Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

LINGUIST 2FL3 Intro To Forensic Linguistics (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Multiterm

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Daniel Pape


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 511

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23761

Office Hours: Monday 4-5 pm

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 include 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 30% of the final grade. The exam is scheduled by the Registrar office.
  • Six in-class quizzes (Mondays) regarding the invited speaker talks from the Wednesday slot. If the Invited speaker is presenting his talk on one given Wednesday then the quiz about this specific talk will be hold in class the following Monday. There will be six quizzes; the best five (of these six) will be graded (i.e. the sixth quiz is not graded – therefore there is no need to provide an MSAF or other excuses if one quiz in one week is missed). Each quiz is weighted 9% of the final grade (thus the five assignments are worth 45%).
  • One in-class quiz (written the Monday after Reading Week) regarding the topics of two introductory tutorials on (1) speech production principles and (2) acoustic phonetics. The tutorials will be provided on Avenue two weeks before the quiz. This quiz is weighted 12% of the final grade.
  • Participation in class (for the Instructor part, not the Invited Speakers) using iClicker is weighted 9%. If you click responses to 80% of clicker questions you receive full marks, if you respond to fewer than 80% then your clicker score is pro-rated accordingly.
  • For the Invited Speaker part, the class will be divided into six groups. Each of these groups has to provide eight questions following the invited speaker talk. Four questions have to be sent to the instructor before the Invited Speaker talk (and thus regard the topic of the Invited Speaker), four questions have to be sent to the instructor after the talk (and thus regard the content of the talk). All individuals in a given group are graded identically. Each question is worth 0.5% of your grade (total 4% of your grade).

For participation in experiments (SONA – Linguistics Research Participation System) a bonus of 2% for two hours of participation is awarded (or 1% for one hour participation). A make-up lecture is available at the end of term if you cannot/choose not to participate. A PDF document on how to participate is found on Avenue2Learn course content section.

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:

Excused assignments: Assignments/quizzes for which the instructor receives an MSAF or other approved document have their value added to the value of the other assignments or final exam if not arranged otherwise with Dr. Pape. Please see the rules for the six Invited Speaker quizzes in the section grading components.

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.





week 1: January 7

Forensic linguistics Introduction I (general Introduction)


week 2: January 14

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



week 3: January 23

Invited speaker 1: “Translation and language in the courtroom” (Prof. Magda Stroinska)

Quiz on following Monday (January 28)

week 4: January 28

Invited speaker 2: “Convicted by language” (Prof. Anna Moro)

Quiz on following Monday (February 4)

week 5: February 6

Methods in Forensic linguistics


week 6: February 13

Police interviews / Police interrogations / From spoken to written forms (temporary)


February 18

Reading Week


week 7: February 25

Quiz about the two “Introduction to Phonetics” chapters (provided on Avenue)


week 7: February 27

Invited speaker 3: Neural correlates of lie detection and polygraph examinations (Prof. John Connolly)

Quiz on following Monday (March 4)

week 8: March 6

Invited speaker 4: “…” (…)

Quiz on following Monday (March 11)

week 9: March 13

Forensic phonetics I


week 10: March 20:

Invited speaker 5: “…” (…)

Quiz on following Monday (March 25)

week 11: March 27

Invited speaker 6: “…” (Susan Ehrlich)

Quiz on following Monday (April 1)

week 12: April 3

Forensic phonetics II


April 8 (1h slot)

Summary and options to ask questions about the final exam



Other Course Information:

1. Email: Please ask detailed questions about course material and quizzes or exams in person. As a general rule, I will answer emails during normal office hours, so, for example, you might not get responses during the weekend.

2. In this course we will be using Avenue. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.