We would gradually come to understand the value of the pieces, how to move them, the purpose of the game, and other elements. In short, we would apprehend bit by bit the rules that give meaning to this particular restricted space, these particular objects, these particular movements — in a word, to this practice, or language game.
The same concept applies to all of the language games cited above by Wittgenstein. But these are certainly not the only possible language games. In On Certainty , Wittgenstein shows that history as a field of study , for example, can be viewed as a language game: it is a rule-guided way of attributing meaning to events. Given the current complexity of the field of history as such, it would be more accurate to say that the discipline consists of a set of related language games set apart by their objects social, economic, cultural and political history and the perspectives they use in constructing these objects and making them signify the Marxist, Foucauldian, Annales or other approach.
We could also pursue our investigation into the field of literature, where we would find a vast mosaic of language games for both production and reception. Writing a novel, a poem or a scientific article is a language game — and so is reading a novel, a poem or a scientific article. Doing a Greimassian analysis and a psychoanalytical analysis on a short story by Maupassant also makes use of two different practices. In athletics, to give one last series of examples, one can also discern a panoply of language games. Firstly, each sport is itself a language game to start with, since it is a practice governed by a set of concepts players, the field, goals, points, etc.
And if we look at sports writers and sports announcers, we also find several language games: describing a sporting event and analyzing it are two completely distinct language games. In particular, we will need to define the nature of the rules that generate and give meaning to the various language games. But before we get into the notion of rules, or the grammar , we must talk about moves in language games. This notion is very simple, but is an important one in Wittgenstein's theory. Ordinarily, we are not in contact with language games as such, but with actions performed as part of a language game: we do not see "chess", but a game of chess; instead of "promise", we see a specific promise; instead of "novel", a particular novel; rather than "textual analysis", a particular textual analysis.
In one sense, the language game is a hypothesis that we are making about the basis of individuals' semiotic behaviour, assuming that this behaviour is not random, but a function of specific rules. Although for certain language games there are explicit, precisely formulated rules that we can learn prior to the game, this is not the case for most language games.
Taking Wittgenstein's list of examples, one can observe that there is no "rulebook" for the games involved in reporting an event, speculating about an event, or making a joke. All we have in these cases the majority are events reported, and speculations and jokes made in different circumstances from which we must infer both the language game and its rules.
Most of the time, then, we are in contact with actions performed in language games yet to be identified: these actions are what Wittgenstein calls "moves" in the language games. This is why in most sign production and interpretation practices, the raw material for a Wittgenstein-style analysis is the action, the move or the set of moves , which we can trace back to the language game and its grammar. The text you are currently reading is a set of moves in a language game that we could provisionally call "introduction to or simplification of a theory".
The way in which semiotic relations operate between this text and Wittgenstein's work are directly related to the rules of this language game. A cartoon in the print media is a move in the language game of cartoons. When a neighbour, colleague or friend acts in an uncharacteristically aggressive way, if we attribute this to stress he is experiencing at work, we are making a move in the language game of interpreting human behaviour or some more or less recommendable version of it, such as biological, psychological, sociological, political, religious, or racial interpretation.
There are two reasons why the move is the preferred way to access the actual language game. Firstly, as Wittgenstein clearly implies through a geometric metaphor he gives in On Certainty , most of the rules of a game are not learned explicitly, but are discovered a posteriori by examining the moves: " I do not explicitly learn the propositions that stand fast for me. I can discover them subsequently like the axis around which a body rotates. This axis is not fixed in the sense that anything holds it fast, but the movement around it determines its immobility" Wittgenstein, , p.
The grammar of a language game — what we have also called the "rules" here — is truly the keystone of Wittgenstein's theory, and uncovering it is the purpose of the analysis. To begin with, we should make it clear that the term "grammar" is not to be understood in its usual acceptation. We must emphasize that grammar has a basically conceptual character for Wittgenstein, although the concepts themselves can sometimes be expressed as propositions. These concepts, or grammatical propositions, are the possibility condition for the moves made in the language games sometimes called "empirical propositions".
The analogy with games and sports is once again enlightening, as well as the role played by the rules. The rules interdefine the elements that make up the game; they assign a role and a meaning to each element, they define the game's space and time, the participants' functions and goals, and so on. In short, they create and give structure to an area of potential discourse and actions that owe their meaning to the rules.
Any specific action in soccer, bridge or checkers owes its meaning and its very existence to the entire set of rules for the game. The rules impose their order on that portion of reality in which the game unfolds. Even an apparently stable empirical object such as the human body can end up segmented into areas that have distinct meanings that vary from one sport to another: in boxing, the hips have a signification that they do not have elsewhere; the hands and the feet do not have the same meaning in hockey and soccer; in fencing, the torso has a signification that it does not have in judo.
As Wittgenstein says in the Philosophical Investigations : " Grammar tells what kind of object anything is" Wittgenstein, , p. It would be helpful at this point to mention the distinction made by Searle between constitutive rules and normative rules and Constitutive rules create the game and define it; without them it would not exist.
Normative rules indicate which actions are legitimate and which are not within the area created by the constitutive rules. For example, playing poker with a few aces up one's sleeve is against the normative rules; however, trying to win at poker by building up the largest possible number of spades in one's hand is against the constitutive rules. When the normative rules are broken, we conclude that the player made a mistake or cheated; when the constitutive rules are broken, we feel slightly perplexed, and may think that the player is playing some other game that we will never quite grasp.
When Wittgenstein talks about "grammar", he is referring to the constitutive rules. The game's constitutive rules are the possibility condition for the actions performed in these games and sports, just as grammatical propositions are the conceptual possibility condition for the moves in the language games. And as Wittgenstein says in the Philosophical Investigations : "our investigation, however, is directed not towards phenomena , but, as one might say, towards the ' possibilities ' of phenomena.
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We remind ourselves, that is to say, of the kind of statement that we make about phenomena. Therefore, our language behaviours among others are moves in language games of which we are often unaware , and they draw their meaning from the grammar of these games. And an analysis of them examines the moves in order to arrive at their grammatical possibility conditions. One of the difficulties encountered in this analysis is our familiarity with the language games, which obscures the existence of the moves, even in the clearest cases of games.
The grammar of our other language games, some of which are not even named, has a similar sort of familiar invisibility. Consider the following empirical proposition: "Having been a great coffee drinker since his teens, John went to get cream at the grocery store at p.
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An analysis of it must try to reveal the concepts that constitute its grammar. This particular grammar is often described, and is made up of the concepts of intention, goal, agent, motive, cause, etc. In this statement, then, John is the agent, having cream on hand for his coffee the next morning is his goal, going to the grocery store for cream is his action, and his long-standing love of coffee is his motive. To give another type of example, a sentence like the following one is perplexing for strictly grammatical reasons: "Imagine a slightly bluish-red green color, lighter than greyish yellow.
The grammar of this game involves certain relations between the colors, and excludes certain other relations. What we call yellow cannot have the property of being darker than what we call green — in much the same way that tenderness cannot be irritable, pity cannot be likeable, and courtesy cannot be desirous. The grammar of our language games excludes these moves that are not within the realm of possible moves for discourse and action dictated by the grammar.
We should add that fiction, whether in literature, film, theatre or even philosophy, can become a place in which to explore the boundaries of our language games, and even to challenge them to some degree. Thus fiction can improve our understanding of the area defined by our language games, and provide a place to experiment with developing atypical grammars. The grammar of a language game is not something we learn, and its propositions are unquestioningly accepted when we are playing the game.
They are not explicitly learned, but rather absorbed over time by practicing a language game. They are implied logically by the examples through which we learn the game, and are never specifically brought up, except in philosophical discussion. And while they are unquestionable, this is because they create the very possibility of the game being played: questioning them is equivalent to being out of the game.
For instance, a psychoanalyst cannot question the existence of the unconscious without thereby ceasing to be a psychoanalyst. Wittgenstein's famous distinction between saying and showing takes on its full meaning with the grammar issue. Any move in a language game, or any empirical proposition consists both in saying something and in showing the grammar of the language game. Wittgenstein's position concerning what is being shown seems to have changed. In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus , he is unequivocal: "4. What can be shown cannot be said" Wittgenstein, , p.
Impossible, then, to talk about the grammar or name its contents; we can only try to give an idea of it by giving examples of not playing the game, as we did above, in order to convey a sense of the grammatical area of the game. In On Certainty , his position is less radical: " It may be for example that all enquiry on our part is set so as to exempt certain propositions from doubt, if they are ever formulated.
They lie apart from the route travelled by enquiry" Wittgenstein, , p.
Linguistics - Wikipedia
Wittgenstein's theory of language games can be instructive on several accounts when applied to semiotic discussion. For instance, consider the structure of the word "tenth" on two different levels of analysis. On the level of internal word structure known as morphology , the word "tenth" is made up of one linguistic form indicating a number and another form indicating ordinality. The rule governing the combination of these forms ensures that the ordinality marker "th" follows the number "ten. Although most speakers of English are consciously aware of the rules governing internal structure of the word pieces of "tenth", they are less often aware of the rule governing its sound structure.
Linguists focused on structure find and analyze rules such as these, which govern how native speakers use language. Linguistics has many sub-fields concerned with particular aspects of linguistic structure. The theory that elucidates on these, as propounded by Noam Chomsky, is known as generative theory or universal grammar.
These sub-fields range from those focused primarily on form to those focused primarily on meaning. They also run the gamut of level of analysis of language, from individual sounds, to words, to phrases, up to cultural discourse. Stylistics is the study and interpretation of texts for aspects of their linguistic and tonal style.
Stylistic analysis entails the analysis of description of particular dialects and registers used by speech communities. Stylistic features include rhetoric ,  diction, stress, satire , irony , dialogue, and other forms of phonetic variations. Stylistic analysis can also include the study of language in canonical works of literature, popular fiction, news, advertisements, and other forms of communication in popular culture as well.
It is usually seen as a variation in communication that changes from speaker to speaker and community to community. In short, Stylistics is the interpretation of text. One major debate in linguistics concerns the very nature of language and how it should be understood. Some linguists hypothesize that there is a module in the human brain that allows people to undertake linguistic behaviour, which is part of the formalist approach.
This " universal grammar " is considered to guide children when they learn language and to constrain what sentences are considered grammatical in any human language. Proponents of this view, which is predominant in those schools of linguistics that are based on the generative theory of Noam Chomsky , do not necessarily consider that language evolved for communication in particular. They consider instead that it has more to do with the process of structuring human thought see also formal grammar.
Another group of linguists, by contrast, use the term "language" to refer to a communication system that developed to support cooperative activity and extend cooperative networks. Such theories of grammar , called "functional", view language as a tool that emerged and is adapted to the communicative needs of its users, and the role of cultural evolutionary processes are often emphasized over that of biological evolution. Linguistics is primarily descriptive. This is analogous to practice in other sciences: a zoologist studies the animal kingdom without making subjective judgments on whether a particular species is "better" or "worse" than another.
Prescription , on the other hand, is an attempt to promote particular linguistic usages over others, often favouring a particular dialect or " acrolect ". This may have the aim of establishing a linguistic standard , which can aid communication over large geographical areas. It may also, however, be an attempt by speakers of one language or dialect to exert influence over speakers of other languages or dialects see Linguistic imperialism. An extreme version of prescriptivism can be found among censors , who attempt to eradicate words and structures that they consider to be destructive to society.
Prescription, however, may be practised appropriately in language instruction , like in ELT , where certain fundamental grammatical rules and lexical items need to be introduced to a second-language speaker who is attempting to acquire the language. The objective of describing languages is often to uncover cultural knowledge about communities.
The use of anthropological methods of investigation on linguistic sources leads to the discovery of certain cultural traits among a speech community through its linguistic features. It is also widely used as a tool in language documentation , with an endeavour to curate endangered languages.
However, now, linguistic inquiry uses the anthropological method to understand cognitive, historical, sociolinguistic and historical processes that languages undergo as they change and evolve, as well as general anthropological inquiry uses the linguistic method to excavate into culture. In all aspects, anthropological inquiry usually uncovers the different variations and relativities that underlie the usage of language.
Most contemporary linguists work under the assumption that spoken data and signed data are more fundamental than written data. This is because. Nonetheless, linguists agree that the study of written language can be worthwhile and valuable. For research that relies on corpus linguistics and computational linguistics , written language is often much more convenient for processing large amounts of linguistic data.
Large corpora of spoken language are difficult to create and hard to find, and are typically transcribed and written. In addition, linguists have turned to text-based discourse occurring in various formats of computer-mediated communication as a viable site for linguistic inquiry. The study of writing systems themselves, graphemics , is, in any case, considered a branch of linguistics. Before the 20th century, linguists analysed language on a diachronic plane, which was historical in focus. This meant that they would compare linguistic features and try to analyse language from the point of view of how it had changed between then and later.
However, with Saussurean linguistics in the 20th century, the focus shifted to a more synchronic approach, where the study was more geared towards analysis and comparison between different language variations, which existed at the same given point of time. At another level, the syntagmatic plane of linguistic analysis entails the comparison between the way words are sequenced, within the syntax of a sentence.
For example, the article "the" is followed by a noun, because of the syntagmatic relation between the words. The paradigmatic plane on the other hand, focuses on an analysis that is based on the paradigms or concepts that are embedded in a given text. In this case, words of the same type or class may be replaced in the text with each other to achieve the same conceptual understanding.
Western interest in the study of languages began somewhat later than in the East,  but the grammarians of the classical languages did not use the same methods or reach the same conclusions as their contemporaries in the Indic world. Early interest in language in the West was a part of philosophy, not of grammatical description. The first insights into semantic theory were made by Plato in his Cratylus dialogue , where he argues that words denote concepts that are eternal and exist in the world of ideas.
This work is the first to use the word etymology to describe the history of a word's meaning. Around BC, one of Alexander the Great 's successors founded a university see Musaeum in Alexandria , where a school of philologists studied the ancient texts in and taught Greek to speakers of other languages. In the 18th century, the first use of the comparative method by William Jones sparked the rise of comparative linguistics.
The study of language was broadened from Indo-European to language in general by Wilhelm von Humboldt , of whom Bloomfield asserts: . Early in the 20th century, Saussure introduced the idea of language as a static system of interconnected units, defined through the oppositions between them. By introducing a distinction between diachronic and synchronic analyses of language, he laid the foundation of the modern discipline of linguistics.
Saussure also introduced several basic dimensions of linguistic analysis that are still foundational in many contemporary linguistic theories, such as the distinctions between syntagm and paradigm , and the langue-parole distinction , distinguishing language as an abstract system langue from language as a concrete manifestation of this system parole. During the last half of the 20th century, following the work of Noam Chomsky , linguistics was dominated by the generativist school. While formulated by Chomsky in part as a way to explain how human beings acquire language and the biological constraints on this acquisition, in practice it has largely been concerned with giving formal accounts of specific phenomena in natural languages.
Generative theory is modularist and formalist in character. Chomsky built on earlier work of Zellig Harris to formulate the generative theory of language. According to this theory the most basic form of language is a set of syntactic rules universal for all humans and underlying the grammars of all human languages. This set of rules is called Universal Grammar , and for Chomsky describing it is the primary objective of the discipline of linguistics. For this reason the grammars of individual languages are of importance to linguistics only in so far as they allow us to discern the universal underlying rules from which the observable linguistic variability is generated.
In the classic formalization of generative grammars first proposed by Noam Chomsky in the s,   a grammar G consists of the following components:. A formal description of language attempts to replicate a speaker's knowledge of the rules of their language, and the aim is to produce a set of rules that is minimally sufficient to successfully model valid linguistic forms. Functional theories of language propose that since language is fundamentally a tool, it is reasonable to assume that its structures are best analysed and understood with reference to the functions they carry out.
Functional theories of grammar differ from formal theories of grammar , in that the latter seek to define the different elements of language and describe the way they relate to each other as systems of formal rules or operations, whereas the former defines the functions performed by language and then relates these functions to the linguistic elements that carry them out. This means that functional theories of grammar tend to pay attention to the way language is actually used, and not just to the formal relations between linguistic elements.
Functional theories describe language in term of the functions existing at all levels of language. Cognitive linguistics emerged as a reaction to generativist theory in the s and s. Led by theorists like Ronald Langacker and George Lakoff , cognitive linguists propose that language is an emergent property of basic, general-purpose cognitive processes. In contrast to the generativist school of linguistics, cognitive linguistics is non-modularist and functionalist in character.
Important developments in cognitive linguistics include cognitive grammar , frame semantics , and conceptual metaphor , all of which are based on the idea that form—function correspondences based on representations derived from embodied experience constitute the basic units of language. Cognitive linguistics interprets language in terms of concepts sometimes universal, sometimes specific to a particular tongue that underlie its form.
It is thus closely associated with semantics but is distinct from psycholinguistics , which draws upon empirical findings from cognitive psychology in order to explain the mental processes that underlie the acquisition, storage, production and understanding of speech and writing. Unlike generative theory, cognitive linguistics denies that there is an autonomous linguistic faculty in the mind; it understands grammar in terms of conceptualization ; and claims that knowledge of language arises out of language use. Historical linguists study the history of specific languages as well as general characteristics of language change.
The study of language change is also referred to as "diachronic linguistics" the study of how one particular language has changed over time , which can be distinguished from "synchronic linguistics" the comparative study of more than one language at a given moment in time without regard to previous stages.
Historical linguistics was among the first sub-disciplines to emerge in linguistics, and was the most widely practised form of linguistics in the late 19th century. However, there was a shift to the synchronic approach in the early twentieth century with Saussure , and became more predominant in western linguistics with the work of Noam Chomsky.
Ecolinguistics explores the role of language in the life-sustaining interactions of humans, other species and the physical environment. The first aim is to develop linguistic theories which see humans not only as part of society, but also as part of the larger ecosystems that life depends on. The second aim is to show how linguistics can be used to address key ecological issues, from climate change and biodiversity loss to environmental justice. Sociolinguistics is the study of how language is shaped by social factors. This sub-discipline focuses on the synchronic approach of linguistics, and looks at how a language in general, or a set of languages, display variation and varieties at a given point in time.
The study of language variation and the different varieties of language through dialects, registers, and ideolects can be tackled through a study of style, as well as through analysis of discourse. Sociolinguists research on both style and discourse in language, and also study the theoretical factors that are at play between language and society.
Developmental linguistics is the study of the development of linguistic ability in individuals, particularly the acquisition of language in childhood. Some of the questions that developmental linguistics looks into is how children acquire different languages, how adults can acquire a second language, and what the process of language acquisition is. Neurolinguistics is the study of the structures in the human brain that underlie grammar and communication. Researchers are drawn to the field from a variety of backgrounds, bringing along a variety of experimental techniques as well as widely varying theoretical perspectives.
Much work in neurolinguistics is informed by models in psycholinguistics and theoretical linguistics , and is focused on investigating how the brain can implement the processes that theoretical and psycholinguistics propose are necessary in producing and comprehending language. Neurolinguists study the physiological mechanisms by which the brain processes information related to language, and evaluate linguistic and psycholinguistic theories, using aphasiology , brain imaging , electrophysiology, and computer modelling.
Amongst the structures of the brain involved in the mechanisms of neurolinguistics, the cerebellum which contains the highest numbers of neurons has a major role in terms of predictions required to produce language. Linguists are largely concerned with finding and describing the generalities and varieties both within particular languages and among all languages.
Applied linguistics takes the results of those findings and "applies" them to other areas. Linguistic research is commonly applied to areas such as language education , lexicography , translation , language planning , which involves governmental policy implementation related to language use, and natural language processing. Moreover, they commonly apply technical knowledge from multiple sources, such as sociology e.
Constructed language fits under Applied linguistics. Today, computers are widely used in many areas of applied linguistics. Speech synthesis and speech recognition use phonetic and phonemic knowledge to provide voice interfaces to computers. Applications of computational linguistics in machine translation , computer-assisted translation , and natural language processing are areas of applied linguistics that have come to the forefront. Their influence has had an effect on theories of syntax and semantics, as modelling syntactic and semantic theories on computers constraints.
Linguistic analysis is a sub-discipline of applied linguistics used by many governments to verify the claimed nationality of people seeking asylum who do not hold the necessary documentation to prove their claim. Depending on the country, this interview is conducted either in the asylum seeker's native language through an interpreter or in an international lingua franca like English.
In this analysis, linguistic features of the asylum seeker are used by analysts to make a determination about the speaker's nationality. The reported findings of the linguistic analysis can play a critical role in the government's decision on the refugee status of the asylum seeker.
Within the broad discipline of linguistics, various emerging sub-disciplines focus on a more detailed description and analysis of language, and are often organized on the basis of the school of thought and theoretical approach that they pre-suppose, or the external factors that influence them. Semiotics is the study of sign processes semiosis , or signification and communication, signs, and symbols, both individually and grouped into sign systems, including the study of how meaning is constructed and understood.
Semioticians often do not restrict themselves to linguistic communication when studying the use of signs but extend the meaning of "sign" to cover all kinds of cultural symbols. Nonetheless, semiotic disciplines closely related to linguistics are literary studies , discourse analysis , text linguistics , and philosophy of language. Semiotics, within the linguistics paradigm, is the study of the relationship between language and culture. Historically, Edward Sapir and Ferdinand De Saussure 's structuralist theories influenced the study of signs extensively until the late part of the 20th century, but later, post-modern and post-structural thought, through language philosophers including Jacques Derrida , Mikhail Bakhtin , Michel Foucault , and others, have also been a considerable influence on the discipline in the late part of the 20th century and early 21st century.
Since the inception of the discipline of linguistics, linguists have been concerned with describing and analysing previously undocumented languages. Starting with Franz Boas in the early s, this became the main focus of American linguistics until the rise of formal structural linguistics in the midth century. This focus on language documentation was partly motivated by a concern to document the rapidly disappearing languages of indigenous peoples.
The ethnographic dimension of the Boasian approach to language description played a role in the development of disciplines such as sociolinguistics , anthropological linguistics , and linguistic anthropology , which investigate the relations between language, culture, and society. The emphasis on linguistic description and documentation has also gained prominence outside North America, with the documentation of rapidly dying indigenous languages becoming a primary focus in many university programmes in linguistics.
Language description is a work-intensive endeavour, usually requiring years of field work in the language concerned, so as to equip the linguist to write a sufficiently accurate reference grammar. Further, the task of documentation requires the linguist to collect a substantial corpus in the language in question, consisting of texts and recordings, both sound and video, which can be stored in an accessible format within open repositories, and used for further research. The sub-field of translation includes the translation of written and spoken texts across mediums, from digital to print and spoken.
To translate literally means to transmute the meaning from one language into another. Translators are often employed by organizations, such as travel agencies as well as governmental embassies to facilitate communication between two speakers who do not know each other's language. Translators are also employed to work within computational linguistics setups like Google Translate for example, which is an automated, programmed facility to translate words and phrases between any two or more given languages.
Translation is also conducted by publishing houses, which convert works of writing from one language to another in order to reach varied audiences.
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Academic Translators, specialize and semi specialize on various other disciplines such as; Technology, Science, Law, Economics etc. Biolinguistics is the study of the biology and evolution of language. It is a highly interdisciplinary field, including linguists, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, mathematicians, and others.
By shifting the focus of investigation in linguistics to a comprehensive scheme that embraces natural sciences, it seeks to yield a framework by which the fundamentals of the faculty of language are understood. Clinical linguistics is the application of linguistic theory to the fields of Speech-Language Pathology. Speech language pathologists work on corrective measures to cure communication disorders and swallowing disorders. Chaika showed that people with schizophrenia who display speech disorders, like rhyming inappropriately, have attentional dysfunction, as when a patient, shown a colour chip and then asked to identify it, responded "looks like clay.
Sounds like gray. Take you for a roll in the hay. Heyday, May Day. However, most people suppress or ignore words which rhyme with what they've said unless they are deliberately producing a pun, poem or rap. Even then, the speaker shows connection between words chosen for rhyme and an overall meaning in discourse. People with schizophrenia with speech dysfunction show no such relation between rhyme and reason.
Some even produce stretches of gibberish combined with recognizable words. Computational linguistics is the study of linguistic issues in a way that is "computationally responsible", i. Computational linguists also work on computer language and software development.
Evolutionary linguistics is the interdisciplinary study of the emergence of the language faculty through human evolution , and also the application of evolutionary theory to the study of cultural evolution among different languages. It is also a study of the dispersal of various languages across the globe, through movements among ancient communities. Forensic linguistics is the application of linguistic analysis to forensics. Forensic analysis investigates on the style, language, lexical use, and other linguistic and grammatical features used in the legal context to provide evidence in courts of law.
Forensic linguists have also contributed expertise in criminal cases. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article's lead section may be too long for the length of the article. Please help by moving some material from it into the body of the article. Please read the layout guide and lead section guidelines to ensure the section will still be inclusive of all essential details. Please discuss this issue on the article's talk page.
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