This article focuses on the use of linguistic expertise by trial courts to aid in fact-finding. It identifies many of the ways the legal system has been enriched by donations from linguistic scholarship. In addition, it discusses the underutilized-at-present use of linguistic knowledge by appellate courts as a tool for crafting and applying doctrinal rules. Whereas courts have adopted economics analysis in determining appropriate legal rules, linguistic science has been neglected. Linguistic predictions are more testable and falsifiable than economic predictions. Linguistic research can be useful—particularly in the areas of comprehensibility of texts and resolving textual ambiguity. Indeed, legislatures and law reform commissions need the expertise of linguists as much as judges and courts do if law is to reflect the reality of the human social order.
Linguistics as a Knowledge Domain in the Law, 54 DRAKE L. REV. 651