January 15, 2008

Fighting over words

I am not sure that's it is appropriate for Loggers to flack their own books, but I am willing to stick my neck way out anyway and announce that Oxford University Press has just published my newest one, called Fighting Over Words: Language and Civil Law Cases. It deals with the way language analysis interacts with law suits involving corporations, including business contract disputes, deceptive trade practices, product liability, copyright infringement, discrimination, trademarks, and false representations. I discuss 18 different lawsuits that I have worked on in the past, explaining what I did in each of them.

My intended readers are linguists who work on such cases, civil lawyers who do not already know how linguistic analysis can help them, and students who are beginning to learn that linguistics has an important role to play in other fields, such as law. For practical classroom practice I have included the relevant data used as evidence in each case so that students can do their own analyses of it if they want to. In fact, I even encourage them to disagree with what I did. How is that for sticking my neck way out?

On this topic I should say, perhaps in self-defense, that working with lawyers on law cases sometimes puts linguistics and other experts in an uncomfortable time bind. When we do our research or write our academic papers and books, we can proceed at our own pace, taking months or even years sometimes.  But in law cases, it is the judge who controls the clock. If there is not enough time for us to do everything we want to do, that is just too bad.   

Posted by Roger Shuy at January 15, 2008 10:39 AM