Google Research

Large vocabulary speech recognition for languages of Africa: multilingual modeling and self-supervised learning


Almost none of the 2,000+ languages spoken in Africa have widely available automatic speech recognition systems, and the required data is also only available for a few languages. We have experimented with two techniques which may provide pathways to large vocabulary speech recognition for African languages: multilingual modeling and self-supervised learning. We gathered available open source data and collected data for 15 languages, and trained experimental models using these techniques. Our results show that pooling the small amounts of data available in multilingual end-to-end models, and pre-training on unsupervised data can help improve speech recognition quality for many African languages.

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