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Forensic Linguistics Proves the Important Role of Language in the Legal Field

Universitas Indonesia > News > Faculty of Humanities News > Forensic Linguistics Proves the Important Role of Language in the Legal Field

Currently, language has an increasingly strong role in solving legal cases, one of which is marked by the development of forensic linguistics. Forensic linguistics is a cross-discipline between language, crime, and law involving law enforcement officials, court affairs, legislation, court disputes, and so on. With forensic linguistics, legal cases caused by language can be handled more easily.

The existence of openness and freedom of information through social media, on the one hand raises problems when many people do not understand that there are ethics in using language. However, on the other hand, this encourages collaboration between legal experts and linguists to resolve criminal and civil cases related to language.

As a social semiotic system, language is a socially shared sign. The mode of language can be spoken (language sounds) or written (spelling and punctuation). In conveying signs, language can be combined with other modes of sign, for example visual (images and videos). These modes can be put together to convey meaning. This combination of modes (multimodality) can be used as data in forensic linguistic analysis (forensic text). This text has implications for legal and criminal contexts.

In studying forensic texts, the context in which the text appears must also be considered. Context is related to all situations and things that are outside the text and affect the use of language, for example, the linguistic, physical, or mental environment referred to by the user. To illustrate, there is a post on social media about insulting a person or institution. The post is in the form of visual, audio, and writing. Thus, those three modes must be studied, whether there is an element of crime in them when referring to the Electronic Information and Transaction Law (UU ITE) or the renewal of the Criminal Code (KUHP) established by the government.

According to Vice Dean for Education, Research and Student Affairs, Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Indonesia (FIB UI), Dr. Untung Yuwono, when a linguist is asked to translate evidence in a case, he must demonstrate his mastery so that the results can be justified. “Forensic linguistics is a branch of linguistics that examines the root of a problem related to law. When we translate evidence, let alone a sworn translator, that means we have to be able to demonstrate mastery because if we make a mistake, it will certainly be a problem in law,” said Dr. Untung.

He said that the scope of forensic linguistics is not only limited to cases in digital media but it can cover broader cases. Forensic linguistics even enters the academic world, such as the issue of plagiarism. According to him, plagiarism checker machines may not necessarily show acts of plagiarism just because the test for similarity is high, so it needs to be re-checked by a linguist.

To improve the skills of linguists in the field of forensic linguistics, the Center for Social and Cultural Research (PPKB FIB UI) held a Forensic Linguistics Training, last February. Dr. Untung said these activities would continue with the aim of providing learning to the community, especially professionals. “We can also develop this activity with other programs, for example, inter-university cooperation related to forensic linguistics, seminars, and certification for forensic linguistic activists, especially in linguist witnesses,” he said.

Author: Sasa

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