ISCA International Workshop on Speech and Language Technology in Education (SLaTE 2011)

Venice, Italy
August 24-26, 2011

Comparison of Native and Non-native Evaluations of the Naturalness of JapaneseWords with Prosody Modified through Voice Morphing

Shuhei Kato (1), Greg Short (1), Nobuaki Minematsu (1), Chiharu Tsurutani (2), Keikichi Hirose (1)

(1) Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, Japan
(2) School of Languages and Linguistics, Griffith University, Australia

Information on what kinds of mispronunciation cause the great- est loss in naturalness can be used in guidance to help learn- ers achieve their goals of speaking with good pronunciation. We recorded Japanese words spoken by bilinguals in Tokyo Japanese and in foreign accents (English and Korean) and mor- phed them together with STRAIGHT emphasizing different acoustic parameters. By using STRAIGHT, we can simulate a wide variety of English-accented and Korean-accented pronun- ciations of Japanese. Then, we had native Japanese speakers and non-native speakers (Australian) evaluate the naturalness of these morphed utterances. The experimental results showed that Australian learners were very insensitive to the difference between native and non-native pitch although Japanese speakers were critically sensitive to these errors. Following these results, we give some pedagogical suggestions on what kind of pronun- ciation guidance is necessary for learners to become aware of what is unnatural to native speakers.
Index Terms. Foreign language learning, foreign accent, Japanese, naturalness, acoustic morphing, listening test

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Kato, Shuhei / Short, Greg / Minematsu, Nobuaki / Tsurutani, Chiharu / Hirose, Keikichi (2011): "Comparison of native and non-native evaluations of the naturalness of Japanesewords with prosody modified through voice morphing", In SLaTE-2011, 145-148.