Interlanguage speech recognition by computer: implications for SLA and computational machines

Larry Selinker, Rita Mascia



During the last decade, there has been a rapid growth in research into speech
recognition by computer (SRC). Computerised voice recognition systems have been
developed which are being used for a variety of applications. However there remain a
whole range of issues which have to be elucidated and investigated before SRC can
be broadly useful including for language learning purposes. It is well documented
that speaker variability caused by accent is one of these issues and one of the major
hurdles in accurate speech recognition. Foreign speaker recognition is particularly
problematic to program for reasons that our work is beginning to suggest. In this
paper we describe and compare the SRC of an interlanguage speaker of
Italian/English versus a native speaker of English, both with repetitive strain
disorder (RSD) and thus highly motivated, using the same software, DragonDictate,
from Dragon Systems. Cognitive processes such as language transfer, fossilization
and communication strategies are examined in light of the research. We illustrate
the possibility of using SRC in second language research with particular emphasis
on phonology. In this paper we not only explain our views of the potentials of this
new technology in facilitating second language acquisition research but go to a more
general applied linguistics issue where we briefly discuss some implications for the
design of speech recognition systems for interlanguage speakers. This focus, we
believe, can help make applied linguistics a main stream discipline, thereby
increasing the job space for applied linguistics graduates.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies