Catching criminals by their voices: An introduction to forensic phonetics

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution


    Forensic phonetics is the use of expertise in phonetics to help solve crimes. It is used, for example, when bank robbers have covered their faces during the crime so that some recording of their voices may be the best lead in a case - or it could be cases of bomb threats or blackmailing over the phone. When recordings of both the offender and a suspect are available, a voice comparison can be done by an expert in forensic speech analysis. The core of speaker-related differences in speech is basically a combination of anatomical differences of the vocal tract and the learned speaking habits of different individuals. The expert then attempts to exploit the speaker-related differences in the way people speak to determine whether e.g., the suspect is in fact the offender.

    I will give a brief introduction to forensic phonetics and I will present some cases where it was the use of forensic phonetics that actually helped solve a crime. I am also going to address the issue of how good people are at judging and recognising people by their voices. Research in perception and recognition of voices can become relevant when no recording of an offender's voice is available and witnesses may have to try to identify the offender.

    Emneord: forensic phonetics
    Period21 Sept 2010
    Event titleCatching criminals by their voices
    Event typeConference
    OrganiserEnglish Lecture Society
    LocationAarhus Universitet, DenmarkShow on map


    • forensic phonetics