Forensic Linguistics: Using Language Analysis to Solve Crimes with the FBI

A Hofstra Public Zoom Session hosted by: Dr. Robert Leonard, Professor of Linguistics and Director of Hofstra’s Graduate Program in Linguistics: Forensic Linguistics. The New Yorker magazine called Hofstra University's Dr. Robert Leonard "One of the foremost language detectives in the country." Read the magazine’s article about him: Words on Trial -- Can Linguists Solve Crimes that Stump the Police?

Forensic Linguistics, the scientific study of language, is a vital investigative tool for law enforcement and intelligence experts in the United States and around the world. Hofstra University’s master’s program in forensic linguistics was the first program of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. 

Dr. Robert Leonard, the program’s director, will explain how a linguist’s core tools, including phonetics, syntax, semantics and sociolinguistics, are used in legal analysis, crime fighting, and homeland security. He will share his history working with the FBI and as a consultant on an extensive array of criminal cases and counterterrorism efforts.

Dr. Leonard's testimony proved pivotal in investigating and prosecuting several high-profile cases, including death threats to judges and members of Congress, the JonBenet Ramsey murder, and the triple homicide of the Coleman family in Illinois. In another case, as the New York Times wrote of Leonard, "His consultation on the murder of Charlene Hummert, a 48-year-old Pennsylvania woman who was strangled in 2004, helped put her killer in prison. Mr. Leonard determined, through [analysis of] two letters of confession by a supposed stalker and a self-described serial killer, that the actual author was Ms. Hummert's spouse."

He will also talk about the Hofstra Forensic Linguistics Death Penalty Innocence Project, a unique program that gives students a chance to work on analyzing the evidence and appeal possibilities in capital cases where language evidence--typically a recorded conversation, an interrogation, or a confession--played a crucial role in a defendant’s conviction and death sentence.


Date:April 17, 2020  

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Location: Online

Location: Virtual Event

Free and open to the public.



 Registration is now closed.
We are no longer accepting RSVPs as we have reached capacity for this event. We will be sending an event link for those who RSVPed (prior to overflow RSVP).

Friday, April 17, 2020



Hofstra University Virtual Event
Offered online
Hempstead, NY 11549-1000


Kristine Glanzer

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