New forensic linguistics textbook is first of its kind

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  • Gerald R. McMenamin

New forensic linguistics textbook is first of its kind

Gerald R. McMenamin, a professor emeritus from the Department of Linguistics at Fresno State, authored the first forensic linguistics course book written entirely in Spanish using data from Spanish-language cases.

“Introducción a la Lingüística Forense” is a textbook for college courses in forensic linguistics — the application of linguistic concepts, methods and insights to the forensic context of law, crime investigation and trial and judicial procedure.

“There is a lot of research going on in forensic linguistics in Spain, Latin America, Mexico and the United States in Spanish,” McMenamin said. “But that research is presented in isolated articles and in edited collections. Up until now, there has been no single, Spanish-language textbook that professors can use to introduce the subject of forensic linguistics to their students.”

Frederick Brengelman, a former colleague of McMenamin’s who is also a professor emeritus from the Linguistics Department at Fresno State, has read the book. He said “I stand in awe of that book. I can see how many hundreds of hours of work went into developing it.

“I think the most interesting thing is how much Jerry provides in understanding of the concepts of idiosyncrasy in language,” Brengelman said. “His assumption, which he demonstrates all through the book, is that each of us has a distinctive style. Jerry included a wonderful section on the concept of style itself and that style is characterized by things that we are mostly not aware of. But a bunch of stylistic features taken together acts almost like a fingerprint to identify who the author of a text is.”

McMenamin, who taught at Fresno State from 1980 to 2013, has also created a companion website that works as an additional resource for the book. 

In addition to PDFs of source documents, the website also has videos relevant to cases discussed and links to related newspaper and magazine articles. 

Published through The Press at California State University, Fresno, McMenamin’s book is available on Amazon.com and Amazon Europe.

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