One of many intriguing aspects of human language is it varies in predictable ways across social groups. In understanding this variation, argues Dr Tim Grant of Aston’s Centre for Forensic Linguistics, we are sometimes able to locate the social origins of a particular text.
This expertise is important in a variety of settings. Imagine, for example, that owing to certain pressures, you had falsely confessed to a serious crime, and ‘words have been put into your mouth’ by a police officer . . . How might this be uncovered?
In the world of the police and of the courts, linguists such as Dr Grant are joining psychologists in the role of investigative advisor.
For a Crimewatch interview with Dr Grant, please click here. For an interview with him on our YouTube channel, click here; for a brief video interview about why he contributed to The New Optimists, click here.
Dr Tim Grant is Deputy Director of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University. His consultancy primarily involves authorship analysis and he has worked in many different contexts including investigations into sexual assault, murder and terrorist offences. He publishes on forensic linguistics and forensic psychology and his research into text messaging analysis was awarded the 2008 Joseph Lister Prize by the British Science Association. He considers himself a natural optimist.
See also An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in evidence by the Centre’s Director Malcolm Coulthard and Leeds University’s Alison Johnson.