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Prosody in Cascade and Direct Speech-to-Text Translation: a case study on Korean Wh-Phrases

Giulio ZhouTsz Kin LamAlexandra BirchBarry Haddow
Feb 2024
Speech-to-Text Translation (S2TT) has typically been addressed with cascade systems, where speech recognition systems generate a transcription that is subsequently passed to a translation model. While there has been a growing interest in developing direct speech translation systems to avoid propagating errors and losing non-verbal content, prior work in direct S2TT has struggled to conclusively establish the advantages of integrating the acoustic signal directly into the translation process. This work proposes using contrastive evaluation to quantitatively measure the ability of direct S2TT systems to disambiguate utterances where prosody plays a crucial role. Specifically, we evaluated Korean-English translation systems on a test set containing wh-phrases, for which prosodic features are necessary to produce translations with the correct intent, whether it's a statement, a yes/no question, a wh-question, and more. Our results clearly demonstrate the value of direct translation systems over cascade translation models, with a notable 12.9% improvement in overall accuracy in ambiguous cases, along with up to a 15.6% increase in F1 scores for one of the major intent categories. To the best of our knowledge, this work stands as the first to provide quantitative evidence that direct S2TT models can effectively leverage prosody. The code for our evaluation is openly accessible and freely available for review and utilisation.
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