8th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Jeju Island, Korea
October 4-8, 2004

Boostrapping Phonetic Lexicons for New Languages

Sameer Maskey (1), Alan Black (2), Laura Tomokiya (3)

(1) Dept. of Computer Science, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
(2) Language Technologies Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
(3) Cepstral LLC, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Although phonetic lexicons are critical for many speech applications, the process of building one for a new language can take a significant amount of time and effort. We present a bootstrapping algorithm to build phonetic lexicons for new languages. Our method relies on a large amount of unlabeled text, a small set of 'seed words' with their phonetic transcription, and the proficiency of a native speaker in correctly inspecting the generated pronunciations of the words. The method proceeds by automatically building Letter-to-Sound (LTS) rules from a small set of the most commonly occurring words in a large corpus of a given language. These LTS rules are retrained as new words are added to the lexicon in an Active Learning step. This procedure is repeated until we have a lexicon that can predict the pronunciation of any word in the target language with the accuracy desired. We tested our approach for three languages: English, German and Nepali.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Maskey, Sameer / Black, Alan / Tomokiya, Laura (2004): "Boostrapping phonetic lexicons for new languages", In INTERSPEECH-2004, 69-72.