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The new powers of forensic linguistic

[27/05/11]

On 25 April the Periódico newspaper published an article on a case of linguistic extortion, the author of which was discovered thanks to the assistance of María Teresa Turell, director of the Master's in Forensic Linguistics.

«Language gives us away», resume Maria Teresa Turell, specialist in detecting plagiarism, the determining/attributing of authorship of written texts and trademark litigation.

After helping to identify the author of an extortion analysing the text of his emails, forensic linguistics has become a tool for clarifying cases at Court. Thanks to large-scale computer word processing, researchers are capable of detecting special universal language and sign patterns characterising each author.The style and structure of the text, use of subordinate clauses, frequency of each word, lexical density and richness and errors, among other aspects, enable plagiarism to be detected or unknown authors identified.

Among humans there are communities of speech identifying a profession, gender, social class or age. “In addition, each speaker has their own idiolect, their individual choice of the possibilities offered by a language” dice Turell.

Despite work having been carried out in forensic linguistics for the last 50 years, it is now that it is starting to appear in Spanish Courts.

To read the article in full, please click here

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