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Book: The Five-Minute Linguist

Chapter: 65. Can You Use Languages to Solve Crimes?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38187


When there’s linguistic evidence at a crime scene, or when language itself constitutes the crime, linguists can use their expertise in the structure, meaning, and use of language to help investigators solve crimes. Forensic linguistics can involve author or speaker profiling, authorship attribution, and voice identification. While linguistic analysis of language evidence can be invaluable, forensic linguistics is not DNA analysis, and an individual’s distinctive linguistic patterns do not constitute a ‘linguistic fingerprint’. That being said, criminals still leave behind important language clues, and forensic linguistics can go a long way toward uncovering them.

Chapter Contributors

  • Natalie Schilling ( - schilling) 'Georgetown University'