I am a professional linguist and communications consultant. I have been practicing forensic linguistics since 1979.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Brown University and a Master’s and Doctorate in linguistics from the University of Chicago. I taught linguistics and English for 12 years. I have also taught graduate seminars in stylistics and in the structure and process of written language.
My undergraduate and graduate studies included courses in the grammatical structure of English, a subject which I have studied intensively over the years and employed practically, as a writer.
My academic and professional experience qualifies me to render expert opinions in four areas: (i) authorship of anonymous, questioned, or forged documents; (ii) plagiarism; (3) copyright/trademark infringement; and (iv); interpretation of contracts and other binding documents whose meaning is ambiguous or indeterminate.
STATUS AS COURT-CERTIFIED LAY WITNESS: I am a court-certified lay witness under Rule 701 of the Federal Rules for Evidence. I have an unusual if not unique combination of academic credentials (AB in linguistics, Brown University; MA and PhD in linguistics, University of Chicago) and real-world experience in the effective use of language.
After 13 years of academic research, teaching, and publishing, I used my linguistics training to become, in just four years, one of the country’s leading corporate speechwriters, writing for the CEO and other executives of Burroughs Corporation, General Motors, Philip Morris and Kraft Foods, largely because of my ability to use style analysis to write in the voice of each individual speaker. I ghost-wrote or edited many other works and published four books of my own.
While writing speeches and doing forensic work, I developed original knowledge and shared my expertise in various venues. My sociolinguistic and pragmatic analysis of buzzwords was published in The Journal of Employee Communication Management and excerpted by The Harvard Business Review.
In 1997 I published my first book on speechwriting, Writing Great Speeches: Professional Techniques You Can Use (Allyn & Bacon). The book, part of the publisher’s “Essence of Public Speaking” series, applies principles of stylistic, syntactic, and content analysis to create a linguistics-based, step-by-step process for composing, editing, and presenting a successful speech. The section on ceremonial speeches is completely original and was the first account of its kind. One reviewer wrote that “[the] chapter on ceremonial speeches is worth the price of the book.”
In 2006, my second book, Perfect Phrases for Executive Presentations (McGraw-Hill), included original advice, developed from linguistic principles plus real-world experience, on what to say in dozens of kinds of speeches. The book also tells readers how to speak to employees, avoid gender issues, address audiences who are non-native speakers of English, and vary writing/speaking style to suit the occasion, audience, and context. I also provide a chapter on “the most persuasive words in the language.”
I have published numerous articles in professional publications and given many talks on effective communication.
For decades, I have studied language variation and style, in many roles and contexts, and I have composed, edited, analyzed, and taught others to compose thousands of documents of every kind. I have applied linguistic concepts to the understanding of a wide range of written and spoken data and even to jazz improvisation ("Miles Davis Meets Noam Chomsky: Some Observations on Jazz Improvisation and Language Structure"; the article now generates over 70,000 Google hits) .
My reports, written in clear, non-technical language, have been used in litigation in more than 20 jurisdictions, and I have provided expert advice to many private clients. My CV is available on my website, www.language-expert.net.
Areas of Expertise
- Language & Linguistics
- Q: Please list your professional accreditations, degrees, licenses, and certificates granted:
- A: BA, MA, PhD -- linguistics
- Q: Please list any teaching or speaking experience you have had, including subject matter:
- A: (1) Teaching: English linguistics at college/university level (13 years).
1965-79: Assistant Professor of English (most recent position: Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1974-79); taught English linguistics and composition at the college/university level; published scholarly articles; organized a composition program and helped establish a graduate program in the theory and structure of writing.
ACADEMIC COURSES TAUGHT: (partial list) History of the English Language; Language and Dialect; Introduction to English Dialects; the Structure of Modern English; English Stylistics; Structure and Process of Written Language; English Composition; Introduction to Linguistics; Phonetics and Phonology..
(2) PROFESSIONAL SEMINARS, WORKSHOPS, LECTURES, AND CLASSES DEVELOPED AND PRESENTED
Business Communications: Theory and Practice (Wayne State University, Detroit MI; Oakland University, Rochester MI); 1979-80.
"Speechwriting in the Corporate Context," Public Relations Update, Detroit MI, 1982.
Fundamentals of Public Speaking; Executive Communications: Speech and Writing (D'Etre University, Grosse Pointe MI); 1982-83.
Business Writing (Burroughs Corp. After-Hours Education Program); 1981- 83.
"Jobs Without Experience, Experience Without Jobs: Breaking the Vicious Cycle," Communications '83 (careers conference).
"Sounds in Space -- A Seminar in Effective Oral Presentation," Detroit Chapter, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), November, 1983.
"Preparing Humanities Students for Business Careers: What Liberal-Arts Faculty Can Do" (Keynote Address, to faculty); "Business Careers for Liberal-Arts Graduates: Improving Your Chances (speech to students), Liberal Arts Careers Seminar, Bowling Green State University, April, 1985.
"Writing for the Tongue," IABC District 7 Conference, November, 1985.
“Employment Opportunities Outside the Classroom," Michigan College English Association, Annual Meeting, October, 1985.
"Speeches That Sing, Speeches That Sell: Insights into the Craft," National Association for Corporate Speaker Activities (NACSA), April, 1987.
"Tips on Effective Speechwriting," IABC/Detroit, March, 1989.
"The Instant Expert: Mastering the Technical Speech," NACSA, September, 1989.
"Words, Words, Words: Some Basic Truths About Symbols and Things," Keynote Address, Toastmasters International, November, 1989.
"Writing for the Big Guns," Detroit Producers Association, May, 1990.
"Power on the Podium: Coaching the Executive Speaker," Metro Detroit Speechwriters' Forum, June, 1990.
"Those Troublesome Ceremonial Speeches: the Toast, the Dedication, the Introduction, and the Acceptance," Third, Fourth, Fifth Annual Speechwriters Conferences, November, 1990, 1991, 1992.
"How to Write a Speech," Ragan Communication Seminars (various cities), April-June, 1991.
"The Speech as an Instrument of Policy," Keynote Panel, Fourth Annual Speechwriters Conference, November, 1991.
"Soft Words for Hard Times: The Function of Euphemism in Corporate Communication," Panel Remarks, Corporate Communicators' Conference, May, 1992.
"The Year's Ten Worst Speeches -- And What We Can Learn from Them," Fifth Annual Speechwriters Conference, November, 1992.
"Style: You've Either Got It or You Don't -- and How to Get It," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, October, 1993.
"Speechwriters of the World, You're Needed!", Sixth Annual Speechwriters Conference, November, 1993.
(with Jerry Tarver) "How to Write Speeches that Motivate," Sixth Annual Speechwriters Conference, November, 1993.
"To P.C. or Not P.C.," Public Relations Society of America, Greater O'Hare Chapter, February, 1994.
"In Pursuit of the Optimal Interview," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, Nov. 1, 1994.
"The Power and the Gory: Words Do Mean Something -- Don't They?", Chicago Speechwriters Forum, June, 1995.
"Some Components of 'Cogent' and 'Memorable,'" Chicago Speechwriters Forum, January, 1996.
"On Libertarian Rhetoric," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, October, 1996.
"Creativity on Cue," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, July 7, 1998. "Acquiring Quick Credibility," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, October 6, 1998.
"Language Variation and Change: A Speechwriter's Primer," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, March 3, 1999.
"And Bingo Was Its Name-Oh: Buzzword Bingo and its Implications for Speechwriters," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, August 3, 1999.
"Writing Great Speeches," Toastmasters International Conference, Chicago, IL, August 19, 1999.
"The Visible Ghost: Speechwriting in the Corporate Context," Department of Communication Studies, West Chester University, West Chester, PA, October, 25, 1999.
"Reflect Your Speaker's Personality in Your Speeches," Ragan Communications Speechwriting Conference, Washington, DC, Feb. 9, 2000.
"Writing Great Speeches," Diplomatic Toastmasters #4378, District 30, 10th Anniversary Celebration, Evanston, IL, March 19, 2001.
"World English: How to Communicate with an International Audience," International Association of Business Communicators, International Conference, Chicago, IL, June 11, 2002.
"The Language of Music and the Music of Language," Chicago Speechwriters Forum, September 9, 2003.
"When a Lawyer Needs a Linguist,” Association of Forensic Document Examiners, Milwaukee, WI, Nov. 8, 2009.
- Q: On how many occasions have you been retained as an expert?
- A: Approx. 150
- Q: For what area(s) of expertise have you been retained as an expert?
- A: Identification of author of anonymous/questioned documents; analysis of meaning to determine copyright infringement; analysis of lexical status to determine genericity or protectability in trademark infringement; analysis of style and content to determine likelihood of plagiarism or forgery; interpretation of syntax and semantics of purportedly obscure or ambiguous passages in contracts, by-laws, prenups, and other binding documents (for more examples, see CV).
- Q: In what percentage of your cases were you retained by the plaintiff?
- A: approx. 50%
- Q: In what percentage of your cases were you retained by the defendant?
- A: approx. 50%
- Q: On how many occasions have you had your deposition taken?
- A: 5
- Q: When was the last time you had your deposition taken?
- A: October 2017
- Q: On how many occasions have you been qualified by a court to give expert testimony?
- A: one
- Q: On how many occasions have you testified as an expert in court or before an arbitrator?
- A: 1
- Q: For how many years have you worked with the legal industry as an expert?
- A: 30
- Q: What services do you offer? (E.g.: consulting, testing, reports, site inspections etc.)
- A: Consulting, document analysis, research, report writing, deposition, testimony
- Q: What is your hourly rate to consult with an attorney?
- A: 375
- Q: What is your hourly rate to review documents?
- A: 375
- Q: What is your hourly rate to provide deposition testimony?
- A: 475, plus travel and expenses, if any.
- Q: What is your hourly rate to provide testimony at trial?
- A: 475, plus travel and expenses, if any.
- Q: Please list any fees other than those stated above (E.g.: travel expenses, copy fees, etc.)
- A: All travel expenses to be estimated and paid in advance. Non-case-related time out of town: $100/hour for the business day. Travel time: $75/hour.
- When a lawyer needs a linguist
- Plagiarism -- what it is and is not
- Stylistic Analysis - a definition
- The most persuasive words in the language
- Malicious Obfuscation
- The forensic linguist and the Artful Dodger: can people disguise their writing style?
- "You have the right to remain silent": On understanding the Miranda Warning (it's not so easy)
References upon request.