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Peter French



Peter French spent the early part of his career working in traditional dialectology, child language development, language and education and conversation analysis. Since the mid-1980s he has worked almost exclusively in phonetics and acoustics, concentrating on forensic applications. He is Chairman of an independent forensic speech and acoustics laboratory (JP French Associates), which involves his acting as an expert witness in legal cases arising from jurisdictions across the world.


2015 - Professor University of York
2007 - 2014 Honorary professor University of York
2006 - 2007 Visiting professor University of York
1992 - 2002 Honorary research fellow University of Birmingham
1989 - Honorary research fellow St John's College York
(York St John University)
1982 PhD (Analysis of recorded conversation) University of Bristol
1980 - 1989 Lecturer, Senior lecturer St John's College York
(York St John University)
1977 - 1980 Research assistant University of Bristol
  Phonetic fieldworker (part-time) Atlas Linguarum Europae
1977 Certificate in English Phonetics International Phonetic Association
1977 BLing Linguistics with Phonetics University of Manchester
1976 BEd English and Education University of Leeds
1975 Cert Ed English and Education University of Leeds

University roles

  • Member of Court



Peter French's main research interests are in modelling individual speaker characteristics, voice quality, forensic speaker comparison (human and automatic) and uses of phonetic and acoustic analysis for the determination of recorded speech content.

Research group(s)


  • Arts and Humanities Research Council award for project entitled 'Voice and Identity – Source, Filter, Biometric' (with Paul Foulkes, Philip Harrison and Vince Hughes)
  • British Academy/Leverhulme Trust award for project entitled 'Modelling Features for Forensic Speech Comparison' (with Paul Foulkes, Erica Gold, Vince Hughes, Philip Harrison, Louisa Stevens, Colin Aitken (Univ of Edinburgh) and Tereza Neocleous (Univ of Glasgow)
  • Bayesian Biometrics For Forensics (BBfor2) Marie Curie FP7 Initial Training Network (with Paul Foulkes, Philip Harrison and Dom Watt) 2010–2013
  • Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York internal award for project entitled 'Levelling and Diffusion in the North East of England: A Geographical Survey' (with Carmen Llamas and Lisa Roberts) 2009–2010



  • Louisa Stevens
  • John Nash
  • Jessica Wormald
  • Thomas Devlin (2010–2014)
  • Erica Gold (2010–2014)
  • Lisa Roberts (2009–2014)


Selected publications

  • Baldwin, J. & French, J.P. (1990) Forensic Phonetics. London: Pinter
  • French, J.P. (1990) 'Forensic applications of phonetics'. Terminologie & Traduction. No.1. Commission des Communautes Europeenes
  • French, J.P. (1990) 'Analytic procedures for the determination of disputed utterances'. In H. Kniffka (ed.) Texte zu Theorie und Praxis forensicher Linguistik. Tubingen: Niemeyer
  • Hirson, A., Howard, D.M., French, J.P. & Szymanski, J.E. (1993) 'A survey of fundamental frequency-estimation techniques used in forensic phonetics'. Proceedings Institute of Acoustics. Vol. 15 (7). Reproduced Sound 9. Liverpool: Rayross
  • French, J.P. (1993) 'Authenticity examinations of audio recordings'. Proceedings Institute of Acoustics. Vol. 15(7). Reproduced Sound 9. Liverpool: Rayross
  • French, J.P. (1993) 'Developments in forensic speaker identification'. Institute of Acoustics Bulletin. Vol. 18 (5)
  • French, J.P. (1994) 'An overview of forensic phonetics with particular reference to speaker identification'. Forensic Linguistics: The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law1(2), 197-206
  • Hirson A, French J.P. Howard D M (1994) Speech fundamental frequency over the telephone and face-to face: some implications for forensic phonetics. In J Windsor Lewis J (ed.) Studies in General and English Phonetics. London: Routledge
  • French, J.P. (1998) 'Mr Akbar's nearest ear versus the Lombard reflex:  a case study in forensic phonetics'. Forensic Linguistics. Vol. 5 (1)
  • Foulkes, P. & French, J.P. (2001) 'Forensic phonetics and sociolinguistics'. In R. Mesthrie (ed.) Concise Encyclopaedia of Sociolinguistics. Amsterdam: Elsevier Press, 329-332
  • French, J.P. & Harrison, P. (2004) 'Case Report. R -v- Ingram, C., Ingram, D. and Whittock, T. The Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Fraud Trial'. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law Vol. 11 (1)
  • French, J.P. & Harrison, P. (2006) 'Investigative and evidential applications of forensic speech science'. In A. Heaton-Armstrong, E. Shepherd, G. Gudjonsson and D. Wolchover (eds.) Witness Testimony: Psychological, Investigative and Evidential Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • French, J.P., Harrison, P. & Windsor Lewis, J.(2006) 'Case Report. R -v- Humble, J.S. The Yorkshire Ripper Hoaxer Trial'. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, Vol. 13 (2)
  • Harrison, P. & French, J.P. (2007) 'Forensic speech analysis and the logically coherent expression of conclusions'. In M.T Turell, J Cicres and M.S.Spassova, (eds.) Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Forensic Linguistics/Language and the Law, Barcelona, 2006. Barcelona: Institut Universitari De Linguistica Aplicada - Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Documenta Universitaria
  • French, J.P. (2007) 'Caller on the line: an illustrated introduction to the work of a forensic speech scientist'. Journal of the Medico-Legal Society, Vol. 75 (3)
  • French, J.P. & Harrison, P. (2007) 'Position statement concerning use of impressionistic likelihood terms in forensic speaker comparison cases'. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law Vol. 14 (1)
  • French, J.P., Nolan, F., Foulkes, P., Harrison, P., McDougall, K. (2010) 'The UK position statement on forensic speaker comparison: a rejoinder to Rose and Morrison'. International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, North America, Vol 17 (1)
  • Roberts, L. & French, J.P. (2010) 'How context affects perception: judging distress & linguistic content in forensic audio recordings'.  Proceedings of ISCA Tutorial and Research Workshop on Experimental Linguistics 2010, Athens
  • Gold, E. & French, P. (2011) International practices in forensic speaker comparison. International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol 18 (2)
  • Foulkes, P. & French, P. (2012) Forensic speaker comparison: the linguistic-acoustic perspective. In L. Solan & P. Tiersma (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Language and Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • French, P. & Stevens, L. (2013) Forensic speech science.  Chapter Twelve of M. Jones & R. Knight (eds.) Bloomsbury Companion to Phonetics. London: Continuum
  • Gold, E., French, P. and Harrison, P. (2013) 'Clicking Behavior as a Possible Speaker Discriminant in English'. Journal of the International Phonetics Association. Vol. 43 (1)

External activities


Public appointments
  • Chairman of UK Home Office Forensic Science Regulator’s group on Forensic Speech and Audio Analysis
  • Lead Assessor for subject specialties Forensic Speech and Audio Analysis, Council for the Registration of Forensic Practitioners 2008 - closure of CRFP in 2009
Professional and academic associations
  • Fellow of the Institute of Acoustics
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • Fellow of the International Society for Phonetic Sciences  
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine  
  • Member of International Association for Forensic Phonetics & Acoustics
  • Member of the International Association of Forensic Linguists
  • Member of the International Phonetic Association
  • Member of British Association of Academic Phoneticians
  • President of International Association for Forensic Phonetics & Acoustics 2006 –
  • Chair of International Association for Forensic Phonetics & Acoustics 1991–2006

Editorial duties

  • Editor (Phonetics & Acoustics) International Journal of Speech Language & the Law 
  • Scientific committee member Loquens: Spanish Journal of Speech Sciences
  • Advisory Board member Babel – the Magazine about Language

Contact details

Professor Peter French
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
Room: V/B/118, Vanbrugh College B Block
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 634821