Conference Agenda

PP-Fr- -GB2 - 4: Parallel papers Friday morning
Friday, 05/Jul/2019:
11:00am - 1:00pm

Session Chair: Helen Fraser
Location: Green Brain Conference Room 2
Conference room 16.07.07

11:00am - 11:30am

The Application of Linguistic Strategies of Deception Detection to Earnings Conference Calls

Holly Jane Anderson

Aston University, United Kingdom

Within the investment community, fraud has traditionally been detected by means of forensic accounting and fundamental equity analysis. More recently, however, linguistically informed approaches are becoming popular (Crawford Camiciottoli 2017; Larcker & Zakolyukina 2012). This paper reports on a project investigating linguistic strategies of deception detection in earnings calls, a form of financial disclosure provided by company management to the investment community. Detecting deception is challenging, with the results from previous experiments and studies all suggesting varied and conflicting linguistic correlates. I have developed a taxonomy of features and apply a hybrid top-down and bottom-up discourse analysis to non-fraudulent company earnings calls and to ones where the CEO and/or CFO management are known to have attempted to “cook the books” and portray a deceptive image of company performance to investors. I will present my preliminary findings and focus on the relevance of context and how deception manifests through different linguistic techniques at different levels of language description. I will also outline the genre of earnings calls and explain how it can play host to a variety of deceptive indicators within fraudulent disclosure. Finally, I will outline the challenges that I have encountered along the way regarding defining deception, ethical considerations, and locating intention in apparently deceptive discourse.


Crawford Camiciottoli, B. C. (2017). Persuasion in earnings calls: A diachronic pragmalinguistic Analysis. International Journal of Business Communication, 45, pp.181-222

Larcker. D.F., & Zakolyukina, A. (2012). Detecting deceptive discussions in conference calls. Journal of Accounting Research, 50 (2), pp.495-550

11:30am - 12:00pm

Finding Pinocchio: Detecting deception strategies in witness statements in a Philippine courtroom

Aaron Thomas Lising De Guia

University of Santo Tomas, Philippines

The role of witnesses in the courtroom is crucial. These witness statements allow a case to prosper, especially in an adversarial system like the Philippines. However, not all witnesses are expected to genuinely tell the truth in the stand. In fact, one of the goals of deception is to avoid conflict, or break free from punishment. This study piques linguistic curiosity in discriminating deception through witness statements in a Philippine courtroom setting by employing Buller and Burgoon’s (1996) Interpersonal Deception Theory and the deception cues used by Picornell (2013). Statements and responses of witnesses in cross examinations culled from the three transcripts in an on-going civil case being appealed to the Supreme Court of the Philippines were analyzed to evaluate the deception strategies employed. Statements were divided into truthful statements and deceptive statements based from the decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 138 in Makati City. Results show that there were only 250 occurrences of deception cues inside the courtroom and only 17.6% were found in deceptive statements. It is due to the fact that the asymmetry of power between lawyer and witness inside the courtroom constricts the lexical diversity of the witnesses’ answers hence, deception strategies like third person pronouns, verb strings, and cognitive verbs occurred less in frequency in deceptive statements. Moreover, findings reveal that deceptive statements lack first singular person pronoun which correlates with previous studies. Further, results show that deception strategies creates a narrative in which the witnesses detach themselves in their statements.

12:00pm - 12:30pm

Variation in Aboriginal English: Implications for forensic phonetics in Australia

Deborah Elizabeth Loakes

The University of Melbourne, Australia

The variety of English spoken by Aboriginal people in Australia, Aboriginal English, is different in many ways to mainstream varieties, for example in the lexicon, grammar, sound system, politeness strategies, and body language (see e.g. Butcher 2008). Understanding the phonetics of Aboriginal English is an especially important area for study because “[t]he most observable identifier of Aboriginal English to most Australian English speakers is the way it sounds” (Malcolm 2018: section 3.1). Despite this, detailed phonetic descriptions of any type of Aboriginal English have been uncommon (but see Butcher & Anderson 2008, Jespersen 2016, Loakes et al. 2018, Mailhammer et al. forthcoming). A deeper understanding of Aboriginal English is needed, given that Aboriginal people are over-represented in court and prison systems, and there are many language-related issues linked with this (e.g. Eades 2013), including for L1 Aboriginal English speakers.

In this paper, I present results from fine-grained phonetic analyses, with 25 speakers in Mildura (north-west Victoria), and 22 speakers from Warrnambool (south-west) compared with matched samples of mainstream Australian English. Results show that a) L1 Aboriginal English speakers have far greater variability than mainstream speakers, especially for consonantal features (and especially /t/), and b) they have not taken part in the same vowel changes as the mainstream community. Additionally, results show that a "regional marker" in the mainstream community (occurring in the south) is in fact entrenched in both L1 Aboriginal English communities. Theoretical and practical implications for forensic phonetics in Australia are discussed in light of these findings.

12:30pm - 1:00pm

Linguistic Agentivity and Eye Movements in French Adults’ Deception

Gabriella Fekete

Independent researcher, France

Linguistic forms and non-verbal items are multifunctional (Van Valin, 2017; Vrij, 2005). Thus, language and brain provide speakers a family of both constructions (Slobin, 1994) and body reactions which serve the same informative, adaptative or communicative goals. This functional linguistic and non-linguistic approach can be used in different areas of Forensic Linguistics, such as linguistic evidence, and language honesty.

This study aims at investigating the relationship between linguistic agentivity reflected by grammatical subject, verb, and grammatical voice (Bamberg, 2005; Berman & Slobin, 1994), and eye movements in deception. Thus, we are interesting in whether psychological distancing (Newman et al, 2003) and planning of verbal message (Griffin, 2004) are related in deceptive speeches.

Our data is composed of videotaped spontaneous oral monologues and interactions produced by 17 French-speaking adults. The participants were given the task of producing a fake opinion paradigm (Mehrabian, 1971) on their favorite sport.

Our results are consistent with both the linguistic properties of French language (Talmy, 1985) and the different language registers (Jisa et al, 2002). Truth-tellers assume their responsibilities for the events with more inclusive-I-subjects and action verbs. They generally keep eye contact. Deceivers get involved less with more impersonal subjects and state verbs. Passive voice is infrequent. Deceptive interactions activate more lateral eye movements.

These findings highlight the importance of choosing the relevant forms corresponding to the predefined function, of taking into account the linguistic properties of the target language, and of relating verbal and non-verbal languages.