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A LEXICOGRAPHY LEGACY OF FRED CASSIDY: FORENSIC LINGUISTICS

A LEXICOGRAPHY LEGACY OF FRED CASSIDY: FORENSIC LINGUISTICS USING DICTIONARIES IN CIVIL LAW CASES Many lawyers, judges, and juries are pretty much like everyone else when it comes to dictionaries. They seem to think that if you quote the dictionary, you’ve established whatever authority you need. The notion that “the dictionary” stands for all dictionaries is still as pervasive as it was when this authoritarian attitude was pointed out in Robertson (1954, 344) some 50 years ago: The attitude of even well-educated persons toward dictionaries is often curiously naive. . . . When any problem regarding the sound or form or meaning arises, the usual question is, “What does the dictionary say?” The implication, of course, is that there is only one verdict to be found in any dictionary, and that dictionaries, of any kind and any date, are all equally valuable. American Speech, Vol. 77, No. 4, Winter 2002 Copyright © 2002 by the American Dialect Society This paper describes some of the problems that the legal community faces in using dictionaries at trial, including the problems of their authoritativeness, of their selective use, of the necessary incompleteness of their entries, of phantom definitions, and of the inequality of the dictionaries themselves.1 Not surprisingly, these http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage Duke University Press

A LEXICOGRAPHY LEGACY OF FRED CASSIDY: FORENSIC LINGUISTICS

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by American Dialect Society
ISSN
0003-1283
eISSN
1527-2133
DOI
10.1215/00031283-77-4-344
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

USING DICTIONARIES IN CIVIL LAW CASES Many lawyers, judges, and juries are pretty much like everyone else when it comes to dictionaries. They seem to think that if you quote the dictionary, you’ve established whatever authority you need. The notion that “the dictionary” stands for all dictionaries is still as pervasive as it was when this authoritarian attitude was pointed out in Robertson (1954, 344) some 50 years ago: The attitude of even well-educated persons toward dictionaries is often curiously naive. . . . When any problem regarding the sound or form or meaning arises, the usual question is, “What does the dictionary say?” The implication, of course, is that there is only one verdict to be found in any dictionary, and that dictionaries, of any kind and any date, are all equally valuable. American Speech, Vol. 77, No. 4, Winter 2002 Copyright © 2002 by the American Dialect Society This paper describes some of the problems that the legal community faces in using dictionaries at trial, including the problems of their authoritativeness, of their selective use, of the necessary incompleteness of their entries, of phantom definitions, and of the inequality of the dictionaries themselves.1 Not surprisingly, these

Journal

American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic UsageDuke University Press

Published: Dec 1, 2002

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