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Summary Details

Query:   Resources for Language and the Law
Author:  Susana Sotillo IMAP
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Forensic Linguistics

Summary:   I posted a query to the Linguist List back in May asking for scholarly references and suggestions for an undergraduate course in Language & the Law.

I would like to thank those who responded for their most thoughtful suggestions and generosity in sharing their bibliographies and course descriptions with me. I am overwhelmed. Here is a summary that other Linguist List members may find extremely helpful:

Subject: Language and the Law

1. From Gerald McMenamin

Thank you very much for a very impressive bibliography. I am only reproducing parts of it because of space limitations. Those who want the complete bibliography, please e-mail Dr. McMenamim at .

Web Resources:

Forensic Linguistics at the University of Birmingham:

Forensic Linguistics: The International Journal of Speech, Language and
the Law:
International Association of Applied Linguistics
International Association of Forensic Linguistics
International Association of Forensic Linguists: Bibliography
International Association for Forensic Phonetics
International Journal for the Semiotics of Law / Revue international de
s?miotique juridique
Language in the Judicial Process, electronic newsletter of language and
law (Bethany Dumas)
Linguist List Search Engine for Linguistics and Languages
Linguist List Archive of Lists on Linguistics and Languages

Plain Language - USA
Plain Language - UK

P. M. Tiersma Website


Bryant, M. English in the Law Courts: The Part that Articles,
Prepositions and Conjunctions Play in Legal Decisions, Frederick Ungar, New York, 1930
and 1962.

Conley, J. M. and O'Barr, W. M. Just Words: Law, Language, and Power, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998.

Crystal, D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995.

Crystal, D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987.

Danet, B. ''Language in the legal process,'' Law & Society Review, 14:3:445-564, 1980.

Eades, D. ''Forensic linguistics in Australia: an overview,'' Forensic Linguistics, 1:2:113-132, 1994.

Eades, D. Language in Evidence: Issues Confronting Aboriginal and Multicultural Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1995.

Gibbons, J., Ed.. Language and the Law, Longman, New York, 1994.

Gibbons, J. ''Applied linguistics in court,'' Applied Linguistics, 11:3:229-237, 1990.

Kniffka, H. Texte zu Theorie und Praxis forensischer Linguistik, Max Niemeyer Verlag, T?bingen, 1990.

Kniffka, H., S. Blackwell, and Coulthard, M., Eds. Recent Developments in Forensic Linguistics, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, 1996.

Lakoff, R. T. Talking Power: The Politics of Language in Our Lives, Basic Books, New York, 1990.

Levi, J. N. Language and Law: a Bibliographic Guide to Social Science Research in the USA, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, and American Bar Association, Washington, D.C., Teaching Resource Bulletin No. 4, 1994a.

Levi, J. N. ''Language as evidence: The linguist as expert witness in North American courts,'' Forensic Linguistics, 1:1:1-26, 1994b.

Levi, J. N. and Graffam Walker, A., Eds. Language in the Judicial Process, Plenum Press, New York, 1990.

Levi, J. N. Linguistics, Language, and Law: A Topical Bibliography, Indiana University Linguistics Club, Bloomington, 1982.

Melinkoff, D. The Language of the Law, Little Brown, Boston, 1963.

Murphy, H. F. ''Linguistics and law: An overview of forensic linguistics,'' Journal of Law, Intellectual Property, and Technology, 1:, 1998.

O'Barr, W. Linguistic Evidence, Language, Power and Strategy in the Courtroom, Academic Press, New York, 1982.

Rieber, R. W. and Stewart, W. A., Eds. The Language Scientist as Expert in the Legal Setting, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, v. 606, New York, 1990.

Shuy, R. W. ''Language and the law,'' Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 7:50-63, 1986.

Shuy, R. W. Language Crimes: The Use and Abuse of Language Evidence in the Courtroom, Blackwell, Oxford, 1993.

Shuy, R. W. ''Linguistics in other professions,'' Annual Review of Anthropology, 13:419-445, 1984.

Shuy, R. W. The Language of Confessions, Interrogation and Deception, Sage Publications, Los Angeles, 1998.

Tiersma, P. M. ''Linguistic issues in law,'' Language 69:1:113-135, 1993.

Wetter, J. G. The Styles of Appellate Judicial Opinions, A. W. Sythoff, Leyden, 1960.

2. From Judith Levi

Judith Levi, a professor at Northwestern, was extremely generous. She shared the following with me:

A. Language and Law: A Bibliographic Guide to Social Science Research in the USA (ABA, 1994). ''There are 1350 entries, arranged according to topic. That will give you enough for ten courses' worth of materials.''

B. ''There *is* no textbook on the subject that I know of... However, you might want to consider one or more of these quite different options as texts:

Language in the Judicial Process (1990), ed. by myself and Anne Graffam Walker (Plenum) -- 1st ever collection of articles on language and law focusing on social science research.

Legal Language (1999) by Peter Tiersma (who has a Ph.D. in linguistics but is a law prof) (U Chicago Press).

Mellinkoff, David (1963) ''The Language of the Law'' (a classic by a law professor who also wrote ''Legal Writing: Sense and Nonsense'')

There are other books available (i.e., beyond articles) but your choice would depend on what you want to cover (e.g., forensic linguistics, or language minorities, legal drafting, or legal culture, etc.) You can find numerous suggestions in the Introduction section of my bibliography (q.v.)''

C. Web resources. Judith suggested sending a query to the Forensic Linguistics list: : The Forensic Linguistics
home page of the U of Birmingham (UK) -- a superb resource. - a US page called ''Language in the Judicial Process'' (after our book).

D. For Cyberlaw references: Bethany Dumas, the linguist/JD/consultant/English prof who maintains the LJP site. ()

E. Dr. Levi attached her Syllabi as Word Files. These syllabi present a broad survey of topics. Those wishing to obtain copies of these syllabi, please e-mail Dr. Levi at

3. From Nancy Frishberg and Georgina Heydon

Forensic Linguistics Home Page:

Contact Sue Blackwell at the International Association of Forensic Linguistics (IAFL) at the University of Birmingham, .

4. From France

''From a sociolinguistic standpoint, two interesting aspects of this are
1. research into cross-cultural 'ways of speaking' and possible miscommunication; and 2. the asymetrical talk that typically takes place in institutional settings where there is a clear power differential between speakers. Put the two together and,bang!, disaster.''

An example of applied (or 'forensic') linguistics in law - that takes into account both of the above - is the work of Diana Eades with Aboriginal Australians in law courts.

Once again, thank you so much for your help!

Susana M. Sotillo (

LL Issue: 12.1665
Date Posted: 26-Jun-2001
Original Query: Read original query


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