Debbie Loakes

  1. Farewell message from Debbie

    Some end of year news for the Hub is that I am finishing up my Research Fellow role, and will be moving into a research and teaching role in the School of Languages and Linguistics. I will be starting that role in January, working in the ESL program which includes teaching the 5 week intensive […]

  2. Event summary: Acoustical Society of America conference (in Sydney)

    The Hub had a presence at the Acoustical Society of America conference, which was held in Sydney from Dec 4-8, 2023. I presented some work that Helen and I have been conducting in collaboration with Dr Kirsty McDougall, who is an Assistant Professor of Phonetics at University of Cambridge. Kirsty works on various topics in […]

  3. Is your voice really your voice? Let’s ask AI Debbie

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have been extremely rapid, and this has become especially evident in 2023. In this blog post, we address the the matter of text-to-speech. Think deepfakes (in this case generated audio) and spoofing (here, identity crime using voices) – but also there are more innocuous uses for the generation of speech, […]

  4. Podcast: Because Language – Forensic Linguistics

    Helen Fraser recently made an appearance on the Because Language podcast, along with co-authors Diana Eades and Georgina Heydon, to discuss their new publication in the Cambridge Elements in Forensic Linguistics series. You can listen to the forensic linguistics episode of Because Language here (section starts at 1.05). This is the blurb about what to […]

  5. Funded PhD position in Forensic Transcription – expressions of interest

    It is not too late to put in an expression of interest for a funded PhD opportunity in The Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence, starting in February 2024. This opportunity is for a topic related to forensic transcription. The first stage of the process is this expression of interest, and shortlisted applicants will […]

  6. Publication summary: “Transcribing and translating forensic speech evidence containing foreign languages—An Australian perspective” by Miranda Lai

    Another paper has recently been added to the Frontiers research topic Capturing Talk: The Institutional Practices Surrounding the Transcription of Spoken Language. This paper, called Transcribing and translating forensic speech evidence containing foreign languages—An Australian perspective, is by a colleague of the Hub, RMIT senior lecturer in translating and interpreting Dr. Miranda Lai. It contributes […]

  7. Upcoming event: seminar by Lauren Harrington (Univ. York)

    On Friday March 24th, Hub visitor Lauren Harrington will talk about Transcription of indistinct audio: are phoneticians at an advantage?  This will be an in-person event at The University of Melbourne (Babel Building, rm 407) at, 3.15pm. There will also be an online option (just get in touch with Hub members for the link). Abstract: […]

  8. Upcoming event: seminar at Monash University (Helen Fraser, Debbie Loakes and Lauren Harrington)

    On Tuesday March 21st, the Hub will be giving a seminar at Monash University: Can the new generation of automatic speech recognition systems solve problems of forensic transcription – and what does the process of answering this question teach us about the human language capacity? Helen Fraser, Debbie Loakes, Lauren Harrington* Research Hub for Language […]

  9. Upcoming event: Helen Fraser plenary at the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences

    The Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) was founded in 1967, and is said to be “unique in bringing together persons of professional standing from the legal, medical and scientific professions whom have contributed to the advancement or practice of forensic science”. The Hub is pleased to announce that Helen Fraser will be giving a […]

  10. Masterclasses in transcription for forensic and other purposes – join us in March

    The Hub is known for its pioneering work in forensic transcription – but transcripts are used in many other sectors of society. As well, multiple branches of linguistic science use transcripts as the basis of research (e.g. phonetics, conversation and discourse analysis, language description and documentation, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics – not to mention other branches of […]

  11. The Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence in 2023

    The Hub are happy to be back at work in 2023, with many activities planned for the start of the new year and beyond. Wrapping up 2022 In wrapping up the Hub’s activities in 2022, which included a symposium we hosted at The University of Melbourne, a visit to the SocioPhonAus workshop in Brisbane, and various […]

  12. Upcoming event summary – ALS 2022 and SST 2022

    In November and December, the Hub will be presenting at two upcoming conferences. These are: ALS 2022 – The Australian Linguistics Society annual conference, to be held at The University of Melbourne (Nov 30- Dec 2). SST 2022 – The 18th Australasian Speech Science and Technology conference, to be held at ANU in Canberra (Dec […]

  13. Research report – “Assisting listeners to hear words that aren’t there” (Fraser 2018)

    In 2018, Helen published a paper in the Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences called ‘Assisting’ listeners to hear words that aren’t there: dangers in using police transcripts of indistinct covert recordings. This paper is highly relevant to our ongoing work in the Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence, and we summarise the main findings […]

  14. Event Summary – SocioPhonAus3

    This week, the Hub travelled to Brisbane for the SocioPhonAus3 conference, held on July 11 and 12. This was hosted by Griffith University, at the Ship Inn on Southbank. A very nice venue, as you can see from our feature image. The small picture below also shows where we had our breaks and meals – […]

  15. Symposium – Transcription in Legal Contexts: Problems and Solutions

    In the last month (June 8 and 9, 2022), the Hub ran a symposium called Transcription in Legal Contexts: Problems and Solutions. Day 1 was all about problems, while Day 2 was about solutions. We ran this event on campus at The University of Melbourne, and also had online attendees including many from the U.K […]

  16. Research report – Frontiers in Communication (Loakes 2022)

    As of today, the Hub has a new open access publication – this is an article published in our special issue of Frontiers in Communication, called Does Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) Have a Role in the Transcription of Indistinct Covert Recordings for Forensic Purposes?     Motivation for this study This study was motivated by […]

  17. Helen in Melbourne

    The Hub has had a busy month, with Helen coming to Melbourne (for the first time in two years!). We had some work to do together on a research project (which we will report on soon) and Helen gave two lectures about forensic linguistics in the first year Language course. The first lecture focused on […]

  18. Capturing talk – Frontiers papers available

    In one of our first posts last year, we mentioned we would be co-editing a Frontiers research topic (see that post from March 2021 here). The research topic is called  Capturing Talk: The Institutional Practices Surrounding the Transcription of Spoken Language. For our first post of 2022, We are pleased to announce there are already […]

  19. 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 […]

  20. 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 […]

  21. 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 […]

  22. 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 […]

  23. 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 […]

  24. 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 […]

  25. 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 […]

  26. 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 […]

  27. Event Summary – Perspectives on Transcription in Criminal Justice (symposium)

    The Research Hub for Language in Forensic Evidence recently took part in the Perspectives on Transcription in Criminal Justice symposium, which was held online on Thursday March 11. The event was run by the SILC team (Centre for Spoken Interaction in Legal Contexts) within the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics. Around 130 people logged in […]

  28. Debbie Loakes: My forensic origin story

    How I became interested in Forensic Linguistics and Forensic Phonetics I studied my undergraduate degree in Linguistics at Monash University. I remember looking at the handbook (which was a huge printed document in those days!) and wanting to know more about forensic linguistics – curiosity about this subject is what got me into studying linguistics […]