Forensic Linguistics - Ethnography - Discourse Analysis -
BA, MA Germanic languages
PhD Linguistics (Ghent)
Dr. Katrijn Maryns
is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Ghent, teaching courses on
discourse analysis and interpreting studies. Dr. Maryns's research investigates
discourse practices in procedural settings. She is particularly interested in
the discursive construction of evidence and identities across widely divergent
contexts of socio-legal inquiry. Her approach combines ethnography with
sociolinguistics and discourse analysis to analyse the critical role language
plays in legal-administrative procedures, with a particular focus on:
- Intertextuality, entextualisation and textual trajectories
- Discursive resources and ideologies of language
- Language and the determination of national origin
- Multilingualism, translanguaging and flexible language use
- Legal interpreting & intercultural communication
From 2000-2004 she did ethnographic work on communicative practices in asylum
and migration contexts (Belgian asylum procedure). She was a founding member of
the Language & National Origin Group who authored the 2004 Guidelines. From 2006-2009 she examined
issues of diversity and performance in the highest criminal court procedure
(Belgian Assize Court).
In October 2010, she started a research project on multilingualism and
trans-languaging in asylum settings. In early 2011, she conducted ethnographic
fieldwork at the asylum agencies in Brussels in order to
revisit the issue of language and identity in the Belgian asylum procedure, ten
years after her PhD. In this project, she focuses on the use of English as a
vehicular language and as a medium of interpreted interaction in asylum
hearings. Her research project also addresses LADO practices and involves close
cooperation with the recently appointed LADO officer of the Belgian Immigration
Please add: @ugent.be
2011 (in press). Multilingualism in legal settings. In M Martin-Jones, A
Blackledge and A Creese (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism.
- This paper investigates the functionally organized
repertoires of multilingual speakers in legal-administrative
settings. It focuses on the way monolingual ideologies inform
institutional assessments of multilingual performances and
argues that given the variability which characterises languages
and their users, one should be very cautious establishing a link
between language, origin and identity.
2009. Versluierde meertaligheid in de Belgische asielprocedure. In Jaspers,
J. De klank van de stad. Stedelijke meertaligheid en interculturele
communicatie. Leuven: Acco, 81-101.
2006. The asylum speaker: Language in the Belgian asylum procedure.
Manchester: St. Jerome.
- Drawing on first-hand ethnographic data, field interviews
with interpreters, interviewers and decision-makers,
observations and off-record comments, The Asylum Speaker
examines discursive processes in the asylum procedure and the
impact these processes may have on the determination of refugee
status. The book starts from the assumption that far-reaching
legal decisions often have to be made on very limited grounds.
Unable to submit any evidence to substantiate their case, the
only chance that many asylum seekers have is to argue their case
during the oral hearings with public officials at the different
asylum agencies. Maryns investigates the performance of the
asylum seeker during these interviews and analyzes the
relationship between narrative structuring and gradations of
linguistic competence. She explores a number of related
questions: first, how the interaction between applicants and
public officials proceeds; second, how this interaction forms
the discursive input into long and complicated textual
trajectories, and third, how the outcome of these discursive
processes affects the assessment of asylum applications. Maryns
demonstrates how propositional aspects play a crucial role in
the asylum procedure, whereas little attention is paid to
narrative-linguistic diversity and multilingual speaker
repertoires. Her analysis reveals how insufficient insight into
the linguistic structure and narrative features of the asylum
account often results in a deficient processing of important
2005. Monolingual language ideologies and code choice in the Belgian asylum
procedure. Language & Communication 25: 299-314.
- When refugee claimants enter the Belgian asylum procedure,
they have to motivate their application during one or more
interviews with public officials. This paper examines the
limitations of the procedural imposition of a monolingual
standard code for a clear understanding of narrative accounts.
Drawing on the case of a West African asylum seeker, it is shown
how the applicant is forced to assimilate to English and how the
imposition of this code acts as: (a) a catalyst to widen the gap
between intended meanings and interactional uptake, and (b) a
filter on the subsequent entextualisation of the case.
2005. Displacement in asylum seekers narratives. In M Baynham and A De Fina
(eds.), Dislocations/ Relocations: Narratives of displacement.
Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing: 174-193.
- This analysis demonstrates how the asylum seekers'
narratives can routinely be found wanting in the face of the
interviewer's sustained probing to elicit confirming detail to
substantiate a claim. The normative constraints of the interview
context and the expectations of the interviewers work against
the contextualization that would allow interlocutors to make
sense of the stories they are told. Maryns' analysis shows how
these processes have ample potential for putting asylum seekers
at a disadvantage and for allowing authorities to discard their
2004. Identifying the asylum speaker: Reflections on the pitfalls of language
analysis in the determination of national origin. International Journal of
Speech, Language and the Law 11(2): 240-260.
- This article investigates the extent to which linguistic
expert vision can anticipate practical problems related to
language and identity in the Belgian asylum procedure. Given the
enormous demand for linguistic expertise, this article calls
into question the reliability of linguistic methods in
2004. (coauthor) Guidelines for the use of language analysis in relation to
questions of national origin in refugee cases. The International Journal of
Speech, Language and the Law: Forensic Linguistics, 11(2): 261-266.