‘I consider myself to be a service provider’: Discursive identity construction of the forensic linguistic expert


  • Isobelle Clarke University of Birmingham
  • Krzysztof Kredens Aston University




expert witness, professional identity, forensic linguistics


This article reports on a research project investigating the professional identity of linguists as experts in legal and forensic settings. It reveals how they construct that identity discursively and intersubjectively. The analysis adopts a social constructionist perspective whereby the ways in which the experts talk and make sense of their professional experience are seen as identity building. Using interview data and the combined methodologies of corpus-assisted discourse studies (CADS) and thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006), we identify a number of discursive resources the experts draw on. These include knowledge and expertise, professional and social duty, and aspects of their professional practice. At the same time, the experts construe their professional experience by reference to what they do not, and should not, do. We suggest that 'forensic linguist' is a shared identity with its own set of competencies, practices and obligations, although the profession is potentially still in development and/or is auxiliary to law enforcement.

Author Biographies

Isobelle Clarke, University of Birmingham

Isobelle Clarke is currently working on her PhD at the University of Birmingham, having transferred from the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at Aston University where she completed her Master's degree in Forensic Linguistics. In addition to identity and the work of forensic linguists as expert witnesses, Isobelle is interested in abusive language online. In particular, her PhD is examining the variety of communicative styles and linguistic repertoires of Twitter trolling under the supervision of Jack Grieve.

Krzysztof Kredens, Aston University

Dr Krzysztof Kredens is a lecturer in applied linguistics in the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University. In 2008 he co-founded the university's Centre for Forensic Linguistics, where he is Co-Director. He is an elected member of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Forensic Linguists.


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How to Cite

Clarke, I., & Kredens, K. (2018). ‘I consider myself to be a service provider’: Discursive identity construction of the forensic linguistic expert. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 25(1), 79–107. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.34457