Disfluencies in the speech of intoxicated speakers


  • Florian Schiel Institut fuer Phonetik und Sprachverarbeitung, LMU Muenchen
  • Christian Heinrich Institut fuer Phonetik und Sprachverarbeitung, LMU Muenchen




alcohol speech, speech disfluencies


Our hypothesis is that speakers under the influence of alcohol produce more linguistic/phonetic errors because of the negative effect of ethanol on cognitive processes and speech motor control. We examined the speech of 150 German speakers of both genders with regard to rates of 6 types of disfluencies and 2 durational measures. The intoxication of speakers ranged from 0.050% to 0.175% blood alcohol concentration; other factors investigated are speaker gender and speaking style (read, spontaneous, command&control). We found that most rates of disfluencies as well as durations increase with intoxication – but not for command&control speech; gender has no influence; individual speakers deviate from the general trend frequently. We conclude that for forensic investigations disfluency rates should be applied with greatest care (i.e. individual speaker only), and command&control speech as typically used in automotive systems is not suitable for the automatic detection of intoxication on the basis of disfluency rates.

Author Biographies

Florian Schiel, Institut fuer Phonetik und Sprachverarbeitung, LMU Muenchen

Florian Schiel received his Dipl.-Ing. and Dr.-Ing. degrees from the Technical University in Munich in 1990 and1993 respectively, both in electrical engineering. Since 1993 he has been affiliated to the Institute of Phonetics, Ludwig Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU), leading the German VERBMOBIL, SmartKom, BITS and SmartWeb project groups. In 1994 and 1997 he spent 6 months of each year as a research fellow at the International Computer Science Institut (ICSI), Berkeley, California. Since 2001 he has held the chair of Phonetic Speech Processing at LMU. From 1996 to 2015 he acted as founding director of the Bavarian Archive for Speech Signals (BAS) at the LMU.

Christian Heinrich, Institut fuer Phonetik und Sprachverarbeitung, LMU Muenchen

Christian Heinrich received his MA in 2007 and his Dr.phil. degree in 2014 from Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, both in Phonetics and Speech Processing. His doctoral thesis is concerned with the rhythmical structure of speech under the influence of alcohol. Since 2015 he has been product manager and part of the integrated speech solutions team at DFC-Systems in Munich Germany.


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How to Cite

Schiel, F., & Heinrich, C. (2015). Disfluencies in the speech of intoxicated speakers. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law, 22(1), 19–34. https://doi.org/10.1558/ijsll.v22i1.24767