Infoscience

Thesis

Grapheme-based Automatic Speech Recognition using Probabilistic Lexical Modeling

Automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems incorporate expert knowledge of language or the linguistic expertise through the use of phone pronunciation lexicon (or dictionary) where each word is associated with a sequence of phones. The creation of phone pronunciation lexicon for a new language or domain is costly as it requires linguistic expertise, and includes time and money. In this thesis, we focus on effective building of ASR systems in the absence of linguistic expertise for a new domain or language. Particularly, we consider graphemes as alternate subword units for speech recognition. In a grapheme lexicon, pronunciation of a word is derived from its orthography. However, modeling graphemes for speech recognition is a challenging task for two reasons. Firstly, grapheme-to-phoneme (G2P) relationship can be ambiguous as languages continue to evolve after their spelling has been standardized. Secondly, as elucidated in this thesis, typically ASR systems directly model the relationship between graphemes and acoustic features; and the acoustic features depict the envelope of speech, which is related to phones. In this thesis, a grapheme-based ASR approach is proposed where the modeling of the relationship between graphemes and acoustic features is factored through a latent variable into two models, namely, acoustic model and lexical model. In the acoustic model the relationship between latent variables and acoustic features is modeled, while in the lexical model a probabilistic relationship between latent variables and graphemes is modeled. We refer to the proposed approach as probabilistic lexical modeling based ASR. In the thesis we show that the latent variables can be phones or multilingual phones or clustered context-dependent subword units; and an acoustic model can be trained on domain-independent or language-independent resources. The lexical model is trained on transcribed speech data from the target domain or language. In doing so, the parameters of the lexical model capture a probabilistic relationship between graphemes and phones. In the proposed grapheme-based ASR approach, lexicon learning is implicitly integrated as a phase in ASR system training as opposed to the conventional approach where first phone pronunciation lexicon is developed and then a phone-based ASR system is trained. The potential and the efficacy of the proposed approach is demonstrated through experiments and comparisons with other standard approaches on ASR for resource rich languages, nonnative and accented speech, under-resourced languages, and minority languages. The studies revealed that the proposed framework is particularly suitable when the task is challenged by the lack of both linguistic expertise and transcribed data. Furthermore, our investigations also showed that standard ASR approaches in which the lexical model is deterministic are more suitable for phones than graphemes, while probabilistic lexical model based ASR approach is suitable for both. Finally, we show that the captured grapheme-to-phoneme relationship can be exploited to perform acoustic data-driven G2P conversion.

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