Well there has certainly been a lot of publicity for the laurel/yanny clip recently. It is great to have so many people discussing speech and speech perception – but also a little disheartening that so much misinformation gets accepted as valid phonetics.
17 March 2015
Listen to these two snippets of muttered self-talk, then read on to see how a transcript can prime journalists’ perception.
If you are among the few who have not already heard the media’s interpretation of this audio, you’ll find it useful if you write down what you hear now, before reading on – and if you have a moment, I would love to be told your perception – you can send a message here.
Here is a truly hilarious act by Peter Kay – which also carries a deeper message in relation to forensic recordings. As you are ‘begging for birdseed’, note how real the suggested interpretations sound, even when you know they cannot possibly be correct (or do you?).
16 May 2014
Social media claims Christopher Pyne dropped the ‘C’ word in parliament on Wednesday, but he says the word was ‘grub’. (SMH)
Huge interest the last day or two here in Oz as to whether Christopher Pyne, a right-wing politician, swore at a fellow politician in parliament.
10 April 2014
With so many responding to media invitations to form subjective opinions as to whether Oscar Pistorius’ emotion is genuine, are we missing factual errors in the reporting of what he is actually saying? Could scientific analysis help here?
You may have seen some rather hilarious ‘alternative lyrics’ for Carl Orff’s famous O Fortuna that are circulating on the internet. As with many forms of word play, these are not only entertaining but also give some important insights regarding language and speech – and, in this case, into the effect of priming on evaluation of forensic transcripts.
23 June 2013
The Zimmerman ruling
A ruling has been handed down on the voice evidence in the Zimmerman case we have been following. Judge Debra S Nelson gave high praise for Prof Peter French’s evidence (in her words, ‘The Court found the testimony of Dr. French to be the most compelling of the witnesses presented.‘). That is an important endorsement for the role of genuine expertise in relevant branches of phonetics in the legal system.
12 June 2013
An ongoing murder case in Florida, USA is discussing the vexed issue of whether it is possible to identify a speaker from a tiny, barely intelligible ‘grab’ of poor quality audio. One of the issues is the extent to which speaker comparison depends on prior decisions about what is being said (i.e. forensic transcription). The USA is very open about their court proceedings, so we are able to follow along with the debate. In this post you can hear the audio, and then (preferably in that order) read about case and listen to the expert testimony.
The PACT experiments represent a more commonplace – and more disturbing – problem with the treatment of forensic transcription than the crisis call experiment. Again they use audio from a real murder trial. If you have read the case study, you’ll recognise this story. Here we go into a bit more detail on the experimental results than in the case study itself.
Here’s an experiment shows the dangers of leaving the task of evaluating the transcript of a ‘disputed utterance’ to the jury.
Early one morning, a young man returned home from his paper round. About twenty minutes later, he made a crisis call (emergency call) reporting his entire family were lying dead in the house.
Priming, in relation to speech, is the tendency of the human ear to hear words that have been suggested, either explicitly or by context – even though there may little or no acoustic evidence for those words.