Spoken language identification refers to the task of automatically predicting the spoken language in a given utterance. Conventionally, it is modeled as a speech-based language identification task. Prior techniques have been constrained to a single modality; however in the case of video data there is a wealth of other metadata that may be beneficial for this task. In this work, we propose MuSeLI, a Multimodal Spoken Language Identification method, which delves into the use of various metadata sources to enhance language identification. Our study reveals that metadata such as video title, description and geographic location provide substantial information to identify the spoken language of the multimedia recording. We conduct experiments using two diverse public datasets of YouTube videos, and obtain state-of-the-art results on the language identification task. We additionally conduct an ablation study that describes the distinct contribution of each modality for language recognition.
ESPnet-ST-v2 is a revamp of the open-source ESPnet-ST toolkit necessitated by the broadening interests of the spoken language translation community. ESPnet-ST-v2 supports 1) offline speech-to-text translation (ST), 2) simultaneous speech-to-text translation (SST), and 3) offline speech-to-speech translation (S2ST) -- each task is supported with a wide variety of approaches, differentiating ESPnet-ST-v2 from other open source spoken language translation toolkits. This toolkit offers state-of-the-art architectures such as transducers, hybrid CTC/attention, multi-decoders with searchable intermediates, time-synchronous blockwise CTC/attention, Translatotron models, and direct discrete unit models. In this paper, we describe the overall design, example models for each task, and performance benchmarking behind ESPnet-ST-v2, which is publicly available at https://github.com/espnet/espnet.
The black-box nature of end-to-end speech translation (E2E ST) systems makes it difficult to understand how source language inputs are being mapped to the target language. To solve this problem, we would like to simultaneously generate automatic speech recognition (ASR) and ST predictions such that each source language word is explicitly mapped to a target language word. A major challenge arises from the fact that translation is a non-monotonic sequence transduction task due to word ordering differences between languages -- this clashes with the monotonic nature of ASR. Therefore, we propose to generate ST tokens out-of-order while remembering how to re-order them later. We achieve this by predicting a sequence of tuples consisting of a source word, the corresponding target words, and post-editing operations dictating the correct insertion points for the target word. We examine two variants of such operation sequences which enable generation of monotonic transcriptions and non-monotonic translations from the same speech input simultaneously. We apply our approach to offline and real-time streaming models, demonstrating that we can provide explainable translations without sacrificing quality or latency. In fact, the delayed re-ordering ability of our approach improves performance during streaming. As an added benefit, our method performs ASR and ST simultaneously, making it faster than using two separate systems to perform these tasks.
Collecting sufficient labeled data for spoken language understanding (SLU) is expensive and time-consuming. Recent studies achieved promising results by using pre-trained models in low-resource scenarios. Inspired by this, we aim to ask: which (if any) pre-training strategies can improve performance across SLU benchmarks? To answer this question, we employ four types of pre-trained models and their combinations for SLU. We leverage self-supervised speech and language models (LM) pre-trained on large quantities of unpaired data to extract strong speech and text representations. We also explore using supervised models pre-trained on larger external automatic speech recognition (ASR) or SLU corpora. We conduct extensive experiments on the SLU Evaluation (SLUE) benchmark and observe self-supervised pre-trained models to be more powerful, with pre-trained LM and speech models being most beneficial for the Sentiment Analysis and Named Entity Recognition task, respectively.
End-to-end spoken language understanding (SLU) systems are gaining popularity over cascaded approaches due to their simplicity and ability to avoid error propagation. However, these systems model sequence labeling as a sequence prediction task causing a divergence from its well-established token-level tagging formulation. We build compositional end-to-end SLU systems that explicitly separate the added complexity of recognizing spoken mentions in SLU from the NLU task of sequence labeling. By relying on intermediate decoders trained for ASR, our end-to-end systems transform the input modality from speech to token-level representations that can be used in the traditional sequence labeling framework. This composition of ASR and NLU formulations in our end-to-end SLU system offers direct compatibility with pre-trained ASR and NLU systems, allows performance monitoring of individual components and enables the use of globally normalized losses like CRF, making them attractive in practical scenarios. Our models outperform both cascaded and direct end-to-end models on a labeling task of named entity recognition across SLU benchmarks.
Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) is a widely used approach for automatic speech recognition (ASR) that performs conditionally independent monotonic alignment. However for translation, CTC exhibits clear limitations due to the contextual and non-monotonic nature of the task and thus lags behind attentional decoder approaches in terms of translation quality. In this work, we argue that CTC does in fact make sense for translation if applied in a joint CTC/attention framework wherein CTC's core properties can counteract several key weaknesses of pure-attention models during training and decoding. To validate this conjecture, we modify the Hybrid CTC/Attention model originally proposed for ASR to support text-to-text translation (MT) and speech-to-text translation (ST). Our proposed joint CTC/attention models outperform pure-attention baselines across six benchmark translation tasks.
End-to-end (E2E) models are becoming increasingly popular for spoken language understanding (SLU) systems and are beginning to achieve competitive performance to pipeline-based approaches. However, recent work has shown that these models struggle to generalize to new phrasings for the same intent indicating that models cannot understand the semantic content of the given utterance. In this work, we incorporated language models pre-trained on unlabeled text data inside E2E-SLU frameworks to build strong semantic representations. Incorporating both semantic and acoustic information can increase the inference time, leading to high latency when deployed for applications like voice assistants. We developed a 2-pass SLU system that makes low latency prediction using acoustic information from the few seconds of the audio in the first pass and makes higher quality prediction in the second pass by combining semantic and acoustic representations. We take inspiration from prior work on 2-pass end-to-end speech recognition systems that attends on both audio and first-pass hypothesis using a deliberation network. The proposed 2-pass SLU system outperforms the acoustic-based SLU model on the Fluent Speech Commands Challenge Set and SLURP dataset and reduces latency, thus improving user experience. Our code and models are publicly available as part of the ESPnet-SLU toolkit.
Conformer has proven to be effective in many speech processing tasks. It combines the benefits of extracting local dependencies using convolutions and global dependencies using self-attention. Inspired by this, we propose a more flexible, interpretable and customizable encoder alternative, Branchformer, with parallel branches for modeling various ranged dependencies in end-to-end speech processing. In each encoder layer, one branch employs self-attention or its variant to capture long-range dependencies, while the other branch utilizes an MLP module with convolutional gating (cgMLP) to extract local relationships. We conduct experiments on several speech recognition and spoken language understanding benchmarks. Results show that our model outperforms both Transformer and cgMLP. It also matches with or outperforms state-of-the-art results achieved by Conformer. Furthermore, we show various strategies to reduce computation thanks to the two-branch architecture, including the ability to have variable inference complexity in a single trained model. The weights learned for merging branches indicate how local and global dependencies are utilized in different layers, which benefits model designing.
State-of-the-art encoder-decoder models (e.g. for machine translation (MT) or speech recognition (ASR)) are constructed and trained end-to-end as an atomic unit. No component of the model can be (re-)used without the others. We describe LegoNN, a procedure for building encoder-decoder architectures with decoder modules that can be reused across various MT and ASR tasks, without the need for any fine-tuning. To achieve reusability, the interface between each encoder and decoder modules is grounded to a sequence of marginal distributions over a discrete vocabulary pre-defined by the model designer. We present two approaches for ingesting these marginals; one is differentiable, allowing the flow of gradients across the entire network, and the other is gradient-isolating. To enable portability of decoder modules between MT tasks for different source languages and across other tasks like ASR, we introduce a modality agnostic encoder which consists of a length control mechanism to dynamically adapt encoders' output lengths in order to match the expected input length range of pre-trained decoders. We present several experiments to demonstrate the effectiveness of LegoNN models: a trained language generation LegoNN decoder module from German-English (De-En) MT task can be reused with no fine-tuning for the Europarl English ASR and the Romanian-English (Ro-En) MT tasks to match or beat respective baseline models. When fine-tuned towards the target task for few thousand updates, our LegoNN models improved the Ro-En MT task by 1.5 BLEU points, and achieved 12.5% relative WER reduction for the Europarl ASR task. Furthermore, to show its extensibility, we compose a LegoNN ASR model from three modules -- each has been learned within different end-to-end trained models on three different datasets -- boosting the WER reduction to 19.5%.
We introduce FLEURS, the Few-shot Learning Evaluation of Universal Representations of Speech benchmark. FLEURS is an n-way parallel speech dataset in 102 languages built on top of the machine translation FLoRes-101 benchmark, with approximately 12 hours of speech supervision per language. FLEURS can be used for a variety of speech tasks, including Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Speech Language Identification (Speech LangID), Translation and Retrieval. In this paper, we provide baselines for the tasks based on multilingual pre-trained models like mSLAM. The goal of FLEURS is to enable speech technology in more languages and catalyze research in low-resource speech understanding.