ABSTRACT

The quotation above contains the first written use of the phrase ‘forensic linguistics’. It appears in Jan Svartvik’s 1968 report about the authorship analysis he performed on statements that had been recorded in handwritten form by police officers, who claimed they were verbatim records of what was said by Timothy Evans who was a suspect in an investigation into the death of his wife and baby daughter. Svartvik observed that this application of language analysis to produce evidence for a legal process was a ‘rare opportunity’ for a linguist to use their skills for the benefit of society. Today, some 50 years later, the skills of forensic linguists are called on far more frequently than in Svartvik’s day; indeed, as we pointed out in Chapter 6, in the last 30 years there has been a rapid growth in the frequency with which courts across the world have called upon the expertise of linguists.