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Vox & Silentium

Études de linguistique et littérature romanes – Studi di linguistica e letteratura romanza – Estudios de lingüística y literatura románicas

Gina Maria Schneider, Maria Chiara Janner and Bénédicte Élie

Voix et silence se considèrent traditionnellement comme deux phénomènes opposés, s’excluant l’un l’autre. Les contributions contenues dans ce volume se proposent de dépasser une telle conception, en se centrant non seulement sur la valeur et les fonctions que les deux concepts peuvent recouvrir, mais aussi sur la relation complexe qui existe entre eux en linguistique et en littérature. Outre les deux pôles constitués par la voix et le silence, on peut repérer dans le domaine des langues romanes une grande variété de voix silencieuses ou de silences expressifs : la communication non verbale et son interaction avec le langage verbal, les différentes voix (plus ou moins silencieuses) donnant expression à ce qui ne peut pas être dit, ou bien la représentation graphique – et donc apparemment « muette » – d’un phénomène potentiellement acoustique. Le cri silencieux de Daphné, rendu visible dans la sculpture de Gian Lorenzo Bernini illustrant la couverture, est la manifestation figurative de cette rencontre oxymorique entre la voix et le silence.
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What does voice and silence tell us about speaker identity?An introduction to temporal speaker individualities and their use for forensic speaker comparison.



(Universität Zürich)

Next to an intellectual interest in why speakers possess individual voices there are applications where such knowledge is vital: Recordings of a criminal’s voice during the conduction of crime frequently become evidence in post-crime forensic investigations (Dellwo et al. 2014, Rose 2002, Nolan 1997, Künzel 1987). Typical cases range from more trivial issues like recordings of hoax calls to emergency numbers over sexual harassment via the phone to highly serious crime, like calls of kidnappers to victims or the police or phone calls or taped messages from terrorist groups. In such cases a forensic phonetic expert’s task is typically to estimate the probability by which two or more speech samples are from the same or different speakers (e.g. whether voice samples from a suspect and a perpetrator are from an identical speaker or not). This process is referred to as forensic phonetic voice comparison (Nolan 1997). Forensic phonetic voice comparison is based on the one hand on a systematic analysis of auditory characteristics concerning a speaker’s dialect, sociolect, emotional state, health condition, etc. (Jessen 2007) and, on the other hand, expert witnesses use acoustic measurements to obtain data that is typically not retrievable by the human ear (e.g. average frequencies of vocal tract resonances or their dynamics). In the present article we are particularly concerned with retrieving evidence from the acoustic analysis of speech.

Forensic phonetic speaker comparison underlies the assumption that speech contains speaker idiosyncratic or...

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