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LINGUIST List 16.3385

Fri Nov 25 2005

Qs: Lie Detectors;Morphology & Adjectival Alternations

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Mark Jones, Airport Lie Detectors
        2.    Idan Landau, Morphological Markers of Adjectival Alternations

Message 1: Airport Lie Detectors
Date: 23-Nov-2005
From: Mark Jones <markjjoneshotmail.com>
Subject: Airport Lie Detectors

A recent report on Yahoo (and in sections of the British press) mentions a
walk-through airport lie detector being developed in Israel by the company

Story below:


The software apparently relies on picking up ''uncontrollable tremors'' in
the voice to 'identify' liars.

The system would seem to be very unreliable in principle, given that a
speaker with an inherently creaky voice will show a great deal of random
variation in vocal fold vibrations (jitter). A slight cold, some voice
pathologies, and low pitch accompanied by creak at the end of an utterance
would also produce jitter. Older speakers, and those suffering from e.g.
Parkinson's disease, would also produce more jitter.

Is anyone aware of the background to this research and testing of its accuracy?

It seems some governments are willing to spend between £6,000 and £17,000
per unit on this system in the light of security concerns, but my fear is
that it is money wasted, and the introduction of this system may lead to a
number of innacurate identifications of 'liars' at airport check-ins.

I will post a summary of responses.


Mark Jones

Mark J. Jones
British Academy Post-doctoral Research Fellow
Department of Linguistics
University of Cambridge

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Message 2: Morphological Markers of Adjectival Alternations
Date: 22-Nov-2005
From: Idan Landau <idanlbgu.ac.il>
Subject: Morphological Markers of Adjectival Alternations


In many languages, there is a class of evaluative adjectives that appears
in two syntactic frames:

1. John was rude.
2. That was rude of John.

Other adjectives in this class are: nice, kind, impolite, selfish,
charming, clever, considerate etc.

Although the form of the adjective ''rude'' in (1)-(2) above is the same -
apparently this is not a universal situation. I'm interested to find pairs
where different forms of the adjective are used in (1) and (2).

If you speak such a language, I would be grateful to receive examples of
this sort, with an indication, if possible, which alternant of the
adjective is derived from the other, by which affix.

Idan Landau


Linguistic Field(s): Morphology

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