10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Brighton, United Kingdom
September 6-10, 2009

Connecting Rhythm and Prominence in Automatic ESL Pronunciation Scoring

Emily Nava, Joseph Tepperman, Louis Goldstein, Maria Luisa Zubizarreta, Shrikanth S. Narayanan

University of Southern California, USA

Past studies have shown that a native Spanish speakerís use of phrasal prominence is a good indicator of her level of English prosody acquisition. Because of the cross-linguistic differences in the organization of phrasal prominence and durational contrasts, we hypothesize that those speakers with English-like prominence in their L2 speech are also expected to have acquired English-like rhythm. Statistics from a corpus of native and nonnative English confirm that speakers with an English-like phrasal prominence are also the ones who use English-like rhythm. Additionally, two methods of automatic score generation based on vowel duration times demonstrate a correlation of at least 0.6 between these automatic scores and subjective scores for phrasal prominence. These findings suggest that simple vowel duration measures obtained from standard automatic speech recognition methods can be salient cues for estimating subjective scores of prosodic acquisition, and of pronunciation in general.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Nava, Emily / Tepperman, Joseph / Goldstein, Louis / Zubizarreta, Maria Luisa / Narayanan, Shrikanth S. (2009): "Connecting rhythm and prominence in automatic ESL pronunciation scoring", In INTERSPEECH-2009, 684-687.