Volume 14, Issue 4 (2023)                   LRR 2023, 14(4): 63-93 | Back to browse issues page

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Sobhani S, Gorjian B, Mahmoudi K, Veysi E. Classification of Interrogating Defendants' Spoken and Written Discourse Markers in Courts based on McMenamin's Forensic Linguistics Framework. LRR 2023; 14 (4) :63-93
URL: http://lrr.modares.ac.ir/article-14-59373-en.html
1- PhD student of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Abadan branch, Islamic Azad University, Abadan, Iran
2- Associate of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Abadan branch, Islamic Azad University, Abadan, Iran , bahman.gorjian@iau.ac.ir
3- Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Abadan branch, Islamic Azad University, Abadan, Iran
4- Associate of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Abadan branch, Islamic Azad University, Abadan, IranAssociate Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Payame Noor University, Iran
Abstract:   (3153 Views)
This study is conducted through a descriptive classification of interrogating defendants' spoken and written discourse in courts' conversations which has been designed based on ex post facto research. Research sample included 20 cases of criminal files gathered through available sampling method from the Archived Journals of Justice. McMenamin's (2002) Hierarchy Framework of Recognition Authenticity was used to examine stylistic and syntactic markers of defendants' spoken and written discourse. Stylistic and linguistic markers make a hierarchical model that is ranging from 1 to 9 levels. This model analyzed phonological, morphological, semantic, and syntactic clues that are unique among the defendants in the court files. The patterns concerned with that hierarchical model are resemblance, consistency, and population which are recruited to discover the criminals' spoken and written documents. The implications of this study showed that the use of this framework was successful in uncovering the criminals' identification for resemblance (50 percent), consistency (30 percent), and population (20 percent). Implications of the study suggest this framework may help the interrogators, judges, and attorneys to boost the efficacy of their profession.

1. Introduction
Forensic linguistics is an interdisciplinary field that deals with the scientific study of language in legal sciences. For reaching growth and dynamics, this discipline which is one of the sub-branches of applied linguistics needs the basics of theoretical linguistics in legal affairs. One of the main problems in the preparation of case documents is the analysis of the writing/speaking styles and structures of the defendants and proving their written and spoken authorship and identity in situations where it is difficult to verify and the suspects deny their handwriting or the recorded speech. In this case, forensic linguistics can help to check and prove the identity of the authors or speakers by comparing their previous and current speech and writing and using structural and stylistic markers. McMenamin (2002) proposed a hierarchical approach, which has three methods including resemblance, population, and consistency, and also several structural and stylistic discourse markers. Structural markers include grammar, use of vocabulary, the spelling of words, type of sentences, writing style (formal-informal), and so on. Phonetic markers include tone of voice, stress, repetition of words, accent, dialect, abbreviations, speaking style (formal-informal), silence, pause, ambiguity, etc. This research aims to reveal the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the forensic linguistics approach in the classification of interrogating diagnoses through the analysis of structural and stylistic discourse markers in the speech and writing of suspects.
The research questions address McMenamin's approach to the article which is examining the documents and identifying defendants' written and spoken identities as follows:
1. To what extent does McMenamin's (2002) approach to identifying a hierarchy of defendants' written and spoken authenticity help in the recognition of the written and spoken authorship in courts?
2. What are the differences between the effect of resemblance, population, and consistency methods of identifying hierarchy on defendants' written and spoken authenticity recognition?
2. Background
In this article, descriptive analysis has been used to determine defendants' written and spoken authorship in forensic linguistics based on McMenamin's (2002) stylistic and structural approach. McMenamin listed three characteristics of stylistic-structural markers in language. The first one is the standard language or norm-referenced which is prescriptive. It means what the linguistic structures should be as standard norms. The second one is the change from the standard norms; however, the utterance is understandable. In other words, there is a change in the grammatical structure. The third one addresses the deviation from the standard norms and the utterance is rarely used in society or it belongs to a specific group or individuals.
Several scholars have used interrogations in legal courts and their relationship with language variations of speech/writing patterns of the defendants (Asiai & Noorbakhsh, 2014; Razovian & Jalili Doab, 2016; Najafi & Haghbin, 2019; Monsefi, 2012). Ainsworth (1993) examined the analysis of legal cases with linguistic descriptions and proposed the description of the language used by interrogators, suspects, and witnesses in the interrogation processes from the perspective of forensic linguistic domains. He has examined the way of language control and mentioned several points worthy of attention in this regard.
McMenamin (2002) focuses on the structures and styles of court discourse and classifies them into spoken and written discourse. Each discourse type includes variations of styles (speech/writing style) and structures (speech/writing grammar). These two are connected and form a continuum. McMenamin's hierarchical approach can be used to identify the markers that determine the defendants' spoken/written identity. In this approach, step-by-step determining the similarity or dissimilarity of the writings or statements of the suspect is matched with the writings or statements in their written or spoken records. This hierarchy starts from levels 1 to 3 (non-matching and definite identification) the person is removed from the list of suspects. This investigation continues from level 4 onwards until 9 (matching writing or speech and determining the identity of the accused). In this approach, intermediate levels (4 and 5) lead to information that the identification of suspected authors or speakers is done with 50% certainty and requires further investigation. Therefore, spoken/written documentation in the higher ranks leads to the identification of the identity of the suspect with almost certainty.
Innovation of the present study can be regarded as the gap in the research literature concerned with the lack of forensic research in identifying the authorship of the defendants with a scientific approach. Therefore, the present research has evaluated methods of resemblance, consistency, and population in identifying defendants via McMenamin's (2002) hierarchical identification approach. In these methods, the handwriting or audio files are matched with the previous records produced by suspects; and their degree of similarity or difference is checked from levels 1 to 9. Each level shows the degree of proximity of the suspect to determine the point of certainty.

3. Methodology
The current study examined twenty criminal cases such as signature forgery, text message/letter forgery, fake suicide letters, threatening text messages/letters, threatening audio/telephone files, or telephone harassment. The pool of data was gathered in the form of available samples from the archives of the Legal Journal of Justice between the years 2016 and 2021. These incidents happened in different provinces of Iran. To achieve a correct analysis of the writing style, all stylistic markers are identified in these texts. Then, the identification of the written and spoken identity of the defendants was investigated and analyzed based on McMenamin's (2002) framework with three analytical models of resemblance, population, and consistency.
The research method was a descriptive-analytical type, which analyzed the records of the cases in the past. Then, the identification of the written and spoken markers was analyzed based on McMenamin's (2002) approach with three analytical models' resemblance, consistency, and population.

4. Results and Conclusion
The results of the research showed that 80% of the investigated cases (i.e., 16 cases out of 20) carried out the principles of identity recognition based on McMenamin (2002). The framework was successful in recognizing the identity of the defendants. Moreover, findings showed that the use of this framework uncovered the criminals' identification for resemblance (50 percent), consistency (30 percent), and population (20 percent). Implications of the study suggest this framework is a help for interrogators, judges, and attorneys to boost the efficacy of their profession.
The investigation of the classification of verbal and written recognition of criminals showed that court experts or linguists were able to identify the spoken/written identity of criminals with high certainty. In McMenamin's hierarchical method, the similarity method took the highest percentage, because this method is one of the simplest methods to discover the comparison of phonetic and written markers. In the 20 investigated cases, there were more signature and text message forgery cases than the rest of the crimes
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Article Type: مقالات علمی پژوهشی | Subject: Discourse Analysis
Published: 2023/05/31

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