Language Analysis For Determination Of Origin: Objective Evidence For Refugee Status Determination

Peter L. Patrick

in The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199572120
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Language Analysis For Determination Of Origin: Objective Evidence For Refugee Status Determination

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  • Linguistics
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Anthropological Linguistics


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Refugees are persons who can show ‘a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion’ in their home country. Not all speech and text evidence is commonly used in the processes of linguistic analysis that LADO (Language Analysis for Determination of Origin) comprises – indeed, LADO commonly involves collecting small amounts of speech specifically for linguistic analysis, and ignoring the rest – although linguistic analyses of various types (for example, discourse or narrative analysis) consider the wider evidence base. Many interviews and statements given by asylum seekers in the Refugee Status Determination process also contain information relevant to assessing their linguistic background, repertoire, and experience more broadly, which is necessary to properly frame and inform the narrower LADO analysis that typically occurs. This article discusses the use of language analysis to determine refugee status. It considers linguistic socialization and speech communities, institutional positions in LADO, institutional pressures on LADO, linguists as LADO analysts, standards of expertise for LADO linguists, and the role of native speakers in LADO.

Keywords: refugees; Refugee Status Determination; language analysis; evidence; LADO; linguistic socialization; speech communities; linguists; native speakers; asylum seekers

Article.  5958 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Forensic Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics

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