The Speech-Language Interface in the Spoken Language Translator
The Spoken Language Translator is a prototype for practically useful systems capable of translating continuous spoken language within restricted domains. The prototype system translates air travel (ATIS) queries from spoken English to spoken Swedish and to French. It is constructed, with as few modifications as possible, from existing pieces of speech and language processing software. The speech recognizer and language understander are connected by a fairly conventional pipelined N-best interface. This paper focuses on the ways in which the language processor makes intelligent use of the sentence hypotheses delivered by the recognizer. These ways include (1) producing modified hypotheses to reflect the possible presence of repairs in the uttered word sequence; (2) fast parsing with a version of the grammar automatically specialized to the more frequent constructions in the training corpus; and (3) allowing syntactic and semantic factors to interact with acoustic ones in the choice of a meaning structure for translation, so that the acoustically preferred hypothesis is not always selected even if it is within linguistic coverage.