Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Ricardo Otheguy

Subject Categories



Practitioners in threat assessment have considered direct threats as being high-level threats of future violence (O'Toole 2000: 9), but empirical studies testing the predictive validity of direct threats have contradicted this intuition (Dietz, Matthews, Martell et al. 1991; Smith 2006). Studies that include analyses of the deployment of English verbal roots (such as kill, hurt, etc.) have failed to show significant correlations between lexical choices and the occurrence of realized outcomes (Dietz, Matthews, Martell et al. 1991; Scalora, Baumgartner, Zimmerman et al. 2002a: 1360; Scalora, Baumgartner, Zimmerman 2002b: 46, Smith 2006). This analysis focused on inflectional affixes, rather than on lexical stems and aimed to uncover how formal choices made in specific acts of language use could predict the likelihood of realization of violent acts. Offender writings containing verb forms under study were collected from 201 crime scenes. A total of 169 were cases of single homicide.

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