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LINGUIST 2FL3 Intro To Forensic Linguistics

Academic Year: Spring/Summer 2017

Term: Spring

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Prof. Daniel Pape


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 511

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23761

Office Hours: Thursday 3-4 p.m.

Course Objectives:

This course is a foundational course whose aim is to ensure that students are familiar with the main topics of an introduction to Forensic linguistics and can connect famous case files to specific Forensic Linguistic topics. Students will be familiar with the following areas and topics of Forensic linguistics:

  • The language of police interrogations
  • Translation of foreign languages in the courtroom
  • Courtroom language
  • Forensic document investigation
  • The nature of legal language
  • Neural correlates of lie detection
  • Individual psychological factors in forensic analyses
  • The linguist as expert witness and the work of the Forensic linguist.

Furthermore, students will have a thorough understanding of Forensic phonetics including speaker and voice identification, are able to relate acoustic measurements to individual and dialect differences and have a deep understanding of the possibilities and limitations of forensic linguistics as evidence in the courtroom. Furthermore, students will acquire the necessary knowledge of how the human speech production system produces speech as an acoustic output, a necessary base work for the understanding of Forensic phonetics principles.

All these objectives will be met by lectures by the instructor, reading of introductory tutorials and guest lectures concerning all topics mentioned above.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

  • iClicker response device
  • There is no required textbook four this course, but I highly recommend (and my teaching partly relies on) the 2nd edition of the textbook “An Introduction to Forensic Linguistics: Language in Evidence” by Coulthard, Malcolm & Johnson, Alison & Wright, David (2016). Other readings might include other book chapter or other tutorial papers.

Method of Assessment:

The final grade is a weighted average of these grades:

  • One final examination (The final exam includes only material from the instructor’s presentations, not from the invited speakers’ talks) is weighted 33% of the final grade. The exam is scheduled in the last week of the course (June 12 to June 16).
  • Four in-class quizzes (Thursdays) regarding the invited speaker talks written directly following the invited speaker presentations. Each quiz is weighted 9% of the final grade (thus the five assignments are worth 36%). There will be five quizzes; the best four (of these five) will be graded (i.e. the fifth quiz is not graded – therefore there is no need to provide an MSAF or other excuses if one quiz in one week is missed).
  • Two in-class quizzes (second and third Tuesday) regarding the topics of two introductory tutorials on (1) speech production principles and (2) acoustic phonetics. The tutorials will be provided on Avenue one week before the quizzes. Each quiz is weighted 9% of the final grade (thus the two quizzes are worth 18%)
  • Participation in class using iClicker is weighted 8%. If you click a response to 80% of clicker questions you receive 10/10. If you respond to fewer than 80% then your clicker score is pro-rated accordingly.
  • The class will be divided into seven groups. Each of these groups has to provide/ask five questions following the invited speaker talk. All individuals in a given group are graded identically. Each question is worth 1% of your grade (total 5% of your grade).

Individual percentages of each task completion are carried into the weighting procedure. The final grade is then the weighted equivalent percentages of each task completion.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments/quizzes for which the instructor receives an MSAF or other approved document have their value added to the value of the other assignments if not arranged otherwise with Dr. Pape.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

The syllabus describes the themes for each week.

The syllabus below is only a rough outline and will be constantly updated on Avenue when needed.

The exact dates (and titles) of the invited speakers might still change.





1: May 2

Forensic linguistics Introduction I (general Introduction)

1: May 4

Invited speaker: “Translation and language in the courtroom” (Prof. Stroinska)

2: May 9

Forensic linguistics Introduction II (specific fields and work of the Forensic Linguist)

2: May 11

Invited speaker: “Convicted by language” (Prof. Moro)

3: May 16

Forensic phonetics I

3: May 18

Invited speaker: Neural correlates of lie detection and polygraph examinations (Prof. Connolly)

4: May 23

Forensic phonetics II: Speaker identification

4: May 25

Invited speaker: tba

5: May 30

Forensic phonetics: Acoustic correlates of speaker-specific and dialect-specific differences

5: June 1

Invited speaker: Individual psychological differences in forensic analysis – personality traits (C. Gaffney)

6: June 6

Police interviews / Police interrogations / From spoken to written

6: June 8

Invited speaker: Introduction to corpus linguistics (Victor Kupperman)



7: June 13

Final exam (date still to be confirmed)

7: June 15

Invited speaker: Stereotypes in spoken language (Prof. Colarusso)