Abstract for nock_euro99

Proc Eurospeech 1999, Budapest, Hungary pp 515-518


M. Saraclar, H.J. Nock and S. Khudanpur

September 1999

Conversational speech exhibits considerable pronunciation variability, which has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the accuracy of automatic speech recognition. There have been many attempts to model pronunciation variation, including the use of decision-trees to generate alternate word pronunciations from phonemic baseforms. Use of such pronunciation models during recognition is known to improve accuracy. This paper describes the use of such pronunciation models during acoustic model training. Subtle difficulties in the straightforward use of alternatives to canonical pronunciations are first illustrated: it is shown that simply improving the accuracy of the phonetic transcription used for acoustic model training is of little benefit. Analysis of this paradox leads to a new method of accommodating nonstandard pronunciations: rather than allowing a phoneme in the canonical pronunciation to be realized as one of a few distinct alternate phones predicted by the pronunciation model, the HMM states of the phoneme's model are instead allowed to share Gaussian mixture components with the HMM states of the model of the alternate realization. Qualitatively, this amounts to making a soft decision about which surface-form is realized. Quantitative experiments on the Switchboard corpus show that this method improves accuracy by 1.7% (absolute).

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