About TALE

Welcome to TALE: The Association for Linguistic Evidence

Thank you for visiting our website. Here you will learn about linguistic evidence using real linguistics for the security, legal and intelligence community,  learn about qualifications for TALE and how to join the only professional association in forensic linguistics devoted to the highest ethical standards and research-driven, validated methodologies in linguistic evidence.

What’s Linguistic Evidence?

Who wrote it? Who said it? Is this a real suicide note? Did the judge and attorneys (and the jury) understand the witness? Did the witness understand the judge and attorneys? How seriously should this threat be taken? Is this text plagiarized from this other text? What can linguists do with this letter or this document or this tape recording? These are some questions about linguistic evidence — the use of language as evidence. Forensic Linguistic Evidence is developed by using real linguistics analysis on language data involved in a security, legal or intelligence scenario. Why do we say “real linguistics”? Because sometimes experts and analysts don’t use linguistics, just their opinions about language based on ideas about language which are not true or reliable.

Why Have A Professional Association?

Professional associations differ from academic societies or social clubs, in two important ways. First, professional associations have eligibility requirements so that all members represent the profession accurately. For instance, the International Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences require members to have specific qualifications in specific fields of forensic science, known as sections. Likewise, the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association have requirements related to training and work experience. In contrast, academic societies and social clubs do not have requirements for joining: anyone who pays the dues can join. Then the membership can be used by the member to present himself or herself as someone who has this particular credential of belonging to an organization, a presentation which can be very misleading to people outside the field who may not realize that academic societies or social clubs have no requirement other than dues payment. Second, professional associations provide avenues for growth to their members. For instance, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences provides members of specific sections with specific requirements for attaining the status of Fellow, a rank which indicates that the member has contributed positively to the profession.

TALE was created to provide a professional association in the field of forensic linguistic evidence. It is the only professional association in the field. That is, it has eligibility requirements for members in its two sections and it provides a path for continuing education and development for its members.

Two Stakeholder Communities With One Common Goal

Using language as evidence brings together two stakeholder communities:  the researchers who present linguistic evidence as experts, and the analysts who use linguistic evidence in their work. The researcher community includes linguists, computer scientists and psychologists who apply linguistics to produce linguistic evidence, while the analyst community include attorneys, law enforcement, security executives and intelligence analysts who need the linguistic evidence in the course of their analyses. Within TALE: The Association for Linguistic Evidence, these two communities work together for one common goal: reliable, admissible linguistic evidence. Linguistic evidence can only be useful to the analysis community if it is reliable and admissible in legal systems. Linguistic evidence can only be fully reliable and admissible if it is developed from real linguistics.

TALE’s structure reflects our stakeholder communities. We have two sections:

The SLIP section includes Security, Legal, and Intelligence Professionals who have found that language can serve as important evidence in their work. SLIP Members usually hold degrees in security and intelligence analysis, psychology, behavioral sciences, law, criminal justice, and other fields, but always have work experience in security, law, or intelligence. SLIP Provisional and Student Members are working in SLIP environments or enrolled in academic programs earning degrees in intelligence analysis, security, information assurance, and criminal justice. SLIP provides TALE with research priorities, admissibility requirements in different legal systems, and practical evaluations of linguistic evidence.

The REP section includes Researcher-Expert Practitioners. REP members hold degrees in linguistics, computational linguistics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics. Using their expertise, REP Members provide both fundamental research in forensic linguistics and expert testimony. REP Provisional and Student members include academic and industry linguists who are learning forensic linguistics after earning degrees in linguistics from respected academic departments. Graduate and undergraduate students in respected departments of linguistics; students in psychology, cognitive science, and computer science are also eligible to join TALE, as long as their training is in a main field of linguistics.

TALE Students and Provisional members progress to Member status through education, contributions to conferences, and research publications.  Members can progress to Fellow status through contributions such as publishing research results, research agendas, and legal analyses, conference presentations, training curricula, supporting TALE’s communication channels, and so forth. TALE’s Honorary Fellows include an internationally representative group of linguists and criminologists who have pioneered reliable, admissible linguistic evidence.  The Leadership Circle includes members of both the REP and SLIP tracks. The Leadership Circle guides our conferences, communication channels, training programs and standards development. When you join TALE, you are in good —the best-– company!

TALE is the premier venue for Knowledge Dissemination and Professional Development in forensic linguistics focused on reliable, admissible linguistic evidence.

Knowledge Dissemination and Professional Development

TALE convenes meetings with the International Language and Law Association (ILLA) and the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) as well as independently. At ILLA, TALE works with ILLA executives to organize the Forensic Linguistics Workshop, which includes all aspects of language as evidence. At LSA, TALE has organized symposia as well as panels. TALE members have also served as faculty at the LSA’s Summer Institute at University of Michigan (2013), University of Chicago( 2015), and will serve as faculty in the Summer Institute at University of California at Davis (2019).

TALE sponsors the Telling TALE Forensic Linguistics Blog. Members of TALE are welcome to contribute.

TALE sponsors a LinkedIN Group, Forensic Linguistic Evidence. This group is open and moderated, so contributors do not have to be members of TALE. Since its inception on August 30, 2012, this group has grown to an international group with over 780 members (as of December 31, 2017). Members are vetted to ensure they have backgrounds in linguistics or legal professions.

TALE publishes LESLI: Linguistic Evidence in Security, Law and Intelligence, through the Institute for Linguistic Evidence and the University of Pittsburgh. LESLI is an electronic, open access, double blind peer-reviewed journal providing free access to current research in forensic linguistics from ILE researchers and others who are doing excellent work in forensic linguistics. For more information, see LESLI. The first volume and issue was published in December 2013. TALE supports professional development through mentoring, training, and standards development for methods, data collection, education and training, and ethical practice.

TALE is an outreach of the Institute for Linguistic Evidence (ILE), the first and only independent non-profit research organization devoted to testing and validating methods in forensic linguistics. Founded in 1998, ILE has continually had a global outreach of researchers. ILE produces the only empirical work in forensic linguistics that uses gold-standard, ground-truth data, standard methods in linguistics, and sophisticated statistical analysis. Research from ILE has resulted in patented methods which are implemented in ALIAS: Automated Linguistic Identification and Assessment System, software available through ALIAS Technology LLC.

We invite you to learn more about qualifications for TALE and consider joining a professional association devoted to the highest ethical standards and research-driven, validated methodologies in linguistic evidence. You can make a difference!