Forensic linguistics, a branch of applied linguistics that responds to forensic problems, deals, among other things, with authorship analysis, which includes identifying and sociolinguistically profiling people based on samples of their writing. From a research perspective, securing data for such analyses has always been a problem: due to the sensitive nature of the practical situations where forensic linguistics is applied, it is mostly privacy concerns that have prevented researchers and practitioners from compiling large collections of training examples, let alone sharing them. Even in those cases where data can be collected, once the data have been studied for the first time, and once their true results have been observed, they are spoiled for future training, so that honing one’s skills, apart from applying them in practice, basically requires a constant stream of fresh examples.
This workshop aims at laying the foundation for a kind of “forensic linguistics dojo” – a place where anyone who seeks to improve one’s forensic skills can join, as long as they are endeavouring and respectful. The forensic linguistics dojo will be a safe place where everyone is free to remain anonymous.
The first forensic linguistics dojo consists of 10 training cases supplied by 10 human test subjects. None of the training cases can be found on the web; rather, they have been originally written on request, although the writing was neither controlled, nor constrained in any way. Each training case is composed of one unknown text of 1200 to 2200 words length, an essay written on a topic close to heart of the respective subject, as well as a number of known texts for comparison.
The task for each of the 10 training cases consists of:
- verifying whether the unknown text has been written by the same author as the known texts,
- profiling the author of the unknown text, and
- explaining the verification and profiling results in detail.
Anyone willing to join the first forensic linguistics dojo may do so by sending an email to email@example.com. If you wish to remain anonymous all the way, please ensure to use an e-mail address that cannot be traced back to you.
IAFL Porto 2017 delegates can register for free. All other participants can register for a fee of 30 Euros. The winner of the Forensic Linguistics Dojo will be awarded a prize.
The Forensic Linguistics Dojo will take place as a pre-conference workshop of the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Forensic Linguists on the theme of New Challenges for Forensic Linguists, on 10 July 2017. The conference, which is organised jointly by the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Law, aims to engage the participants in the debate of the new challenges for Forensic Linguists and Forensic Linguistics, and will be held at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto, in Portugal, from 10 to 14 July 2017.
Conference Organising Committee: Rui Sousa-Silva (Chair), Belinda Maia (Honorary Chair), Rita Faria, Silvana Mota Ribeiro, Jorge Teixeira, Rui Effe, Joana Forbes, Milaydis Sosa
Workshop organisers: Martin Potthast & Rui Sousa-Silva