Forensic linguistics and voice biometrics in Australia: distinguishing myth from reality


6.30 Wednesday 29 August 2012: Annual General Meeting
Drawing Room, University House, Balmain Crescent, ANU.
Followed by a buffet dinner and a talk from Dr Paul Sidwell — Forensic linguistics and voice biometrics in Australia: distinguishing myth from reality

The AGM will consider the following resolutions:

  1. that the descriptor ‘full member’ be replaced by ‘professional member’
  2. that the newsletter will no longer be printed, and produced only electronically
  3. that new members be charged a pro-rata membership fee in their first year of membership.

The first resolution requires a ‘special resolution’ because it changes the constitution, which requires a three-quarters majority of the approximately 80 CSE full members to be passed. You can cast a proxy vote: details of the agenda and the resolution are in the July/August newsletter and have been emailed out to all members.

A buffet dinner will be served after the AGM, at approximately 7.30. There will be a choice of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, and dessert. The cost of dinner is $40 for members: you must register and pay in advance.

After dinner, Dr Paul Sidwell will speak about forensic linguistics, a diverse field that not only has applications in legal and criminal investigation, but also makes important contributions to the military, government and business, and can contribute to literary, historical and cultural studies. The challenge is to find specifically individuating information – whether in an audio recording or a written text – be it a murder inquiry or a dispute over who wrote Shakespeare’s plays. Forensic science is now well entrenched in popular culture, but the stories and events we see on our screen have little to with reality and more to do with validating non-scientific thinking. In this talk he will unpick some of the myths of popular culture and take you behind the scenes.

Dr Sidwell is a senior lecturer in linguistics at the ANU, teaching phonetics and forensic linguistics, and consults as a forensic expert for the NSW Police. He also has a substantial interest in Mainland Southeast Asian languages and directs several research projects hosted by the Centre for Research in Computational Linguistics in Bangkok. Paul is also actively involved in academic publishing, being Managing Editor for Asia-Pacific Linguistics at ANU and also edits the Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society and Mon-Khmer Studies. He has lived in Canberra since 1999, after graduating from the University of Melbourne.

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