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Forensic linguistics in the Zimmerman case

The judge in the Zimmerman case has recently decided to let the jury decide for themselves about the source of the screams in the 911 tape ("Jury to decide whose voice on 911 call in Zimmerman case"). This decision is a stinging rebuke to the "expert" testimony of Tom Owen and Alan Reich, and supports the […]

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High-stakes forensic linguistics

Over the past few months, there have been several developments in the legal battle between Paul Ceglia and Mark Zuckerberg over Ceglia's claim to part ownership of Facebook. As Ben Zimmer explains ("Decoding Your E-Mail Personality", NYT Sunday Review, 7/23/2011): Mr. Ceglia says that a work-for-hire contract he arranged with Mr. Zuckerberg, then an 18-year-old […]

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Forensic copy-editing

… is needed, to figure out what happened here, in John Lahr's review of "John Guare's rollicking play 'A Free Man of Color'" (the New Yorker 11/29/2010 p. 88): For the price of fifteen million dollars – more than two hundred million in today's money – the newly United States unexpectedly found itself with an […]

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A sign of the future?

Anemona Hartocollis, "Slashing Its Budget, West Virginia University Asks, What Is Essential?", NYT 8/18/2023: The state’s flagship school will no longer teach world languages or creative writing — a sign, its president says, of the future at many public universities. Christian Adams wants to be an immigration or labor lawyer, so he planned to major […]

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Axing languages and linguistics at West Virginia University

From M. Paul Shore: Article that appeared on the Washington Post website this morning (and is therefore likely to appear in tomorrow's print edition) about the recently proposed demise of, among other things, the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at West Virginia University's flagship Morgantown campus (note that that department name really should be […]

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Noise and bias

Today's SMBC:

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Deep fake audio

Helen Rosner, "A Haunting New Documentary About Anthony Bourdain", The New Yorker 7/15/2021: It’s been three years since Anthony Bourdain died, by suicide, in June of 2018, and the void he left is still a void. […] In 2019, about a year after Bourdain’s death, the documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville began talking to people who […]

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Save l'Institut de Phonétique

A petition, in French, is here. An English translation follows (which was sent to me by the ISSP2020 mailing list) — please consider signing the petition and forwarding it to others who may be interested. On the 11th of August 1927, the ‘Speech Archives’ (which were created in 1911 by Ferdinand Brunot, based on […]

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Jewish uptalk?

Corey Robin, "Was Bigger Thomas an Uptalker?" (10/18/2017), describes a bit of fictional forensic sociolinguistics: The funniest moment in Native Son (not a novel known for its comedy, I know): when the detective, Mr. Britten, is asking the housekeeper, Peggy, a bunch of questions about Bigger Thomas, to see if Thomas is in fact a […]

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"Voiceprint" springs eternal

John R. Quain, "Alexa, What Happened to My Car?", NYT 1/25/2018 [emphasis added]: And even though voice bots like Alexa and Google’s Assistant can be taught to recognize different voices — well enough to cater to each family member’s favored Pandora stations, for example — they do not offer any sort of biometric security, such […]

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Wireless Robert Johnson

Looking for something else, I stumbled on this unexpected Google Books description of Peter Guralnick's Searching for Robert Johnson:

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Coral reef, dead or alive

June Teufel Dreyer noticed that the People's Daily and other official outlets refer to Okinotori as a jiāo 礁, reef, which fits her understanding of the geology involved.  The Japanese, hoping for a larger Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), say it is an island. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) definition […]

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Fun bun pun

The case of activist Gweon Pyeong 권평 / Pyong Kwon / Quan Ping 權平 is now going to trial in China.  Gweon stands accused of wearing a t-shirt with three Xi-themed slogans printed on it: "T-shirt slogans" (11/7/16) In this post, I would like to explore in greater depth one of the three slogans, namely […]

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