A doctor charged with perjury

Roger W. Shuy

in The Language of Perjury Cases

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199795383
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919314 | DOI:
A doctor charged with perjury

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In this case, a bilingual emergency room physician, native of the Philippines but trained in the United States, attended to a young girl who was brought by her parents to the hospital for second degree sunburn. Six hours later, the parents brought her back in and a different doctor diagnosed her with much more serious third degree burns. She died shortly after. When the police briefly interviewed the doctor and other personnel the following day, they believed that the doctor had been negligent. The girl’s father was subsequently tried for murder, and the doctor was called to testify about his role in the events. In the process, the prosecutor believed that the doctor had perjured himself, and later indicted him. Linguistic analysis of his testimony showed serious language interference and transfer on his English from his native Aklan and Tagolog, including intonation transfer, which helped explain the government’s suspicion of his actions. In addition, the linguist explained the cultural interference from Filipino society to the American context. This case also demonstrated severe problems with both the intelligence gathering of the police in their interviews and reports and the faulty intelligence analysis of the prosecution.

Keywords: perjury; language interference; cultural interference; intonation; intelligence gathering; intelligence analysis

Chapter.  3797 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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