IEICE Trans Inf Syst

Development and evaluation of online infrastructure to aid teaching and learning of Japanese prosody

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This paper develops an online and freely available framework to aid teaching and learning the prosodic control of Tokyo Japanese: how to generate its adequate word accent and phrase intonation. This framework is called OJAD (Online Japanese Accent Dictionary) [1] and it provides three features. 1) Visual, auditory, systematic, and comprehensive illustration of patterns of accent change (accent sandhi) of verbs and adjectives. Here only the changes caused by twelve fundamental conjugations are focused upon. 2) Visual illustration of the accent pattern of a given verbal expression, which is a combination of a verb and its postpositional auxiliary words. 3) Visual illustration of the pitch pattern of any given sentence and the expected positions of accent nuclei in the sentence. The third feature is technically implemented by using an accent change prediction module that we developed for Japanese Text-To-Speech (TTS) synthesis [2], [3]. Experiments show that accent nucleus assignment to given texts by the proposed framework is much more accurate than that by native speakers. Subjective assessment and objective assessment done by teachers and learners show extremely high pedagogical effectiveness of the developed framework.