A linguistic analysis enables finding the deceiving patterns in oral or written statements. Ten aspects shall be addressed in the analysis to indicate an attempt to falsify or hide facts. They are lack of self-reference, verb tense, answering questions with questions, equivocation, oaths, euphemisms, alluding to actions, lack of detail, narrative balance, and mean length of utterance.
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The first sign of an attempt to mislead is the avoidance of using “I” pronoun. The deceiver tries to eliminate the personal pronoun or substitutes it with “you” to minimize the relation to him or herself. Also, a deceptive person can retell the story using a passive voice. The second signal of deception is the reference to past events using the present tense. It can either imply the accuracy in detail or rehearsal of an event that did not take place. The third sign is responding to questions with questions. This way the suspect can try to avoid replying at all.
The fourth method that signifies presumable deception is equivocation. If a person tries to give falsehoods, he or she can use noncommittal verbs or vague expression with a certain degree of uncertainty (sort of, perhaps, more or less and other). Further, the fifth linguistic means that implies a suspicious attempt is the usage of oaths. Such phrases like “I swear” may be used to convince that the suspect is telling the truth; meanwhile, a truthful witness knows that his or her words are the truth are they do not need to be backed up.
The sixth telltale mark of deception is euphemisms. The usage of words that have a mild meaning or substituting terms with a strong degree of expression may identify that the interviewee is trying to minimize the damage caused by criminal behavior. For instance, a suspect may say that the thing was “taken” rather than “stolen” to represent the demeanor in a more favorable light. The seventh indicator of possible deception is the allusion to actions. For instance, a person may refer to an action by mentioning an attempt or intention to do something without an actual statement of committing it.
The eighth reason to question whether the interviewee is telling the truth or not is the lack of detail. If a person fills the statement with many details, which may be irrelevant, it implies that he or she is retrieving the accident from his or her mind and it, as a rule, brings forth many facts or aspects that are related to the experienced occurrence. However, a dry retelling of facts may evidence that the story is being fabricated or some of the turning points are left out intentionally. It can be done to downsize the risk of being caught lying; the fewer facts are revealed, the fewer opportunities the investigator has to find a loophole in the story.
The narrative balance is the ninth issue to be analyzed throughout the oral or written statement. Prolog, critical event and aftermath are the essential elements of the story. The major part is the critical event, and it should take approximately 40-60% of the retelling while the prolog and aftermath should be close to 20-35% each. If a misbalance is present, it implies that the narration lacks crucial facts that have been omitted for a cause. Finally, yet importantly, the mean length of utterance, which is calculated by dividing the total number of words by a total number of sentences, is crucial. If the interviewee starts speaking in significantly shorter or longer sentences, it means that he or she is anxious. In this case, the investigator shall consider this part of the speech thoroughly. Thus, many issues should be analyzed when interviewing with a suspect. The attentive attitude toward linguistics may significantly assist in finding the deceptive patterns in the speech.