English Linguistics Terms/Glossary

Terms used in Forensic Linguistics

Terms used in Forensic Linguistics with concepts

 Terms used in Forensic Linguistics:

we cannot understand the real meanings or essence of Forensic Linguistics without grasping its terms. it is a very sensitive branch on linguistics as it has direct connection with the legal process.

 – Forensic Acoustics:

Set of scientific techniques of judicial investigation whose main object of study are the sound records and / or their related elements (media and recording, transmission, reproduction, storage, etc.).

– Speech analysis:

In the forensic field, it is the analysis of the structure (topic, response, conversational strategies) of the conversation in order to determine the intentionality of the speaker (Shuy, 2001)

– Attribution of authorship:

Comparison of a series of releases whose author is known with another series of writings by an unknown author.


Automatic speech recognition system. It is a tool that allows the recognition of announcers in audio recordings through biometric technology. It is independent of language and text.

– Authentication:

In the forensic field, it frames those studies aimed at determining the integrity of a registry, its original character, the existence of possible alterations in it, etc. It can also be extended to the association of records and their media with the corresponding recording equipment.

– SMOKED (database):

It is a Spanish corpus formed by voice recordings (readings aloud and conversations) made directly with different microphones and mobile phones. Contemplate dialect variations. This database belongs to the General Directorate of the Civil Guard. It has great prestige and worldwide recognition.

– Slander:

The imputation of a crime made with knowledge of its falsity or reckless disregard for the truth (Art. 205 of the Spanish Criminal Code). See injury.

– Copy-Catch:

Computer tool developed by CFL Software Development for plagiarism detection. It allows to establish a threshold level of similarity of vocabulary in a text or translation. If the threshold exceeds 50%, it would indicate a relationship between the texts analyzed; although in the case of translations the threshold level of vocabulary similarity would be set at 70%. It takes into account not only the matching vocabulary, but also unique vocabulary, words and phrases shared only once.


Spanish Diachronic Corpus, with 180 million words.


Current Spanish Reference Corpus, with 140 million words.

– Timeline:

Linguistic variants that occur in chronologically similar groups. See idiolect and ecolect.

– Daubert Standard:

Admissibility standards referring to scientific evidence presented by experts before the courts of justice. They are mainly used in the judicial framework of the United States and refer to the judgment in the case «Daubert v. Merrel Pharmaceuticals, 1993 ».

– Delta:

See Delta Measure.

– Reasonable doubt:

Objective absence of certainty about the responsibility of the disciplined, which arises after the evidentiary analysis and which is not possible to obtain; that is, it is a doubt based on reason and not merely capricious.

– Ecolect:

Linguistic variants that occur in a family environment. See idiolect and chronolect.

– Certainty scales or opinion scales:

It represents the level of certainty that a specialized professional who uses a specific methodology can get after obtaining an expert comparison. A candidate is not identified, but the greater or lesser degree of similarity or dissimilarity that the specialist has observed in the sample comparison process is symbolized.

– Spectrogram:

Graphical representation of the amplitude of a vibration in the frequency domain or harmonic plane. Generally in a very short time interval of analysis <25ms (FFT analysis). In the field of speaker identification, this term is also used to designate the three-dimensional graphic representation of the acoustic features of the sound in the time domain (melodic plane). This plane of representation is called a “sonogram” and is nothing more than a chained temporal sequence of spectrograms.

– Stilometry:

Measurement of aspects related to the style of the author of a text through the use of computer tools, in order to determine the authorship of texts or to detect plagiarism, among other objectives.

– False testimony:

Affirm a falsehood or deny or silence the truth, in whole or in part, in the deposition, report, translation or interpretation, made before the competent authority by a witness, expert or interpreter. See perjury.

– Formant:

Harmonic groups with energy enhanced by the action of the resonance cavity. They are seen in vowel sounds and in consonant sounds.

– Fundamental frequency, first harmonic or F0:

Term used in Acoustic Phonetics to refer to the lowest frequency component of a complex sound wave. In the case of speech it represents the frequency of vibration of the glottal folds. Its perceptual correlate is called pitch.

– Frequency:

Number of complete cycles of vocal cord vibration per unit of time (seconds). It is measured in Hertz (Hz).

– FSA:

Forensic Speech Analysis.

– Hapax legomena:

It refers to words with only one occurrence in a given corpus and whose frequency of appearance is equal to one. See unique vocabulary.

– Hoax:

Fake news created to deceive and make others believe that false news is true, used massively over the Internet for no specific purpose.


International Association of Forensic Linguists.

– Idiolect:

Choice of speakers of certain linguistic forms (phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic) determined by the language (Nolan 1994: 331).
See chronolect and ecolect.

– Idiolectometry:

Its object of study is the idiolect. What it intends is to measure the linguistic difference between different idiolects and the idiolectal distance of each individual, so that in the end an idiolectal similarity index (ISI) can be achieved that allows comparing various linguistic samples and calculating the linguistic distance to establish the level of idiolectal similarity from which two linguistic samples (oral or written) can be considered to have been produced by the same person (Turell 2007).

– Injuria:

The action or expression that damages the dignity of another person, undermining their fame or undermining their own estimate (Art. 208 of the Spanish Criminal Code). See slander.

– Judicial interpretation:

It is defined as the linguistic transfer of oral type, usually carried out before courts of justice, although it can also include the interpretation carried out in police departments.

– Sworn interpreter:

Name of Sworn Translators-Interpreters before the introduction of current regulations, effective since 2009. See Sworn Translator-Interpreter.

– ISI:

Idiolectal Similarity Index. See idolectometry.

– Legal Linguistics:

Term coined by Alcaraz Varó to refer to the study focused on the use, abuse and manipulation of legal language.

– LR (Likelyhood Ratio):

Likelihood ratio. It is a numerical value based on a odds ratio.

– Delta measure:

Evaluate the degree of similarity between two texts based on the relative frequency of the most common words.

– Combined Forensic Methodology:

As the name implies, it is the complementary combination of the acoustic, phonetic-linguistic and auditory method – perceptive in the identification of speakers.

– Dubbed samples:

Samples of unknown authorship.

– Uninhabited samples:

Samples of known authorship.

– Oscillogram:

Graphical representation of a vibration / sound wave in the time domain.

-Language profile:

The linguistic and conductive examination of one or more communications in an attempt to determine various biographical features

– Judicial expert or forensic expert:

It is a specialized professional with the necessary and recognized knowledge that provides information or opinion in a judicial process on the litigious points that are the subject of your consultation and report.

– Plagiarism:

Intentional usurpation of an idea and / or intentional copy of the text (linguistic, musical, etc.), used to express that idea, in order to hide the lack of originality.

– Audio signal processing:

Sound signal processing techniques (currently digital) used for various purposes: improvement of speech intelligibility, play-back adjustments, isolation of acoustic circumstances, etc.


Integrated Electronic Communications Interception System.

– The Plain English Movement:

Movement emerged in the United States whose basic objective is the simplification of language, especially within the Administration, seeking clarity, clarity and precision in legal texts so that they are understood by a large majority of citizens.

– Sworn translation, (public / official):

It is a written translation that has the character of a public document.

– Sworn Translator-Interpreter:

Person authorized to perform translations and / or sworn interpretations from one language to another. Sworn Translators-Interpreters can certify with their signature and seal the fidelity and accuracy of their actions, using the formula dictated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. See Sworn Interpreter.

– Threat assessment:

The detailed examination of elementary parts of a verbal or written threat to assess the credibility, and above all the viability, of the expression in an attempt to harm.

– Unique Vocabulary:

Number of words that do not appear in other text and, therefore, are unique words within each text.
See Hápax Legómena.

– Voice Line-up or Voice Recognition Wheels:

Perceptual acknowledgments by victims or witnesses of acts related to a crime. They are used in those cases in which such victims or witnesses have only been able to memorize a spoken broadcast and no other information about the appearance of the issuing subject. They are performed by listening to edited strings with different recorded voices in which the voice of the imputed person is interspersed arbitrarily.

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