In an effort to make tertiary education relevant to the development of the nation, Mzuzu University (Mzuni) has introduced a language course to aid individuals in language related crime investigations.
The course, called Forensic Linguistics, is the first of its kind in Malawi, introduced to keep up with the global trend where language use has been incorporated in crime investigations.
The course’s lecturer Wellman Kondowe said in an interview on Friday that the course will be relevant in suicide, murder and plagiarism cases, among others, where language use forms the basis of evidence.
He said: “The course wants students to apply language theories into issues of crime, mostly those related to language.
“For example, the case of Robert Chasowa where a suicide note was part of evidence. There was a misunderstanding as to whether he really wrote it. So, a forensic linguist will ascertain if the letter is genuine or fake.”
Kondowe said forensic linguists can also be used as expert witnesses in court as is the case in developed countries.
“A forensic linguist provides expert witness in court. The linguist listens to the case and presents his or her side of the issue after analysing language use. The expert becomes a crucial member of jury in decision making,” he said.
The course originates from Aston University in the United Kingdom (UK). The course was a response to trends where most fields such as auditing and physics incorporated an aspect of forensic.
Kondowe said the introduction of the course in Malawi is a step forward in making language theories applicable in the development of the country.
“For a long time in Malawi, linguistics has been viewed as a useless subject. Our usefulness ends in a classroom. We have worked in isolation and when our students graduate, they fail to fit into society.
“Now is the time that linguistics should be applied in real life situations for the development of the nation,” he said.