We're now a member-driven learning collective. Learn more about the benefits of becoming a founding member.

"Put [the cash] in the green trash kan on the devil strip": An Examination of Linguistic Evidence in Threat Cases


In Illinois in the mid-1980s, a hand-written ransom note was left on the doorstep of an abducted juvenile’s home; one week after the 9/11 attacks, anthrax-laced letters were sent to news media and two U.S. senators; in 2013, three ricin-laced letters were sent to President Obama, NYC Mayor Bloomberg, and ‘Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ Director Glaze.

In such anonymous threatening situations as these, there are three primary questions asked by investigators in their assessment of the threats: 1) is it a threat? 2) how likely is the threatener to carry it out? 3) who wrote it? This talk will focus on the third question, one in which linguistics can play a key role.

First, in situations where there is no immediate suspect, an examination of the linguistic evidence may reveal potential demographic information about the threatener. Second, in situations where there is a limited set of suspects, a comparison of the language in the threat and in known documents from each suspect may help narrow down the suspect pool. We will review a variety of sample profiling cases in which information and disinformation play a key role in the analysis of the language evidence.







Location: Round K

99 Allen St, New York, NY 10002

Round K is a New Coffee Shop at 99 Allen St. with a Korean twist.


Other upcoming Olios


Jun 22

Unburdening the Earth: Hinduism and Ecology

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jun 26

There's No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Jun 27

Gods That Fail

Taught by Lev Moscow
7:30 p.m. at Tompkins Ave Apartment

Sign Up - $15

Jul 7

Think Olio x Brooklyn Museum | America Was Never White

Taught by Jamie Warren
6 p.m. at The Brooklyn Museum

Sign Up - $0

Jul 8

Members Only | Jazz Age Field Trip to Long Island

Taught by Charles Riley
2 p.m. at Nassau County Museum of Art

Sign Up - $35

Jul 13

What Does it Mean to Be an American: Conformity, Silence, and Lies

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


Find out when we launch new classes!