LiteratEye #14: Detecting the Dark Side of Language

Here’s the fourteenth installment of LiteratEye, a series found only on The Art of the Prank Blog, by W.J. Elvin III, editor and publisher of FIONA: Mysteries & Curiosities of Literary Fraud & Folly and the LitFraud blog.

LiteratEye #14: Detecting the Dark Side of Language
By W.J. Elvin III
May 15, 2009

wwiip6-200It’s 2 o’clock in the morning in London as my email comes breezing in to interrupt John Olsson’s musings. Olsson interests us because he’s an expert at digging out the secrets of deceptive documents, anything from anonymous hate mail to plagiarized books.

My note found him puzzling over hidden clues in regard to the character of Bernard Madoff, the big Wall Street toad whose secret life involved scamming multi-millions from clients.

Might a keen observer have spotted what Madoff was up to, before it all fell down? Olsson pondered the name, “Madoff.” Odd, the wanderings of the mind in the wee small hours. “Made Off”¦,” he supposed. “Bernard made off”¦”

Well, John, maybe you’re on to something. And, believe me, you can throw LiteratEye readers a long one and they’ll be out there to catch it. But we better at least start a little closer to the line of scrimmage.

And so, down to business. In Olsson’s case, business is The Forensic Linguistics Institute and his studies are usually of a very serious nature. You can get a fairly good idea of what it’s all about from his new book, Wordcrime. Continue reading “LiteratEye #14: Detecting the Dark Side of Language”