10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Brighton, United Kingdom
September 6-10, 2009

Data-Driven Phonetic Comparison and Conversion Between South African, British and American English Pronunciations

Linsen Loots, Thomas Niesler

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

We analyse pronunciations in American, British and South African English pronunciation dictionaries. Three analyses are performed. First the accuracy is determined with which decision tree based grapheme-to-phoneme (G2P) conversion can be applied to each accent. It is found that there is little difference between the accents in this regard. Secondly, pronunciations are compared by performing pairwise alignments between the accents. Here we find that South African English pronunciation most closely matches British English. Finally, we apply decision trees to the conversion of pronunciations from one accent to another. We find that pronunciations of unknown words can be more accurately determined from a known pronunciation in a different accent than by means of G2P methods. This has important implications for the development of pronunciation dictionaries in less-resourced varieties of English, and hence also for the development of ASR systems.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Loots, Linsen / Niesler, Thomas (2009): "Data-driven phonetic comparison and conversion between south african, british and american English pronunciations", In INTERSPEECH-2009, 196-199.