Linguistic Analysis of Conversation as Evidence Regarding the Interpretation of Speech Events

  • Georgia M. Green
Part of the Law, Society and Policy book series (LSPO, volume 5)


The phenomenon of an academic linguist1 testifying in court as an expert witness is relatively recent. Linguists’ testimony has concerned many aspects of language, but one which has arisen with increasing frequency is the analysis of conversation. Most frequently this has involved conversations recorded surreptitiously and used as evidence to support charges of such criminal activity as bribery, conspiracy, racketeering, and sale of controlled substances, among others. Both laymen and judges commonly assume that expert testimony is not needed to analyze conversations because conversations are so familiar a part of our daily lives. Consequently, linguistic testimony about conversations is often excluded.2 Because the opposition to admitting expert testimony by linguists concerning the analysis of conversation is often based on incomplete understanding of that sort of analysis,3 it is the purpose of this chapter to describe what linguistic analysis of conversation comprises and to propose that linguistic analysis of conversation does in fact qualify as a proper subject of expert testimony.


Discourse Analysis Linguistic Analysis Expert Testimony Expert Witness Appellate Court 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgia M. Green
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

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