Master of Arts in Linguistics: Forensic Linguistics
Professor Leonard, Graduate Program Director
Email Robert Leonard
The Hofstra Graduate Program is the only degree program in Forensic Linguistics in the United States. There are such programs in the UK and in Spain, but until the Hofstra program, there have been no others in the US. At Hofstra, a student will train first and foremost to become a linguist, and learn the core tools and competencies – including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, dialectology and sociolinguistics – that serve as the base of all linguistics. Unlike other linguistics programs, wherever possible real life illustrations and teaching examples will be drawn from forensic applications, often from the extensive array of law cases originally analyzed by the Hofstra faculty.
Advanced courses will explore the specific application of linguistic science to cases involving criminal activity of all kinds, including extortion, bribery, murder, espionage, weapons of mass destruction, etc, as well as to civil cases of trademark protection, the meaning of contracts and statutes, and defamation. Students learn to critique common interrogation procedures and techniques from a linguistic point of view, and learn how to perform analyses that seek to establish common authorship of different sets of documents. In short, while they learn the science of linguistics, they also learn how to apply it to a multiplicity of issues in the real world – in this case, the legal arena.