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* Application and Value of Research

Are you a Clooney or a Godfrey?  A Diva or a Droner?

Academic and Scientific Study

   Upon completion and publication of this study, other phoneticians, acoustic experts, and linguists might seek to perfect or recast these types, leading to a more universal typing system, to be of academic and scientific utility to a broad range of different fields.  Geneticists might seek to explore whether genetically related people share common voice types separate of environmental factors, such as dialect.  Government bodies might seek to use this system to determine which voice types are most pleasant or well-received for different types of public service announcements, warning systems, or automated verbally-administered testing procedures.  Cross-linguistic as well as unified voice types might be used to determine regional typology trends in acoustic signals of voices, to complement existing linguistic typology research on the world's languages.


   The science of speaker identification and its different methods have long been plagued by issues of degree of accuracy.  Both in and out of the courtroom, forensic acousticians and phoneticians have had their work fall under criticism for the degree to which they are able to make a positive match or to rule out a voice.  One of the issues with acoustic as well as perceptual-aural analyses have been their estimated degree of accuracy by percentage.  While the usefulness of traditional speaker id is apparent, it’s admissibility in a court of law, where lives often hang in the balance, has been under scrutiny for years.  In light of the high degree of accuracy in identification methods such as DNA matching in recent years, it is not surprising that judges and the judicial system might look unfavorably on scientific id methods that yield a shaky 60% match or often even less.  Adding to the skepticism of the judicial system, is the “CSI Effect” exhibited by juries in recent years.
   Though blood typing in the absence of DNA evidence may produce only evidence that the defendant and the perpetrator of a crime share a blood type belonging to hundreds of millions of others in the world, it is admitted freely into the courts, as in the case of blood typing, a match is a match.  So, it would seem that for the courts, and often the public at large, a 100% match to a type belonging to the defendant and millions of others would seem to be preferable to a lesser certainty, though far more personalized match, as in the case of a speaker id match made by a forensic linguistics professional.  Additionally, despite ample experimental and academic evidence suggesting the fallibility of voice line-up and other speaker identification matches by witnesses, both the judicial system and juries have traditionally looked favorably upon such evidentiary presentations in the courts.  What seems to be missing is an alternative identification method that might pass muster with both judges, juries, and professionals—one that would be neither too stringent to raise accuracy issues, yet not broad enough to be lost in futility.  If a reliable vocal typing system were available to the courts and forensic linguists, it could be of great utility.

Government and Public Interest

   Of course, voice typing would yield not only a possible greater application in the forensic/judicial realm, but would also have the advantage of opening up the field to a new and wide range of civilian, corporate, and government applications—where its application would be less controversial.  The narrow criminal application outlined above is only one of thousands of possible applications, including everything from marketing and advertising to warning systems and public service, safety, and welfare announcements.  In addition, vocal types, which naturally include celebrity voices and are accessible to the public would have commercial viability and could bring much needed resources and attention to the field of forensic phonetics and linguistics generally.  Perception of ones voice by others, and the implications involved therein, would be valuable information to individuals, corporations, and political entities alike.  Online and elsewhere, services that offer the visitor the opportunity of having their voice typed would be of great public interest.  Individuals could learn what the characteristics of their voice type are, as well as what famous voices they resemble typologically.  In addition, individuals could experiment to see if their voice belongs to the same type as their loved ones and others, opening the door to interesting speculation on how couples and friends might be drawn together in part by voice, and whether or not voice is passed down genetically and/or by proximity and nurturing of ones children.

Business and Marketing

   Business and Marketing applications abound for a usable voice type system.  Determining which voice type would be most effective for marketing of specific products and services (trustworthy for insurance and financial products, exciting or relaxing for travel services, etc) through marketing research, would in the end be of shared interest to academics looking to determine the personality qualities associated with certain indexical properties of voice co-assigned to each type.  This would also be useful to voice casting agents to provide their clients with short lists of available voice actors filtered by requested type or quality.  Voice type could become an indispensable element of an actor's resume.  How this research might be of value to singing voices and jingles is also an open and intriguing question that would require further research.  Marketing researchers interested in creating personality-reflective voice types for narrative marketing services to specific industries could provide valuable research partners for vocal typologists interested in vocal pleasantness and voice perception in sociologically-geared experiments on telephone discrimination and other areas of inquiry.

Sociolinguistics and Discourse

   How ones voice is perceived in discourse and daily human interaction has many implications for how a person is treated in society.  The study of how certain voice types are perceived via their identity indexical property in the speech signal and how this perception affects their overall treatment in discourse would be of interest to sociolinguists and discourse analysts.  Issues of attraction, repulsion and other emotional responses based on the physical properties of the speech signal would be an important overlap to the study of vocal pleasantness and discourse analysis within and between vocal types.