Thursday, January 28, 2010

"I'll get da fiend to duppy her den"

Those are the words that led to two East Londoners getting sent down for lengthy prison sentences, and linguistics had a major part to play in getting them off the street and into a cell. An article in yesterday's Independent tells us more:

To give you the background: in December 2008, two months after the conversation above, the girl pregnant with Jolie's baby was lured by text to a spot close to the Regent's Canal in Islington, North London. There, Ogundele lay in wait to batter the girl over the head with an iron bar before throwing her in the waterway. Both the girl and the baby escaped alive, and the search turned to her assailant. After Ogundele and Jolie became prime suspects, their computers were seized. They had forgotten to delete their MSN history folders and police called in experts from the University of Aston's Centre for Forensic Linguistics. They helped decipher the boys' language, and the two rappers were sentenced for conspiracy to murder last month. Ogundele got 18 years in prison, Jolie, 14.

Forensic Linguistics is something we've looked at before (try here and here) and it's a fascinating area in which close study of people's language use can lead to the solving of some pretty unpleasant crimes. Last February, Krzysztof Kredens from the Centre for Forensic Linguistics did an excellent talk to SFX students about some of the cases in which forensic linguistics had been applied, and some of the techniques they have employed, and we're hoping to repeat this in the future. But in the meantime, the article itself is a good introduction to some of what they're up to. You can find out more about the work of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics here.