8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

Modelling Prominence and Emphasis Improves Unit-Selection Synthesis

Volker Strom (1), Ani Nenkova (2), Robert Clark (1), Yolanda Vazquez-Alvarez (1), Jason Brenier (2), Simon King (1), Dan Jurafsky (2)

(1) University of Edinburgh, UK
(2) Stanford University, USA

We describe the results of large scale perception experiments showing improvements in synthesising two distinct kinds of prominence: standard pitch-accent and strong emphatic accents. Previously prominence assignment has been mainly evaluated by computing accuracy on a prominence-labelled test set. By contrast we integrated an automatic pitch-accent classifier into the unit selection target cost and showed that listeners preferred these synthesised sentences. We also describe an improved recording script for collecting emphatic accents, and show that generating emphatic accents leads to further improvements in the fiction genre over incorporating pitch accent only. Finally, we show differences in the effects of prominence between child-directed speech and news and fiction genres.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Strom, Volker / Nenkova, Ani / Clark, Robert / Vazquez-Alvarez, Yolanda / Brenier, Jason / King, Simon / Jurafsky, Dan (2007): "Modelling prominence and emphasis improves unit-selection synthesis", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 1282-1285.