Quotation Gillings, Mathew. 2019. The language of lying: sociolinguistic variation in pronouns across truths and lies. ICAME 40, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 01.06-05.06.




Research from the field of psychology has shown that there are significant differences between the behaviours of a truth teller and a liar, and investigating these differences in more detail may point towards cues to deception. These cues can be divided into three categories: physiological cues, behavioural cues, and verbal cues. Naturally, this talk will focus on the latter. Research from the field of psychology in automated deception detection has primarily been carried out using LIWC (Pennebaker et al, 2001). However, in more recent years, Archer and Lansley (2015) and McQuaid et al (2015) have applied corpus linguistic methods to the field, using Wmatrix to investigate between truthful and deceptive corpora. However, there has never been a large-scale and systematic corpus study using deceptive spoken data. Similarly, up until now, the sociolinguistic nature of deception has never been investigated. Drawing upon previous research and methods from psychology, I will discuss my experiment designed to extract truthful and deceptive language from two scenarios, and from a range of participants from different social backgrounds (i.e. differences in region, gender, age, and socioeconomic status). To do this, I conducted a mock police interview, and a mock border control interview, and asked people to both lie and tell the truth in turn. The recordings of these interviews formed my 125,473-word corpus. I will then discuss how corpus methods, combined with sociolinguistic analysis, resulted in a set of similarities and differences between the two types of language, and what that suggests about the language of lying. On a coarse-grained level, results indicate that deceptive language features higher frequencies of 3rd-person pronouns (singular and plural) and 2nd-person personal pronouns. Conversely, results also indicate lower levels of first-person singular pronouns.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Paper presented at an academic conference or symposium
Language English
Title The language of lying: sociolinguistic variation in pronouns across truths and lies
Event ICAME 40
Year 2019
Date 01.06-05.06
Country Switzerland
Location Neuchâtel


Gillings, Mathew (Details)
Institute for English Business Communication (Mautner) (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
6604 Applied linguistics (Details)
6611 Linguistics (Details)
6623 Sociolinguistics (Details)
6633 Computational linguistics (Details)
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