Hofstra University Continuing Education

Forensic Linguistics: Applications

This intensive course that can either be taken for 3 graduate credits, or as a non-credit course with a certificate of completion. This course is co-taught by Robert A. Leonard, Director of the Forensic Linguistics Project; Dr. Tanya Karoli Christensen of Denmark’s University of Copenhagen; and James R. Fitzgerald, Former FBI Supervisory Agent

Course Offerings
H2000 Forensic Linguistics: Applications Get Class Info

WHEN
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WHERE
Hofstra University campus in Hempstead, Long Island, 25 miles east of New York City. Hofstra University’s unique Forensic Linguistics Project is a leader in forensic linguistic analysis.

INSTRUCTORS
Robert A. Leonard, Dr. Tanya Karoli Christensen, and James R. Fitzgerald

About the Course
Ling 230 is more broadly introductory to the whole field of forensic linguistics than is the spring intensive course. There is some overlap, but in addition to teaching the investigation of criminal, intelligence, and terrorism cases, Ling 230 covers more foundational linguistic theory, ongoing research on threat assessment, criminal defense strategies, a selection of US civil law cases in addition to criminal cases, and includes European forensic linguistic responses to terrorism, threats, and violence.

Cases
Case studies and class participation exercises are largely from those worked by Christensen or Leonard, which include the JonBenet Ramsey Case, Coleman triple homicides, the Facebook Catfishing Executions, death threats to sitting judges and members of U.S. Congress, the Hummert Murder Case, Apple vs. Microsoft, Apple vs. Amazon, Brooklyn 911 murder, European Syrian ISIS Warrior case, and European threat and extortion letters.

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Course Content
A case-based approach to solving legal and law enforcement problems through linguistic analysis:
  • Language crimes: Bribery, perjury, solicitation to murder, and threats are all crimes committed through the use of language (in some cases ancillary actions are required for prosecution as well). Select types of language crimes are analyzed and discussed.
  • Demographic Linguistic Profiles: Dialectology, sociolinguistics and linguistic variation analyses can indicate a writer's regional and local geographic origin, education level, occupational training, and other demographic features.
  • Authorship Analysis: Text comparisons can indicate whether two sets of texts have common authorship. The role of authorship analysis in investigation and litigation is exemplified and discussed through several cases.
  • Forensic linguistic analysis of total speech events: Since language vastly underdetermines meaning contextual information is necessary for valid interpretations of any linguistic feature, from conversations to utterances to words and morphemes. The build-up of speech events, the possibly conflicting schemas of participants, their conversational strategies, and speech acts are presented and discussed.
  • Legal language: Written text such as contracts, warning labels, and police reports, and spoken data such as police interrogations and courtroom interaction are introduced and analysed in class.
Included will be a special guest lecture by Dr. Tammy Gales, Director of Research at Hofstra’s Institute for Forensic Linguistics, Threat Assessment, and Strategic Analysis. Dr. Gales will discuss recent threat assessment practices and research that she has spearheaded, such as:
  • Examining the differences in markers of commitment between realized vs. non-realized threats.
  • Honing threat assessment protocols
Investigating the linguistic differences between threat types (e.g., stalking vs. harassment) for legal purposes.

Course Format and Schedule
In addition to lecture and class-based exercises, students will be formed into teams to work on case analyses out of class.

Requirements and Credits
There are no prerequisites. The course is aimed at both investigative and legal professionals as well as the more academically-oriented student. The costs are $970 for Continuing Education credit or approximately $3900 for three graduate credits to be used towards a degree. There are unfortunately no scholarships available, nor can one participate as a distance learner. This is a highly interactive class, both between instructors and participants, and among participants who form small teams for analysis of case evidence. For 3 graduate credits, register for “LING 230”. For Continuing Education credit, “H2000 Forensic Linguistics: Applications” there is open enrollment; no application is necessary.

For information on hotels, and to register for Continuing Education credit, email Continuing Education coordinator Michael P. Chisena, at Michael.Chisena@hofstra.edu, or call 516-463-5909.

For other information, email the office of Robert Leonard at ForensicLinguistics@hofstra.edu.
Forensic Studies

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