SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Lexical elicitation: A new tool for determining the linguistic background of asylum claimants

Christopher Lucas & Hanadi Ismail (SOAS)

Date: 29 May 2018Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 29 May 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


In this talk we present early results of research into the viability of lexically-based approaches to the problem of LADO (language analysis for the determination of origin in asylum contexts) for Arabic speakers.

Governments which conduct LADO typically do so by interviewing asylum claimants and then analysing their recorded speech to see whether it conforms to or deviates from their expectations regarding the speech of an individual with the claimed background. Our contention is that such a methodology can and should be supplemented with a suitably designed and implemented lexical elicitation test. We report on ongoing research with native Arabic speakers resident in London that aims to show that a suitable picture-based lexical elicitation task can reliably distinguish a native speaker of a given Arabic dialect from an individual attempting to imitate that dialect.

About the speakers

Christopher Lucas is Senior Lecturer in Arabic Linguistics at SOAS University of London. He did his undergraduate studies in Arabic at SOAS, and his postgraduate studies in Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. Before taking up his current position at SOAS, he was Research Associate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Cambridge and then British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Linguistics at SOAS.

Hanadi Ismail has a PhD in Linguistics from Essex University and an MA in Linguistics from Manchester University. She is a Postdoc Research Assistant at SOAS University, working with Chris Lucas on the AHRC funded project 'Arabic and contact-induced language change'. Her PhD research was a variationist study of the dialect of Damascus, Syria. She has also worked in her capacity as a sociolinguist as a LADO practitioner for various entities.