Unsupervised Word Segmentation from Discrete Speech Units in Low-Resource Settings

Marcely Zanon Boito, Bolaji Yusuf, Lucas Ondel, Aline Villavicencio, Laurent Besacier

When documenting oral-languages, Unsupervised Word Segmentation (UWS) from speech is a useful, yet challenging, task. It can be performed from phonetic transcriptions, or in the absence of these, from the output of unsupervised speech discretization models. These discretization models are trained using raw speech only, producing discrete speech units which can be applied for downstream (text-based) tasks. In this paper we compare five of these models: three Bayesian and two neural approaches, with regards to the exploitability of the produced units for UWS. Two UWS models are experimented with and we report results for Finnish, Hungarian, Mboshi, Romanian and Russian in a low-resource setting (using only 5k sentences). Our results suggest that neural models for speech discretization are difficult to exploit in our setting, and that it might be necessary to adapt them to limit sequence length. We obtain our best UWS results by using the SHMM and H-SHMM Bayesian models, which produce high quality, yet compressed, discrete representations of the input speech signal.

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