Forensic Linguistics 1: Why the Law Needs Language and Linguistics


Course Objective

• Students will have an overview of various areas within forensic
linguistics/language and the law and can critically reflect on research
in these areas
• Students will have an overview of the structure of various legal
settings and the conversational strategies used and can critically
reflect on such strategies
• Students know how to analyze communication strategies themselves
drawing on discourse analytic resources
• Students know how to the software program Transana for their analyses
• Students know how to set up small forensic linguistic research
projects and write up a research report
• Students know how to write a paper without inadvertently relying too
much on the texts of others and committing plagiarism

Course Content

This course gives an overview of a variety of topics in the area of
forensic linguistics/language and the law as well as the various
linguistic and discourse analytic methods that can be drawn upon to
analyze these topics. The first two weeks we will look at legal
language, trademark disputes and plagiarism. Our discussions on
plagiarism will also form a basis for when you write your own papers and
cite and reference literature so that you can avoid the grey areas
between plagiarism and drawing on the ideas of others. Subsequently in
weeks 3 and 4 we will examine the structure and conversational
strategies of several legal settings. We will analyze crisis
negotiations and how conversational strategies such as active listening
help de-escalate the crisis. We will also analyze the structure of
emergency calls and the conversational strategies used by call takers
and how they function to make these calls as efficient as possible. The
last two weeks we will first examine police interviews/interrogations
and how statements are created and then analyze courtroom trials in both
adversarial and inquisitorial systems. Attention will also be paid to
vulnerable witnesses in these settings.

Teaching Methods


Method of Assessment

Short assignments and research projects


Coulthard, M., Johnson, A., & Wright (2017). An Introduction to Forensic
Linguistics. Oxon: Routledge (Available as an e-book in the VU library).
Waring, Hansun Zhang (2018). Discourse analysis: the questions discourse
analysts ask and how they answer them. Routledge, New York. (Available
as an e-book in the VU library).

Further articles and chapters TBA

Target Audience

Students in the research master linguistics

General Information

Course Code L_NCMPLIN001
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. F. van der Houwen
Examiner dr. F. van der Houwen
Teaching Staff dr. F. van der Houwen

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar