The Language of Perjury Cases

The Language of Perjury Cases

The Language of Perjury Cases

The Language of Perjury Cases

Synopsis

The Language of Perjury Cases outlines the contributions that linguistics can make to both the gathering of evidence and the way that evidence is analyzed in perjury cases. Roger W. Shuy describes eleven representative lawsuits--involving bankruptcy, unions, hunting licenses, doctors, priests, and Senators--for which he served as a consultant. Shuy's linguistic analysis illustrates how grammatical referencing, speech acts, discourse structure, framing, conveyed meaning, intentionality, and malicious language affected the outcome of these cases.

Excerpt

Back in the days when I taught classes I often challenged my students to tell me any area of human life that was not relevant to linguistics. I never got a single valid answer, but I don’t mean to say that linguists have fully explored all of the potential possible connections and applications. They have made many contributions to education and medical communication, and there are signs that some progress is being made in other fields, such as politics and business. During the past few decades, linguists also have been exploring the relationship of linguistics to many issues relating to law, including undercover criminal sting operations such as bribery, money laundering, solicitation to murder, identification of authors and speakers, threat messages, and narcotics possession and sales. They’ve also written about police interrogations, confessions given by suspects, trademark infringement, contract disputes, bureaucratic language that invites lawsuits, deceptive trade practices, product liability, copyright battles, various types of discrimination, and defamation. Many linguists have also analyzed legal language, statutes, and the way language is used in the courtroom. By now it has become clear that linguistic tools and analysis are highly relevant to all areas of law. This should not be surprising, because law is mostly about language.

In this book, I turn my attention to the way linguists can use their analytical tools in legal procedures relating to charges of perjury. I’ve served either as an expert witness or consultant to lawyers in hundreds of cases during the past three decades, and I’ve preserved files from almost all of them. I store them by case type and when I’m ready . . .

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