The Guidelines were first developed by the Language and National Origin Group in 2004 and subsequently published in The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law: Forensic Linguistics, Vol. 11 no. 2, pp.261-266 (also available at:

Whereas the Linguistic Society of America recognizes that the links between a person's language competence and their social background and national origin are potentially complex; and

Whereas a number of governments around the world use language as one criterion in determining an individual's eligibility for refugee status; and

Whereas refugees are defined by the United Nations 1951 Convention, and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (to which the US is a party), as persons subject to a well-founded fear of persecution, and are recognized as being entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms; and

Whereas qualified linguists (including LSA members) have participated in such asylum proceedings, and

Whereas the Linguistic Society of America affirms that high standards of professional training and expertise in the scientific study of language should be brought to bear when language issues are at stake in serious legal proceedings; and

Whereas Guidelines for the Use of Language Analysis in Relation to Questions of National Origin in Refugee Cases were developed and published in June 2004 by the National Language and Origin Group to address this issue; and

Whereas the Guidelines, in brief, advise that considerable caution be taken in applying language analysis to matters of national origin, national identity or citizenship, and that analysts in such proceedings give evidence of professional training and expertise in the scientific study of language; and

Whereas endorsement of these Guidelines by appropriate professional associations may greatly assist governments and others in deciding whether and to what degree language analysis is reliable in particular cases;

Therefore be it resolved that the Linguistic Society of America, at its annual business meeting on 9 January 2009, endorse these Guidelines, and recommend them to its members and the general public.

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