love, play & inquiry (trochee) wrote,
love, play & inquiry

Forensic Linguistics

Linguist List today includes mail from Jeff Siegel broadcasting the International Association of Forensic Linguistics' announcement of new guidelines for the use of language analysis in determining the national origin for refugees.

While most of the recommendations are obvious, they highlight the potential for serious abuse of "linguistics" in rejecting refugees' national status. They include the following statement on their web site:
...the Australian government is currently engaging several European companies to provide "language analysis" in the determination of the nationality of refugee claimants.

"A preliminary examination of this process by a group of five Australian linguists* has raised serious concerns about the underlying assumptions as well as the methods being used in this so-called "language analysis".

"Delegates [to IAFL] ... unanimously reject this so-called "language analysis" as unprofessional and unreliable.
The companies' "analysis" must be really bad if the new guidelines are aimed at them, since these guidelines include such commonsense nuggets as (2)[Linguists can only provide information about] socialization rather than origin and (5) Language analysis requires useful and reliable data.
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