ISCA Archive SIGUL 2023
ISCA Archive SIGUL 2023

A Visit to the Cliffs of Jokin: A Role for Phonetizers in Second Language Pronunciation and Word Learning, with an Example from the Languages of New Caledonia

Pauline Welby, Brigitte Bigi, Antoine Corral, Fabrice Wacalie, Guillaume Wattelez

In this position paper, we argue for a role for overt phonetizers in second language learning. Phonetization or letter-to-sound conversion is often used simply as a module of text-to-speech synthesis (TTS) or to create pronunciations for dictionaries. Based on evidence of the overwhelming influence of orthographic input on second language pronunciation and word learning, we argue that on their own (or coupled with TTS), phonetizers can be effective support tools for two broad groups: 1.language learners and instructors, and 2.non-specialized users. We address the issues involved and give the example of a multilingual phonetizer under development in New Caledonia, a special status collectivity of France in the South Pacific. Encountering words and names in one of the almost 30 languages of the indigenous Kanak people of New Caledonia is an everyday experience, for example, on class lists, road signs and in news articles. Pronouncing these words is often a challenge, since each of the languages has its own phonology and its own orthography. We discuss the motivation behind the phonetizer, challenges in its development, and potential applications, many of which are common to other endangered or vulnerable and under-resourced languages.


doi: 10.21437/SIGUL.2023-5

Cite as: Welby, P., Bigi, B., Corral, A., Wacalie, F., Wattelez, G. (2023) A Visit to the Cliffs of Jokin: A Role for Phonetizers in Second Language Pronunciation and Word Learning, with an Example from the Languages of New Caledonia . Proc. 2nd Annual Meeting of the ELRA/ISCA SIG on Under-resourced Languages (SIGUL 2023), 19-23, doi: 10.21437/SIGUL.2023-5

@inproceedings{welby23_sigul,
  author={Pauline Welby and Brigitte Bigi and Antoine Corral and Fabrice Wacalie and Guillaume Wattelez},
  title={{A Visit to the Cliffs of Jokin: A Role for Phonetizers in Second Language Pronunciation and Word Learning, with an Example from the Languages of New Caledonia }},
  year=2023,
  booktitle={Proc. 2nd Annual Meeting of the ELRA/ISCA SIG on Under-resourced Languages (SIGUL 2023)},
  pages={19--23},
  doi={10.21437/SIGUL.2023-5}
}