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The Handbook of Bilingualism and Multilingualism, 2nd Edition by William C. Ritchie, Tej K. Bhatia

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27 

Multilingualism and Forensic Linguistics

TEJ K. BHATIA AND WILLIAM C. RITCHIE

Introduction

Amidst the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal of the summer of 2011, another phone-hacking claim, which did not get as much attention as Murdoch’s, was a noteworthy report of the death of Mullah Omar, the supreme leader of the Taliban. The Taliban claim was that the reports of the death of their one-eyed, secluded leader were the result of the hacking of their mobile phones, email accounts, and a website. In actuality, the announcement of the death was ill-founded and false. The Taliban – who banned television, films (even Hindi films from Bollywood), and music during their rule in Afghanistan – are no longer media-shy. Their sophisticated media arm today propagates the message of their triumphs, including Mullah Omar’s own messages, on a wide variety of social media – not just in Arabic but in many languages, including English. After the infamous September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the U.S. government and its intelligence agencies were inadequately equipped to deal quickly with the attack, largely due to their overwhelming reliance on English-only sources and the lack of experts in non-Western languages. In order to remedy this situation, there are now initiatives from the national security language program of the U.S. federal government (the U.S. Department of State’s ‘Critical Language Program’) to encourage the teaching of languages – Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, ...

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