One of the biggest questions I get asked is ‘what’s a forensic linguist then?’, especially when I’m talking animatedly about my interests and the stuff I get up to when not writing novels and studying.
OK, I’ll correct that – forensic linguistics *is* something I study – it was going to be my Masters degree choice, until the UK put higher education up out of even my reach, so I’m saving some more before I go do it.
Broadly speaking, Forensic Linguistics is the study of language as it relates to crime. There are several types of crime that deal specifically or are based around language – so it makes sense that there’s a study of criminalistics and psychology that looks at language. From blackmail to bullying, email fraud to graffiti and gang language, it’s all in there. It might seem a bit odd to specialize down into something quite so exclusive but it works well for me, and gives me a change to indulge my grammar madness once in a while. And that’s where my interests lie.
I took it one step further though – and applied it to working as a writer (and blog about it weekly for various sites and at Literary Forensics) because if you can apply psychology to character design – why not also tailor language and other areas? If you’re using psychology to sell, isn’t there an area of linguistics that will help?
So that’s what forensic linguistics is – it makes me a bit of a grammar nut, it has to be said – as well as interested in the various areas of dialect, slang and colloquialisms and how language is used in the wider world – not just by writers. It’s also taught me a lot about how I write and how I could improve, which is a great thing, in my opinion.
So – anything you’d like to know? Anything you’d like to ask?