A blog for the Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence
Welcome to the Hub blog
This is the official blog for the Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence, a joint initiative of the Faculty of Arts and the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne.
For all our latest news, please click NEWS above.
About the Hub
- How are language and speech used in forensic evidence?
- Why we need a Research Hub
- The Australian Linguistics ‘Call to Action’
- From a problem to a solution
A Hub is launched
The Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence was officially launched on Friday, 30th October 2020, by Professor Russell Goulbourne, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. Although it had to take place over zoom due to the pandemic, the launch was a very happy occasion. Please enjoy the video below (9 minutes), which, though very heavily edited, gives a flavour of the main speeches (see more information below).
Note: A transcript of the video is available on the Hub website.
Many thanks to all involved!
We are grateful to Professor Goulbourne for his entertaining and inspiring speech, and for his ongoing faith in the concept of the Hub, which propelled us from inception to launch, pandemic notwithstanding. Without his vision, there simply would be no Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence.
As well, the launch was graced by speeches from three other distinguished supporters:
- The Honourable Chris Kourakis, Chief Justice of South Australia – who, in his role as Chair of the Judicial Commission on Cultural Diversity, was delegated by the Australian Council of Chief Justices to respond to the Linguistics Call to Action
- Professor Diana Eades, Adjunct Professor of Linguistics, the University of New England, a key architect of the Linguistics Call to Action, and generous mentor to the Hub; and
- Professor Sandra Hale, Professor of Interpreting and Translation, the University of New South Wales, whose work in helping the judiciary improve the provision of interpreting in courts and tribunals provided the perfect model for linguists seeking to help improve the handling of indistinct covert recordings
The speakers were introduced by Professor Lesley Stirling, Head of the School of Languages and Linguistics in the Faculty of Arts. Professor Stirling was another key architect of the Call to Action, and her vision and hard work as Head of School are largely responsible for bringing the Hub into being.
Due to the pandemic, the launch took place over zoom, with Melissa Sharkey and Jennifer Graham-Williams providing administrative, technical and moral support, as they have done throughout the Hub’s long set-up period – always much appreciated.
We had a mixed audience of more than 70, many of whom stayed on for drinks (self-supplied) and discussion. Thanks to all!
Conference: Australian Linguistic Society annual conference (ALS)
The Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence will be presenting our work at the upcoming 2021 Australian Linguistic Society annual conference (ALS). This is going to be fully online, hosted by La Trobe University Melbourne, and will run from Dec 7-Dec 9. Our papers on forensic linguistic topics are (times listed in AEDT): Tuesday 7 Dec – poster session, 3pm-4pm Forensic audio …Fri 3 December, 2021
Event Summary – Linguistics in the Pub panel (online experiments)
I recently spoke at a panel session for Linguistics in the Pub with my friends (who are also colleagues) Chloé Diskin-Holdaway and Olga Maxwell (pictured above). The three of us as a team have published some research about Indian English and about Australian English (Chloé and Debbie, with Penelope Schmidt). Details of the Linguistics in the Pub event were publicised as …Thu 18 November, 2021
Publication summary – “Acoustic Injustice”
Helen and I recently published an article called Acoustic injustice: The experience of listening to indistinct covert recordings presented as evidence in court. The reason for the title is that the paper appears in The Acoustics of Justice: Law, Listening, Sound, a special issue of the journal Law, Text, Culture edited by James Parker, Sara Ramshaw and Mehera San Roque. You can …Mon 4 October, 2021
Research Report – How textual priming can undermine legal safeguards intended to protect juries from misleading transcripts
The Hub had four presentations at the recent virtual IAFPA (International Association for Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics) conference - you can read a general summary about that conference in another blog post here. This current post is all about research carried out by Dr. Yuko Kinoshita from the Australian National University, in collaboration with Helen Fraser from the Hub. The paper …Mon 6 September, 2021
Research report – Assessing the role of automatic methods for the transcription of indistinct covert recordings
In the Hub, we find that we are very often asked about how the problem of what is said in indistinct covert recordings can be solved using computational methods. In our new research we show that the way things currently stand, computational methods are not suitable for a range of reasons - transcription by humans is a much better method. Our …Fri 3 September, 2021
Event Summary – International Association for Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics Conference
The Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence took part (virtually) in a conference run by The International Association of Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics. It was hosted by the Phonetics team at Philipps-Universität Marburg (Germany), from August 23-August 25, 2021. Our feature image is of Marburg, where the conference was hosted; image is from the conference website, credit Gea DeJong-Lendle. The …Fri 3 September, 2021
Research Report – Forensic audio in context: a study in perceptual phonetics
This is a post by Conor Clements who did his Honours thesis with me (Debbie Loakes) last year. Over the course of 2020, I ran an experiment for my honours thesis on the topics of forensic transcription and the effects of priming and enhancing on perception of indistinct audio. My experiment followed on from an earlier one by Helen Fraser, so before …Fri 25 June, 2021
Event Summary – Linguistics in the Pub
On Wednesday April 28 2021, I led a discussion at Naughton’s, a lovely old "pub" opposite The University of Melbourne on Royal Parade. This was a Linguistics in the Pub event. Impressively, Linguistics in the Pub has been running for 10 years now. You can read about Linguistics in the Pub here (and you can sign up for the mailing …Sun 30 May, 2021