Forensiese taalkunde is die studieveld waar linguistiese kennis en metodes gebruik word om ’n verskeidenheid tekste (gesproke en geskrewe) vir regsdoeleindes te ontleed. Outeuridentifikasie is ’n subkategorie van die forensiese taalkunde en word beskryf as die vasstel van ’n outeur se idiolek met die doel om die outeur positief te identifiseer as produseerder van ’n teks (Coulthard 2004:431–47; McMenamin 2010:490–2). Outeuriden-tifikasie is met ander woorde die proses waardeur die ware outeur van ’n gesproke of geskrewe teks vasgestel word wanneer daar twyfel bestaan oor die identiteit van die outeur van so ’n teks. Die doel van die huidige navorsing was om te bepaal tot watter mate dit moontlik is om vas te stel of ’n spesifieke individu die outeur van ’n spesifieke, beperkte stel (Afrikaanse) SMS’e is. Uit die navorsing blyk dit dat dit nie moontlik is om die outeur van ’n verdagte teks met groot sekerheid te identifiseer indien daar slegs beperkte data tot die navorser se beskikking is nie, maar die resultate is nietemin voldoende om as bewyse gebruik te word.
Forensic linguistics is a field of study that has gained popularity in many countries around the world (Blackwell 2012). In South Africa forensic linguistics is not a well-known field of study, but academics and postgraduate students are beginning to explore research and study opportunities within this field. Author identification, which is the focus of this article, is only one of the subcategories within forensic linguistics. A very basic definition of forensic linguistics is that it is a section of applied linguistics where a variety of both written and spoken texts is analysed for judicial purposes. The field is roughly divided into two main categories: language use and its judicial implications and the analysis of forensic texts (written or spoken). In the first category forensic linguists consider translating and interpreting in a courtroom setting, the language use and discourse of a trial and the language rights of individuals in the courtroom or during the course of the trial, among others. The second category includes author identification, speaker identification, profiling and identification of plagiarism (Olsson n.d.:4–5). Author identification is the analysis of a text with the goal of determining the possible author because there is some uncertainty or dispute about the author of that specific text (or group of texts). Texts that are usually analysed in author identification include ransom notes, e-mail messages, threat letters and blackmail messages. Although author identification analysis has been done on shorter texts such as SMS messages, ransom notes and Facebook messages in the past (Ishihara 2011; McLeod and Grant 2012; Michell 2013) there is still, to some extent, insufficient research in the area of author identification of short (and extremely short) texts. Author identification in Afrikaans SMS messages has never been attempted. It is mainly for this reason that the current article, and the dissertation it is based on, is considered of value to the field of author identification (Thiart 2014).
For the purposes of this study the researcher aimed to answer three questions. First it had to be determined if a generic SMS language exists that could complicate author identification. The presence of a generic SMS language would mean that there are very few individual characteristics present when SMS messages in the corpus are compared. Secondly, it had to be determined whether individual idiolects could be identified within the supposed generic SMS language, and thirdly, to what extent it is possible to identify the author of an SMS text with the limited data available to the forensic linguist.