Forensic linguistics: some answers

suggested answers for the starter activity

So, what clues did you find? The police were convinced that the two sets of messages were actually from different people, and that Melinda hadn’t sent the messages on February 16th, but they needed evidence.

Some of the clues in the data are easier to spot than others, but here are some differences:

Data set 1

  • Signed off with xx.
  • Punctuated as sentences with full stops.
  • No sentences begin with capital letters: always lower case.
  • Subject ellipsis used in 4 out of 5 sentences.
  • No abbreviations or deviant spellings.
  • Uses one complex sentence.

Data set 2

  • No sign-off.
  • Sentence punctuation not used consistently.
  • Sentences start with capital letters.
  • Uses abbreviations and deviant spellings.
  • Misses out apostrophes on contractions.
  • All simple sentences.


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