Duly verified? Language analysis in UK asylum applications of Syrian refugees
Issue: Vol 25 No. 1 (2018)
Subject Areas: Linguistics
This article examines current LADO (Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin) practice as documented in a sample of recent reports that assess the speech of Syrian asylum seekers. I show how a method that purports to ensure transparency of data, and contextualisation of the analysis in published research, presents certain problems by framing the question of linguistic background as two juxtaposed hypotheses. I suggest that this approach risks biasing the results by excluding the possibility that speech can be varied and multi-layered. At the same time, points of concern around LADO procedures raised by researchers, such as analysts' inadequate qualifications and failure to take variation into account, are resonating with the judicial system via arguments presented in counter-expertise reports. I argue in favour of an inductive approach to language analysis that draws on a holistic dialect-geographical assessment while giving consideration to sociolinguistic and discourse analytical dimensions.
Author: Yaron Matras
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