Today, particular, is a field of study where

  Today, linguistic profiling is based entirely on more efficient and reliable linguistic tools than the ones utilized in as far back as the Old Testament. Now in days, linguistic profilers have been highly dependent on research findings from several specialty areas such as sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. Specialty areas like these rely on linguistic tools like grammar and semantics, all of which can help professionals uncover answers to how language choices provide details about any individual of interest. Sociolinguistics, in particular, is a field of study where it’s research is put to great use by linguistic profilers due to their primary goal, which is to determine social features that a subject’s language suggests.     According to Robert Shuy, linguistic profiling has become a useful way to help law enforcement agencies narrow down their lists of subjects. Even though the public often doesn’t hear about sociolinguistic profilers in action in forensic settings because detectives cannot present their work as evidence to the court system, their discoveries are still important and worth considering. I believe sociolinguistic features are important and worth considering because it helps law officials spend their time wisely with the right people (when trying to pinpoint a subject). Sociolinguistic features like age, gender, and place help disintegrate a list including a large group of people into a much smaller, therefore, more accurate list.    Age plays a role as a factor that influences people’s linguistic choices. Sociolinguists have done research for the past few years in trying to determine the various social variables that contribute to our language. A lot of these studies consist of specialists analyzing speech pertaining to people of different age groups. In the final stages of the studies that involved analyzing children, teenagers and adults’ speech sociolinguists have agreed that speech has age graded features. These age graded features show differences among different age groups terms of pitch, vocabulary, and grammar. Usually, with age, people develop a more sophisticated list of vocabulary words and proper grammatical techniques. Despite having upgrades in one’s language, people sometimes downgrade.     After reading several linguistic profiling cases, I have noticed that age is a popular language clue because it is probably the most evident of all sociolinguistic features. As shown in The Unabomber Case, the Unabomber mailed packages containing homemade bombs and short notes. The notes and letters the Unabomber had written helped a linguistic profiler, Roger Shuy, gather details about the subject. The first sociolinguistic feature that Shuy gathered information about was the Unabomber’s potential age interval because the letters contained expressions (i.e., “playing footsie”) that date a writer as having grown up in the 1960s. The writer also frequently used terms like, “other-directed” and made many references to individual “drives,” which suggested his acquaintance with the sociological terms of the sixties (Shuy 2014). Clues like these and several others helped the linguistic profiler come to the ultimate conclusion that he believed the Unabomber was around his 50s. Law enforcement officials then had information that narrowed down their lists of potential subjects. After identifying the Unabomber, it was confirmed that he was indeed in his 50s, putting to show that vocabulary and phrases can indeed help determine a person’s age.    Not only does age play a role as a factor that influences people’s linguistic choices but so does gender. Research on gender differences is still relatively new and is by no means conclusive. There are some differences worth noting between male and female speech that linguistic profilers have considered when analyzing letters. Many of the differences worth considering are aspects such as the use of hedges and politeness markers. Women use hedges more than men because women tend to care more about pursuing a style of interaction based on mutual agreement. Other characteristics of female language according to Robin Lakoff are that women more so use empty adjectives (like “lovely” and “cute”) and intensifiers (like “just” and “so”) (Philips 1980). Women often use intensifiers along with emotional words that express how one may be feeling, therefore, a woman more than likely will say “I am so happy” as opposed to a man, he may just say “I am happy.” Of course, there are many other characteristics that professionals keep in mind especially in the forensics field when analyzing writings, the ones I noted are the few that play an impact in deciding whether the writer is male or female.    Although some linguistic profilers make successful gender hypothesis’ based on linguistic choices on one’s writings, they share a fair amount of failed hypothesis’ as well. Failures like these put to show that the information about linguistic differences between male and female don’t always work out to be true for everyone. In The Gary Indiana Women’s Medical Clinic Case, it involved a bomb threat writer who used many tentative and hedged expressions like, “it seems like,” and “I suppose I should have.” The writer also relied heavily on expressions of feelings, such as “I deeply regret,” and “I was so upset” (Shuy 2014). As I mentioned before “so” is an intensifier than women most commonly use rather than men do, so the fact that the writer in this case often used this emotional intensifier, it led the linguistic profiler to have further reason to believe that the threat writer was female. It’s difficult to imagine that most male threat writers would use such language, therefore it is easily understandable why one would hypothesize the author to be female. The bomb threat writer was soon identified as a male which was a surprise because his writing style is not usually what men go for.    Like gender, geographical location has always been a factor that sociolinguists have always been interested in. Back in the 19th century, dialectologists have been cataloging and mapping how language varies from place to place (Johnstone 2010). The information that dialectologists have been able to gather has been useful for Linguistic profilers. Every region consists of people that each holds their unique set of characteristics that reflect on the way they use language. People on the west coast share a different set of expressions than the people on the east coast because of the differences in culture and customs. The effects of a culture pertaining to a particular city can make subtle but, noticeable changes in one’s language.     Going back to The Unabomber Case, the linguistic profiler, Roger Shuy, hypothesized that the Unabomber had to have grown up in Chicago Illinois. This was a pretty straightforward hypothesis to make because the Unabomber’s spellings of common words reflected those used by the Chicago Tribune during the 1940s and 1950s. Shuy was aware of this because he lived in the Chicago area at the time the Chicago Tribune editor made these unique changes. It is possible that the Unabomber may have adopted these changes as his during the time he was growing up in the area. This was another successful hypothesis that Shuy made towards the Unabomber based on his letters, demonstrating that place can play a role in an individual’s language.    In conclusion, despite being unable to provide sociolinguistic information about a person as evidence to blame them for crime, such information should not be ignored. Hypothesis’ made on someone’s sociolinguistic features should be highly considered and put to good use especially in forensic settings. Hypothesis’ made by sociolinguistic profilers will not always be right but, they are sometimes and can help with capturing a sought-after criminal. In cases that involve written letters containing bomb threats, law enforcement agencies can put linguistic profilers to work to determine social features. Social features like age, gender, and place all play a role as a factor that influences people’s linguistic choices. This information can help narrow down a list of potential subjects to a much smaller group. One can think of a group of people as a confidence interval, the least variation the more accurate it is. If a list of potential subjects is small it becomes more than likely for law enforcement officials to find the subject responsible for the crime under investigation.