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Disfluencies Revisited—Are They Speaker-Specific?

  • The forensic application of phonetics relies on individuality in speech. In the forensic domain, individual patterns of verbal and paraverbal behavior are of interest which are readily available, measurable, consistent, and robust to disguise and to telephone transmission. This contribution is written from the perspective of the forensic phonetic practitioner and seeks to establish a more comprehensive concept of disfluency than previous studies have. A taxonomy of possible variables forming part of what can be termed disfluency behavior is outlined. It includes the “classical” fillers, but extends well beyond these, covering, among others, additional types of fillers as well as prolongations, but also the way in which fillers are combined with pauses. In the empirical section, the materials collected for an earlier study are re-examined and subjected to two different statistical procedures in an attempt to approach the issue of individuality. Recordings consist of several minutes of spontaneous speech by eight speakers on three different occasions. Beyond the established set of hesitation markers, additional aspects of disfluency behavior which fulfill the criteria outlined above are included in the analysis. The proportion of various types of disfluency markers is determined. Both statistical approaches suggest that these speakers can be distinguished at a level far above chance using the disfluency data. At the same time, the results show that it is difficult to pin down a single measure which characterizes the disfluency behavior of an individual speaker. The forensic implications of these findings are discussed.

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Author:Angelika Braun, Nathalie ElsässerORCiD, Lea Willems
Parent Title (English):Languages
Place of publication:Basel
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2023/06/26
Date of publication:2023/06/26
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2023/12/12
Tag:fillers; forensic voice comparison; hesitations; lengthening; paraverbal behavior
Volume (for the year ...):2023
Issue / no.:Band 8, Heft 3
Number of pages:30
Institutes:Fachbereich 2 / Phonetik
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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