Tag Archives: growth

What A Friendly Kid!

Try To Live, Trying To Learn, Trying To Just Be Who I Am 

I’m taking up the spirit of Lindy Ruff and saying it’s important to keep a short-term memory moving forward regarding what didn’t go well, capitalizing and building on what did, and just battling on to the next one, in regards to my presentation. It’s a lot more telling how someone faces adversity rather than how they accept victory. Thank you everyone for the feedback and interest in the room! I’ll get more into it in a second, but wow, I am so glad that is behind me! Honestly, having the presentation behind me is very reminiscent of when Hannah Montana performed “Just Like You” and revealed her secret to Lilly, her best friend. 

The rest of the week has been a blur with equilibrium; I didn’t eat as well as I normally would, but I got better sleep! I exercised minimally, but I kept my mood up with plenty of feel-good movies and music; all I need to turn my mood around is a Mighty Ducks movies and series marathon, Saturday Night Fever, and of course, classic Tom Selleck in Three Men and a Baby. When I rode my bike, I could barely balance, but when I ran, I hit a new personal record! I wrote a literal page a day, but I got through three books and a good chunk of manga that I’ve been putting off thumbing through for the better part of six months. I cried when the Riveters were eliminated from the playoffs, but I had nothing but hope in my heart after seeing St. Peter’s Cinderella run. The Devils may have had yet another lottery season, but I’m still pumped to see them this Sunday!

Above all else though, I think the most profound progress on my thesis (and the highlight of my week!) came from an interaction outside of the actual writing and editing stage. I was running an errand for work and happened to run into Diana and her kids! It was insightful hearing from Diana about what it’s like having to juggle all the different roles and responsibilities that you both impose on yourself, and that others place on you. It had me wondering where the separation in my own life is. While it was nice running into a classmate with a lot of wisdom, it was actually the two little ones who gave me a surge of hope for the thesis process! Like Madame Web told Spiderman during the nineties animated series; you must remember to have the faith of a child! Seeing how those two had nothing but confidence in their abilities to do a standing split, or be the cutest Ghostbuster (who, FYI, I could still see even as he hid behind Mom and giggled!), made me remember I have to believe in myself to go forth and just do my best and do what makes me happy! So, thanks for that! 

And now, a thesis update! 

Hope The Tears Were For Something

Let’s put on “Cheers” by blackbear, a definitive anthem of the pandemic years and the thesis process. To recap a semester and a half worth of content, it’s been painful, draining, and laborious work, but at the same time, exhilarating, enlightening, and fun! I settled on what road to go down once and for all by going with the most unbiased form of decision-making; a coin toss! (I should have defaulted to this long ago since it is how I decided where to go to college way back when!) So, it’ll be a creative project, which means slightly restructuring my lit review and methodology section, and editing things I wrote in the interest of furthering research, rather than for the reading pleasure of others. It’s a good thing I just stocked up on red pens! My next step from here is to edit the four thirty-five-page stories I have, and craft at least one or two more to really flesh out the characters and feel like I wrote enough. So, not a novel, but intertwined short stories with a cool forensic linguist! 

It’s wild how making this one decision changed everything for me; if I keep going at the pace I kept this week, instead of being a last-minute submission in May, I might be able to comfortably finish with an extra two weeks to spare. Talk about a turning point!

I refuse to let the rest of my work fall by the wayside, so I’ll work on refining one or two case studies to create an article to submit to a journal or academic magazine for publication, and of course, I’ll still be employing a lot of that work in my pitch for the three-minute thesis competition! Other than this, there’s nothing to do but keep trucking along! 

There’s Somethin’ Fiction ’bout The Way That Reality’s Going

I just want to end this post by reminding everyone that although the weather today may make it seem otherwise, it is spring, allergy season is upon us, and it is nearly time for baseball, with Opening Day fast approaching for the Mets, making this tune by hippo campus more than fitting! The next six weeks or so are going to fly by, and I can’t wait for it to be over! So, here’s to a Venn diagraming of the end of this process and program, and the start of the rest of my life! 

I’m Only Off To Wander Across A Moonlit Mile

Got Motion, Restrained Emotion

I’ve caught myself listening to The Pretenders more thanks to “Brass In Pocket” coming on during the long, stop-and-go ride home on Monday. It’s been another one of those wrap-around, non-stop, everything is inside out and upside-down sort of weeks, but I’m loving every second of it! Chaotic energy is sometimes necessary to shift into high gear and get the words flowing, even if it’s for the thesis and not for my blogs, which are going to be much more sparse, probably until the end of the semester. 

As far as things outside of school and my thesis go, they’re going! It took exactly two hours after class for me to accidentally answer to Nash (Bridges), so at least my Dad got a good laugh at the end of the day. By the time we got home, it was back to Sonny or Vice. Just like last semester, carpooling with the man was not only fun, but I managed to drive with three hands on the wheel and just had to grit my teeth and bear the constantly changing radio stations. (I’m guilty of it as a passenger, which is fine because my Dad can tune it out, but as a driver, constantly changing the radio gets on my nerves!) I started a new job, and I’m enjoying getting acclimated and finding my rhythm in the workplace, and figuring out how to adjust my running and writing schedules accordingly! The Devils bus trip sponsored by the Graduate Student Government is only a few weekends away, and since it’s a rivalry game against the Islanders, you can bet I’ll have the time of my life! I’m stoked for some playoff Riveters hockey, and I’m excited for the new Opening Day on April 15 for the Mets! I know it’s ways away, but the thrill of baseball on the horizon (along with the annoying itchy eyes and runny nose thanks to allergies) is how I know it’s the changing of the season, and the start of better times. My application to the paralegal certification I mentioned a while ago is going in soon. It might not be super apparent, but there’s a shift in how I’ve been feeling as of late, and I hope to keep it going.  

Anyway, let’s get on with the thesis update! 

There Is A Wait So Long

The taunting, sardonic tone of “Here Comes Your Man” by the Pixies sums up the feeling of having to present this upcoming week. It’s tough to follow after Susan and Jessie since they’ve both had dynamic and compelling stories to tell and research to share, and while I may get lost in the world of forensic linguistics, it isn’t for everyone, and that’s perfectly OK! 

I’m thinking about how open I’ve been about running a parallel track of research vs. creative writing this whole time, and whether I should split the presentation between the two, focus on one, or find a way that lets me pull my Research Days work in and still make it make sense to everyone else. I’m also thinking about how open I’ve been about the insider-outsider feeling and the way that might have an effect on how I feel going into the presentation and what ends up happening. I’m thinking about how I’ve written the same amount, lengthwise, of both creative fiction and case studies, and how it would be so easy to rework my lit review and methodology and pivot between the two. The looming deadline has me leaning one way, and my heart and instinctual self have me leaning another. Here comes your man, indeed. Except he’s a man with no plan. Going the creative route would let me finish ahead of schedule, comfortably, and I probably would have less anxiety. I’ve been committed to the research angle for so long, my imposter syndrome might just explode if I try to cross over to the creative side, no matter how much I try to reason I haven’t lost any progress. But if I cross over, I’ll feel like I cheated myself out of something that might not come around ever again.  

I started the semester out thinking I had all the answers, and the closer I get to sharing my work with others, the more I realize I can answer their questions, but none of my own. I have more than an adequate handle on forensic linguistics; the terms, key figures, major occurrences, and all that jazz. It’s my position in the field that is unclear. Am I a researcher? An inspired writer? An imposter? Just a student? Just a guy?

But, that is not a cause for stress or any other concern; it’s almost like the internal conflict is letting me pull through on both fronts and keep the momentum alive so I’m well-positioned, no matter what direction I take. This is a thesis that’s been something out of a fairytale for me. There have been a lot more potholes than smoothly paved roads, and plenty of tears, frustration, and moments of doubt. And yet, there’s been so much magic and charm to it. This thesis has been a nocturnal project, with the progress when inspiration hit outpacing the rising of the sun. All the words have been flavored with different types of teas and coffees, and my identity as the writer was validated by the scrawls on the sides of the cups. It belongs to me just as much to me as it does to the spaces in which I found myself writing, such as Starbucks, the library, the park benches, the passenger seat of the family car, the break room of Kohl’s, and who knows how many rooms and offices at this point on campus. This project came together thanks to countless voice memos, index cards, post-it notes, and conversations with anyone and everyone who stopped to even ask what I was working on. For my presentation, I’ll figure it out in due time. Here comes your man, more like “This Charming Man.” 

At least I’m pretty much wrapped up on the Research Days front! I went all in and now have a written component. In this paper, I analyzed the CSI effect versus real-life timetables and investigative tools available, how police procedural shows have impacted jury duty selections and verdicts, and the overall effect of long-term viewing through the lens of social psychology. I kept it relatively short (about ten pages). I’m also wrapping up the design of my digital poster, and am slightly dreading the amount of teasing I am going to incur when I walk into the house with either a trifold or poster board and the question “Is this a project for class due tomorrow?” I might even add some glitter just to give this work some personality! It’s just about getting it done and doing it well at this point.

Suddenly Thunder Showers Everywhere

It’s only fair to end things with another one of The Pretender’s big hits, “Don’t Get Me Wrong.” This song, in particular, is especially appropriate for describing the floaty, optimistic, and yet focused sort of feeling that seems to be my baseline as of late. I wish I could articulate it better, but I think that if the Mets are telling me I’ve gotta believe, and miracles like those on the ice can come true, then there’s nothing for me to do except accept that there is just something in the air and just keep doing what I’m doing! 

It’s Gonna Get Worse If He Waits Too Long

You Take It On Faith, You Take It To The Heart 

Tom Petty is absolutely correct; “The Waiting” is indeed the hardest part! But, waiting is thankfully where things have massively turned around for me. What I thought was falling behind was a lot more like being under construction; the road to actually, really feeling better and happier is no doubt going to be long and stretch well beyond what I thought it would, but staying the course is something I’m determined to do! The first steps came this week, by re-assessing what is and isn’t working in life in general. Negativity and living in the imagined “worst-case scenario” or “bad outcomes” isn’t going to magically disappear, but it is possible to take a step back, assess the thought, and do my best to work around it. I finally convinced myself that it’s OK to still enjoy the things I love even if I was momentarily stuck and unmotivated with my thesis, and that’s how I found myself spending Saturday and Sunday both weeks rooting for the Riveters! (I really hope that everyone at least got to take a peek at the games, whether on ESPN+, Twitch, or from all the clips and play-by-plays I retweeted! And it was great to get my family into the games as well; my parents are familiar with a fair amount of hockey terms and rules after years of the Devils on their TV, and now they’re getting to know the Riveters as a team! (It’s a work in progress; Madison Packer, team captain, is the only player my parents can recognize and name on their own, in large part because of her pink hair!) Needless to say, they think it’s fitting and hilarious that the team I root for spent a bit of time in the penalty box!

It’s pretty tough to be sad after seeing amazing work like that, and finding a viable path forward in the process! During Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Whitecaps, I had an enlightening interaction on Twitter with Dr. Virginia Yonkers, an amazing and accomplished scholar who opened my eyes to the methodology of ethnomethodology, as well as keeping a methodology but adding a lens, such as constructivism! I’ll explain further down just how my mind’s eye is imagining this is going to play out. 

Outside of just the weekends, I’m back to a regular gym schedule, lifting a little heavier, and took full advantage of the few nicer days and went for some long runs, bike rides, and soul searching. There’s something about beating the traffic and pedaling to your backdoor in the middle of the sunset while wind hits your face that makes things feel a little better, just like pulling into the parking lot for a deserted beach and staring out at the water on a cold, windy day. Of course, with student government meetings, the wonderful Twosday that happened to coincide with the Miracle on Ice anniversary, the Devils returning to action on Thursday against the Penguins in a big way, a trip to Broadway, and of course, the Riveters at home this weekend in Newark with the gorgeous Black Rosie jerseys, I can feel a shift coming! The ongoing negotiations between the MLB and player’s association will hopefully have an equitable outcome, and I know it’s ancient news now, but I can’t wait for the Mets to have their Old Timers Day this summer! 

(Also, I have my fingers crossed regarding a few more upcoming job interviews and the results of a few past ones!)

Things are in motion, and I am trying to conscientiously be here for it all. And now, a thesis update! 

You’ve Got To Trust Your Instinct And Let Go Of Regret

If you’ve been following my progress since September and know me, “All Mixed Up” by 311 is just the right pace and mood for how things have been, and I’m on the happier side of it now! The methodology dilemma is no more! I know where this thing is going, and I know “how to write my thesis” now that I have all of that cleared up. In my last attempt at a methodology section, I got frustrated and overwhelmed and wrote a whole short story as a way to prove to myself that I know what’s going on and how to do things, but I’m not so good at telling others what the framework of my project is. Most of my struggles in school are lost in translation to my parents, and yet this time, my (real, not something of a) scientist (himself) Dad had a helpful response; brush up on my lab manual comprehension and lab report writing skills, because the problem I’m describing is basically the same as those processes! And yes, it worked. (Also, I am still capable of keeping up with the fast-paced and nuanced science talk! Between that, this, some literary theory and criticism I’ve been delving into on the side, and all the stats I’ve been brushing up on and crushing, I’m feeling really good about myself!)

So, it was once again a scenario where I had to work it from the inside out; I might have figured out my angle and style, but I also needed to work on formatting, organization, and introduction of ideas, transitions, and actually sitting still long enough to write things out. Naturally, I rationalized that if there could be different types of literature reviews (narrative, chronological, etc.) the same logic could be applied to my methodology section, and so I chose to introduce my means of analysis by ranking and re-evaluating what a methodology is. Of course, case study and discourse analysis are my top two, and so they were scheduled to appear in that order. Protocol analysis almost threw a wrench in the plans, but since it ties into my case study framework, I just folded it in there. I took a look at content analysis and corpus linguistics next and through the same process, worked out how I would introduce and implement these investigative tactics. 

Following this, I used some structural elements of the lab manuals and reports I combed through to create a “composite document,” which was essentially typing out how I would introduce the methodology in a transition from my literature review no matter and leaving brackets with very obvious instructions to my future self wherever necessary, such as [insert name of the methodology here], [insert author’s name here] and [insert quote about the relevance of methodology] to give you a basic idea. I then circled back to add in other important brackets, such as [explication of the relevancy] and [reiterate supporting detail from previous sections], and also added the essential and pertinent headings and sub-headings for each approach and for the rationale section. I then created a corresponding “for filling in the brackets” document that contained all the key terms, definitions, and figures I wanted to mention and used a bold and italic system to once again denote importance versus optionality. I made sure to add in-text citations next to each term where applicable, and created another document for just those. (It’ll be handy through the whole process, so future me will thank me later!) And then, just to make sure I really hit all the bases before loading them up with information, I revisited Telling A Research Story: Writing a Literature Review by Christine B. Feak and John M. Swales and checked my composite document against some of their tips for having concise, pragmatic writing that still addressed all concerns of both author and audience while giving attribution where necessary. 

Naturally, drawing up a composite document also meant a lot of re-evaluation of who is this really for, an issue that I’ve constantly been grappling with. (Yes, it is for everyone here, but when published, hopefully, it will be seen by other forensic linguists and researchers!)  Luckily, I happened to know of a few categories of case studies, and after some research, I determined illustrative and critical instance case studies were the two that best fit the bill here. As a quick refresher, illustrative case studies are used to dissect and examine a prior situation for the purpose of explaining it to others and are qualitative by nature. Nothing is added, subtracted, or dissected, but it differs from a cumulative case study in the sense that it is assumed the audience is either entirely new or only vaguely familiar with the topic at hand. Critical instance case studies can be utilized to either examine or determine the causes and consequences of an instance or to challenge a universal assertion. Rather than challenge a universal assertion, the question at the center of my thesis, how can linguistic evidence come to be viewed in the same light as physical evidence, seeks to introduce a potential universal assertion. So, that moved finding supporting sources and justifying this approach, my main concern for this section of my thesis to the resolved column. It was tedious, and some of the steps may not have been entirely necessary, but it felt good to feel like something was getting done and eventually filling in all the brackets. 

Conventional? No. 

Successful? Yes! 

TL;DR: I played a high-stakes game of mad-libs with my methodology section and it paid off really well! 

I’ve gotten started on the critical part of my thesis writing, which is the actual application and analysis of all the cases I selected. It’s going to be a hyper-involved process that involves checking out my notes on my sources, re-reading articles and re-visiting podcasts, possibly adding in some documentaries (PBS is the best!), and of course, creating titles for each chapter, but I can, and I will do this! 

Out Of The Shadows And Into The Night!

Now that I’m older, I admire how sociable Phil Collins is, insisting Billy not lose his number! (I could never!) As I’m working on my Research Days project, I am also working with the knowledge of knowing it will ultimately become a part of my thesis, and based on the topic, it is coming at a highly polarized time and needs to be completed with a high level of integrity, not just for the sake of the outcome, but also with consideration to the impact it could potentially have. It means working on a disclaimer to place at the beginning of my survey, to ensure that there is a clear understanding that completion of the survey is completely voluntary and that there is content of a sensitive nature that will be addressed. Furthermore, as I load up and trim down questions, I am also cognizant of the limitations of what is and is not permissible without an IRB certification, so I plan to meet with a resource librarian to ensure that the questions are appropriate and within bounds. 

Aside from narrowing the list and scope of the questions on my survey, I’ve narrowed down what statistical software to use! I’ve messed around with a few open-sourced tools and found that I really liked both JASP, which is automatically calibrated for APA-style results, charts, tables, and PAST, a similar, but simpler software. I’m confident in my working knowledge of the tools, and I’ve done quite a few practice runs with some stats problems to make sure I know exactly where to input what and everything else. (I will also admit it is inflating my ego every time I intuitively know where to plug in what or click what.) 

Aside from the mathematical side of things, I feel pretty confident that I have reviewed all of the pertinent literature on the CSI effect, and am able to translate that into what my survey questions are attempting to measure. I’d also given myself the task of watching a set of shows that I felt were pertinent to influencing how others in my age group and a bit older might view police, investigations, and available resources, and I’m making steady progress working my way through them all. I’m only one person with a limited amount of time, so I’ve devised a plan to try and see if transcripts of episodes are available anywhere, and then, I plan to run a bot to analyze for similarities among the scripts, a set of key search terms, etc. and go from there. (Rest assured, this will be marked in my methodology section if I chose to do so!) So, my Research Days work is alive and a live wire! 

All My Dreams Have Fallen Down

This floaty and focused feeling I’m getting from making progress on my work and other concerns are pretty well summarized by “Save Me” by Remy Zero. Just like young Clark Kent, I too am setting out on my journey to become who people will know me as for years to come. Smallville is one of my all-time favorite shows and I usually have it on in the background while writing. This week, it echoed in my life; much like Clark and Jonathan Kent, my Dad and I definitely fight a lot but are still quite close. And just like Jonathan Kent, my Dad looked me in the eyes when he gave me the lab manual review advice and said, “I wish I could tell you all the answers, but you have to find them yourself.” It had me thinking about the insider-outsider feeling, and I came to realize over the last two weeks I hardly felt it, and I want to keep it that way. Forensic linguistics is fascinating and I regret spending even a moment wishing I picked something else to write about. I’m literally going to exercise the option of being able to leave the classroom for the second half of class and walk around as I write, and hope to finish at least half a chapter before heading home. 

I also realized I’m closer than further on a lot of big decisions, like how to submit my thesis and how to present in a few weeks. For my thesis, I’m definitely doing a traditional submission and a website. (I figure it might help to have live links to my sources in my work.) Admittedly, the latter half is weighing heavily on my mind; I really don’t want to go for round four of an aggravating instead of exhilarating time in front of the classroom. I could take the easy way out and use it for practice for Research Days. Or, I can stop stressing over what is still way out on the horizon and remind myself that no matter what happens, I’m hitting submit in May. 

So, I’m not quite Superman just yet, but the time will pass in the blink of an eye.

Don’t Give Yourself Away! 

It’s only fitting to end a post this long and with hints to even longer pieces of my writing with a bop like “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. (This came on at least three times while I was cycling uphill, so I’m equating it with a strong surge of determination and a push against all odds.) As I look ahead to today’s class, it’s all about showing up and supporting Susan, who I am sure will have an amazing presentation! See everyone later! 

It’s Gonna Get Worse If He Waits Too Long

You Take It On Faith, You Take It To The Heart 

Tom Petty is absolutely correct; “The Waiting” is indeed the hardest part! But, waiting is thankfully where things have massively turned around for me. What I thought was falling behind was a lot more like being under construction; the road to actually, really feeling better and happier is no doubt going to be long and stretch well beyond what I thought it would, but staying the course is something I’m determined to do! The first steps came this week, by re-assessing what is and isn’t working in life in general. Negativity and living in the imagined “worst-case scenario” or “bad outcomes” isn’t going to magically disappear, but it is possible to take a step back, assess the thought, and do my best to work around it. I finally convinced myself that it’s OK to still enjoy the things I love even if I was momentarily stuck and unmotivated with my thesis, and that’s how I found myself spending Saturday and Sunday both weeks rooting for the Riveters! (I really hope that everyone at least got to take a peek at the games, whether on ESPN+, Twitch, or from all the clips and play-by-plays I retweeted! And it was great to get my family into the games as well; my parents are familiar with a fair amount of hockey terms and rules after years of the Devils on their TV, and now they’re getting to know the Riveters as a team! (It’s a work in progress; Madison Packer, team captain, is the only player my parents can recognize and name on their own, in large part because of her pink hair!) Needless to say, they think it’s fitting and hilarious that the team I root for spent a bit of time in the penalty box!

It’s pretty tough to be sad after seeing amazing work like that, and finding a viable path forward in the process! During Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Whitecaps, I had an enlightening interaction on Twitter with Dr. Virginia Yonkers, an amazing and accomplished scholar who opened my eyes to the methodology of ethnomethodology, as well as keeping a methodology but adding a lens, such as constructivism! I’ll explain further down just how my mind’s eye is imagining this is going to play out. 

Outside of just the weekends, I’m back to a regular gym schedule, lifting a little heavier, and took full advantage of the few nicer days and went for some long runs, bike rides, and soul searching. There’s something about beating the traffic and pedaling to your backdoor in the middle of the sunset while wind hits your face that makes things feel a little better, just like pulling into the parking lot for a deserted beach and staring out at the water on a cold, windy day. Of course, with student government meetings, the wonderful Twosday that happened to coincide with the Miracle on Ice anniversary, the Devils returning to action on Thursday against the Penguins in a big way, a trip to Broadway, and of course, the Riveters at home this weekend in Newark with the gorgeous Black Rosie jerseys, I can feel a shift coming! The ongoing negotiations between the MLB and player’s association will hopefully have an equitable outcome, and I know it’s ancient news now, but I can’t wait for the Mets to have their Old Timers Day this summer! 

(Also, I have my fingers crossed regarding a few more upcoming job interviews and the results of a few past ones!)

Things are in motion, and I am trying to conscientiously be here for it all. And now, a thesis update! 

You’ve Got To Trust Your Instinct And Let Go Of Regret

If you’ve been following my progress since September and know me, “All Mixed Up” by 311 is just the right pace and mood for how things have been, and I’m on the happier side of it now! The methodology dilemma is no more! I know where this thing is going, and I know “how to write my thesis” now that I have all of that cleared up. In my last attempt at a methodology section, I got frustrated and overwhelmed and wrote a whole short story as a way to prove to myself that I know what’s going on and how to do things, but I’m not so good at telling others what the framework of my project is. Most of my struggles in school are lost in translation to my parents, and yet this time, my (real, not something of a) scientist (himself) Dad had a helpful response; brush up on my lab manual comprehension and lab report writing skills, because the problem I’m describing is basically the same as those processes! And yes, it worked. (Also, I am still capable of keeping up with the fast-paced and nuanced science talk! Between that, this, some literary theory and criticism I’ve been delving into on the side, and all the stats I’ve been brushing up on and crushing, I’m feeling really good about myself!)

So, it was once again a scenario where I had to work it from the inside out; I might have figured out my angle and style, but I also needed to work on formatting, organization, and introduction of ideas, transitions, and actually sitting still long enough to write things out. Naturally, I rationalized that if there could be different types of literature reviews (narrative, chronological, etc.) the same logic could be applied to my methodology section, and so I chose to introduce my means of analysis by ranking and re-evaluating what a methodology is. Of course, case study and discourse analysis are my top two, and so they were scheduled to appear in that order. Protocol analysis almost threw a wrench in the plans, but since it ties into my case study framework, I just folded it in there. I took a look at content analysis and corpus linguistics next and through the same process, worked out how I would introduce and implement these investigative tactics. 

Following this, I used some structural elements of the lab manuals and reports I combed through to create a “composite document,” which was essentially typing out how I would introduce the methodology in a transition from my literature review no matter and leaving brackets with very obvious instructions to my future self wherever necessary, such as [insert name of the methodology here], [insert author’s name here] and [insert quote about the relevance of methodology] to give you a basic idea. I then circled back to add in other important brackets, such as [explication of the relevancy] and [reiterate supporting detail from previous sections], and also added the essential and pertinent headings and sub-headings for each approach and for the rationale section. I then created a corresponding “for filling in the brackets” document that contained all the key terms, definitions, and figures I wanted to mention and used a bold and italic system to once again denote importance versus optionality. I made sure to add in-text citations next to each term where applicable, and created another document for just those. (It’ll be handy through the whole process, so future me will thank me later!) And then, just to make sure I really hit all the bases before loading them up with information, I revisited Telling A Research Story: Writing a Literature Review by Christine B. Feak and John M. Swales and checked my composite document against some of their tips for having concise, pragmatic writing that still addressed all concerns of both author and audience while giving attribution where necessary. 

Naturally, drawing up a composite document also meant a lot of re-evaluation of who is this really for, an issue that I’ve constantly been grappling with. (Yes, it is for everyone here, but when published, hopefully, it will be seen by other forensic linguists and researchers!)  Luckily, I happened to know of a few categories of case studies, and after some research, I determined illustrative and critical instance case studies were the two that best fit the bill here. As a quick refresher, illustrative case studies are used to dissect and examine a prior situation for the purpose of explaining it to others and are qualitative by nature. Nothing is added, subtracted, or dissected, but it differs from a cumulative case study in the sense that it is assumed the audience is either entirely new or only vaguely familiar with the topic at hand. Critical instance case studies can be utilized to either examine or determine the causes and consequences of an instance or to challenge a universal assertion. Rather than challenge a universal assertion, the question at the center of my thesis, how can linguistic evidence come to be viewed in the same light as physical evidence, seeks to introduce a potential universal assertion. So, that moved finding supporting sources and justifying this approach, my main concern for this section of my thesis to the resolved column. It was tedious, and some of the steps may not have been entirely necessary, but it felt good to feel like something was getting done and eventually filling in all the brackets. 

Conventional? No. 

Successful? Yes! 

TL;DR: I played a high-stakes game of mad-libs with my methodology section and it paid off really well! 

I’ve gotten started on the critical part of my thesis writing, which is the actual application and analysis of all the cases I selected. It’s going to be a hyper-involved process that involves checking out my notes on my sources, re-reading articles and re-visiting podcasts, possibly adding in some documentaries (PBS is the best!), and of course, creating titles for each chapter, but I can, and I will do this! 

Out Of The Shadows And Into The Night!

Now that I’m older, I admire how sociable Phil Collins is, insisting Billy not lose his number! (I could never!) As I’m working on my Research Days project, I am also working with the knowledge of knowing it will ultimately become a part of my thesis, and based on the topic, it is coming at a highly polarized time and needs to be completed with a high level of integrity, not just for the sake of the outcome, but also with consideration to the impact it could potentially have. It means working on a disclaimer to place at the beginning of my survey, to ensure that there is a clear understanding that completion of the survey is completely voluntary and that there is content of a sensitive nature that will be addressed. Furthermore, as I load up and trim down questions, I am also cognizant of the limitations of what is and is not permissible without an IRB certification, so I plan to meet with a resource librarian to ensure that the questions are appropriate and within bounds. 

Aside from narrowing the list and scope of the questions on my survey, I’ve narrowed down what statistical software to use! I’ve messed around with a few open-sourced tools and found that I really liked both JASP, which is automatically calibrated for APA-style results, charts, tables, and PAST, a similar, but simpler software. I’m confident in my working knowledge of the tools, and I’ve done quite a few practice runs with some stats problems to make sure I know exactly where to input what and everything else. (I will also admit it is inflating my ego every time I intuitively know where to plug in what or click what.) 

Aside from the mathematical side of things, I feel pretty confident that I have reviewed all of the pertinent literature on the CSI effect, and am able to translate that into what my survey questions are attempting to measure. I’d also given myself the task of watching a set of shows that I felt were pertinent to influencing how others in my age group and a bit older might view police, investigations, and available resources, and I’m making steady progress working my way through them all. I’m only one person with a limited amount of time, so I’ve devised a plan to try and see if transcripts of episodes are available anywhere, and then, I plan to run a bot to analyze for similarities among the scripts, a set of key search terms, etc. and go from there. (Rest assured, this will be marked in my methodology section if I chose to do so!) So, my Research Days work is alive and a live wire! 

All My Dreams Have Fallen Down

This floaty and focused feeling I’m getting from making progress on my work and other concerns are pretty well summarized by “Save Me” by Remy Zero. Just like young Clark Kent, I too am setting out on my journey to become who people will know me as for years to come. Smallville is one of my all-time favorite shows and I usually have it on in the background while writing. This week, it echoed in my life; much like Clark and Jonathan Kent, my Dad and I definitely fight a lot but are still quite close. And just like Jonathan Kent, my Dad looked me in the eyes when he gave me the lab manual review advice and said, “I wish I could tell you all the answers, but you have to find them yourself.” It had me thinking about the insider-outsider feeling, and I came to realize over the last two weeks I hardly felt it, and I want to keep it that way. Forensic linguistics is fascinating and I regret spending even a moment wishing I picked something else to write about. I’m literally going to exercise the option of being able to leave the classroom for the second half of class and walk around as I write, and hope to finish at least half a chapter before heading home. 

I also realized I’m closer than further on a lot of big decisions, like how to submit my thesis and how to present in a few weeks. For my thesis, I’m definitely doing a traditional submission and a website. (I figure it might help to have live links to my sources in my work.) Admittedly, the latter half is weighing heavily on my mind; I really don’t want to go for round four of an aggravating instead of exhilarating time in front of the classroom. I could take the easy way out and use it for practice for Research Days. Or, I can stop stressing over what is still way out on the horizon and remind myself that no matter what happens, I’m hitting submit in May. 

So, I’m not quite Superman just yet, but the time will pass in the blink of an eye.

Don’t Give Yourself Away! 

It’s only fitting to end a post this long and with hints to even longer pieces of my writing with a bop like “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. (This came on at least three times while I was cycling uphill, so I’m equating it with a strong surge of determination and a push against all odds.) As I look ahead to today’s class, it’s all about showing up and supporting Susan, who I am sure will have an amazing presentation! See everyone later! 

Tomorrow’s Getting Harder, Make No Mistake

Son, Don’t Let The Man Get You!

It doesn’t take a lot to feel genuine happiness. Just a flickering lamplight, notepad, static crackling on whatever station I’m tuned into, a good book or ten, and a whole lot of solitude. (I’ll add my winter break reading list to the bottom of this post!) With all the reminiscing lately about how our family’s journey in America started out in Louisiana, I can’t help but start things off with “Born On The Bayou,” a household staple. 

It’s truly something to behold, looking back at all the moments, minute and monumental, that make this year stand out in my mind. A year split between what was becoming the “new normal” and the unfamiliar “old routine.” A regular sleep, work, and exercise schedule. What should have been my undergraduate ceremony in the spring that was actually me wrapping up half of the graduate school experience. But also, finding a new appreciation for the people who stuck around. A couple of new arrivals, and departures, if you will, to carry on with the metaphor of transitory spaces from my last blog. Growing closer to people as time grew scarcer. A sense of adventure, in all of the forms that can take on, beginning to form and solidify. Putting those map-reading skills to the test for more than just navigating life. And a sense of familiarity, comfort, and enchantment with the unknown, perhaps the greatest ironic gift of all. I hope I can capitalize on it, and make meaning of exactly what I’m doing here, and in a more meaningful sense of that question.

And with all of this, a project that I’ll be carrying with me for the foreseeable future, one that will serve as a marker of my identity in areas where it’ll make a big impact. 

I’ve Been Swimming In A Sea of Anarchy

It’s only fair that a transition to a new year and a fresh thesis process warrants a song with the same concept, like “Everyday Is A Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow. Thankfully, I’ve discovered another search term that yields useful resources even without extensive filtering and truncated searches; forensic oration. Granted, it has more so to do with litigation practices and actual courtroom semantics than evidence, but that’s perfectly fine! In fact, it ties in perfectly to what I’m hoping to achieve after all, which is exploring how linguistic evidence can be valued in the same regard as even the smallest scrap of physical evidence. 

A lot of last semester was spent as my foray into archival, involved, and innovative research and much of the break was spent evaluating sources, approaches, and research designs in between chasing joy. I’ve finally figured out what would work best for this project, in terms of organization and design, and it’s a very special construction that I’ll outline below:

  1. Abstract 
    1. Brief summary of the thesis and the associated keywords meant for database searches
    2. Projected Length: 250 words or less
  2. Introduction
    1. Defining the Term + Field of Forensic Linguistics
      1. Begin broadly, and narrow the scope to pertinent components
    2. Introduction of Field History + Key Figures + 1-2 Landmark Cases/Expert Testimonies
    3. Introduction of the Conflict/Central Question and Its Importance 
  3. Literature Review 
    1. Should segue seamlessly from the Introduction
    2. Components 
      1. Re-Iteration of the Hypothesis Question and Individual Sections to Address Different Instances of Forensic Linguistics Being Critical, But Overlooked (Meant as In The Different Forms of Forensic Linguistics, Not Necessarily Different Cases)
      2. Methodology (Will Be Thoroughly Explained and Expanded Upon Appropriately)
        1. Qualitative Mixed-Method Study using Discourse Theory, Case Study, Protocol and Content Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, and Possibly (?) A Criminal Justice Theory 
      3. Explanation of Projected Impact of this Research
        1. A nuanced portrait of the entire legal process, from arrest to courtroom, linguistically
        2. A path forward toward equitable interviewing, evidence collection, and courtroom processes
        3. Possible changes to the justice system 
    3. Projected Length: 4-7 Pages
  4. Thesis Casework 
    1. Determination of Parameters of Forensic Linguistics Necessary for Demonstrating Competence/Mastery +Defining of the Following
      1. Interviewing Procedures/Outcomes 
      2. Enhanced Auditory Evidence
      3. Forensic Stenography/Handwriting Comparisons 
      4. Forensic Oration
      5. Examine the Ethics and Motivations Associated
    2. Careful Selection of Cases Where Forensic Linguistics Could Have Been Employed via Expert Testimony But Was Neglected
    3. Cases Where Forensic Oration Was A Deciding Factor
      1. Once again, Ethical Implications, Factors of Bias, Etc. are to be examined
  5. Approaches to Demonstrate Thoughtful Analysis and Application of Forensic Linguistics (Only For the Purposes of This Outline, Not A Section In The Paper)
    1. Discourse Theory 
    2. Protocol and Content Analysis
    3. Explication and Imagined Application of Corpus Linguistics in Appropriate Scenarios 
  6. Results 
  7. Conclusion
  8. Overall Projected Length: ~70 + Pages

While the above is my overall outline, I recognize that there is a need to further flesh out and define the components I’ve condensed, in my hypothesis so that maybe my project can shed after-thought labels like “unique” or “interesting” when discussing or presenting it locally.  So, have a very bare outline of just the things involved in my hypothesis question! 

  1. Forensic Linguistics (General Premise, Field of Study) 
  2. Linguistic Evidence (What It Is, What It Is Not)
    1. My Points of Focus 
  3. How Is Forensic Linguistics Currently Utilized Today 
    1. Expert Use 
    2. Use By The Prosecution 
    3. Use By The Defense 
  4. What Does The Above Mean For the Field? 

It’s hefty stuff, but that’s what the abstract and introduction of any good thesis are for since they set the stage! I’ll focus this week to refine the work I’ve steadily completed on this thus far, and then set it aside. After all, fresh eyes will yield a different perspective, even if the writer and editor are one and the same. 

Smile and Grin At The Change All Around

After checking out the outlines above, and seeing all the work I have to do, there’s nothing that exemplifies how I’m feeling better than the screech in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. (Also, it was the theme for CSI: Miami, a great show that will be mentioned again later!) Naturally, the above sections I have to write are going to continue to be refined until I feel that they’re thesis caliber. Maybe it’s an impossible idea that I’m chasing, one of the perfect thesis, or something that I’m not capable of, but I just know that I can, I should, and I will be better than this. 

Beyond that, however, it’s almost eating me alive how I really shared what was on my mind in terms of what I mentioned during the TROIKA exercise last class. Dr. Zamora summed it up perfectly by mentioning the insider-outsider phenomenon because there is a dissonance attached to seeing all the meaningful feedback flying around and then just stopping or slowing when it gets to you. And for what it’s worth hearing a week later, I’ve somewhat always known this isn’t the audience for my work. I guess the best way to describe this is more of a social than an academic struggle; my work is sound, but my feelings are not, and that is grating. It feels valid and important yet somehow also juvenile and distracting. Nevertheless, I won’t get lost in the cycle or fooled by these feelings! My mind’s eye is focused on the process, and I just have to stay the course. 

It’s going to come down to two things to pull everything together; grit and resilience. And there isn’t anything I do better than the two. So, that May 5th deadline is one I’m going to battle onwards to. 

I guess the best way to summarize my thesis work thus far and the overall process is that I’m essentially working it from the inside out; I’ll have to really, truly treat this as an investigation; I have all my evidence, a few theories of how the events unfolded, and now I need to put things together to find the actual occurrence, not the one of convenience. Parallel to completing my thesis, this is only going to enhance my investigative and academic skillsets. So, with this out of the way, I’m going to tackle my literature review, specifically the nuances of the methodology after I clear up the introduction and proceed from there. 

Don’t Bend, Don’t Break, Baby, Don’t Back Down 

It’s only fair to end the blog post with a song as stubborn sounding as I am, like “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi, while I detail what I’ll be presenting on at Research Days in the coming months! Especially since it is adjacent to, but not exactly my thesis work! 

I’ll be presenting a media-studies content analysis of the CSI effect, which means that yes, I have a good reason for why I’ve been re-visiting the three main series and the current re-boot! (Jorja Fox’s Sara Sidle will always have a special place in my heart as a primary reason for why I pursued my thesis topic and this research.) I’ll be conducting some original quantitative research for this as well, so be on the lookout for a survey in the near future. And with that, I’ll see everyone in class! 

Tomorrow’s Getting Harder, Make No Mistake

Son, Don’t Let The Man Get You!

It doesn’t take a lot to feel genuine happiness. Just a flickering lamplight, notepad, static crackling on whatever station I’m tuned into, a good book or ten, and a whole lot of solitude. (I’ll add my winter break reading list to the bottom of this post!) With all the reminiscing lately about how our family’s journey in America started out in Louisiana, I can’t help but start things off with “Born On The Bayou,” a household staple. 

It’s truly something to behold, looking back at all the moments, minute and monumental, that make this year stand out in my mind. A year split between what was becoming the “new normal” and the unfamiliar “old routine.” A regular sleep, work, and exercise schedule. What should have been my undergraduate ceremony in the spring that was actually me wrapping up half of the graduate school experience. But also, finding a new appreciation for the people who stuck around. A couple of new arrivals, and departures, if you will, to carry on with the metaphor of transitory spaces from my last blog. Growing closer to people as time grew scarcer. A sense of adventure, in all of the forms that can take on, beginning to form and solidify. Putting those map-reading skills to the test for more than just navigating life. And a sense of familiarity, comfort, and enchantment with the unknown, perhaps the greatest ironic gift of all. I hope I can capitalize on it, and make meaning of exactly what I’m doing here, and in a more meaningful sense of that question.

And with all of this, a project that I’ll be carrying with me for the foreseeable future, one that will serve as a marker of my identity in areas where it’ll make a big impact. 

I’ve Been Swimming In A Sea of Anarchy

It’s only fair that a transition to a new year and a fresh thesis process warrants a song with the same concept, like “Everyday Is A Winding Road” by Sheryl Crow. Thankfully, I’ve discovered another search term that yields useful resources even without extensive filtering and truncated searches; forensic oration. Granted, it has more so to do with litigation practices and actual courtroom semantics than evidence, but that’s perfectly fine! In fact, it ties in perfectly to what I’m hoping to achieve after all, which is exploring how linguistic evidence can be valued in the same regard as even the smallest scrap of physical evidence. 

A lot of last semester was spent as my foray into archival, involved, and innovative research and much of the break was spent evaluating sources, approaches, and research designs in between chasing joy. I’ve finally figured out what would work best for this project, in terms of organization and design, and it’s a very special construction that I’ll outline below:

  1. Abstract 
    1. Brief summary of the thesis and the associated keywords meant for database searches
    2. Projected Length: 250 words or less
  2. Introduction
    1. Defining the Term + Field of Forensic Linguistics
      1. Begin broadly, and narrow the scope to pertinent components
    2. Introduction of Field History + Key Figures + 1-2 Landmark Cases/Expert Testimonies
    3. Introduction of the Conflict/Central Question and Its Importance 
  3. Literature Review 
    1. Should segue seamlessly from the Introduction
    2. Components 
      1. Re-Iteration of the Hypothesis Question and Individual Sections to Address Different Instances of Forensic Linguistics Being Critical, But Overlooked (Meant as In The Different Forms of Forensic Linguistics, Not Necessarily Different Cases)
      2. Methodology (Will Be Thoroughly Explained and Expanded Upon Appropriately)
        1. Qualitative Mixed-Method Study using Discourse Theory, Case Study, Protocol and Content Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, and Possibly (?) A Criminal Justice Theory 
      3. Explanation of Projected Impact of this Research
        1. A nuanced portrait of the entire legal process, from arrest to courtroom, linguistically
        2. A path forward toward equitable interviewing, evidence collection, and courtroom processes
        3. Possible changes to the justice system 
    3. Projected Length: 4-7 Pages
  4. Thesis Casework 
    1. Determination of Parameters of Forensic Linguistics Necessary for Demonstrating Competence/Mastery +Defining of the Following
      1. Interviewing Procedures/Outcomes 
      2. Enhanced Auditory Evidence
      3. Forensic Stenography/Handwriting Comparisons 
      4. Forensic Oration
      5. Examine the Ethics and Motivations Associated
    2. Careful Selection of Cases Where Forensic Linguistics Could Have Been Employed via Expert Testimony But Was Neglected
    3. Cases Where Forensic Oration Was A Deciding Factor
      1. Once again, Ethical Implications, Factors of Bias, Etc. are to be examined
  5. Approaches to Demonstrate Thoughtful Analysis and Application of Forensic Linguistics (Only For the Purposes of This Outline, Not A Section In The Paper)
    1. Discourse Theory 
    2. Protocol and Content Analysis
    3. Explication and Imagined Application of Corpus Linguistics in Appropriate Scenarios 
  6. Results 
  7. Conclusion
  8. Overall Projected Length: ~70 + Pages

While the above is my overall outline, I recognize that there is a need to further flesh out and define the components I’ve condensed, in my hypothesis so that maybe my project can shed after-thought labels like “unique” or “interesting” when discussing or presenting it locally.  So, have a very bare outline of just the things involved in my hypothesis question! 

  1. Forensic Linguistics (General Premise, Field of Study) 
  2. Linguistic Evidence (What It Is, What It Is Not)
    1. My Points of Focus 
  3. How Is Forensic Linguistics Currently Utilized Today 
    1. Expert Use 
    2. Use By The Prosecution 
    3. Use By The Defense 
  4. What Does The Above Mean For the Field? 

It’s hefty stuff, but that’s what the abstract and introduction of any good thesis are for since they set the stage! I’ll focus this week to refine the work I’ve steadily completed on this thus far, and then set it aside. After all, fresh eyes will yield a different perspective, even if the writer and editor are one and the same. 

Smile and Grin At The Change All Around

After checking out the outlines above, and seeing all the work I have to do, there’s nothing that exemplifies how I’m feeling better than the screech in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. (Also, it was the theme for CSI: Miami, a great show that will be mentioned again later!) Naturally, the above sections I have to write are going to continue to be refined until I feel that they’re thesis caliber. Maybe it’s an impossible idea that I’m chasing, one of the perfect thesis, or something that I’m not capable of, but I just know that I can, I should, and I will be better than this. 

Beyond that, however, it’s almost eating me alive how I really shared what was on my mind in terms of what I mentioned during the TROIKA exercise last class. Dr. Zamora summed it up perfectly by mentioning the insider-outsider phenomenon because there is a dissonance attached to seeing all the meaningful feedback flying around and then just stopping or slowing when it gets to you. And for what it’s worth hearing a week later, I’ve somewhat always known this isn’t the audience for my work. I guess the best way to describe this is more of a social than an academic struggle; my work is sound, but my feelings are not, and that is grating. It feels valid and important yet somehow also juvenile and distracting. Nevertheless, I won’t get lost in the cycle or fooled by these feelings! My mind’s eye is focused on the process, and I just have to stay the course. 

It’s going to come down to two things to pull everything together; grit and resilience. And there isn’t anything I do better than the two. So, that May 5th deadline is one I’m going to battle onwards to. 

I guess the best way to summarize my thesis work thus far and the overall process is that I’m essentially working it from the inside out; I’ll have to really, truly treat this as an investigation; I have all my evidence, a few theories of how the events unfolded, and now I need to put things together to find the actual occurrence, not the one of convenience. Parallel to completing my thesis, this is only going to enhance my investigative and academic skillsets. So, with this out of the way, I’m going to tackle my literature review, specifically the nuances of the methodology after I clear up the introduction and proceed from there. 

Don’t Bend, Don’t Break, Baby, Don’t Back Down 

It’s only fair to end the blog post with a song as stubborn sounding as I am, like “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi, while I detail what I’ll be presenting on at Research Days in the coming months! Especially since it is adjacent to, but not exactly my thesis work! 

I’ll be presenting a media-studies content analysis of the CSI effect, which means that yes, I have a good reason for why I’ve been re-visiting the three main series and the current re-boot! (Jorja Fox’s Sara Sidle will always have a special place in my heart as a primary reason for why I pursued my thesis topic and this research.) I’ll be conducting some original quantitative research for this as well, so be on the lookout for a survey in the near future. And with that, I’ll see everyone in class! 

Cry A Little Less, Laugh a Little More!

“One thing I hate is people screaming at me. If you want me to do something, just talk to me.” – Mario Lemieux 

It’s Time To Focus In On Where I Go From Here

It’s about the mid-way point of the semester, and boy, am I feeling it! Despite the doozy of a blog post from last week, I actually dropped the ball in just about every area of my life; I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, I wasn’t as kind as I possibly could have been to people, I wasn’t efficient enough with my work, and I had a few instances of academic turmoil that I’m still reeling from, but also recognize I cannot change. This isn’t normally how I handle things, and it’s hard to dissect there’s no threshold of responsibilities you need to reach to warrant feeling stressed and on some level, defeated. It’s hard to live up to the expectations you set for yourself, let alone those others have for you.

I did find some bright patches in all of this turmoil! This past week, I honored an age-old tradition my Dad and I have of playing the Tim McGraw song “My Next Thirty Years” on his birthday; the song is from an album that came out the year I was born, and it’s a whimsical number, especially to him considering his age. One of the nice things about your parents getting older is that they also start to get a little more sentimental, and hearing some of the stuff my Dad had to say about his life thus far definitely provided me with a sense of closure for some things, and a whole new list of questions for myself and my future, some of which are proving invaluable to this thesis development, and who I am as a person. Two of my friends also celebrated birthdays this week, and I saw the Devils yet again fall to the Capitals but triumph over Buffalo, who have surprisingly been off to a strong start this season, and then fall tonight to the Flames. And so, the world continues to turn.

But, as I was tasked at the end of thesis class last week to synthesize all my research and figure out what is the question I want to ask, I found that to be the most cumbersome task this thesis has asked of me thus far, and I’m not exaggerating when I say tears were shed over this specifically. I know why I’m interested in forensic linguistics. I know what gets under my skin about the field. I know who I’m researching and writing this thesis for. I know my initial line of inquiry was turned away for being more of a dissertation and less of a thesis, and that frustrated me to no end. (It also killed some of my confidence in myself.) Isn’t a dissertation like a longer version of a thesis, therefore validating my line of inquiry? (I’m not trying to degrade dissertations or pretend I know a ton about them, but this is what initially went through my mind.) And if I’m asking a dissertation-worthy question and keep hacking at it research-wise, doesn’t that mean I’m also on a trajectory to answer it, or at least explore it? Why can’t my thesis be a stepping stone on a larger path? What am I lacking? One thought ran circles through my mind; the TikTok audio that asks Am I…dumb?

 I spent a lot of the past week getting screamed at and screaming at myself, both literally and metaphorically, and amazingly enough, it accomplished nothing! Seeing everyone else getting the ball rolling or keeping it going on their projects had me feeling even worse, and I nearly slipped into the worst cycle possible; learned helplessness brought on by social comparison. But, who am I if not the kid of the guy who did everything on his own schedule, whether it was two years or two decades later than the norm, and accomplished his goals when no one else believed because it was on his own terms? Re-assessing the situation, I found that I’m not in as bad shape as previously believed; I’ve already created a substantial annotated bibliography, I’ve basically drafted the bulk of my literature review, proved a profound understanding of my topic to myself and others, and a stable understanding of adjacent topics and fields of study. 

 I read, and read, and re-read, and annotated my little heart out, and I still feel like I have perspective but no clear answers, or so it seems. It’s complicated, and I hope I can give you a concise answer for what my question is, and what this thesis will be, or at least something that gets you thinking, but for now, I recommend buckling up and getting ready for yet another journey through the thesis progress! 

I’ll Try to Think About the Last Time I Had A Good Time

Trying to figure out what I’m looking for with this thesis sure is reminiscent of being a kid and knowing that something major, in a negative way, is going on either at school or at home, and no one wants to clue you in because they think you can’t handle the news, and all the adults in your life look at you with pity. It makes “I’m Just a Kid” by Simple Plan the perfect accompanying soundtrack to this section. (Also, life is a nightmare at the moment.) As stated above, I spent the past week going through what I already have in terms of research and annotations, while adding in some fresh information and found myself once again being drawn to that dissertation question, even though I know it isn’t what I need. The outline I included in my last blog post was another good resource, but another intellectual cul-de-sac. 

I can say in earnest that yes, it feels like my thesis project is haunting me; I connect everything I’m doing in other classes to my concept, and I can’t shake the feeling that it may just be the most important thing in my life for a while. It isn’t so much an all-or-nothing mentality that surrounds it for me as it is a time-is-of-the-essence sort of complex. I’ve thought about doing a creative piece and this looming presence the project has taken on is making me think it’s time for a mystery novella, but I know that isn’t what I really want, and I refuse to take an easy out. I analyzed everything this week from the gaze of a forensic linguist, ranging from how my classmates spoke in class to my own text messages and writing. I could create a satirical handbook regarding how to apply these methods to blend humor and practicality, but again, something is missing there. E-lit, which I love, is also out for the time being because as I realized when I was running and saw a teardrop of frustration go flying, it doesn’t matter what I pick as a medium if I don’t even have a question. Also, why am I pushing myself so hard to add a creative angle? There’s nothing embarrassing about admitting that yes, I love research, I understand the process and terminology, and both the design and actual experimentation and collections are some of my key strengths as a writer and academic. It’s instinctual. I can already thread together the bare bones of a mixed-methods qualitative case study and protocol analysis based look at the field of forensic linguistics from its genesis to now, but it’s all weaving together around the question I can’t have, of why it is that linguistic evidence is not held to the same pedigree as physical evidence unless it is for the purpose of establishing guilt, especially in situations where there are several intersectional factors in play as well. Time is the one thing I don’t have too much of, and yet it’s the one thing I need to rework my research design around a new question. If I go this route, it’s more of a reduce-reuse-recycle scenario than it is a landfill dumping. 

Completing this thesis is more than a requirement or springboard into a career for me; I want this to be something meaningful beyond the people who see it in this program. I want it to be able to stand on its own, without me having to constantly explain and prop up what the premise and importance of it is. But with my confidence shot, I feel like a stickshift 1987 Chevy Chevette with a timing belt that’s slipping and a clutch that is stuck, just waiting to stall in the shoulder. 

Going back to Wednesday night, my Dad made a comment off-hand about what it took to become the person I know him as today on the way home. One of the biggest things my Dad has always emphasized to me that I respect and appreciate is the sheer amount of mistakes he’s made throughout his life, and how some, but not all, have defined him. Of course, I won’t share any of those with you, because I know he won’t like that! But when I hit a low and massive wall like I did this past week, hearing him be vulnerable about what it felt like to be behind or inadequate in regards to something more profound than a thesis is what struck a chord with me. There’s something bizarrely comforting about knowing that no matter how old you get, you never figure it all out, and it’s that mysterious space where you live the best parts of your life. And it inspired me to realize something: It’s my project, just like it was his life! So here’s what I’m planning:

  1. I’m not going to conscientiously think about what I want my question to be at all for the bulk of this week.
  2. I’m not going to think about what approach and medium I want this project to take on for the bulk of this week. 
    1. I’m not looking to get myself worked up again, and my gut tells me I’ll know soon enough, but right now just isn’t the time to know. 
  3. I’m not going to add to or subtract anything from the research and annotations I have already compiled.
  4. I am going to continue revising the formatting of my annotated bibliography. 
  5. I will work on the parts of my literature review that I can with everything I have already. 
    1. Dr. Nelson was kind enough to lend me a few resources about how to tackle a lit. review, and seeing it framed as “academic storytelling” is making this a more palatable, and dare I say it, fun task to work through.
  6. I will work on the applicable parts of my early project proposal. 
  7. I am going to find a better way to split my time to account for my student government responsibilities, the Rwandan genocide research paper, group presentation, and pop quizzes in Conflict Resolution, prep myself for the upcoming test, country report, position paper, and project in World Englishes, and round out my draft for the short position paper, conclude the work on my presentation and start working on what I know is going to be my final project for Lang. of Racial/Ethnic ID. (I can put the other assignments off for a bit.) 
    1. I’m not writing all of this out to prove how busy I am, but by seeing everything I need to take care of mapped out in front of me, and knowing I’ve seen the connections forensic linguistics holds to it before, it’s another way to figure out the focal question for my thesis without being overly conscientious, and succeeding in other areas of my life at the same time. Yet another tandem, if you will! 
  8. Health is going to be a priority, no matter what.
    1. Sleep is most definitely a target area. 

Regaining my confidence won’t happen overnight, but I’m the only one who can make the attempt, and this seems like one way to get there. 

Carve Your Name Into Those Shining Stars

I know I say it a lot, but I don’t think I can ever say thank you to my Dad enough. I literally owe my life and existence to the guy, and I know that the older I get, the more I want to be just like him but better. (I don’t see myself ever being a parent, but if that somehow happens, I’m going to try my best to be what he was to me!) The heading for this ending piece is not only what I hope to do with this project and my life in general, but it’s a lyric from “The Nights” by Avicii, a song I can never tire of. (Also, good on the Carolina Hurricanes for using it as a goal song!) I just plan to experience life for the next week, with no guilt over the unknown. And in regards to the quote above from one of the greatest to ever play the game, I’m sticking to that sentiment, and I’m not going to scream at myself to figure everything out on expert mode.

And just when it seems like all the pieces of a thesis and its author are about to break apart, they come together! (If you know what movie I love, live by, and reworked this line from, I like you! Have a cupcake!) See you next week!

Two or Three Minutes, Two or Three Hours

“The highest compliment you can pay me is that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.” – Wayne Gretzky 

A Brief Introduction

Let me start this blog with one of the most awe-striking and inspiring things I can share with you that has happened since our last class meeting; the New Jersey Devils started their season with a massive, heart-pounding, and invigorating overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, setting a record for the quickest goal ever scored in a season-opening game in the process! (The childlike excitement of opening nights, and every game thereafter never goes away! I can feel my face splitting into a grin just typing this!) Between the excitement of one event and being sidelined with allergies this weekend, I guess you could say I binged on my thesis work this weekend, and there’s not only a sense of clarity but so much more investment on my part to keep the momentum and meaning going! I should also make it clear that I think headings are going to become a staple of my blog posts from here on out; it’s mainly an organizational tactic to make sure all my bases are covered and labeled clearly, and it’s also for the aesthetic that comes with the outline sidebar on Google Docs. 

There’s a whole soundtrack that goes along with this post, so I’ll let you choose between starting with either “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Spirits – Sondr Remix” by The Strumbellas, or “Bo Exotic” by Turbo, and then going to one of the others. 

Thesis Progress 

The Research Side 

From the research perspective, I am situated right where I want to be for this moment in the semester. I have amassed just about 16 solid peer-reviewed articles taken from databases, an array of newspaper clippings that span from the genesis of forensic linguistics in the late 1960s to the present day detailing either implicitly or explicitly the presence of forensic linguistics, three podcasts in their entirety and various assorted episodes of others, a handful of documentaries, and a few more books that I am currently working through reading and marking up. (Thank you to Dr. Fall, if you are reading this, for giving me a godsend with Word Crimes! I found it in digital form for free through Kean! Still working on the Routledge Handbook.) The research I have thus far covers a couple of categories: written evidence analysis(both the spoken evidence analysis (interviews and otherwise) and the complexities that come with recorded or digitally enhanced forensic linguistic analysis.

Assessing what I have so far, I recognize that there is a need for more articles that highlight the genesis and evolution of the field, rather than just the application and implication, and this will be my focus for the upcoming week. (I say week, but I have the Learning Commons popped open in another tab, and I know that the texts I am thumbing through have material that is suitable for this purpose.) Additionally, I am interested in looking into the nature of police investigation and interrogation techniques, and the tandem of linguistic, psychological, and sociological factors, issues, and implications embedded within them. (I figure this is enriching information for my project, and even if I don’t end up having a need for it, just in general.) Thus far, my starting point is two books I’ve rented in digital form from the school library, a handful of podcast pieces, and some journal articles I have left over from my forensic psychology class from my undergraduate minor. An avenue I could take to finding solid sources on this sub-topic would be to find some way to retrieve the syllabus with all the linked articles, if possible, or reach out to the professor directly. I could supplement this plan with targeted database searches and continuously sifting through podcasts.

Something paramount to finding a beginning, and serving as an origin or sounding board when I do get stuck in a loop has been looking at forensic linguistics-based graduate programs across the country, and running a marathon through any readily available syllabi, recommended resources on program websites, and sifting through the related resources and articles that then appear within databases. (This process is also giving me further education and career goals and dreams, but that’s a whole different ballpark!)

I have also looked into adjacent subjects and fields to bolster my research, including corpus linguistics, or the practice of amassing large bodies of “real-life” language stored in computer databases and utilizing it for researching trends, shifts, and other noteworthy linguistic phenomena. The purpose of going a bit offside is two-fold; one, this is a field I am familiar with thanks to the work I completed in Dr. Nelson’s course, which means I have ample understanding and some sources in the bank, and two, I am starting to see a connection between the two fields, in the sense that with so much of forensic linguistics moving into the virtual realm, the overlap between that and corpus linguistics is about to Venn diagram. Also, corpus linguistics is taking root in the legal world, which is critical to explicating the necessity of forensic linguistics.

(I’m beginning to seriously consider submitting an application for Research Days, because this is something I think people will be interested in once it is brought to their attention, and it is good motivation!)  

To further clarify what my research is shaping up to look like, here’s a quick outline of the moving components for each category/subcategory and some brief rationales and descriptions! (Let me know if you think it is too much, not enough, or needs something else, like a plan for how to integrate everything or more cowbell!)

  1. Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Genesis and History of Forensic Linguistics 
    2. Categories of Forensic Linguistics/Areas of Application
      1. Written Evidence Analysis 
        1. Offshoot of discourse analysis – examining language construction, syntax, phonological structure, etc. 
          1. Can be either digital or handwritten 
          2. Handwritten instances offer potential to branch into forensic stenography – signature/handwriting analysis, forgery investigations, writing under duress, etc. 
            1. Sources/Research that Relate to this area of application 
  • ransom notes, forgery, contract disputes, blackmail, suicide note analysis, journal entries examination, etc. 
  1. Impact – Authorship, intent, and patterns of behavior can be established through analysis of writing, social media activity, etc. 
  1. Spoken Word Analysis 
    1. Heavy on Discourse Theory and Analysis
      1. Deals with issues of linguistic bias, linguistic profiling, the need for cultural sensitivity, etc. 
      2. Presents itself in eyewitness accounts, interviews, testimony, etc.
      3. Brings to light the question of how linguistic bias is often counted over actual forensic linguistic application, and how it has contributed to wrongful incarceration, coerced false confessions, etc. 
  2. Digital Evidence Analysis 
    1. Ties back into written analysis in a way 
      1. Examining the digital interpersonal communication between individuals can discern knowledge, patterns, responsibility, etc. 
        1. Examination can also lead to uncovering rings of other involvement, can highlight deceptive linguistic tactics used to hide authorship/mimic the speech of others (ex. “Deep fakes”)
      2. Is a component of what connects forensic linguistics to corpus linguistics
    2. Computer-Based Forensic Linguistic Analysis 
      1. As algorithms become more refined and are employed by both scientists and those in the criminal justice system alike, how will this change the field and the outcomes of individuals?
  3. Enhanced Audio Evidence 
    1. Speaker Identification 
      1. In a recorded instance, such as a wiretap (see The Wire for reference or cases that involve 911 call analysis)
    2. Linguistic Profiling and Speech Pattern Recognition
  1. Other Instances of Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Police Interviews/Interrogations + Tactics
    2. Eyewitness Accounts
    3. Courtroom Testimonies + Jury Deliberation 
  2. Implications (Legal, Psychological, etc.)
  3. Gaps/Issues in the Field 
    1. Cultural Sensitivity 
    2. Police Training 
    3. Perception and Evaluation of Linguistic Evidence 
    4. Jury/Judicial Linguistic Bias
    5. Effect of Media Portrayal 
      1. Optional to pursue, but still important as the expectations set by TV or media portrayals of the field may yield real-life implications (CSI effect) 
  1. Corpus Linguistics 
    1. Overview/Genesis
    2. Connection to Digital Forensic Linguistics
    3. Connection to Trends in Eyewitness Accounts/Jury Deliberations
  2. Methodology/Analysis 
    1. Discourse Analysis 
    2. Protocol Analysis 

The Creative Side (If There is One and Time for It)

Why Is This Needed? What Will It Be?

With the scope of my project and everything outlined above, a research paper or a deeper delve into the field of forensic linguistics seems like what I’m aiming for, or would at least be the easiest route to travel, given the time constraints of these pesky little things called semesters. Yet, I find myself drawn to wanting to do both because as I am beginning to find, my brain really likes the word tandem (years of being a hockey fan, I suppose) and as such, even my thesis has to be a tandem project of both research and creativity. All the research I have done thus far would have been necessary for a creative piece, and even if it isn’t for this course, I know the opportunity to convert everything I know into a study or analysis is a possibility! (Also, I’m really considering forensic linguistics as a career path going forward, so it doesn’t hurt getting as familiar with it as I possibly can!) Plus, it’s a challenge for me! I get to play both time management and meeting academic deadlines and standards on expert mode, and I love that! 

As multifaceted as it is as a field, forensic linguistics also offers a wealth of creative writing ideas; it could be a screenplay or script for a TV show episode (which reminds me, I need to sit down and watch  NYPD Blue and find the paper that analyzes its use of forensic linguistics!), material for a podcast, a short story, a whole novel, an interactive story, or an e-lit piece. Currently, I am leaning towards incorporating some of the core elements of forensic linguistics that interest me and crafting a handful of short stories that detail just how much of a role forensic linguistics plays in different settings, as outlined above, while also highlighting the emerging and pressing issues of inequities and bias. I can change the cast of characters every time, and I can further delve into sub-categories of forensic work, such as forensic stenography or forensic audiology this way, without the messiness of trying to work these concepts into a research paper may entail. 

So, I guess to give you a quick recap: Yes, there is research that has occurred and remains ongoing, comprised of several areas of interest and key concepts. Simultaneously, there are plans to begin writing informed short stories that not only synthesize several aspects of the completed research but highlight important issues within the field and offer, in a fictitious setting, workarounds, and solutions. The latter is to be determined, depending on time constraints. 

Setting Goals For Progress

Where Is This Going?

I’m guessing that by now, the three songs from earlier have definitely run their course, so put on “Let’s Work Together” by Dwight Yoakam since that’s essentially the spirit both sides of this project happen to be taking on! 

It always comes back to research first, and it’s a matter of first clearing out everything on my digital library loan bookshelf. I have twenty-one days to comb through the four books I have checked out, and I plan to tackle this systemically. I will first take a look through the table of content, select two chapters from each, and proceed to first skim, and then read and annotate if it proves to be fruitful. Word Crimes is the one text I plan to read in its entirety for the emphasis it places on issues of equity, the fact that it is a leading contemporary text in the field, and for the personal enrichment it will bring. Following this, I will finish out the remaining podcasts in my queue with associated notes and then reload with podcasts around the topics of police interviewing training, false and coerced confessions, and corpus linguistics.

When it comes to the methods of analysis, I have a solid understanding and amount of sources to support my rationale for the particular methodologies and their application ready from my work in Dr. Nelson’s class, so this is not a priority at the moment.

I have already created a Google Drive folder with PDFs for the bulk of my sources in the form of articles and some newspaper articles and will continue tidying up and integrating my annotations for each article, as well as podcast episodes into this same folder, and create a separate space on my website to round out the idea of a “public literature review” or research project coming to life. In addition to this, I have a running bibliography page, all in APA 7 format, as that is what I am most comfortable with. (Also because my other courses are requiring it and it’s easier on my brain.) 

To achieve these goals, I am going to have to carve out at least two hours a day for thesis work, which I know I can do, though I’m not sure where I’m going to gain the two hours from just yet. I also plan to use my weekends for the part of my research that may or may not be necessary; the media portrayal of forensic linguistics. (It’s a reason to watch TV and think critically about it without being a “nerd” who “can’t stop thinking about school-related things.”)

On the creative side of things, there is going to be a synthesis of the completed research to discern points of interest, importance, and concern, and much more brainstorming must be done before any writing commences. I’m setting a deadline for two weeks from now for there to be a separate Google Drive folder created for the creative component that includes the following: a solid rationale for why this portion of my thesis is necessary, a graphic organizer for each component of forensic linguistics I hope to cover in my short stories, and a rough outline of the first story of what I hope is many. 

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself 

For the first time last week, I had someone outside my circle of classmates, friends, and family ask me the questions I think everyone needs to revisit as their project and passion continues to grow: Why this topic, and what are you hoping to learn from it, or do with it? Why should other people even care about forensic linguistics? And in the sections below, I hope to explicate just that, if only briefly. 

Why Am I Interested in This? 

My interest in the topic was born, in part, out of my inherent interest in the CSI TV series and franchise, as it showed that there is so much more to the trial and prosecution of individuals than just arrests and trials, and there were several instances where the specific language was used in interviews that the characters knew would connect with the suspect or instances where handwriting, digital files, or audio were examined as evidence just as critical as a fingerprint. From that point forward, I knew that there was a way to utilize my love of language and ability to deconstruct and identify meanings, patterns, and intent for something monumental. 

The work that forensic linguistics entails can quite literally change the trajectory of someone’s life; admissions of guilt can be proven to be coerced or misinterpreted, intent in language can be reframed as innocence, and testimony can be shredded or bolstered. Behind each exchange of words, there is an intent, malicious or not, and there is an interpretation that deserves to be recognized and examined. 

Who Am I Doing This For?

First and foremost, I’m engaged in the field of forensic linguistics to bring justice to those who are denied; those with the dialects deemed “inferior” “unreliable” “uneducated” “twangy” or any other derogatory term. There’s a correlation between those who are denied justice and those who are told that their language is a damning factor for them. I do this for those who have proven that they have intentions to harm others, who have established those patterns, and to bring them to justice as well. 

In terms of why I leave myself semi-vulnerable in every post or seem to be going outside the scope of a professional graduate student, with the hockey and meme and music references, it’s because I do the actual thesis work, and stayed in grad school essentially to inspire others, and take away some of the fear and trepidation for them. Like me, there is someone who might be questioning where they belong academically, and where they fit in the grand scheme of things. There could be someone out there who knows who they are, what they are interested in beyond the academic world, and what they want to do, and just needs to see someone else who is a human, who isn’t yet settled into a career, who has relatable struggles, and who has held onto more than just their academic persona exists. And maybe I’m not the strongest example, but I hope to be one of them.

What Do I Hope To Accomplish With This Work?

The primary goal of my research is to give myself a strong foundation in the history, practice, and implications of the field to ensure that I can indeed apply and critique my skills. I also hope to illustrate the radiating impact of the field to others and pass along the same level of concern and awareness, whether it is through teaching or being a subject-matter expert.

How Are My Analytics Looking? 

If you’re still here after everything else, thank you! You deserve some fresh music, and since we are on such a journey, it’s only fitting that we listen to “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart. I used analytics because I’m not only a sucker for sports analogies, but I think this post has cleared up a lot of questions about what I’m doing, how I’m facilitating it, and the intentions going into, going through, and hopefully coming out of this project, which is similar to analytics that show the trajectory of a player’s season or career. To tie it all together and back to hockey, I guess I’m in the phase of both my thesis progression and my life where high-danger chances are being presented to me left and right or I’m consistently finding myself on the powerplay, and I just need to find the momentum to convert! 

Regardless, I’m going to cap it here for now (or at least here for this blog post for this week), and with our young hearts being free, I will see you all on the other side! 

Two or Three Minutes, Two or Three Hours

“The highest compliment you can pay me is that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.” – Wayne Gretzky 

A Brief Introduction

Let me start this blog with one of the most awe-striking and inspiring things I can share with you that has happened since our last class meeting; the New Jersey Devils started their season with a massive, heart-pounding, and invigorating overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, setting a record for the quickest goal ever scored in a season-opening game in the process! (The childlike excitement of opening nights, and every game thereafter never goes away! I can feel my face splitting into a grin just typing this!) Between the excitement of one event and being sidelined with allergies this weekend, I guess you could say I binged on my thesis work this weekend, and there’s not only a sense of clarity but so much more investment on my part to keep the momentum and meaning going! I should also make it clear that I think headings are going to become a staple of my blog posts from here on out; it’s mainly an organizational tactic to make sure all my bases are covered and labeled clearly, and it’s also for the aesthetic that comes with the outline sidebar on Google Docs. 

There’s a whole soundtrack that goes along with this post, so I’ll let you choose between starting with either “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Spirits – Sondr Remix” by The Strumbellas, or “Bo Exotic” by Turbo, and then going to one of the others. 

Thesis Progress 

The Research Side 

From the research perspective, I am situated right where I want to be for this moment in the semester. I have amassed just about 16 solid peer-reviewed articles taken from databases, an array of newspaper clippings that span from the genesis of forensic linguistics in the late 1960s to the present day detailing either implicitly or explicitly the presence of forensic linguistics, three podcasts in their entirety and various assorted episodes of others, a handful of documentaries, and a few more books that I am currently working through reading and marking up. (Thank you to Dr. Fall, if you are reading this, for giving me a godsend with Word Crimes! I found it in digital form for free through Kean! Still working on the Routledge Handbook.) The research I have thus far covers a couple of categories: written evidence analysis(both the spoken evidence analysis (interviews and otherwise) and the complexities that come with recorded or digitally enhanced forensic linguistic analysis.

Assessing what I have so far, I recognize that there is a need for more articles that highlight the genesis and evolution of the field, rather than just the application and implication, and this will be my focus for the upcoming week. (I say week, but I have the Learning Commons popped open in another tab, and I know that the texts I am thumbing through have material that is suitable for this purpose.) Additionally, I am interested in looking into the nature of police investigation and interrogation techniques, and the tandem of linguistic, psychological, and sociological factors, issues, and implications embedded within them. (I figure this is enriching information for my project, and even if I don’t end up having a need for it, just in general.) Thus far, my starting point is two books I’ve rented in digital form from the school library, a handful of podcast pieces, and some journal articles I have left over from my forensic psychology class from my undergraduate minor. An avenue I could take to finding solid sources on this sub-topic would be to find some way to retrieve the syllabus with all the linked articles, if possible, or reach out to the professor directly. I could supplement this plan with targeted database searches and continuously sifting through podcasts.

Something paramount to finding a beginning, and serving as an origin or sounding board when I do get stuck in a loop has been looking at forensic linguistics-based graduate programs across the country, and running a marathon through any readily available syllabi, recommended resources on program websites, and sifting through the related resources and articles that then appear within databases. (This process is also giving me further education and career goals and dreams, but that’s a whole different ballpark!)

I have also looked into adjacent subjects and fields to bolster my research, including corpus linguistics, or the practice of amassing large bodies of “real-life” language stored in computer databases and utilizing it for researching trends, shifts, and other noteworthy linguistic phenomena. The purpose of going a bit offside is two-fold; one, this is a field I am familiar with thanks to the work I completed in Dr. Nelson’s course, which means I have ample understanding and some sources in the bank, and two, I am starting to see a connection between the two fields, in the sense that with so much of forensic linguistics moving into the virtual realm, the overlap between that and corpus linguistics is about to Venn diagram. Also, corpus linguistics is taking root in the legal world, which is critical to explicating the necessity of forensic linguistics.

(I’m beginning to seriously consider submitting an application for Research Days, because this is something I think people will be interested in once it is brought to their attention, and it is good motivation!)  

To further clarify what my research is shaping up to look like, here’s a quick outline of the moving components for each category/subcategory and some brief rationales and descriptions! (Let me know if you think it is too much, not enough, or needs something else, like a plan for how to integrate everything or more cowbell!)

  1. Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Genesis and History of Forensic Linguistics 
    2. Categories of Forensic Linguistics/Areas of Application
      1. Written Evidence Analysis 
        1. Offshoot of discourse analysis – examining language construction, syntax, phonological structure, etc. 
          1. Can be either digital or handwritten 
          2. Handwritten instances offer potential to branch into forensic stenography – signature/handwriting analysis, forgery investigations, writing under duress, etc. 
            1. Sources/Research that Relate to this area of application 
  • ransom notes, forgery, contract disputes, blackmail, suicide note analysis, journal entries examination, etc. 
  1. Impact – Authorship, intent, and patterns of behavior can be established through analysis of writing, social media activity, etc. 
  1. Spoken Word Analysis 
    1. Heavy on Discourse Theory and Analysis
      1. Deals with issues of linguistic bias, linguistic profiling, the need for cultural sensitivity, etc. 
      2. Presents itself in eyewitness accounts, interviews, testimony, etc.
      3. Brings to light the question of how linguistic bias is often counted over actual forensic linguistic application, and how it has contributed to wrongful incarceration, coerced false confessions, etc. 
  2. Digital Evidence Analysis 
    1. Ties back into written analysis in a way 
      1. Examining the digital interpersonal communication between individuals can discern knowledge, patterns, responsibility, etc. 
        1. Examination can also lead to uncovering rings of other involvement, can highlight deceptive linguistic tactics used to hide authorship/mimic the speech of others (ex. “Deep fakes”)
      2. Is a component of what connects forensic linguistics to corpus linguistics
    2. Computer-Based Forensic Linguistic Analysis 
      1. As algorithms become more refined and are employed by both scientists and those in the criminal justice system alike, how will this change the field and the outcomes of individuals?
  3. Enhanced Audio Evidence 
    1. Speaker Identification 
      1. In a recorded instance, such as a wiretap (see The Wire for reference or cases that involve 911 call analysis)
    2. Linguistic Profiling and Speech Pattern Recognition
  1. Other Instances of Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Police Interviews/Interrogations + Tactics
    2. Eyewitness Accounts
    3. Courtroom Testimonies + Jury Deliberation 
  2. Implications (Legal, Psychological, etc.)
  3. Gaps/Issues in the Field 
    1. Cultural Sensitivity 
    2. Police Training 
    3. Perception and Evaluation of Linguistic Evidence 
    4. Jury/Judicial Linguistic Bias
    5. Effect of Media Portrayal 
      1. Optional to pursue, but still important as the expectations set by TV or media portrayals of the field may yield real-life implications (CSI effect) 
  1. Corpus Linguistics 
    1. Overview/Genesis
    2. Connection to Digital Forensic Linguistics
    3. Connection to Trends in Eyewitness Accounts/Jury Deliberations
  2. Methodology/Analysis 
    1. Discourse Analysis 
    2. Protocol Analysis 

The Creative Side (If There is One and Time for It)

Why Is This Needed? What Will It Be?

With the scope of my project and everything outlined above, a research paper or a deeper delve into the field of forensic linguistics seems like what I’m aiming for, or would at least be the easiest route to travel, given the time constraints of these pesky little things called semesters. Yet, I find myself drawn to wanting to do both because as I am beginning to find, my brain really likes the word tandem (years of being a hockey fan, I suppose) and as such, even my thesis has to be a tandem project of both research and creativity. All the research I have done thus far would have been necessary for a creative piece, and even if it isn’t for this course, I know the opportunity to convert everything I know into a study or analysis is a possibility! (Also, I’m really considering forensic linguistics as a career path going forward, so it doesn’t hurt getting as familiar with it as I possibly can!) Plus, it’s a challenge for me! I get to play both time management and meeting academic deadlines and standards on expert mode, and I love that! 

As multifaceted as it is as a field, forensic linguistics also offers a wealth of creative writing ideas; it could be a screenplay or script for a TV show episode (which reminds me, I need to sit down and watch  NYPD Blue and find the paper that analyzes its use of forensic linguistics!), material for a podcast, a short story, a whole novel, an interactive story, or an e-lit piece. Currently, I am leaning towards incorporating some of the core elements of forensic linguistics that interest me and crafting a handful of short stories that detail just how much of a role forensic linguistics plays in different settings, as outlined above, while also highlighting the emerging and pressing issues of inequities and bias. I can change the cast of characters every time, and I can further delve into sub-categories of forensic work, such as forensic stenography or forensic audiology this way, without the messiness of trying to work these concepts into a research paper may entail. 

So, I guess to give you a quick recap: Yes, there is research that has occurred and remains ongoing, comprised of several areas of interest and key concepts. Simultaneously, there are plans to begin writing informed short stories that not only synthesize several aspects of the completed research but highlight important issues within the field and offer, in a fictitious setting, workarounds, and solutions. The latter is to be determined, depending on time constraints. 

Setting Goals For Progress

Where Is This Going?

I’m guessing that by now, the three songs from earlier have definitely run their course, so put on “Let’s Work Together” by Dwight Yoakam since that’s essentially the spirit both sides of this project happen to be taking on! 

It always comes back to research first, and it’s a matter of first clearing out everything on my digital library loan bookshelf. I have twenty-one days to comb through the four books I have checked out, and I plan to tackle this systemically. I will first take a look through the table of content, select two chapters from each, and proceed to first skim, and then read and annotate if it proves to be fruitful. Word Crimes is the one text I plan to read in its entirety for the emphasis it places on issues of equity, the fact that it is a leading contemporary text in the field, and for the personal enrichment it will bring. Following this, I will finish out the remaining podcasts in my queue with associated notes and then reload with podcasts around the topics of police interviewing training, false and coerced confessions, and corpus linguistics.

When it comes to the methods of analysis, I have a solid understanding and amount of sources to support my rationale for the particular methodologies and their application ready from my work in Dr. Nelson’s class, so this is not a priority at the moment.

I have already created a Google Drive folder with PDFs for the bulk of my sources in the form of articles and some newspaper articles and will continue tidying up and integrating my annotations for each article, as well as podcast episodes into this same folder, and create a separate space on my website to round out the idea of a “public literature review” or research project coming to life. In addition to this, I have a running bibliography page, all in APA 7 format, as that is what I am most comfortable with. (Also because my other courses are requiring it and it’s easier on my brain.) 

To achieve these goals, I am going to have to carve out at least two hours a day for thesis work, which I know I can do, though I’m not sure where I’m going to gain the two hours from just yet. I also plan to use my weekends for the part of my research that may or may not be necessary; the media portrayal of forensic linguistics. (It’s a reason to watch TV and think critically about it without being a “nerd” who “can’t stop thinking about school-related things.”)

On the creative side of things, there is going to be a synthesis of the completed research to discern points of interest, importance, and concern, and much more brainstorming must be done before any writing commences. I’m setting a deadline for two weeks from now for there to be a separate Google Drive folder created for the creative component that includes the following: a solid rationale for why this portion of my thesis is necessary, a graphic organizer for each component of forensic linguistics I hope to cover in my short stories, and a rough outline of the first story of what I hope is many. 

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself 

For the first time last week, I had someone outside my circle of classmates, friends, and family ask me the questions I think everyone needs to revisit as their project and passion continues to grow: Why this topic, and what are you hoping to learn from it, or do with it? Why should other people even care about forensic linguistics? And in the sections below, I hope to explicate just that, if only briefly. 

Why Am I Interested in This? 

My interest in the topic was born, in part, out of my inherent interest in the CSI TV series and franchise, as it showed that there is so much more to the trial and prosecution of individuals than just arrests and trials, and there were several instances where the specific language was used in interviews that the characters knew would connect with the suspect or instances where handwriting, digital files, or audio were examined as evidence just as critical as a fingerprint. From that point forward, I knew that there was a way to utilize my love of language and ability to deconstruct and identify meanings, patterns, and intent for something monumental. 

The work that forensic linguistics entails can quite literally change the trajectory of someone’s life; admissions of guilt can be proven to be coerced or misinterpreted, intent in language can be reframed as innocence, and testimony can be shredded or bolstered. Behind each exchange of words, there is an intent, malicious or not, and there is an interpretation that deserves to be recognized and examined. 

Who Am I Doing This For?

First and foremost, I’m engaged in the field of forensic linguistics to bring justice to those who are denied; those with the dialects deemed “inferior” “unreliable” “uneducated” “twangy” or any other derogatory term. There’s a correlation between those who are denied justice and those who are told that their language is a damning factor for them. I do this for those who have proven that they have intentions to harm others, who have established those patterns, and to bring them to justice as well. 

What Do I Hope To Accomplish With This Work?

The primary goal of my research is to give myself a strong foundation in the history, practice, and implications of the field to ensure that I can indeed apply and critique my skills. I also hope to illustrate the radiating impact of the field to others and pass along the same level of concern and awareness, whether it is through teaching or being a subject-matter expert.

How Are My Analytics Looking? 

If you’re still here after everything else, thank you! You deserve some fresh music, and since we are on such a journey, it’s only fitting that we listen to “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart. I used analytics because I’m not only a sucker for sports analogies, but I think this post has cleared up a lot of questions about what I’m doing, how I’m facilitating it, and the intentions going into, going through, and hopefully coming out of this project, which is similar to analytics that show the trajectory of a player’s season or career. To tie it all together and back to hockey, I guess I’m in the phase of both my thesis progression and my life where high-danger chances are being presented to me left and right or I’m consistently finding myself on the powerplay, and I just need to find the momentum to convert! 

Regardless, I’m going to cap it here for now (or at least here for this blog post for this week), and with our young hearts being free, I will see you all on the other side! 

Lines in The Sand Always Wash Away

It’s been a pretty brutal week, between putting in my 2 weeks’ notice at one job, trying to keep up with everything else that’s happening in school, and in my life, and of course, with my feelings. I really took the phrase “when one door closes, another one opens” to heart since I started planning ahead for how I’m going to fill my spare time. I think this is my Renaissance period as a human, and I hope it doesn’t just pass me by! It’s also been a week of massive change externally; for the first time since I was in kindergarten, Travis Zajac is not a New Jersey Devil on the ice, but now an alumni. Here’s to hoping they retire his number in March when they honor him in a game vs. the Jets! Seeing him retire has me feeling a little more at ease with my decision to quit the first job I ever had; it’s like a cosmic sign that sometimes, it really is over, and that’s OK! Besides, if I’m posting this less than 12 hours before a class there’s no telling how much more difficult balancing school and work and life would have gotten. There’s no song better fitting for right now than “Dream Life, Life” by Colbie Caillat since I’m searching for that ease of mind and good vibes! So, with all of this out of the way, let’s dive into actual thesis things! 

I was tasked this week with beginning to think about what sort of articles I am going to need to look at for my literature review and the academically oriented written portion of my thesis project. I was able to take the broad umbrella term of forensic linguistics and narrow it down to wanting to focus on instances of linguistic violence, linguistic injustice, and linguistic bias with consequences relating to judicial issues.  To be a bit more specific I looked at linguistic violence from the perspective of using language to intentionally hurt someone or their credibility, linguistic injustice through the lens of discrimination that many individuals face if they speak with a certain accent or dialect, and linguistic bias as the idea that if someone does speak with a certain dialect they should still be able to transition to a more “desirable” dialect, to make their speech appear intellectual or palatable for others. It’s a very problematic belief that I cannot wait to combat!

With everything going on this week I was not able to find two articles and without the articles, I also could not thoroughly read, annotate, and reflect. But, I’m figuring out that life is much easier when you’re able to stop and compromise with yourself rather than ruminate on shattering your dreams of perfection, so I decided to make myself a list of tasks and a weekly agenda that’ll get me back on track, and keep me there. 

  1. Every week I should commit to finding a minimum of three relevant articles and be able to read, annotate, and understand what is going on. For this, I will dedicate two hours to finding the articles on Fridays, and use Saturday and Sunday to explicate them. My goal is to have a minimum of 12 solid sources in terms of looking at instances of linguistic violence, bias, and injustice. I would also like, if time permits, to look at the use of forensic linguistics in the judicial system. Good thing databases, truncated searches, and good folks will be there to help with this!
  2.  I am going to set up a separate Google space, a shared folder, that will be visible on a different page of my website to show how my progress in accumulating articles and understanding them is going.  Updates will be provided regularly on Twitter and screenshots will be used in future blogs to avoid repetitive content or overly long future posts. 
  3. As I am working on gathering my articles, I recognize that the methodology that best suits my approach would be a case study, as I am researching and examining how the field has grown and evolved, but if I am able to look and analyze the actual application of forensic linguistics, I can also incorporate protocol analysis. I’m hoping to have a rough outline of how I’ll organize my lit review prepped by mid-October, and it’ll be a living document that will run parallel to my research. 
  4. As I do my academic, official research,  behind the scenes I’m also going to have to work on expanding my skills with applications like Flash and Twine, and look into other mediums, so that way come the spring, the creative component of the project, which is an e-lit piece, will be facilitated smoothly.
  5.  I’m going to remind myself that it’s OK for me to walk away when things get overwhelming and pick it back up later. I’m also going to take the time this semester to actually enjoy what I’m doing beyond just thinking about the academic aspects and merits of everything. Things are looking up! 

Admittedly, it is hard to step back and say I didn’t get what I wanted to or needed to do, and I can feel my inferiority complex kicking in! But, I can also appreciate having the space to grow. Here’s a lovely TED Talk that inspires me to think about why it’s more important to strive for internal honesty, bravery, and improvement over perfection. I might have started out with a foundation like a house of cards, but I’m definitely evolving into an origami masterpiece! 

I’m going to leave you with the wondrous, and seeking track “Seems So” by The Apples in Stereo, and I’ll see you on the other side! Oh, and happy fall!