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Large-scale acoustic and prosodic investigations of french





This thesis focuses on acoustic and prosodic (fundamental frequency (F0), duration, intensity) analyses of French from large-scale audio corpora portraying different speaking styles: prepared and spontaneous speech. We are interested in particularities of segmental phonetics and prosody that may characterize pronunciation. In French, many errors caused by automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems arise from frequent homophone words, for which ASR systems depend on language model weights. Automatic classification (AC) was conducted to discriminate homophones by only acoustic and prosodic properties depending on their part-of-speech function or their position within prosodic words. Results from AC of two homophone pairs, et/est (and/is) and à/a (ton/has), revealed that the et/est pair was more discriminable. A selection of prosodic and inter-phoneme attributes, that is 15 attributes, performed as good results as with 62 attributes. Then corresponding perceptual tests have been conducted to verify if humans also use acoustico-prosodic parameters for the discrimination. Results suggested that acoustic and prosodic information might help in operating the correct choice in similar ambiguous syntactic structures. From the hypothesis that pronunciation variants were due to varying prosodic constraints, we examined overall prosodic properties of French on a lexical and phrase level. The comparison between lexical and grammatical words revealed F0 rise and lengthening at the end of final syllable on lexical words, while these phenomena were not observed for grammatical words. Analyses also revealed that the mean profile of a n length noun phrase could be different from that of a n length noun with a low F0 at the beginning of a noun phrase. The prosodic profiles can be helpful to locate word boundaries. Findings in this thesis will lead to localize focus and named-entity using discriminative classifiers, and to improve word boundary locations by an ASR post-processing step.

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