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What is the IAFL?

The International Association of Forensic Linguists (IAFL) is an organization that consists primarily of linguists whose work involves them in the law. Narrowly defined, this means linguistic evidence in court (authorship attribution, disputed confessions, etc.), but the association also aims to bring together those working on all aspects of language and the law (legal language, language in the legal process, and language as evidence). In addition to linguists, others, particularly members of the legal profession, are welcome to apply for membership.

Purpose & Aims

The purpose of the IAFL is to improve the administration of the legal systems throughout the world by means of a better understanding of the interaction between language and the law. More specifically, the Association aims to promote:

  • Study of the language of the law, including the language of legal documents and of the courts, the police, and prisons;

  • The use of linguistic evidence (phonological, morpho-syntactic, discourse-pragmatic) in the analysis of authorship and plagiarism, speaker identification and voice comparison, confessions, linguistic profiling, suicide notes, consumer product warnings;

  • The use of language as evidence in civil cases (trademark, contract disputes, defamation, product liability, deceptive trade practices, copyright infringement);

  • The alleviation of language-based inequality and disadvantage in the legal system;

  • The interchange of ideas and information between the legal and linguistic communities;

  • Research into the practice, improvement, and ethics of expert testimony and the presentation of linguistic evidence, as well as legal interpreting and translation;

  • Better public understanding of the interaction between language and the law.

Further Aims

Furthering the interests of linguists engaged in research on the development and practice of forensic linguistics;

  • Disseminating knowledge about language analysis and its forensic applications among relevant professionals around the world;

  • Promoting a Code of Practice addressing such matters as giving testimony in court and writing official reports;

  • Collecting and making available computer corpora of matters of value to forensic researchers, such as confessions, suicide notes, and police interrogations.