Institut de Lingüística Aplicada

The use of linguistic evidence for forensic purposes: concepts, methods and applications

[Introduction] [Practical information & Program] [Conference office]
Workshop organization:
Language Variation Research Unit (UVAL)

Barcelona, April 24-25, 2003

The international workshop on The use of linguistic evidence for forensic purposes: concepts, methods and applications has been set up to attain a two-fold aim: a) to contribute to the discussion of forensic linguistic matters at an international level, by bringing together some of the most world-known forensic linguists with a long practice around the world, and b) in so doing, to help to launch forensic linguistics in Spain, where some professional people have acted as experts, but their practice has been very isolated. Also, the launching of forensic linguistics has to be viewed in the context of the stronger links to be established between academics and society.

As the Forensic Linguistics web page states:

"(.) Forensic Linguistics can be defined as the interface between language and the law. This discipline includes the study of a number of areas, which have to do with the use of linguistic evidence within diverse public contexts and professional settings such as:

  • The use of linguistic evidence (phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, pragmatic, discourse) in court to identify speakers and writers of a specific linguistic variety, style or register.
  • The analysis of signature and text forgery with criminal ends.
  • The analysis of authorship attribution of both spoken and written texts.
  • The readability/comprehensibility of legal documents.
  • Courtroom discourse.
  • Legal interpretation and translation in multilingual settings (.)"

From a methodological point of view forensic linguistics expertise and research is implemented by means of a series of tools, software, and quality statistics which allow forensic linguists to show a much more rigorous and scientific performance to be used by the public administration (magistrates, the judicial school, the police) and private institutions and companies, and also by professional people (judges, lawyers, attorneys, solicitors, notaries, psychologists, doctors).

It was not until the nineties that forensic linguistics emerged very forcefully. Firstly, the experts' performance became much more professionalized; secondly, an increase in the publication of articles and chapters in a number of forensic linguistics topics took place, and their content was much more methodologically grounded than before; thirdly, the International Association of Forensic Linguistics was founded in 1992, and finally, Forensic Linguistics: The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, a peer-reviewed journal published twice a year in June and December, published its first issue in 1994.

The pioneer, technological and applied character of forensic linguistics seems to be sufficient to justify its general and particular interest and thus the organisation of this workshop, which will become an interdisciplinary forum of discussion involving the participation of law scholars, computer science technicians and linguists.

Practical information & Program

Workshop organization:

Language Variation Research Unit (UVAL)
Workshop chairperson: M. Teresa Turell

Conference office:

Institut Universitari de Lingüística Aplicada
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
La Rambla 30-32
08002 Barcelona (Spain)
Tel: (+34) 935422276
Fax: (+34) 935422449

[Introduction] [Practical information & Program] [Conference office]