Marianne Mason image


Associate Professor, Translation/Interpreting Studies
Contact Info


Keezell 428

Spring 2024 Office Hours:
M 1-5 pm Online; W after 3:10pm on Zoom by appointment


Ph.D. University of Georgia (Linguistics)


SPAN 436: Community Interpreting
SPAN 496: Translation/Interpreting Internship
FL 430: Forensic Linguistics: Language and the Law

Research and Teaching Interests

Language and the Law/Forensic Linguistics, Discourse/Conversation Analysis, Game Theoretic Pragmatics, Statistical Corpus Linguistics, Translation/Interpreting Studies, Technology-Enhanced Learning

Current Research Project

American Council of Learned Societies/ACLS Fellowship Award/Fellow 2018-2019. Research Project Title: Language at the Center of the American Justice System.

Project Link: 

Professional Bio

I am an associate professor (with tenure) of forensic linguistics and interpreting/translation at James Madison University (JMU). I am the coordinator of the SETI (translation/interpretation) minor as well as a faculty member of the Linguistics Minor and Legal Studies Minor. Prior to joining JMU, I was a professor of linguistics and languages at Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University.

My areas of research are informed by my educational background in statistics and linguistics. I hold a BBA in production management/statistics, MA in translation, and a PhD in linguistics (University of Georgia). My areas of research are game theoretic pragmatics/discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, language and the law/forensic linguistics, and translation/interpreting studies.

Forensic Linguistics

Since the early 2000s I have been researching language and the law. I have examined language use in covertly-taped conversations of drug cartel members, interpreter-mediated bilingual courtroom testimony in both state and federal courts, and legal drug statutes. Since the last decade, my work has focused on police-lay person exchanges in the United States. This research focuses on the invocation of rights stage of custodial interrogation, the laws regarding the invocation of Miranda rights, as well as the discursive features of police interrogations and interviews: both in the United States and jurisdictions abroad. The role of police interviewing training in police interrogation reform in the United States is also at the forefront of the analysis. As a forensic linguist, I have provided expert forensic linguistic testimony

and reports, in the areas of police interrogation (e.g., invocation of rights and interrogation techniques), interpretation of legal statutes, and interpreter-mediated exchanges in the courtroom.



Mason, M. Police Interrogation, Language, and the Law: The Invocation Game (forthcoming/2024), Cambridge University Press. 

Mason, M. and F. Rock. Eds. The Discourse of Police Interviews (2020), University of Chicago Press. 

Mason, M. Courtroom Interpreting (2008), Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group.  

Select Peer-Reviewed Articles 

Mason, M. and Mason, R. D. (2023). Reconsidering Miranda Rights: Modeling Strategic Action during the Invocation Stage of a Police Interrogation. Rationality and Society. Link: 

Mason, M (2018). Negotiated Exchanges and Linguistic Footing in the Spanish-English Bilingual Courtroom: Perspectives: Studies in Translation Theory and Practice. 1-14. 

Mason, M. (2016). The ‘Preparatory’ and ‘Argumentation’ Stages of Police Interrogation: A Linguistic Analysis of a Criminal Investigation. Language & Communication 48: 79-87. 

Mason, M. (2015) The Role of Interpreters in Adjudicating Blame: An Examination of Spanish Clitics and Active-Passive Voice in a Spanish/English Bilingual Criminal Trial. Translation and Interpreting Studies: The Journal of the Translation and Interpreting Studies Association (Dec., 10.2). 

Mason, M. (2013) Can I get a Lawyer?: A Suspect's Use of Indirect Requests in a Custodial Setting. The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law 20(2): 203-227. 

Mason, M. and R. D. Mason. (2012) Communicating a Green Corporate Perspective: Ideological Persuasion in the Corporate Environmental Report. Journal of Business and Technical Communication 26(4): 478-505. 

Mason, M. (2011) Examining the Rhetorical Structure and Discursive Features of Letters of Leniency as a Genre. Pragmatics: Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association 21(1): 111-26. 

Mason, M. (2008) Psychics and the ‘Other Side': A Discourse Analysis of Televised Psychic Readings. Pragmatics: Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association 18(3): 453-68. 

Mason, M. and Mason, R. D. (2006) Legal Standards for Establishing Concealment: A Theoretical Framework for Statistical Analysis. Police Quarterly 9: 291-302. 

Mason, M. (2004) Referential Choices and the Need for Repairs in Covertly Taped Conversations. Journal of Pragmatics 36: 1139-56. 

Under review 

Mason, M., Mason, R. D. (under review). Changing Perceptions: Strategic Action within the Law. 

Select Grants/Fellowships  

Language at the Center of the American Justice System, ACLS Fellowship Program (fellow 2018) 



Legal Reports and Expert Witness Testimony

Testified and provided expert opinions/reports in multiple criminal cases.

Membership (Organizations) 

International Association for Forensic and Legal Linguistics 
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators/NAJIT 
Linguistic Society of America 
Consortium for Undergraduate Law & Justice Programs 

Journal and Professional Boards 

Editorial Board Member--Translation and Interpreting Studies: The Journal of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association 

Board Member: Society for the Study of Translation and Interpretation (SSTI)/National Association of Judiciary Interpreters (NAJIT), Elected Board of Directors Member 

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