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*The Peoples Democratic Republic of


Larbi Ben Mhidi University

Module: Discourse Analysis
Department of English
Group: Master1 G1

Forensic Discourse

Supervised by:
presented by:

Mr.Ayadi Karim
Bouaziz Samah
Merazka Meriem

Forensic Discourse Analysis:

One of the defining characteristics of discourse analysis is that
it is capable of application in a wide variety of settings and
contexts. Wherever there is a discourse spoken or written,
ordinary or specific there is likelihood for applying linguistic
knowledge to decode that discourse. One of those contexts is
the forensic context.
Definition of Forensic Discourse
The analysis of spoken and written discourse in legal
settings such as police interactions with suspects and
defendants and the analysis of written evidence provided
in a court of law.
The application of linguistic knowledge, methods, insights
to the forensic context of law, language, crime
investigation, trail, and judicial procedure. It is a branch of
applied linguistic.
The Focus of Forensic Discourse
The main focus of forensic discourse analysts was to provide
linguistic evidence for legal cases. Primary interests were
directed to police interaction with suspects and defendants and
then enlarged to the whole language community including both
spoken and written forms of legal system of communication.
Stylistic analysis is the examination of the characteristic use of language
features by a given writer or writers. The analyst reviews the material
presented, written or spoken, and compares the text of unknown origin with that

of the known such comparison focuses on language features of which speakers

or writers have little or no conscious knowledge or control as they speak or
write. For example, writers have rather high levels of consciousness and control
over vocabulary choices but considerably less consciousness and control over
their grammar, spelling, or punctuation patterns. Discourse style is another
language feature of which most speakers and writers have little or no conscious
awareness or control.
The case for linguistic stylistics: Coulthard method involved discriminating
between the two potential writers by identifying consistent and distinctive
alternate vocabulary choices: Malcolm Coulthard (1992) concluded that the greater
the degree of consistency in any comparison corpus, the greater the weight of
evidence there will be for an attribution.

Forensic phonetics focuses on the analysis of spoken
communication for the purpose of decoding speech and
language. It includes: Voice identification, Enhancing and
decoding spoken messages, Analysis of emotions in voice,
and Authentication of recording.
Voice identification :
Is the most important task within the field of forensic phonetics. It is a
process where attempts are made to identify an individual from his/her
speech, when that person is not known and when anyone within a
relatively large open ended population could have been the talker.
When a person has to be identified on the basis of voice; the forensic
phonetician will rely on different sources of speaker variability, this
1- Organic differences: This means the differences in the vocal tract
length and shape.
2- Linguistic differences: this means the variation in accent/dialect and
sociolinguistic variation.
3-Paralinguistic variation: the emotional state of the speaker (stressed,
happy or sad).


These characteristics include the way the words are
spoken, the word pronunciations, vowel and consonant
pronunciations, the recording noise floor (unwanted

background noise), the way the words flow together and

significant patterns of speech linguist may detect, like
accent, dialect and, voice tone speech pacing.
Vocal characteristics are very distinct amongst all people
regardless of race, gender, or ethnic background
There are two broad categories of speaker identification
evidence, nave and technical (Nolan 1983: 7). Nave speaker
identification involves the application of our natural abilities as
human language users to the identification of a speaker.
Technical recognition is defined by the employment of any
trained skill or any technologically-supported procedure in the
decision-making process. This applies almost exclusively when
there is an incriminating recording (a bomb hoax, a fraudulent
bank deal, a wire tap, and so on) and a recording of a suspect.

Voice identification techniques:

1-Critical listening evaluation:
In this phase, the forensic experts relies on their critical listening skills to
look for the types of speaking characteristics that could be relevant and
specific in identifying a persons voice They focus specifically on things
such as: inflections, stutters, lisps and any form of accent.
The forensic expert will then create a voice profile for this person. Voice
profiles are defined as linguistic profiles containing different acoustic
characteristic of voice and other language features like dialect, accent

A- Creating an exemplar:
Exemplars are defined as expert supervised audio recordings of
predetermined spoken word samples for the purpose of voice
identification comparison. During the exemplar creation process
it is important to coach the person (subject) speaking for the
recording into the same level of energy as the evidence
recording of the unknown voice. The exemplar of the known

voice must be collected by the same instrument the recording

of the unknown voice was recorded. For example, if the
recording of the unknown voice was recorded over the phone,
the exemplar of the known voice should be collected over the
phone, etc. When the exemplar is collected, the suspect is
asked by the examiner to stay the same words in the same way
as they were spoken by the unknown person. In other words, in
a normal, natural voice.
b-Voice comparison:
Comparing voice and speech characteristics of two or
more speech samples (example and unknown recording)
with the view to assess the possibility of the speaker being
the same. The words selected for comparison are those
which are most clearly articulated, not slurred, truncated
or run together with other words.
2- Electronic measurement:
It is measuring of the spectrum to determine whether or not
a sound is in the same sound range between the suspect and
the evidence. In other words, to identify whether the speaker
in the unknown voice recording is the suspect himself.
3- Waveform Analysis:
The analysis is done through aural (listening) and visual comparison
of the words through graphical display. The expert views the wave
form in the soft program to determine whether or not the pacing of
the speech and the shape of the words of both recording are similar.
Results and notes collected through out those stages to come up
with one of the following standards:

Standards for Comparisons

The following are the standards accepted nationally by all
professional organizations involved with voice identification,
the FBI,

the International
the American Board of Recorded Evidence:


IDENTIFICATION: At least 90% of all comparable words

must be very similar aurally and spectrally, producing not
less than twenty (20) matching words.
comparable words must be very similar aurally and
spectrally, producing not less than fifteen (15) matching
POSSIBLE IDENTIFICATION: At least 80% of comparable
words must be very similar aurally and spectrally,
producing not less than ten (10) matching words.
INCONCLUSIVE: Falls below either the Possible
Identification or Possible Elimination confidence levels
and/or the examiner does not believe a meaningful
decision is obtainable due to various limiting factors.
POSSIBLE ELIMINATION: At least 80% of comparable
words must be very dissimilar aurally and spectrally,
producing not less than ten (10) words that do not match.
PROBABLE ELIMINATION: At least 80% of the
comparable words must be dissimilar aurally and
spectrally, producing not less than fifteen (15) words that
do not match.

ELIMINATION: At least 90% of the comparable words

must be very dissimilar aurally and spectrally, producing
not less than twenty (20) words that do not match .

List of References:
-Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied

-Speaker identification evidence: its forms, limitations, and

roles:Francis Nolan,University of Cambridge.