Prominence in conversational speech: pitch accent, contrast and givenness – Ani Nenkova (University of Pennsylvania)

February 19, 2008 all-day

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The ability to automatically predict appropriate prominence patterns is considered a key factor for improving the naturalness of text-to-speech synthesis systems. I will present results from a large human preference experiment showing that indeed even simple models of pitch accent and contrast/focus in a TTS system lead to measurable and significant improvements in concatenative synthesis. I will also present a study of prominence in conversational speech based on the Switchboard corpus. The corpus has been richly annotated for binary pitch accent information, as well as for semantically motivated distinctions such as contrast (narrow focus) and givenness (given/new distinctions), allowing for in-depth analysis of the factors involved in prominence assignment. This is joint work with Dan Jurafsky and other colleagues and parts of it have been presented at NAACL-HLT’07, Interspeech’07 and ASRU’07.

Ani Nenkova is an assistant professor of computer and information science at University of Pennsylvania. Prior to this appointment she worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Dan Jurafsky at Stanford University. She holds a Ph.D degree from Columbia University where she worked on different aspects of multi-document summarization of news.

Center for Language and Speech Processing