False statements on a hunting license application

Roger W. Shuy

in The Language of Perjury Cases

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199795383
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919314 | DOI:
False statements on a hunting license application

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This case describes the problems of a wealthy hunter as he tried to get a hunting license in Montana. This process first involved signing a conservation form and then a hunting license application form. Analysis of these forms revealed many language problems, including ambiguity of the lexicon, syntax, and grammatical references in the state statutes not described on the forms themselves. Although the state statutes also were in many ways ambiguous, it was decided that the best approach for the defense to take would be to attack the clarity of the wording in the conservation and application forms, since these were the documents that hunting license applicants had to read and sign. Lexical issues included the meaning of “residence,” “domicile,” “abode,” and “consecutive days.” Also discussed is the meaning of the application form when it used a behavioral definition to determine the intentions of the hunter. In this case, it was decided that complex linguistic analysis of the documents and statute would be less effective with a rural Montana jury than a survey of Montanans about the fairness of the conservation and application forms. This survey made use of the linguistic analysis, however, in the survey questions.

Keywords: false statements; ambiguity; lexicon; syntax; intention; grammar

Chapter.  4234 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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