Plagiarism Across Languages and Cultures: A (Forensic) Linguistic Analysis

A considerably high volume of research into plagiarism has been conducted in recent years, most of which focused on educational approaches. Other studies, however, attempted to establish, especially from a forensic linguistic perspective, the extent to which linguistic analyses like the ones used in forensic contexts could help determine the degree of plagiarism in written assignments. However, most of these focused on the role of the linguist as a forensic consultant and/or expert dealing especially with attorneys and being involved in court cases, and rarely, if ever, have they applied linguistic research into academic plagiarism. Indeed, plagiarism analysis has traditionally focused on determining the uniqueness of a suspect text, while disregarding important cross-cultural circumstances. This chapter discusses plagiarism as a cross-cultural/cross-linguistic phenomenon. It examines the perceptions of higher education students and lecturers/tutors in two different countries in order to assess, firstly, whether speakers from different countries share the same concept of plagiarism, or on the contrary whether they have different perceptions. Secondly, based on these perceptions, it is asked whether a distinction needs to be made between judgments of intentional and unintentional instances of plagiarism. Thirdly, this chapter discusses the potential role of the linguist in demonstrating the alleged plagiarist’s intention, and the corresponding ethical implications. The chapter ends by arguing that a cross-cultural analysis, combined with an understanding of the legal context, is crucial in detecting and analyzing plagiarism.

Sousa-Silva R. (2019) Plagiarism Across Languages and Cultures: A (Forensic) Linguistic Analysis. In: Brunn S., Kehrein R. (eds) Handbook of the Changing World Language Map. Springer, Cham

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