Improved ASR for under-resourced languages through multi-task learning with acoustic landmarks

Di He, Boon Pang Lim, Xuesong Yang, Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, Deming Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Furui first demonstrated that the identity of both consonant and vowel can be perceived from the C-V transition; later, Stevens proposed that acoustic landmarks are the primary cues for speech perception, and that steady-state regions are secondary or supplemental. Acoustic landmarks are perceptually salient, even in a language one doesn't speak, and it has been demonstrated that non-speakers of the language can identify features such as the primary articulator of the landmark. These factors suggest a strategy for developing language-independent automatic speech recognition: landmarks can potentially be learned once from a suitably labeled corpus and rapidly applied to many other languages. This paper proposes enhancing the cross-lingual portability of a neural network by using landmarks as the secondary task in multi-task learning (MTL). The network is trained in a well-resourced source language with both phone and landmark labels (English), then adapted to an under-resourced target language with only word labels (Iban). Landmark-tasked MTL reduces source-language phone error rate by 2.9% relative, and reduces target-language word error rate by 1.9%-5.9% depending on the amount of target-language training data. These results suggest that landmark-tasked MTL causes the DNN to learn hidden-node features that are useful for cross-lingual adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2618-2622
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
StatePublished - 2018
Event19th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication, INTERSPEECH 2018 - Hyderabad, India
Duration: Sep 2 2018Sep 6 2018


  • Acoustic landmarks
  • Multi-task learning
  • Under-resourced ASR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Signal Processing
  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation


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