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Volume 8, Number 2 (December 2001)


Contents
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Kirk P.H. Sullivan and Frank Kügler

Was the knowledge of the second language or the age difference the determining factor?

In a legal setting a witness may be asked to recognize a suspect based on a voice sample alone. Previous research has shown that knowledge of a language has an effect on an individual’s ability to identify speakers. Recent research using a set of voice line-ups has demonstrated that there was no unambiguous improvement in the ability to recognize and identify speakers during the four years of BA (hons) Swedish study by British university students. This research, however, used a younger group of high school students as the control group of listeners with no knowledge of Swedish. This paper investigates, using the same methodology, whether the difference in this earlier study, between the control group and the three university groups was due to knowledge of Swedish or age. The results of this study show that knowledge of Swedish was the factor which resulted in the difference between the control group and the three experimental groups in the earlier study.
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Philip Harrison

GSM interference cancellation for forensic audio: a report on work in progress

A central aspect of forensic phonetic casework concerns the transcription of noisy recordings. An increasing problem in this area of work is the contamination of recordings with interference caused by radio transmissions from GSM mobile phones. Transmitting phones emit short duration radio-frequency pulses at a rate of 217 Hz. The induced interference signal contains the 217 Hz fundamental and a large number of harmonics that overlap the frequency range of speech, and therefore severely degrade speech intelligibility. Listener fatigue is increased due to the harsh sound of the interference, and overall the transcription of such audio samples is problematic. This paper describes the progressing development of a filter to assist the forensic phonetician in carrying out the transcription of such contaminated recordings.
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John Gibbons

Legal transformations in Spanish: an ‘audiencia’ in Chile

There is a small literature on the transformations that occur in transcripts in legal English (Eades 1996; Walker 1990), but little on what happens in languages other than English. This is an important issue for Roman/Continental law systems, which rely in their decision making largely upon written transcripts of oral evidence. This study examines the linguistic consequences of the transcription process, based upon Spanish language tape recordings of oral submissions, and the written ‘declaraciones’ (statements) that emerge, in a labour court in Santiago de Chile. It reveals far-reaching consequences for the language of the evidence, particularly because of the greater planning and editing potential of writing. There are tendencies to move to more complex syntactic structures, to use more passive type structures thereby colouring blame attribution, to use more technical language, and to edit material, both unnecessary redundancies and substantive facts. These findings support current changes to the Chilean justice system, which replace this type of interview with open court hearings.
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Frances Rock

The genesis of a witness statement

This article steps back from the plethora of learned articles on simulated interviews with witnesses, the success of interview techniques and cognitive loads on interviewees and interviewers; it reports a detailed examination of the way witness statements are taken, from the first verbal account given by a witness to the final written statement penned by their interviewer. The article examines a statement-taking session and the resulting statement. It presents examples to illustrate which aspects of the witness’s account are changed during the statement-taking session and how. That is, in what ways, and through what processes does the original version provided by the witness change through the subsequent renderings during the statement-taking session and in the final statement text? There are several reasons for doing this. This enables us to understand: firstly, a little more about what a witness statement is; secondly, how witness statements become what they are; and thirdly, in which ways witness statements might not be what they at first appear to be.
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Peter Tiersma

Textualizing the Law

Much of the work of lawyers consists of the production or interpretation of various sorts of legal texts. Many of these texts are authoritative or operative, in the sense that they create or modify a legal relation, institution, or state of affairs. Historically, there is a general progression from oral legal act, to an oral act with a written record, to an authoritative written text. Such authoritative texts differ from speech and other types of writing in that they are more autonomous. They tend to be drafted to be as clear and complete as possible, embodying all relevant communicative intentions of the author. Consequently, they are interpreted in a relatively literal or decontextualized fashion. Moreover, they are generally regarded as complete expressions of the author, making evidence of oral statements outside of the text virtually irrelevant from a legal point of view. Such consequences can be problematic for those with limited experience with these conventions. Nonetheless, authoritative legal texts can perform several useful functions, such as marking a text as effectuating a binding legal act and clearly delineating what is included within it and what is not. Despite some drawbacks, as well as the impact of technological change, it seems that the authoritative legal text is here to stay.
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Gerald R. McMenamin

Style markers in authorship studies

ABSTRACT The last issue of Forensic Linguistics presented two articles on stylemarker selection in studies of questioned authorship. The first paper (Chaski 2001) represents an interesting approach to marker selection, but two significant weaknesses detract from its purpose: it rejects virtually all previous work in stylistics, hundreds studies representing more than a century of work, as unscientific and irrelevant present forensic needs; and it is founded on a theoretical position that views linguistic variation as a feature of linguistic performance, thus missing the point of the inherent variability of language. The second paper (Grant and Baker 2001) hits the mark in three significant ways: it is a good review of the style-marker issue; it recognizes that authorship attribution must be based on an aggregate array of markers; and it describes the statistical and linguistic bases of Principal Component Analysis, a promising method for measuring the collective range of variation needed for authorship identification.
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Book Reviews

Book Reviews
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User: WEIMING LIU
Session: 18888

Forensic Linguistics is published by the University of Birmingham Press.

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西北政法大学外国语学院刘蔚铭教授创建与维护

2002-05-062008-01-25