Rights in Exile Programme

Refugee Legal Aid Information for Lawyers Representing Refugees Globally

Language Analysis

The topic of language analysis for the determination of origin is a highly contested and sensitive topic within Refugee Status Determination. 

Language & Asylum Research Group

The UK-based Language & Asylum Research Group (LARG), has its organisational base at the University of Essex, Colchester, Essex UK, in the Department of Language and Linguistics and the Human Rights Centre. LARG is a group of experts who share an interest in LADO (Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin) as a research topic, from a practitioner's point of view, or both. 

The primary mission of LARG is to stimulate research, contribute to the further development of guidelines, and promote best-practice for practitioners working in the field of LADO, through exchange of informed views, in the spirit of and extending the scope of the 2004 Guidelines. LARG follows up the work of the Language and National Origin Group (LNOG), who jointly authored the influential 2004 Guidelines for the Use of Language Analysis in relation to Questions of National Origin in Refugee Cases, and have organized discussions since then in a range of academic and professional meetings.

Language Analysis for Determination of Origin (LADO) is a new branch of applied linguistics, used by governments in processing asylum seekers who are applying for refugee status. Applicants are interviewed by government agencies seeking to ascertain whether they speak the language of a group they say they belong to, as part of testing their claim to come from a certain nation, region or group. Speech recordings are typically analysed to determine whether an applicant's speech patterns show expected features of the specific language variety spoken by their claimed group. The key question that can be addressed scientifically is not one of nationality but of language socialization and speech community membership, which is a sociolinguistic matter.

Campbell, J. (2012). Language analysis in the United Kingdom's refugee status determination system: Seeing through policy claims about ‘expert knowledge’, p 670-690

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