 2012
Las Palmas visit
Kate Haworth is running a three-day course on Forensic Linguistics for undergraduate students at Las Palmas University. The event has been organised by CFL's long-time collaborator Dr Victor M. Gonzalez Ruiz.
\ Posted on 26 March 2012
In collaboration with the Centre for Forensic and Criminological Psychology, University of Birmingham, we are organising a four-day workshop on 'Linguistic and Psychological Techniques for Sexual Crime Investigation'. For details, follow this link.
\ Posted on 15 March 2012
Tim Grant and Kate Haworth visited Linnaeus University at Vaxjo in Sweden on 25 November 2011. The day seminar was entitled 'Language in the Police and Judicial Discourse' and was part of a series hosted by Prof. Gunilla Byrman, who is working to establish a forensic linguistic network. Kate spoke on Audience Design and Police Interviews and Tim's plenary focussed on his work with online undercover police and the assumption of online identities.
\ Posted on 29 November 2011
Seminar on Friday
Dr Helen Fraser is visiting CFL this week. On Friday 18 November she will give a talk titled 'Interpretation of a Crisis Call: Why evaluation of forensic transcripts should not be left to the jury'.
\ Posted on 14 November 2011
Last month Tim Grant visited the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a trip to the US which also included talks at Georgetown University, Hofstra University and Brooklyn Law School. As part of his trip Tim was examining systems and databases used to analyse threatening and malicious communications both at the FBI and at Academy Group Inc. In the photo are Natalie Schilling of Georgetown University and Ron Tunkel of the BAU. (Click on the picture for a bigger version.)
\ Posted on 04 November 2011
Autumn School in Portugal
Last week Krzysztof Kredens and Nicci MacLeod spent three days at the University of Porto as guest lecturers at the CLUP 2011 Autumn School. Between them they contributed eight sessions on, inter alia, the discourse of police interviews, legal translation and interpreting, disputed meanings in legal contexts, and forensic phonetics.
\ Posted on 14 September 2011
IAFL10 programme update
The IAFL10 final programme can be downloaded here.
\ Posted on 9 July 2011
The IAFL10 conference brochure can be downloaded here. It contains useful information for delegates attending the event. Please note that because of a few late arrivals and last-minute withdrawals the programme should not be treated as final. The final version will be published here on Sunday 10 July.
\ Posted on 2 July 2011
One more IRC case
Evidence from Prof. Malcolm Coulthard and Dr Tim Grant contributed to a guilty verdict last week in a case of a college teacher accused of making and possessing abuse images of children. The defendant had engaged in Internet Relay Chat of a sexual nature with an underage girl and the defence were arguing that he, stylistically, couldn't have written the chat. Malcolm and Tim wrote a report refuting the defence claims and asserted that the chat was indeed consistent with other undisputed bits writings from his computer.
\ Posted on 30 June 2011
Talk in York
On 14 June Dr Tim Grant delivered an invited talk at the University of York for the Bayesian Biometrics for Forensics Research Network. The talk on 'Quantifying evidence in forensic text analysis' was part of a programme focusing on methods in forensic science (in particular forensic speech science) but also face recognition and other areas of biometric identification.
\ Posted on 15 June 2011
IAFL10 Preliminary Programme...
... has now been published. Please follow this link to download it. You can register for the conference here.
\ Posted on 17 May 2011
Summer School update
Registration for both levels of the Summer School is now closed. This year we will be hosting participants from
Australia, Canada, China, Croatia, Egypt, Germany, Holland, India, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the USA. Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list.
\ Posted on 21 April 2011
IAFL Conference and Summer School update
The programme structure for IAFL10 has now been posted here. The advanced-level Summer School programme is now available as well.
\ Posted on 25 March 2011
Summer School update
Registration for the eleventh edition of our Summer School is now open. The registration form and preliminary programme can be accessed from the Summer School website.
\ Posted on 28 February 2011
14 February: St Valentine's Day Forensic Linguistics Day
The Centre for Forensic Linguistics typically receives a casework enquiry, from private individuals, solicitors or police looking for a language expert every few weeks. It was untypical therefore that before lunch on 14 February we had received three separate enquiries; one email, one hand-written letter and one very abusive Valentine Card. In each case the recipient had a good idea who had sent these nasty Valentines and wanted it proved. We don't welcome this kind of work - if you can't fall in love, be happy and write nice things to each other, its probably better to write nothing at all!
\ Posted on 15 February 2011
The IAFL10 Scientific Committee has accepted over 100 papers for presentation at the conference. Abstracts will soon be posted on this website.
\ Posted on 13 February 2011
IAFL10 deadline extension
The Conference Organising Committee has decided to extend the deadline for
submitting abstracts for the tenth IAFL Conference until Monday January 31st. All those abstracts that were submitted by January 3rd are now under review and we
will write to the authors as soon as we have decisions from the referees. We will
review all abstracts that come in from now on in weekly batches.
\ Posted on 10 January 2011
Malcolm Coulthard is in Japan, where he will give two lectures on forensic linguistics at Momoyama Gakuin University on 3 December. On 4 December at Kansai University he will address the annual conference
of the Pragmatics Society of Japan with a plenary talk entitled 'The Official Version: on the relation between what was said to the police and what was officially recorded and reported'. The abstract of the talk can be found in this pdf file.
\ Posted on 1 December 2010
On Wednesday 27th October Tim Grant gave a talk to the CEPOL conference. CEPOL is an EU-funded organisation for senior police officers across Europe with the aim to encourage cross-border cooperation. Tim illustrated the nature of forensic linguistics with a number of case studies and discussed how and where it was used across the European Union.
\ Posted on 5 November 2010
Jornadas de Linguistica Forense
Malcolm Coulthard and Krzysztof Kredens are participating in the
Jornadas de Linguistica Forense event in Madrid. On Thursday 21 October they presented their research to academics, lawyers and police officers, and today they have addressed 120 students at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.
IAFL10 Call for Papers is now available here. More information about the conference will soon be posted on this website.
\ Posted on 3 October 2010
CFL at the British Science Festival
On Thursday 16 September the CFL team will present a two-hour talk on the role of language experts in forensic contexts at the British Science Festival. For details follow this link. To mark the occasion, Tim Grant provides an introduction to forensic linguistics in the short video below.
\ Posted on 14 September 2010
CFL at Critical Link
CFL's Yvonne Fowler and Krzysztof Kredens are attending the Aston-hosted Critical Link conference. Yesterday they gave a paper on interpreter competence in ethical emergencies and on Thursday Yvonne will present on "Court observation for court interpreters". The conference has attracted over 300 participants from more than 30 countries.
\ Posted on 28 July 2010
IAFL 2011 update
The Organising Committee of the tenth biennial IAFL conference met last week here at
Aston. We will be posting an official Call for Papers on 15 September and the deadline for the submission of papers is going to be 19 December.
\ Posted on 20 July 2010
The tenth edition of the International Summer School in Forensic Linguistic Analysis finished on Saturday 3 July. We hosted 21 participants and three guest tutors from 8 countries. Encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive feedback, we are planning to run TWO events next year - a six-day introductory course in FL and a more advanced five-day event meant for participants from the previous years.
\ Posted on 17 July 2010
Tweets from L&L conferences
Doctoral students from the Centre for Forensic Linguistics have been tweeting from Caserta in Italy, where they are attending 'Language of Law: pulling together different strands and disciplines'. Next week, CFL's staff members will follow suit, reporting from the third annual conference of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group, to be held in Stavern, Norway. See twitter.com/cfl_aston for updates.
\ Posted on 17 June 2010
Poster competition winner
CFL's Seemaab Naseem has won the university-wide postgraduate researchers poster competition with a presentation on 'Language, Power and Technology: Lawyer vs. Expert Witness'. She will be the first ever student in the School of Languages and Social Sciences representing Aston University at the regional poster competition. Seemaab's poster will also be displayed at the British Science Festival in September.
\ Posted on 15 June 2010
Translation seminar talk
Krzysztof Kredens has been invited to speak at City University's Centre for Translation Studies seminar series; he will talk about translated records of interpreted police interviews with suspects on Wednesday, 16 June. For details and abstract, visit City University's website .
An exciting few days here at CFL as Prof. Ron Butters, President of the International Association of Forensic Linguists, is visiting Aston University. On Wednesday he gave a paper, "I am a needy petite woman": Judging the Real Age of Participants in IM Sex Talk Enticement Conversations', at the School of Languages and Social Sciences seminar, and on Thursday met our MA in Applied Linguistics students to tell them about his work in cases involving trademark disputes. Today Prof. Butters talked about expert linguists in the US legal system to CFL's Seemab Naseem, who will shortly be posting a record of the conversation in the Interviews section of this website.
\ Posted on 7 May 2010
CFL Reading Group
After a long Easter break involving volcanoes, the Aston FL Reading Group will be meeting again next week, on 13th May at the usual time of 12:45 in room MB 747. Nicci MacLeod will be presenting the following article:
- Stokoe, E. and Edwards, D. (2008) "`Did you have permission to smash
your neighbour's door?' Silly questions and their answers in police
suspect interrogations". In Discourse Studies, 10(1), London: Sage. If you would like to join us, please get in touch.
\ Posted on 7 May 2010
Daniel Greenberg, a senior legal drafter from the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, visited CFL yesterday. He gave an enlightening and engaging talk on 'The Illusion of Plain English in Legal Contexts' (click here for abstract) to a packed room of academics and Master's and PhD students. An interview with Daniel will soon be posted on this website. Meanwhile, click on the links below to read some of his papers.
Isabel Picornell, a Doctoral student at the Centre for Forensic Linguistics, provided an expert report in a high-profile case involving a tape recording of a telephone call, in which the head of the Imedia TV station in Georgia discusses a hoax news item about a Russian invasion with the station's head of political programming. For details of Isabel's report, follow this link.
Last night Tim Grant talked about forensic linguistics as part of Birmingham Science Museum's Cafe Scientifique discussion forum. The event attracted a predominantly non-academic audience, who asked many interesting questions.
The Aston Interpreter Network met on Thursday 18th March. The theme of the meeting was 'Court interpreting vs. conference interpreting". Yvonne Fowler presented a paper by Mirta Vidal, a US court interpreter, which compared the two interpreting contexts. Vidal claimed that court interpreting was more stressful from almost every point of view. There were several AIN Interpreters attending the meeting who were both practising court and conference interpreters and there was a broad measure of agreement with Vidal's assertion.
The CFL Reading Group met again last week. We discussed an article by T. P. Chritensen on "Judges' deviations from norm-based direct speech in court", published in the journal Interpreting (10(1), 2008). Get in touch if you would like to be notified of future meetings of the Group.
Malcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson's Routledge Hanbook of Forensic Linguistics was published last week. The official launch took place at the annual conference of the American Association of Applied Linguistics. For a preview of the book, follow this link.
We are pleased to announce that the Executive Committe of the International Association of Forensic Linguists voted unanimously for the Centre for Forensic Linguistics to host the Association's tenth Biennial Conference. It will be held in July 2011. Details will be posted on this website soon.
Tim Grant was interviewed by Michael Rosen in an episode of the BBC Radio Four programme Word of Mouth. Until Tuesday 1st December the programme can be heard again here. Tim discusses his involvement in the Ogundele conspiracy-to-murder case (reported below). The programme was about coded language generally and also included a segment by Prof. Ruth Wodak of Lancaster University.
On the first day of what was scheduled to have been a four-week trial, Christopher Birks pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife Amanda and the endangerment of his children and of fire-fighters called to his house. Birks killed his wife Amanda on the morning of 17 January 2009 and placed her body in an upstairs room before setting fire to their home late that night. Using her mobile telephone Birks sent messages indicating that she was alive during the day of the 17th and also used these messages to try to convince his young children that the fire was an accident caused by their mother. Tim Grant's evidence was that these messages were inconsistent with Amanda Birk's previous texting style and consistent with the known texts of Christopher Birks.
The Forensic Linguistics Reading Group will meet again on Thursday, 5 November, at 12.45pm in room MB747. Krzysztof Kredens will introduce Alexander George's 1990 paper, Whose Language is it Anyway? Some Notes on Idiolects (The Philosophical Quarterly, 40, 274-298). If you would like to join us, please get in touch.
Last Tuesday at the Old Bailey, a jury returned a guilty verdict on Kingsley Ogundele in a conspiracy to murder case. Ogundele, a grime music MC also known as Snoopy Montana had conspired with Brandon Jolie, a music producer known as Maniac. The conspiracy was carried out in East London street argot using Internet Relay Chat and Tim Grant provided a gloss for the Court into a more standard variety of English. In addition, Tim provided evidence of meaning for a phone call (transcribed by JP French Associates) and some other internet materials. Further details can be found on the Metropolitan Police and the Romford Recorder websites.
Arrests have been made in the racist letters case as a direct result of the Crimewatch appeal. A 70-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man from the Fareham area on the South Coast of England were arrested on 13th October as reported in the Portsmouth local press and in a number of national newspapers. Tim Grant's profile of the writer published as part of the Crimewatch appeal was that the writer of the letters was likely to be an older woman from the South of England. As a result of the appeal there was some national reporting and also a couple of articles on forensic linguistics.
On 9 October Tim Grant was the opening plenary speaker at the annual conference of the Nordic Network for Psychology and Law in the beautiful city of Tallinn in Estonia. Delegates included police officers, academics and research students from Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Estonia.
Today saw the launch of CFL's Reading Group. We discussed Peter Tiersma's The Nature of Legal Language, a chapter in Dimensions of Forensic Linguistics, edited by John Gibbons and M. Teresa Turell (John Benjamins 2008). Co-ordinated by Rui Sousa-Silva, the Group will meet every first Thursday of the month. The next meeting is due on 5 November. If you would like to join us, please get in touch.
Tim Grant, Deputy Director of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics, will appear tonight on BBC One's Crimewatch. He'll be talking about his work on a case involving racially and sexually abusive letters sent anonymously between January 2007 and July 2009 to people accross the UK, including the Prime Minister.
The new academic year at the Centre was yesterday inaugurated by an Aston Interpreter Network meeting. Presided over by Yvonne Fowler, it was devoted to strategies used by interpreters for dealing with ethical problems.
Lord Douglas Hurd, former British Foreign Secretary, was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters at last week's graduation ceremony and as part of his visit to the University received a presentation on forensic linguistics from CFL's Tim Grant and Yvonne Fowler.
He was accompanied by Dr Pamela Moores, Dean of Aston University's School of Languages and Social Sciences. We discussed our casework and research and Lord Hurd showed particular interest in Yvonne's work on interpreting in legal contexts, particularly via prison video links. (Click on the picture for a bigger version.)
The ninth biennial conference of the International Association of Forensic Linguists opened today with a plenary address by Malcolm Coulthard, Director of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics. To download the Powerpoint presentation, click here. CFL staff and students attending the conference have been sending live feeds on twitter - see www.twitter.com/cfl_aston.
[Tim Grant's ppt can be downloaded here]
The ninth edition of our Summer School is now history. We have had a very intensive but enjoyable week and would like to thank the students and tutors for their hard work and great company. Planning for next year's edition is already well under way! We are off to Amsterdam now...
The ninth edition of our Summer School starts tomorrow. We are expecting 20 students from 11 countries and have planned 18 sessions and two special presentations. Among our guest tutors this year are Prof. Lawrence M. Solan of Brooklyn Law School, Prof. Peter Tiersma of Loyola Law School, and James F. Fitzgerald, formerly of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The programme is available here.
It is now just over three weeks until the ninth biennial conference of the International Association of Forensic Linguists, to be held in Amsterdam from 6 to 9 July 2009. CFL will be represented by ten papers - follow this link for abstracts. There will also be a CFL poster session devoted to our recent casework and research.
Registration for the ninth edition of the International Summer School in Forensic Linguistic Analysis is now closed. Given the nature of the course and our desire to foster optimal standards of classroom interaction we can only accept 20 participants each year. Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the reserve list or find out about next year's edition.
At the annual conference of the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group at Teesside University, held from 14 to 16 April with some 150 participants, Malcolm Coulthard provided a keynote address and Kate Haworth, Nicci MacLeod and Yvonne Fowler presented papers. Immediately following the conference Malcolm, Tim Grant and Krzysztof Kredens gave a one-and-a-half-day Forensic Linguistics Masterclass to a group consisting mainly of police officers, which covered aspects of forensic lingusitic analysis and included sessions on 'working with an interpreter'.
Last week the first meeting of the Aston Interpreter Network was attended by 12 interpreters representing some 20 languages. Created by CFL's Yvonne Fowler and Krzysztof Kredens, the network is meant to foster a community of public service interpreters, particularly those working in legal contexts, and provide a forum for exchange of ideas and best practice between academics and practitioners. If you are a practising interpreter and would like to join us, please contact us.
As part of CFL's professional training programme, Tim Grant and Krzysztof Kredens delivered an intensive day-course in forensic linguistics to trainee Interview Advisors at the Gwent Police Training Centre near Newport in Wales. The course covered elements of forensic text analysis, interviewing with an interpreter and a discussion on choosing and working with expert witnesses.
We are delighted to announce that Kate Haworth will be joining us from Monday, March 9th. Her training and experience as a barrister will add an extra dimension to our work and we hope that some of the findings presented in her recently completed PhD on police investigative interviews will provide the basis for an application for research funding. Kate is not entirely new to the Centre, having taught on the two most recent editions of our Summer School.
As part of CFL's ongoing commitment to community engagement, Krzysztof Kredens provided an introduction to forensic linguistics to 80 students at St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College in London on Friday, 13 February. His presentation was delivered at a conference on English language organised annually by Dan Clayton, an English teacher at the college. The theme this year was CSI:SFX...
Two new interviews have just been posted in the CFL Interviews section of our website. Nicci MacLeod spoke to two recent visitors to Aston, Gavin Oxburgh about his interest in investigative interviewing, and Maria Teresa Turell about forensic linguistcs in Spain and an ambitious authorship analysis project she is in charge of at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. More interviews with forensic linguists will be added soon.
Marcus Alder was sentenced this week to 14 years' imprisonment for firearms, fraud and extortion offences. Tim Grant provided evidence in the October trial held in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Amongst his activities Alder had pretended to be the lover of a wealthy recluse, Philip Tyssen-Gee. Tim's evidence was that Alder wrote with a consistent and distinctive style and that features of this writing style could be found in a suicide note that was found in Tyssen-Gee's home. Alder also pretended to work for UK security services and had produced an MI5 identity card complete with spelling mistakes. The case has been reported on the BBC news website.
We are pleased to announce two upcoming talks by visitors to the Centre for Forensic Linguistics. On 26 November, Samuel Tomblin of Lancaster University will report on his research into lay judgements of authorship. Two weeks later, on 10 December, Gavin Oxburgh will talk about investigative interviewing. Both are open events; if you would like to attend either of them please contact us.
Details of the annual International Investigative Interviewing Research Group conference are now available from the Group's website. The conference, whose 2009 theme will be 'Putting Theory into Practice: The Dilemmas of Law and Psychology', will be immediately followed by a Forensic Linguistics Masterclass in Investigative Interviewing, co-run by the IIIRG and CFL.
It is now possible to register for this one-day event, to be held on 12 December 2008 at Aston University. The course will examine the techniques and findings of authorship analysis and introduce students to the potential and limitations of the approaches used. For more details, follow this link.
Last week, the eighth edition of the International Summer School in Forensic Linguistic Analysis was held at Aston University. The Centre for Forensic Linguistics hosted 20 participants, who travelled from Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Lithuania, Nigeria, Oman, Portugal, Spain, the USA and within the UK. The teaching team included CFL's Malcolm Coulthard, Tim Grant and Krzysztof Kredens, as well as four guest tutors. Eighteen 1.5-hour teaching sessions (including lab-based practical ones) were provided; the participants were also treated to a guided tour of the Birmingham Crown Court in Newton Street, where they had the chance to sit in on proceedings.
Following his BA Festival of Science lecture, Tim Grant's research into text messaging has attracted widespread attention from the British media. The links below will take you to some of the more interesting articles based on the many interviews Tim gave last week. It's interesting to see how what is essentially the same issue has received a different treatment in the different news stories. Critical Discourse Analysis, anyone?
Today's Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4 told the story of a Matthew Coleman, who 'has a sideline developing the art and science of linguistic forensics' and helps solve a murder case. The play will be available from BBC's iplayer for another seven days.
A forensic linguistics title nominated for the BAAL Book Prize
Malcolm Coulthard and Alison Johnson's An introduction to forensic linguistics - Language as Evidence has been shortlisted for the British Association for Applied Linguistics annual prize for the outstanding book in the field published in English in the world in 2007. The prize will be awarded at the next BAAL conference, to be held from 11 to 13 September 2008 at Swansea University.
CFL has entered into an official collaboration with the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group. The iIIRG brings together academics and practitioners who carry out research in investigative interviewing of victims, witnesses and suspects of crime. The group's focus on strong interaction between academia and practitioners is a major benefit as it helps to shape research to focus more directly on practitioner issues. The iIIRG currently has strong links with the University of Teesside and the Norwegian Police University College. The Memorandum of Agreement signed between CFL and iIIRG on 15th July 2008, allows both organisations to build on and formalise a collaboration which already involves joint research initiatives and data sharing, teaching exchanges and the running of practitioner conferences and workshops. The second iIIRG annual conference, to be held at the University of Teesside from 14th to 16th April 2009, will be followed by a 1.5-day Masterclass in Linguistics and Investigative Interviewing run by CFL.
Tim Grant's Joseph Lister Award lecture at the Festival of Science of the British Association for the Advancement of Science will be held at the University of Liverpool between 12 and 1pm on Monday 8th September. His talk on 'Txt crimes, sex crimes and murder - the science of Forensic Linguistics' will be based on authentic data, which Tim has been collecting on this website. If you would like to attend the lecture, tickets can be obtained here. To contribute text messages to the data collection please follow this link and fill in the simple form. You do not need to attend the lecture to contribute data but if you do your messages may be analysed as part of the lecture!
On June 26th 2008, the US Supreme Court overturned by a majority of 5-4 the Washington D.C. ban on handguns as unconstitutional. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia referred to the linguistic analyses supporting the D.C. law as 'unknown this side of the looking glass (except, apparently, in some courses on Linguistics)'. This case is an interesting example of how two sides (majority and minority opinion) can look at the same piece of text and arrive at opposite conclusions. The Opinion and Dissent documents are available from the FindLaw website.
Aston University is inviting applications for fees-only bursaries for study at the School of Languages and Social Sciences. Forensic linguistics is one of the eligible areas - for details please follow this link .
It is now possible to register for this event, to be held on 16 June 2008 at Aston University in Birmingham city centre. Please download the registration form - in pdf format here or as an MS Word document here. For details of the programme, see the events section of this website.
A feature on the work of forensic linguistic experts has appeared on the BBC News website today. Tim Grant was interviewed by Kathryn Edwards and spoke about his evidence in a case involving a terrorist suspect, as well as the activities at the Centre for Forensic Linguistics. Tim made it clear the idea of a linguistic fingerprint should be treated with caution. Explaining the possible weight of forensic linguistic evidence he said, "It's like giving a description of someone who has red hair and blue eyes. That's something quite unusual and can help you build a picture of the suspect, but it's not enough to convict someone on."
The story is available from the BBC News website.
The eighth edition of the International Summer School in Forensic Linguistic Analysis will take place between 15 and 19 September 2008 at Aston University. The programme is now available
here. To register download the registration form - in pdf format here or as an MS Word document here.
The CFL launch event on Tuesday attracted over 70 participants, an eclectic mix of linguists (including expert forensic linguists), forensic consultants, police officers and lawyers. We'd like to thank everybody for the interesting questions, inspiring comments and stimulating coffee-break discussions. We will soon be posting pictures from the day on this website.
An interview with Tim Grant for 'Word of Mouth', a programme exploring the way in which English is used nowadays in a variety of contexts, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 today.
When interviewed by Michael Rosen last week, Tim covered many areas of forensic linguistics but the
final edit concentrated on investigative techniques and discussed the Jenny Nicholl murder trial, sociolinguistic profiling of authors from written texts and the UNABOMBER case.
We are pleased to announce that prof. M. Teresa Turell of Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona has accepted our
invitation to give a talk at the launch symposium. The final programme for the event on 13 May 2008 is now ready and available in the events section of this website.
On April 4th Malcolm Coulthard gave a lecture on forensic linguistics at the Catholic University of Pelotas
in the south of Brazil. Despite the event being billed for 6.30-8.00 on a Friday evening,
some 300 academic staff and students turned up, some of whom had travelled by coach from a
university over an hour away. A week later Malcolm received an email from a student saying
Brazil now has its own Malcolm, a local professor who has developed his own
plagiarism detection software.
Dr Tim Grant appeared as an invited speaker giving a keynote address to the first
International Investigative Interviewing Research Group conference held at the University
of Derby on 26 and 27 March 2008. The talk "Linguistic insights into the Investigative
Interview" was delivered to an audience of about ninety police officers, practitioners
and academics. Research presentations were delivered by delegates from across the world
including representatives from China, Australia and across Europe. The other plenary
speakers were Dr. Rebecca Milne of University of Portsmouth, speaking on
"Investigative Interviewing: Harmonising research and practice", Professor Mark
Kebbell of Griffith University, Australia, speaking on "How can suspected sex
offenders be interviewed effectively and ethically?", and Gary Shaw, National
Interview Advisor from the UK National Police Improvement Agency speaking on
"The revised ACPO interviewing strategy".
PowerPoint slides from Tim Grant's presentation can be downloaded here.
The new Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University will be launched on 13 May 2008.
The Centre, the first of its type in the world, combines leading-edge research,
postgraduate and professional instruction and investigative forensic practice.
The one-day launch conference with invited
delegates from local and national police forces, the legal profession and academia will
demonstrate the range and depth of the Centre's activities.
From the Centre, Malcolm Coulthard, Professor of Forensic Linguistics, will talk
on 'The Work of the Forensic Linguist', Dr Krzysztof Kredens about the role
of the interpreter in legal contexts and Dr Tim Grant about 'Investigative
Linguistics as a Forensic Science'. In addition, Larry Solan, Don Forchelli Professor
of Law at Brooklyn Law School and former President of the International Association of
Forensic Linguists, will give a lecture entitled 'The Lawyer as Insincere Actor'. In the
evening, following the Official Opening of the Centre by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor
Coulthard will deliver his inaugural lecture, 'The Linguist as Detective and Expert Witness'.
An interesting case involving language rights is to be heard before a South African court. Last October, Ntombenhle Nkosi, Pan South African Language Board Chief Executive Officer, complained to the Equality Court against her son's school, where his mother tongue, IsiZulu, is taught as a second additional language. Ntombenhle Nkosi claims that her son is being discriminated against because, unlike pupils with Afrikaans or English as their first language, he receives substandard education in his native Isi Zulu. Accounts of the case can be found
here and here.
Malcolm Coulthard provided expert evidence in a murder trial last week.
His analysis of text messages alleged by the police to have been sent from
the victim's mobile phone by the accused man was heard before Teesside Crown Court.
An interesting account of the case and the role of forensic linguistics in the
investigation and court proceedings can be found here.