what are you gonna do with that degree, open a linguistics shop?

Alan M. Perlman, language expert, laughs in the face of the uselessness of a linguistics degree. He's a forensic linguist specially trained to help attorneys interpret the law to the semantic letter and appear as an expert witness on matters of authorship. His website says "We all leave linguistic fingerprints on everything we write. If they are there, Alan will find them."

He's a linguistic superhero! Or he's at least like one of those guys on CSI. (Incidentally, I found Alan's website because it was an advertisement in my gmail screen; it ran above an email about my linguistics experiment.) Check out this page, which contains a curriculum vitae that lists a linguistics B.A. from Brown University. It also lists the legal applications of his varied experiences with language and linguistics which include speech writing, teaching, and writing a dissertation at the University of Chicago on code-switching. See also Alan's writings about why linguists can hold up their heads as useful members of society!

And Mr. Perlman is not alone. The intriguing domain name 'thetext.com' is owned by the Forensic Linguistics Institute, and LanguageHat wrote briefly about the phenomena in October 2003.

One envisions a cozy office on the main street of a small town (although Alan M. Perlman's address is listed as Highland Park, IL). One might assemble not only forensic linguists but also translators and advisers for a whole range of professions; advertisers, politicians, editors, software designers and diplomats could all use a little technically and legally sound advice about language now and again.

Look out world. We know you've held the smoking gun of language, and now we're dusting for fingerprints!

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