Write a Forensic Linguistic analysis of four letters that may/may not have been sent by the Zodiac killer.
Between 1969 and 1974 at least seven people were murdered in California by an unknown killer who called himself ‘The Zodiac’. He claimed thirty-seven. His victims were young couples and single men and women, whom he would stalk and kill in secluded areas, especially lakeside parking lots. He used knives and guns as his favoured weapons. During the time he was active he sent at least 18 letters, some including cryptograms and diagrams, to local newspapers detailing his crimes and taunting the police. The letters were often marked by misspellings and grammatical inaccuracies. This led investigators to believe that the killer was an uneducated person. Others believe that the Zodiac’s writings and codes reveal a mind of considerable intellect. Criminal investigators in the US date the last letters from the Zodiac to 1974, although letters are still received from people claiming to be the killer.
Your discussion should be primarily concerned with the similarities and differences of the 4 texts, ie lexical choices, lexical density, grammatical structures employed, mean sentence length, punctuation, spelling, organisation of content (but DO NOT discuss handwriting, and DO NOT discuss the cipher).
Consider the interpersonal and ideational dimensions of the letters. What do these tell you about the writer’s ideas and purposes? What relationship does the writer establish with the reader?
You should also consider the notion of idiolect, eg do you believe the idiolect of the four texts to be the same? You will also need to consider potential problems with the notion of idiolect.
Which texts, if any, do you believe to have been written by the same person?
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