Pluricentric languages (PLCLs) are a common type among the languages of the world. Presently 43 languages have been identified as belonging to this category. Languages like English, Spanish, Portuguese, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu etc. fall into this category. A language is identified as pluricentric if it is being used in at least two nations where it also has an official function and if it forms national varieties of their own with specific linguistic and pragmatic features. In addition to the variation on the level of national standard varieties, there is also so called “second level variation” on a regional and local level that is often used in diglossic speech situations where code switching is a salient feature with two or more varieties being used within the same utterance. The amount of linguistic variation in pluricentric languages is considerable and poses a challenge for speech recognition in particular and human language technology in general.
The topic of pluricentric languages overlaps in some aspects with the topic of low-resourced languages. In contrast to “low-resourced” languages, pluricentric languages may already have plenty of resources (e.g., English, French, German), but variant sensitive or variant-independent technology is likely to be absent. In contrast to activities in the field of dialect recognition, the “non-dominant” varieties of pluricentric languages are the standard language in the respective countries and thus are also printed and spoken in media, parliaments and juridical texts.
The motivation for this special issue is the observation that pluricentric languages have so far mainly been described linguistically but not sufficiently been dealt with in the field of speech technology. This is particularly the case with the so-called “non-dominant varieties”. Given the current state of research in the field, we are especially interested in contributions which:
Investigate methods for creating speech and language resources, with a special focus on “non-dominant varieties” (e.g., Scots, Saami, Karelian Finnish, Tadczik, Frisian, as well as diverse American and African languages: Aymara, Bamabara, Fulfulde, Tuareg, etc.).
Develop speech technologies such as speech recognition, text-to-speech and speech-to-speech for the national varieties of pluricentric languages; on the level of standard varieties and on the level of so-called “informal speech”.
Investigate novel statistical methods for speech and language technology needed to deal with small data sets.
Study the (automatic) processing of speech for code-switched speech in national varieties of pluricentric languages.
Investigate methods on how to use speech technology to aid sociolinguistic studies.
Present empirical perception and production studies on the phonetics and phonology of national varieties of pluricentric languages.
Present empirical perception and production studies on learning a pluricentric language as a second language and on developing computer aided language learning (CALL) tools for pluricentric languages.
Study effects on speech technology on language change for pluricentric languages (e.g., compare developments of non-dominant varieties in comparison of dominant varieties for which speech and language technologies are available).
This special issue is inspired by the Sattelite Workshop of Interspeech “Pluricentric Languages in Speech Technology” held in Graz on September 14, 2019 (http://www.pluricentriclanguages.org/ndv-interspeech-workshop-graz-2019/?id=0). The special issue invites contributions from participants of the workshop as well as from others working in related areas. Papers of interdisciplinary nature are especially welcome!
Manuscript submission to this Virtual Special Issue is possible between December 1, 2019 and November 30, 2020.
Barbara Schuppler (Graz University of Technology, Austria), firstname.lastname@example.org
Rudolf Muhr (University of Graz, Austria), email@example.com
Tania Habib (University of Engineering and Technology Lahore, Pakistan), firstname.lastname@example.org