Data in Forensic Phonetics from theory to practice
Keywords:forensic phonetics, forensics, applied linguistics, speech data, noise audio evaluation, bad data
What are speech data? The question is not as trivial as it may seem: every day both theoretical and applied linguistic research come up against problems deriving from bad data management. This topic is particularly thorny in interdisciplinary approaches such as the speech forensics analysis, whereby the recorded speech can be exploited as legal clues, with important repercussions on public security and citizens’ rights. The datum does not exist in nature, being it a consequence of the human analysis of a given phenomenon. In fact, data extraction is based on explicit and implicit theories implemented by the researcher within the application of specific frameworks. Researchers and professionals working on empiric data should be more aware of these underlined processes in order to avoid data misuse and, indeed, maximize results. In this paper, we will briefly address the issue of the speech data epistemology with a particular focus on the interdisciplinary required in forensics among linguistics and engineering, by discussing examples from Italian real cases. The analysis of speech for forensic purposes requires a strong interdisciplinary approach, especially for what it concerns collection, classification, treatment of acoustic data, and their following transcription and analysis. Moreover, it must be clarified what different experts (e.g., lawyers vs. linguists) mean as “datum”.
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