Gessinger, Iona; Raveh, Eran; Le Maguer, Sébastien; Möbius, Bernd; Steiner, Ingmar

Shadowing Synthesized Speech – Segmental Analysis of Phonetic Convergence

Interspeech, pp. 3797-3801, Stockholm, Sweden, 2017.

To shed light on the question whether humans converge phonetically to synthesized speech, a shadowing experiment was conducted using three different types of stimuli – natural speaker, diphone synthesis, and HMM synthesis. Three segment-level phonetic features of German that are well-known to vary across native speakers were examined. The first feature triggered convergence in roughly one third of the cases for all stimulus types. The second feature showed generally a small amount of convergence, which may be due to the nature of the feature itself. Still the effect was strongest for the natural stimuli, followed by the HMM stimuli and weakest for the diphone stimuli. The effect of the third feature was clearly observable for the natural stimuli and less pronounced in the synthetic stimuli. This is presumably a result of the partly insufficient perceptibility of this target feature in the synthetic stimuli and demonstrates the necessity of gaining fine-grained control over the synthesis output, should it be intended to implement capabilities of phonetic convergence on the segmental level in spoken dialogue systems