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Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

What’s forensic linguistics then?

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What’s forensic linguistics then?

Jan 6, 2011 | Writing, Books | 6 comments

Old book bindings at the Merton College library.

Image via Wikipedia

Thursdays is ‘language’ day – it’s one of those happy areas where I could talk for days/weeks/months.

But before I get into the *really* geeky stuff, I thought I’d give my perspective on Forensic Linguistics and how it fits into my world.
First up, I love the definition at (linked in the footnote).  Forensic linguistics is the study of language as it relates to crime – but more importantly, it also covers the psychological and socio linguistic ways we use language.
Translation – language shapes everything we do – down to how we think and define our world.

Forensic linguistics specifically is the art of looking at language as it relates to crime.   It covers language, as in our language and how we use it, to how we translate the language use of others and beyond.  It looks at everything from socio interracial interaction (including racism and inclusion/exclusion) to the way language shapes our opinion.
My interest runs slightly deeper than that – and relates more to the ‘how we use language’  and how it relates to writers.  I call it Literary forensics, and talk about it on another blog (mostly) at .  I really enjoy talking about the writing and interesting pieces in the corpus of language (that’s the individual use of your own language – your idiosyncracies and colloquialisms).  It’s really facinating, and can give real insight into everything from the writer themselves, to making characters more believable.  It’s something I’m genuinely passionate about, so I apologise for my geekery.  I hope you’ll enjoy it though.

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  1. Cricket

    I love your geekery!

    • Kai

      Thanks Cricket! I’m really excited that people are actually interested instead of looking at me like a cog slipped loose somewhere. I’ve been told it’s quite a leap to go from criminal profiling to improving writing, but I’m going to try to explain what I’m talking about as I go 😀

  2. Cindy

    Interesting. Id love to see this used in a Dexter episode (I just started season 3 – – no spoilers!)

    Would this include creating a profile of a suspect based on his diction and accent?

    • Kai

      As forensic linguistics covers things like discrimination and more, then it probably would be kind of covered in there – I guess F/L distills down to the impact and use of language, and accent falls into that.
      As for spoilers – I don’t watch Dexter, so you’d be spoilerising for me 😉

  3. Amy Warden

    Oh wow. You might be over my head. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!

    • Kai

      I’m going to try and keep it as clear as possible – it’s great information for writers and to be honest, what my main passion is all about. I know passion is one of the most important elements of sharing the really good stuff, so for that I’m definately onto a winner 😉


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