Dominic Watt
Senior Lecturer

Profile

Biography

I was appointed Lecturer in Forensic Speech Science in 2007, and teach mainly on our new MSc programme in that subject. I have an MA (Hons) from Edinburgh and a PhD from Newcastle, and have held teaching and research positions in phonetics, speech acoustics and audiology, phonology and sociolinguistics at universities in Germany and around the UK, including York (2000-2002) and Aberdeen, where I was Director of the Phonetics Laboratory for five years.

Career

  • University of Edinburgh
    MA in Linguistics (Honours) (1987 - 1992)
  • Universität Flensburg (Germany)
    Lektor, Englisches Seminar (1992 - 1993)
  • University of Edinburgh
    Part-time lecturer/tutor, Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (1993 - 1994)
  • University of Newcastle
    PhD: Variation and Change in the Vowel System of Tyneside English (1994 - 1998; supervisor Gerry Docherty)
  • University of Leeds
    Research fellow, Department of Linguistics & Phonetics (1998 - 2000)
  • University of York 
    Lecturer (2000 - 2002)
  • University of Aberdeen
    Lecturer, School of Language and Literature
    Director, Phonetics Laboratory, School of Language and Literature (2002 - 2007)
  • University of York 
    Senior Lecturer, Forensic speech science (2007 - )

Departmental roles

  • Chair of Communications Group

University roles

  • Academic member of Standing Committee on Assessment

Research

Overview

  • Phonetics
  • Forensic phonetics
  • Sociophonetics
  • Language variation and change
  • Dialectology
  • Language and identity

I have published around forty articles on phonetics, sociolinguistics and language variation and change, am co-author with Arthur Hughes and Peter Trudgill of English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles (Hodder, 2012), and co-editor (with Carmen Llamas) of Language and Identities (Edinburgh University Press, 2010) and Language, Borders and Identity (Edinburgh University Press, 2015). I was principal investigator on a 3-year ESRC-funded project Linguistic variation and national identities on the Scottish/English border (AISEB; 2008-11; RES-062-23-0525; £481,843; co-investigators Carmen Llamas and Gerry Docherty) and, with Prof. Peter French, am co-investigator on an incipient ESRC-funded project The use and utility of localised speech forms in determining identity: forensic and sociophonetic perspectives (~£800,000, 2015-18) headed by Carmen Llamas. I also have research collaborations with Tyler Kendall (Oregon), Anne Fabricius (Roskilde) and Natalie Fecher (Toronto Mississauga). My current research interests are in forensic phonetics and acoustics, in particular forensic aspects of audiovisual speech perception, memory for voices, and the phonetics of 'threat speech'. I periodically undertake casework involving forensic speech analysis on behalf of JP French Associates.

Projects

  • The use and utility of localised speech forms in determining identity: forensic and sociophonetic perspectives (ESRC, ~£800,000). With Carmen Llamas (PI) and Peter French (CI, both York).
  • Relationships between hesitancy phenomena, segmental variation and conversational topic (2013-15; British Academy/Leverhulme Trust; £9,996). With Carmen Llamas (York) and Tyler Kendall (Oregon).
  • Marie Curie FP7 Initial Training Network Bayesian Biometrics for Forensics (BBfor2) network (2010-14; FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008; share of €3.2m). Supervision of Natalie Fecher on work package Multimodal speech and speaker recognition.

Research group(s)

  • Forensics Research Group
  • Language Variation and Change Research Group

Grants

  • The use and utility of localised speech forms in determining identity: forensic and sociophonetic perspectives (ESRC, ~£800,000). With Carmen Llamas (PI) and Peter French (CI, both York).
  • Relationships between hesitancy phenomena, segmental variation and conversational topic (2013-15; British Academy/Leverhulme Trust; £9,996). With Carmen Llamas (York) and Tyler Kendall (Oregon).
  • Marie Curie FP7 Initial Training Network Bayesian Biometrics for Forensics (BBfor2) network (2010-14; FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008; share of €3.2m). Supervision of Natalie Fecher on work package Multimodal speech and speaker recognition.

Collaborators

Carmen Llamas (York)

Gerry Docherty (Griffith)

Anne Fabricius (Roskilde)

Natalie Fecher (Toronto)

Tyler Kendall (Oregon)

Available PhD research projects

  • Cross-modal verbal overshadowing in memory for voice: is an earwitness's memory for a speaker's voice affected if s/he is asked to give a description of the speaker's appearance?
  • Effects on speech perception and audio capture quality in the context of interposed forensically-relevant headgear and other barriers (clothing, doors, etc.)
  • Impersonation of specific talkers: how much exposure to a target voice do listeners need for an unfamiliar voice to become a familiar one?
  • Identifying prosodic parameters used by listeners to infer threat to harm from 'neutrally-worded' utterances

Supervision

PhD

External activities

Memberships

  • International Association for Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics
    Member, research committee
  • International Phonetic Association  
    Member
  • British Association of Academic Phoneticians 
    Member
  • Linguistics Association of Great Britain 
    Member

Editorial duties

  • International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law
    Member, editorial board

Invited talks and conferences

Conferences

For a full list of conference papers, see Dominic's personal website.

  • 7th UK Language Variation and Change Conference (UKLVC7) 
    Rethinking the role of speaker agency. Keynote address, September 2009, Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Acoustics ‘08
    A new speaker-intrinsic vowel formant frequency normalization algorithm for sociophonetics. Invited panellist, June/July 2008, Paris (with Anne Fabricius and Daniel Ezra Johnson)
  • TechFest (Festival of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) 2006
    Uses and abuses of forensic voice analysis. September 2006, Aberdeen. 
  • The Practical Side of Phonetics and Phonology: a Hands-On Science Colloquium
    Forensic Phonetics, July 2005, University of Rostock, Germany.
Invited talks
  • University of East Anglia
    'Myths and misconceptions': why clinicians and sociolinguists should talk more shop. February 2010.
  • University of York
    Effects of face-concealing garments on speech acoustics and perception. February 2010, Department of Psychology (with Carmen Llamas).
  • University of Cambridge
    Accent of birth? Linking phonological variation to attitudes and identities on the Scottish/English border. January 2010.
  • York St. John University
    Among the most meaningful of sounds: identities, attitudes and /r/ on the Scottish-English border. November 2009.
  • Lancaster University
    Talking of crime: the work of the forensic speech analyst. January 2008.
  • University of Leeds
    Mr. Straw and the constituent's veil: some initial observations of the effects of different face coverings on speech acoustics and intelligibility. January 2008.
    Also given at University of Newcastle, November 2007; with Carmen Llamas.
  • University College Dublin
    Resolving the content of disputed utterances in forensic speech analysis. November 2007.
  • University of Rostock
    Scottish English and changes in Scottish identity since 1997. July 2005, Germany.
  • University of Newcastle
    England fans with 'Scottish' accents: on the role of phonological variables as identity markers in Berwick upon Tweed. March 2004.
  • Queen Margaret University
    First accent acquisition: a study of phonetic variation in child-directed speech. May 2003.
  • University of Essex
    Borders, identities and phonological variation in the north-east of England. February 2003, with Carmen Llamas.

Media coverage

I have been interviewed numerous times for radio programmes in the UK and internationally, and in January 2010 appeared in ‘The North South Divide’, a documentary presented by John and Pauline Prescott. I was interviewed by Morgan Spurlock for his film celebrating the 20th anniversary of ‘The Simpsons’ (on the use of accent), and am currently involved in the production of a BBC Radio 4 programme on accent and dialect in the UK.

Contact details

Dominic Watt
Senior Lecturer
Department of Language and Linguistic Science

Tel: (0)1904 322671

http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dominic_Watt

Teaching

Undergraduate

With York Law School
  • Law & Language (LAW00018I)

Postgraduate