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Forensic Phonetics – Scientific Solution for Legal Problem

‘Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud’. ~Hermann Hesse

Satisfying human curiosity has always remained an unfulfilled task, more so, in the case of sudden mysterious // deaths. In the course of solving practical and legal issues in such situations, the pursuit of forensic medicine has been a promising one.

The origin of forensic medicine, the science that deals with determining causes, manner and circumstances of death dates back to as early as 3000 BC, when King Zozer appointed a chief justice in charge of investigating suspicious deaths. Later in 44 BC, it was concluded by a physician that only one out of the 23 stab wounds received by Julius Caesar was fatal. It was these crude, barbaric physical examinations that sowed seeds for the so called forensic science. However, it was not until 13th century that the concept became widely accepted.

The opening of the Legal Medicine Department in 1807 in the University of Edinburgh and the invention of the microscope by Rudolf Virchow are some of the milestones worth mentioning in the development of forensic medicine. Mysteries underlying the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Oakland County murder have all been solved using forensic investigation.

The forensic experts are involved in rising voice for the voiceless to ensure that the victim’s voice is heard and reciprocated through a fair judgment. It is equally important to ensure that the veil of suspicion around an innocent person is dismissed through appropriate evidence. This is the universally acceptable approach to any legal situation.

The forensic team that largely contains medical and legal personnel has been receptive to include yet another participant, the phonetics expert. Forensic phonetics involves the exploitation of knowledge regarding the use of speech for legal purposes, and the extension of phonetic research to investigations relevant to legal situations.
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