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Title: Conversational Arabic Automatic Speech Recognition
Author: Al-Shareef, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 3836
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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Colloquial Arabic (CA) is the set of spoken variants of modern Arabic that exist in the form of regional dialects and are considered generally to be mother-tongues in those regions. CA has limited textual resource because it exists only as a spoken language and without a standardised written form. Normally the modern standard Arabic (MSA) writing convention is employed that has limitations in phonetically representing CA. Without phonetic dictionaries the pronunciation of CA words is ambiguous, and can only be obtained through word and/or sentence context. Moreover, CA inherits the MSA complex word structure where words can be created from attaching affixes to a word. In automatic speech recognition (ASR), commonly used approaches to model acoustic, pronunciation and word variability are language independent. However, one can observe significant differences in performance between English and CA, with the latter yielding up to three times higher error rates. This thesis investigates the main issues for the under-performance of CA ASR systems. The work focuses on two directions: first, the impact of limited lexical coverage, and insufficient training data for written CA on language modelling is investigated; second, obtaining better models for the acoustics and pronunciations by learning to transfer between written and spoken forms. Several original contributions result from each direction. Using data-driven classes from decomposed text are shown to reduce out-of-vocabulary rate. A novel colloquialisation system to import additional data is introduced; automatic diacritisation to restore the missing short vowels was found to yield good performance; and a new acoustic set for describing CA was defined. Using the proposed methods improved the ASR performance in terms of word error rate in a CA conversational telephone speech ASR task.
Supervisor: Hain, Thomas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available