Sharing innovative methods, data and knowledge across sociophonetics and forensic speech science

Vincent Hughes 1  and Jessica Wormald 2
  • 1 University of York, Language and Linguistic Science, Heslington, York, Ireland
  • 2 J P French Associates, York, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Vincent Hughes and Jessica Wormald


Forensic speech science is the application of speech analysis methods to forensic recordings; in many jurisdictions this is predominantly the application of sociophonetics. Sociophonetics and forensic speech science have developed as independent research areas with their own aims, methodologies and identities, and the gap between the fields has arguably grown bigger in recent years. Yet, there is much to be gained for both fields from closer collaboration through sharing methods, data, and knowledge. We will argue that this is more important now given the increasing demands on forensic science to more rigorously and empirically test and validate methods, and current trends in sociophonetics towards understanding how different linguistic variables are used by speakers to enact different identities in different situations. In this paper, we review the relationship between sociophonetics and forensic speech science. We also outline how developments in both fields can, and do, directly contribute to improving the quality of forensic voice evidence, as well as informing theoretical and practical aspects of sociophonetics.

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