Multilingualism and forensic linguistics: What do linguists do as forensic experts?

The most recent addition to MultiLing's core team, Research Professor Aneta Pavlenko, will be addressing the hot topic of forensic linguistics — language and the law. Open lecture.

Aneta Pavlenko (photo:

Aneta Pavlenko (Photo:

Applied linguists are often asked about the relevance of their research for the ‘real world’. What exactly do we apply linguistics to? What difference, if any, do we make?

In this talk, I will discuss forensic linguistics as an area where scholars of multilingualism are increasingly making a difference through both research and expert testimony.

Drawing on my own experience as forensic consultant and on my recent research on comprehension of legal language by non-native speakers of English, I will discuss methods used to analyze language as evidence, ethical and practical issues faced by linguists in the courtroom, and ways in which we can affect public policy and raise awareness of linguistic inequalities.

I will end by discussing the Guidelines for communicating rights to non-native speakers of English in Australia, England and Wales, and the USA (external link). 

About Aneta Pavlenko

Aneta Pavlenko, Ph.D. is Research Professor at the Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan at the University of Oslo and Past President of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. Her research focuses on the relationship between bilingualism, cognition, and emotions. She has also done work in forensic linguistics, sociolinguistics, and language policy. 

Read about Aneta Pavlenko on her staff profile.


Published May 23, 2017 3:19 PM - Last modified Nov. 6, 2018 11:37 AM