Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Anatomical Jargon: Modest or Arrogant?

Anatomical Jargon: Modest or Arrogant?

Jenna Huntley

This paper is a discourse analysis of anatomical jargon in the sphere of forensic anthropology public engagement, including interviews, expert witness testimony in a court of law, and blog postings. The focus of this paper is the usage of standard and common terms for the human body (clavicle vs collar bone) using academic articles from similar disciplines of criminal justice and anatomy, as well as forensic anthropologists work from Tim White and Dawnie Steadman’s student textbooks. Research was also done on public engagement aspects such as podcasts (Ologies with Alie Ward, AnthroBiology, and The Forensic Anthropology Companion Podcast), public blogs (Powered by Osteons, These Bones of Mine, National Geographic, and MAPA) as well as popular True Crime television shows like Bones and Forensic Files to see how the professionals use jargon. This paper delves into public opinions of anatomical jargon to see if the standard is informative and easy to follow or if it seen as boring, off-putting, and arrogant. Based on the lack of academic writing specifically for this topic, a general consensus can be made that the terminology forensic anthropologists use is based on two things: how they were taught and by whom, and personal preference to keep it simple.

April 12, 2021 - Posted by | abstract


  1. After taking a forensics class this semester I find this topic to be especially interesting. We spoke a lot about methodologies and procedures that were out of date, lacking scientific justification and did not allow for certain skeletal variations within their algorithms. That being said, we did not really dive into language specifically and I am really curious to know what sorts of data you found in the science compared to the entertainment aspects.

    Comment by Virginia Nastase | April 21, 2021 | Reply

  2. This is important and I believe essential. I’d be interested in reading this when completed. I’ve often wondered how audience members respond to forensic jargon and think of the persons who are deemed the experts such those working in forensic research. The use of jargon in forensics can make a person seem intelligent but sometimes I question if they’re perceived as being a smarty pants if their in court speaking with a jury.

    Comment by Antione M | April 25, 2021 | Reply

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