FAQs

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of cases do Language Intelligence work on?
  • What programs do you use in speech analysis?
  • What is the process for speech analysis?
  • How does a typical analysis take?
  • What is the process with determining authorship, regarding textual cases?
  • Who have Language Intelligence worked with?
  • What’s interesting about the work Language Intelligence has completed thus far?
  • What steps should someone aspiring to work in a similar line of work in written and spoken language analysis take?
  • What about handwriting recognition determining authorship?
  • Do Language Intelligence work on music and song plagiarism?
  • Do Language Intelligence work with only Australian agencies?

What kind of cases do Language Intelligence work on?

One of the services we provide is voice analysis. The most common type of voice analysis we provide is speaker identification. Sometimes it’s with disputed identities for crimes, other times it’s for voice impersonation. We also do something that’s called ‘speaker profiling.’

We work alongside state and federal agencies to identify suspects using both acoustic details, and sociolinguistic features, such as word choice.

We are not limited to voice analysis. Language Intelligence has worked on textual analysis dealing with authorship in cases of plagiarism and defamation.

We also compile and enrich data for machine translation projects that utilise corpora.

What programs do you use in speech analysis?

We have several different software at our disposal, like Praat, Wavesurfer, and Audacity for speech analysis. We use the program R for statistical analysis. It’s not special software that makes the difference, but professional experience and know-how that matters.

What is the process for speech analysis?

Language Intelligence takes a four-step approach to speech analysis.

STEP 1: We listen to all the speech samples provided by the agency requesting our advice.

STEP 2:  We transcribe the content of the speech samples in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA—the notation used to reflect different nuances of pronunciations and accents) and give detailed annotations of the transcriptions. This is done by Dr Mark Donohue and Dr Paul Sidwell separately, to ensure objectivity.

STEP 3: The notes are compared for both agreements and differences and analysed accordingly.

STEP 3a: For auditory analysis (with the ear alone), matching features in the questioned and identified speech samples are correlated.

STEP 3b: For acoustic analysis (with measurements using computer), voices are measured for fundamental frequency and other features (as appropriate), and modelled for statistical comparison.

STEP 4: Reports are drawn up detailing findings.

How does a typical analysis take?

It takes a couple days to deal with the analysis of a telephone call or a hold up. And we require a couple weeks’ notice normally to schedule work.

What is the process with determining authorship, regarding textual cases?

The process for determining authorship is much the same in principle as in speaker identification. We read, annotate the text, and correlate features: this means identifying and matching style markers (i.e., defining characteristics of an individual’s writing style), of which there are over 200 recognized in the forensic linguistics literature.

Who have Language Intelligence worked with?

Language Intelligence has worked with a variety of different state and federal agencies. Some agencies we have worked with are: New South Wales Police, Western Australia Police, South Australia Police, Victoria Police, Federal Police, Defence Science and Technology Group, Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics Command.

What’s interesting about the work Language Intelligence has completed thus far?

One of the most interesting parts about this line of work is the diversity of events and the conduct of participants observed in the recordings. The most positive experience is when we can help solve a crime. Two downsides of this line of work are that 1) we often deal with recordings of distressing or traumatic events, and 2) occasionally we are unable to get a positive result.

What steps should someone aspiring to work in a similar line of work in written and spoken language analysis take?

Anyone aspiring to work in Forensic Linguistics should first study linguistics at the university level, it is also recommended that you do courses in criminology and general forensic science courses.

What about handwriting recognition determining authorship?

Possibly; it isn’t such a big area in the era of digital communication, but Language Intelligence is open to consider cases.

Do Language Intelligence work on music and song plagiarism?

Potentially. Dr Sidwell has been approached on multiple occasions but has yet to pursue specific cases. Music and song plagiarism is a problematic area in that the information structure of music and song is not as complex as other media. Language Intelligence is willing to work on cases pertaining to this topic on a case-by-case basis.

Do Language Intelligence work with only Australian agencies?

Language Intelligence is open to working anywhere.  To date, principle business has been within Australia, but one job has been completed for a private agency based in Malaysia.