Forensic linguists focus on the interaction of language and the legal system. It is an essential field in not only providing evidence to the courts, but also in ensuring linguistic equality in the system. The emergence of professional organizations with a focus on forensic linguistics indicates the growing demand for the field.
Description of the Field
Forensic linguistics is the study of the relationship language has with the law. The field includes tasks as diverse as analyzing contracts for legality to providing voice and handwriting analysis for submission as evidence in a court of law. Professionals who specialize in forensic linguistics hold many job titles from researcher to private investigator.
Types of Practice
Many people in the field of forensic linguistics are academics who focus their research on the language of the legal system, language inequality in the courts, and the practices of expert testimony. Others are called upon to provide evidence in court. This typically includes voice and author identification, discourse analysis, testimony about a subject's understanding of the language used in their prosecution, dialect analysis and lie detecting.
Forensic linguists must hold a bachelor's degree, though a master's or doctorate is generally required in order to provide testimony.
Many forensic linguists are employed primarily as university professors who are occasionally asked to lend their expertise to the courts. Others pursue careers in government or in crime labs.
The starting salaries for forensic linguists varies widely depending on education. Those beginning in government with a bachelor's can expect to earn around $30,000 per year while those with more advanced degrees can anticipate salaries closer to $50,000. Starting salaries for professors with a focus on forensic linguistics varies widely based on geography and the prestige of the institution, but according to the United States Bureau of Labor statistics, the median salary is $56,120.
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