Spoken Proper Name Retrieval for Limited Resource Languages Using Multilingual Hybrid Representations


M. Akbacak and J. H. L. Hansen, “Spoken Proper Name Retrieval for Limited Resource Languages Using Multilingual Hybrid Representations,” in IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech, and Language Processing, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 1486-1495, Aug. 2010, doi: 10.1109/TASL.2009.2035785.


Research in multilingual speech recognition has shown that current speech recognition technology generalizes across different languages, and that similar modeling assumptions hold, provided that linguistic knowledge (e.g., phone inventory, pronunciation dictionary, etc.) and transcribed speech data are available for the target language. Linguists make a very conservative estimate that 4000 languages are spoken today in the world, and in many of these languages, very limited linguistic knowledge and speech data/resources are available. Rapid transition to a new target language becomes a practical concern within the concept of tiered resources (e.g., different amounts of acoustically matched/mismatched data). In this paper, we present our research efforts towards multilingual spoken information retrieval with limitations in acoustic training data. We propose different retrieval algorithms to leverage existing resources from resource-rich languages as well as the target language. Proposed algorithms employ confusion-embedded hybrid pronunciation networks, and lattice-based phonetic search within a proper name retrieval task. We use Latin-American Spanish as the target language by intentionally limiting available resources for this language. After searching for queries consisting of Spanish proper names in Spanish Broadcast News data, we demonstrate that retrieval performance degradations (due to data sparseness during automatic speech recognition (ASR) deployment in the target language) are compensated by employing English acoustic models. It is shown that the proposed algorithms for developing rapid transition of rich languages to underrepresented languages are able to achieve comparable retrieval performance using 25% of the available training data.

Keywords: Natural languages, Automatic speech recognition, Information retrieval, Robustness, Speech recognition, Training data, Broadcasting, Dictionaries, Degradation, Lattices

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