The meeting was hosted on 24 October by the UWC Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Professor Monwabisi Ralarala and the UWC Chair in Forensic Linguistics and Multilingualism, Professor Russell Kaschula.
There is a renewed focus on the future of academic research into forensic and legal linguistics in Africa. This innovative field of research focuses, in part, on the use of language in a country's legal system. It is envisaged that this association will work with the International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics (IAFLL) with most of its members coming from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States of America.
“An African Association will boost and establish the field of forensic linguistics on the African continent. UWC is one of the first universities in South Africa to offer the discipline at postgraduate level,” said Ralarala.
The African Association at its inaugural meeting elected a Board, with Ralarala being elected as Chairperson, Kaschula as the Secretary and Nomfundo Mali, a PhD student in forensic linguistics at UWC elected as the Treasurer.
UWC are pioneers in this field of linguistics and it was agreed that in 2023 a Forensic Linguistics Conference would be held at UWC where the Association would be formally launched and where it would hold its first official AGM.
There are now a number of honours, masters, and PhD students studying forensic linguistics at UWC. The first Honours course (offered in the Department of African Language Studies) was offered in 2022 and six students completed the course.
The Chair in Forensic Linguistics and Multilingualism is coordinating these courses and supervision is shared across departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. In this way, the hope is to create a throughput of postgraduate students and to grow our own timber in the field.
A book series in forensic linguistics is being published by African SUN Press. Three books have already been published and these are edited by Ralarala, Kaschula and Georgina Heydon (from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University) as well as Dr Zakeera Docrat, the NIHSS Post-Doctoral Fellow under the Chair in the Department of African Language Studies.