LINGUIST List 3.660

Wed 02 Sep 1992

Qs: Understanding Conversational Evidence

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  1. Marianna Di Paolo, Understanding Conversational Evidence

Message 1: Understanding Conversational Evidence

Date: Tue, 1 Sep 92 14:36:32 MDTUnderstanding Conversational Evidence
From: Marianna Di Paolo <>
Subject: Understanding Conversational Evidence


We have been working on a project concerning how potential jurors arrive
at conclusions from covertly recorded conversations entered as evidence
of criminal activity, and whether their conclusions differ from the
conclusions of experts trained in the interpretation of such materials.
We believe that our study will provide empirical evidence speaking for
admission or rejection of linguists as expert witnesses.

We would like to invite people 18 or over, no matter what their
training, to participate in our study. Your participation will involve
reading a transcript of an audio recording of a narcotics transaction
made covertly by a federal agent, and answering questions about your
understanding of it. We are interested in your evaluations of the
relationships between the participants in the conversation, and how you
arrive at those evaluations. The results of this portion of our
investigation will be compared to an evaluation of the same
relationships made by potential jurors. We will also ask you to complete
a demographic questionnaire about your background. (NOTE: The transcript
contains some obscene language which some of you may find offensive.)

The study will take one-and-a-half to two hours of your time. In order
to facilitate participation, we can send you the transcript (25 pages),
and/or the questionnaires (c. 12 pages) by email or snailmail. For
example, you may ask for a snailmail copy of the transcript and an
electronic copy of the questionnaires or vice versa, OR whichever
combination of options will be most convenient for you.

Your names and other identifying features such as addresses will be
removed from your responses and your identities will be protected by the
use of arbitrarily-assigned code numbers. We will keep the responses to
the questionnaires for at least three years . At that time, the
questionnaires may be destroyed but we will keep the notes in our files.
Your participation is voluntary and you may withdraw from the study at
any time.

We would be happy to send all participants the paper we will produce
from this study and would be interested in receiving questions and

Please contact either one of us by email, snailmail, or phone at the
following addresses:

 Marianna Di Paolo
 Linguistics Program
 Stewart Building
 University of Utah
 Salt Lake City, UT 84112
 (Leave message at 1-801-581-8047)

 Georgia Green
 Beckman Institute
 405 N. Mathews
 Urbana, Illinois 61801
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