Études de linguistique et littérature romanes – Studi di linguistica e letteratura romanza – Estudios de lingüística y literatura románicas
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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
Speakers’ voices are to a high degree individual. The present paper outlines how temporal characteristics of human speech (e.g. segmental or prosodic timing patterns, speech rhythmic characteristics and durational patterns of voicing) contribute to speaker individuality. On a practical level we will see how knowledge about temporal differences between speakers can be applied for forensic phonetic voice comparisons. Speaker idiosyncratic characteristics have predominantly been studied based on frequency characteristics of a speaker’s voice (e.g. fundamental frequency of vocal fold vibration and vocal tract resonances like vocalic formant frequencies). It has been demonstrated that such frequency content is directly influenced by idiosyncratic anatomical features of a speaker’s organs of speech (in particular the size of the larynx and lengths of the vocal tract cavities) which limit the range of certain spectral variables and can thus contribute to making speakers’ voices individual. Experience taught us, however, that there are limits in identifying speakers based on spectral parameters alone. It is therefore necessary to explore other dimensions in speech where idiosyncratic information is encoded. Such a dimension is ‘time’, which thus far has been paid little attention to. This is surprising because research from other domains such as motion pattern recognition has demonstrated convincingly that humans have highly individual ways in which they move and that individuals can be identified, for example,...
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