International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol 11, No 2 (2004)

The 'linguistic' asylum interview and the linguist's evaluation of it, with special reference to applicants for Liberian political asylum in Switzerland

John Victor Singler
Issued Date: 6 Mar 2007


The ability of 'linguistic' asylum interviews to assess where an asylum applicant has been socialized rests on several factors. Relevant linguistic boundaries must be known, and they must be compatible with political borders. However, even if the circumstances are such that the relation of linguistic to national boundaries is not problematic, consistently reliable evaluation is possible only if the evaluator is trained in linguistics and knowledgeable about the language under examination. The present article examines Swiss practice in assessing applicants for Liberian political asylum. Even as concerns about current procedures are expressed, the assertion is made that the system is reliable.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.v11i2.222


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