Honors | Linguistics
L210 | 2969 | Newman

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the essential role that
language plays in social interaction and social conflict by examining how
language and law influence each other. Students will explore fundamental
social and political issues involving language and learn to analyze them
in a critical way. Discussion of controversial issues will allow students
to develop analytical skills and the ability to participate in rational
Can the way language is used result in limited access to justice for some
individuals or groups? What aspects of language use should be regulated by
law? How can linguistics be used to solve legal cases? These general
issues will be addressed through specific questions such as:
Why is legal language difficult to understand? Can the language of the law
be simplified?
To what extent does witness credibility depend on how the witness speaks?
How does the wording of a question influence eyewitness memory?
Are restrictions on hate speech, obscenity, slander and libel consistent
with First Amendment rights of freedom of speech?
What would be the practical consequences if English were made the official
language of the United States? What are the major arguments for and
against English Only proposals?
Prerequisite: none. No formal background in linguistics or law required.