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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Swatting: Tools for Detecting a Deadly Linguistic Prank
by Moore, Julia, M.A., Hofstra University, 2020, 64; 28092439
Abstract (Summary)

Prank calls are an issue going back decades, but in the last 20 years, callers are going further than ordering 50 pizzas or asking if a refrigerator is running–they are placing hoax calls to 911 to elicit a large police response. These calls are known as “swatting” calls. Existing research surrounding swatting calls is limited, and many studies into 911 calls in general are from a psychological standpoint (e.g. Imbens-Bailey & McCabe, 2000) and/or by examining certain linguistic features (such as pronoun use, politeness, pauses while responding, etc.) (e.g. Harpster et al., 2009). By building a corpus of 8 swatting calls and a matched corpus of 8 legitimate 911 calls, and analyzing the datasets with a corpus linguistics and conversation analysis approach, this study aims to answer the question “What are the linguistic features for when a swatting call is made to police versus a legitimate call?”

The results found that swatting callers are the only callers to make threats to others, which legitimate 911 callers are the only callers who make threats of injury to themselves. Swatting callers tend to use if/then statements when making threats to the police, saying if they arrive, whereas legitimate 911 callers speak in terms of when the police arrive. Swatting callers also tend to bolster their threats with swearing and direct conversation in a manner that bolsters their language, like giving the call-taker commands or using phrases like “I sound serious,” whereas legitimate 911 callers typically speak within their turn and give cooperative and informative responses, providing a coherent narrative. Swatting callers’ narratives are more disjointed, and when pressed for details like names or motives, they will either dodge the question or hang up. These results could be informative for operator training in the future if they hold true with a wider sample of swatting calls and legitimate 911 calls.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gales, Tammy A.
School: Hofstra University
Department: Forensic Linguistics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: MAI 82/3(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics
Keywords: 911, Analysis, Call, Emergency, Linguistic, Swatting
Publication Number: 28092439
ISBN: 9798672178264
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