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Description - An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics by Malcolm Coulthard

From the accusation of plagiarism in The Da Vinci Code, to the infamous hoaxer in the Yorkshire Ripper case, the use of linguistic evidence in court and the number of linguists called to act as expert witnesses in court trials has increased rapidly in the past fifteen years. An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence provides a timely and accessible introduction to this rapidly expanding subject. Using knowledge and experience gained in legal settings - Malcolm Coulthard in his work as an expert witness and Alison Johnson in her work as a West Midlands police officer - the two authors combine an array of perspectives into a distinctly unified textbook, focusing throughout on evidence from real and often high profile cases including serial killer Harold Shipman, the Bridgewater Four and the Birmingham Six. Divided into two sections, 'The Language of the Legal Process' and 'Language as Evidence', the book covers the key topics of the field. The first section looks at legal language, the structures of legal genres and the collection and testing of evidence from the initial police interview through to examination and cross-examination in the courtroom. The second section focuses on the role of the forensic linguist, the forensic phonetician and the document examiner, as well as examining in detail the linguistic investigation of authorship and plagiarism. With research tasks, suggested reading and website references provided at the end of each chapter, An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence is the essential textbook for courses in forensic linguistics and language of the law.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780415320238
ISBN-10: 0415320232
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 156mm x 14mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Routledge
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 15-Apr-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Book Review: Introduction to Forensic Linguistics by Malcolm Coulthard - Reviewed by (03 Jun 2017)


An appreciation Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers and Phillip Taylor MBE of “The Barrister”

As words and word meanings are at the very core and essence of the law and the practice of law, this well-established textbook on forensic linguistics should be of prime interest to every lawyer. The book’s subtitle ‘language in evidence’ indicates the importance of forensic linguistics and its direct relevance in almost all legal matters.

In the ten years since the first edition came out, this pioneering text has established itself as the essential introductory work of reference in this field. Now, Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group which is an Informa business, have published it in a new edition, radically updated and containing much new material. Following the introduction (which is new), the book continues in two parts. One deals with the language of the legal process; the other covers the language of evidence.

Naturally, the book examines issues relating to the language of legal documents and of the police and law enforcement. There is of course, much more, including a discussion of the linguist as expert witness.

There are two other areas in particular which will make intellectual property lawyers sit up and take notice: the linguistic investigation of plagiarism -- and authorship attribution. Copycat creatives beware -- and educationalists -- note the section on universities and plagiarism.

A particularly interesting chapter concerns emergency services calls and police interviewing, with excerpts from key points in the various verbal exchanges. As with the famous case of assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, ‘the call begins a process that leads to a murder enquiry.’

One of the fascinating aspects of this book is that it demonstrates the ways in which the techniques of forensic linguistics have been applied to actual cases. There is much useful advice here for the advocate.

With its objective, scholarly approach and lucid, readable style, this book should be in the library of every lawyer and law student. Note especially, the twenty-two page bibliography with its wealth of references for the avid researcher.

The publication date is cited as at 2017 and the title is available as a hardback, a paperback and an ebook.

Books By Malcolm Coulthard

Introduction to Forensic Linguistics by Malcolm Coulthard
Hardback, July 2016
Advances in Written Text Analysis by Malcolm Coulthard
Hardback, February 2016
Introduction to Discourse Analysis by Malcolm Coulthard
Hardback, December 2015
Studies in Discourse Analysis by Malcolm Coulthard
Paperback, December 2015