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Instructions and Prompting

All speakers participating in a speech corpus recording need some kind of instruction before the recording starts. The instructions may range from a very reduced instruction set in psychologically inspired experiments or Wizard-of-Oz recordings to very detailed and strict instructions for an unsupervised collection over the telephone network. Although possible, we strongly discourage you from relying only on a verbal instruction given by the supervisor or experimenter before the recordings. To improve the consistency of the recordings always use a written instruction, or use pre-recorded instructions.

Make the instructions as simple and as unambiguous as possible. Don't overload them with background information but give a brief outline of what the collected data is going to be used for. Outline the contents, the speech style, the recording technique and the estimated length of the recording.

In many speech collections you will prompt the speaker to produce specific utterances. This can be done acoustically (resulting in mimicked speech styles) or on paper or a monitor (resulting in read speech). Except for special purposes where a certain prosody, loudness or emotional speech style should be elicited we strongly recommend using written prompt material. You may also use direct questions -- again acoustical or written -- to elicit certain utterances (answering speech), ask for descriptions of an image or a video movie (descriptive speech) or give directions for a monologue or dialogue (non-prompted speech).

In any case formulate your prompts so that they are un-ambiguous with regard to phonemic form and stress. If you are prompting with questions, restrict the number of possible answers:
``What is your favorite dish? (name one)''

Technically the prompting can be done in several different ways:

Depending on the recording setup you may use an automated process that controls the recordings within one recording session. For telephone recordings (see below) using a telephone server this is a must, but also in most other types of recording setups we recommend using some script language to control the recording times, the signal file names, the questionnaires for the speaker etc.

Here are some practical hints for the setup of your recording procedure:

Test your procedure, including instructions set, prompt material and automated recording program on naive speakers before starting the collection.

next up previous contents
Next: Recording Techniques Up: Preparation of collection Previous: Preparation of collection   Contents
BITS Projekt-Account 2004-06-01