Carole Elisabeth Chaski (born 1955) is a forensic linguist, considered one of the leading experts in the field, especially in the field of author identification research. She is also the president of ALIAS Technology and executive director of the Institute for Linguistic Evidence, a non-profit research organization devoted to linguistic evidence.
Early life and education
Carole Chaski was born in 1955, one of six children of Milton S. Chaski, Sr., and Marylee (née Evans) Chaski. Chaski attended Severn School and graduated in 1973. She earned awards for both English and Spanish proficiency that year.
Chaski earned her A.B. magna cum laude in English and Ancient Greek from Bryn Mawr College in 1975, M.Ed. in Psychology of Reading from the University of Delaware in 1981. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Linguistics from Brown University in 1988.
Forensic Magazine has called Chaski "the leading expert in the field of forensic linguistics". According to John Olsson and June Luchjenbroers, "Dr. Carole Chaski has pioneered the syntactic analysis of authorship."
While teaching linguistics at North Carolina State University (1990–1994), Chaski was asked by police to examine a several versions, found on a home computer, of an alleged suicide note. Using syntactic and statistical analysis, she concluded that the decedent was not the author of the texts, and that a roommate likely was. The roommate later confessed. She subsequently left teaching to work full time as a forensic linguist.
Ben Zimmer of The New York Times wrote that Chaski was working on the problem of "identifying the authorship of a document that was produced by a computer to which multiple users had access" by developing software that could categorize the linguistic structures which tend to be stable across different styles of writing. In 2012 Jack Hitt of The New Yorker noted Chaski's work on a computer algorithm to identify syntactic patterns, citing Chaski's goal, "to develop a standard 'validated tool' that police, civil investigators, and linguists can turn to when testifying in crucial cases, such as a capital murder trial". Chaski's method also uses a database of linguistic samples.
In the undergraduate textbook Forensic Linguistics: Second Edition: An Introduction To Language, Crime and the Law, John Olsson wrote, "The first linguist to consider markedness in terms of authorship systematically was Carole Chaski, whose statistical analysis of syntax in authorship has met the Daubert challenge in the US court system." Chaski's methodology, according to Olsson, includes software that uses four grammar rules to identify a text’s syntactic markedness, in combination with measurements of the ways punctuation is used by a writer. Olsson continued, "Chaski should be credited with having brought forensic authorship comparison (as opposed to long text authorship 'attribution') into the scientific arena, and out of the darkness of literary criticism, canonical literary corpus construction and discourse analysis modes of authorship identification."
According to Lawrence Solan, former president of the International Association of Forensic Linguists, there is a cultural and intellectual divide in the profession, with Chaski advocating "scientific methodology that is replicable from case to case", and others, like James R. Fitzgerald, using "an 'intuitive' approach, examining among other things idiosyncrasies in spelling and word choice to see whether 'constellations of features emerge' ". After explaining Fitzgerald's type of analysis, calling it "forensic stylistics", Michelle Taylor of Forensic Magazine followed with a description of Chaski's type of analysis: "That form of language analysis, sometimes called forensic stylistics, is different from what Chaski does, as she has a formal education in linguistics and uses a computational linguistics method she developed called ALIAS, or Automated Linguistics Identification and Assessment System."
- Who Wrote It? Steps Toward a Science of Author Identification. National Institute of Justice Journal, vol. 233, pp. 15–22 (1997).
- "Junk Science, Pre-Science and Developing Science" National Conference on Science and the Law Proceedings, 97-147 (1999).
- "Empirical Evaluations of Language-Based Author Identification Techniques" International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, 8:1 (2001).
- "Who’s At The Keyboard? Recent Results in Authorship Attribution," International Journal of Digital Evidence 4:1 (Spring 2005), 1-13 (2005).
- "The Keyboard Dilemma and Authorship Attribution," International Federation for Information Processing Volume 242, 133-146 (2007).
Chapters in textbooks
- "Author Identification in the Forensic Setting," Oxford Handbook of Language and Law. (March 2012)
- "Forensic Linguistics, Authorship, Attribution, and Admissibility", in Forensic Science and Law: Investigative Applications in Criminal, Civil, and Family Justice (2005)
- Dahl, Dick (7 April 2008). "Forensic linguists becoming more important part of criminal investigations". Lawyers USA. Retrieved 26 September 2017 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (. ))
- Solan, Lawrence; Peter Meijes Tiersma (2005). Speaking of crime: the language of criminal justice. The Chicago series in law and society. U of Chicago P. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-226-76792-5. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- Lemos, Robert (20 October 2006). "Researcher attempts to shed light on security troll". SecurityFocus. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- "Obituary for Milton Chaski , Sr - Lewes, DE". www.memorialsolutions.com. March 2011. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
- "Milton S. Chaski Sr". The Daily Times. 2011-03-04. p. 4. Retrieved 2017-09-26 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Marylee Evans Chaski". The News Journal. 2005-07-06. p. 16. Retrieved 2017-09-26 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Severn Graduation Hears General". The Capital. 1973-05-31. p. 10. Retrieved 2017-09-26 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Solving Crime One Word at a Time". Forensic Magazine. August 24, 2017. Retrieved September 24, 2017.
- John Olsson; June Luchjenbroers (5 December 2013). Forensic Linguistics. A&C Black. pp. 321–. ISBN 978-1-4725-6957-8.
- Wilmington Morning Star, Tuesday, September 29, 1992, 6B
- Murray, Molly (2002-11-16). "Linguist: Chaski Developed a Computer Program to Analyze Writing". The News Journal. p. 2. Retrieved 2017-09-26 – via Newspapers.com.
- Zimmer, Ben (July 23, 2011). "Opinion | Decoding Your E-Mail Personality". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
- Hitt, Jack (July 16, 2012). "Words on Trial". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
- John Olsson (2008). Forensic Linguistics: Second Edition: An Introduction To Language, Crime and the Law. A&C Black. pp. 46–. ISBN 978-0-8264-9308-8.
- Sellers, Frances Stead (February 27, 2015). "Forensic linguistics: Do your e-mails, texts and tweets reveal clues to your identity?". Washington Post. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
- Stritmatter, Roger, ed. (2016). "Brief Chronicles: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Authorship Studies" (PDF). Retrieved September 24, 2017.
- Chaski, Carole (2012). Author Identification in the Forensic Setting. The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199572120.001.0001. ISBN 9780199572120.
- Chaski, Carole (22 December 2005). Wecht, Cyril H.; Rago, John T., eds. Forensic Science and Law: Investigative Applications in Criminal, Civil and Family Justice. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4200-5811-6.