Beyond Grammar: Forensic Linguistic Cheat Sheet

Naouress Akrouti⭐
4 min readMay 20, 2020
Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash

Writing is a mirror that reflects the writer’s thoughts, emotions, orientations, origins, and even intentions. Writing is meaningful. Rarely does one stop and inquire, while in the process of writing: “How much information am I conveying to the world about myself in what I am writing right now?”

Regardless of the genre one is writing about, every single written word can give information about its writer, otherwise fields like text analysis and sentiment analysis would not exist ;)

To put it simply, writing pieces that are destined to be shared publicly with the world are considered data. Depending on the degree of attachment of the writer to their content, conclusions and results can easily be reached.

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What writers should revise before publishing their work are the following points:

Stylistic fingerprint is meaningful

The sentences chosen carry structure and meaning. Every writer has their own linguistic identity when it comes to the choice of sentence and statement structures. For example, some would write using the passive form, others tend to be more inclined to the use of active voice. Some would love to use simple sentences, others make more use of complex, compound, or compound complex sentences.

The lexical preferences are meaningful and indicative of the linguistic style of writers. You might think that if one varies their sytle and makes it always unpredictable, chances are their linguistic identity might remain hidden. Not true, in forensic linguistics, even the absence of a certain stylistic pattern is a style in itself. If it is the case that sometimes you use “can’t”, other times you use “cannot” and if that variability features a great number of your articles, algorithms are more likely to detect that very stylistic orientation. Linguistic style becomes a forensic matter when it comes to issues such as authorship attribution and plagiarism.

The Use of “I” in the absence of a DISCLAIMER

If your writing has to do with sensitive information or confessions, you have better insert a disclaimer that shows your distance from or proximity to the shared information in a clear way. Some…

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Naouress Akrouti⭐

❤️rip dad <3 I am a Linguist <3 I love content writing & copywriting: https://t.ly/ytl9 The Golden Words: https://medium.com/the-golden-words + I love coffee ☕