ICPhS 2019 Special Session


This is the web page for the Computational Approaches for Documenting and Analyzing Oral Languages Special Session at ICPhS 2019, the International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences, 5-9 August 2019, Melbourne, Australia.


The special session Computational Approaches for Documenting and Analyzing Oral Languages welcomes submissions presenting innovative speech data collection methods and/or assistance for linguists and communities of speakers: methods and tools that facilitate collection, transcription and translation of primary language data. Oral languages is understood here as referring to spoken vernacular languages which depend on oral transmission, including endangered languages and (typically low-prestige) regional varieties of major languages.

The special session intends to provide up-to-date information to an audience of phoneticians about developments in machine learning that make it increasingly feasible to automate segmentation, alignment or labelling of audio recordings, even in less-documented languages. A methodological goal is to help establish the field of Computational Language Documentation and contribute to its close association with the phonetic sciences. Computational Language Documentation needs to build on the insights gained through phonetic research; conversely, research in phonetics stands to gain much from the availability of abundant and reliable data on a wider range of languages.

Our special session is mentioned on the ICPhS website here. You can find a poster of this session here.

Main goals

The special session aims to bring together phoneticians, computer scientists and developers interested in the following goals:

  • Rethinking documentary processes: recording, transcription and annotation;
  • Responding to the urgent need to document endangered languages and varieties;
  • Elaborating an agenda and establishing a roadmap for computational language documentation;
  • Ensuring that the requirements of phonetics research are duly taken into consideration in the agenda of Computational Language Documentation;
  • Attracting computer scientists to ICPhS and engaging them in discussions with phoneticians (and linguists generally).

Main topics

This special session will focus on documenting and analyzing oral languages, including topics such as the following:

  • large-scale phonetics of oral languages,
  • automatic phonetic transcription (and phonemic transcription),
  • mobile platforms for speech data collection,
  • creating multilingual collections of text, speech and images,
  • machine learning over these collections,
  • open source tools for computational language documentation,
  • position papers on computational language documentation.

Session format

Special sessions at ICPhS will normally be 1.5 hours. For our accepted special session, we chose the “workshop” type with a more open format suitable for discussion of methods/tools. The exact format is still to be determined. More details will be provided on the format later.

How does the submission process work?

Papers will be submited directly to the conference by December 4th and will then be evaluated according to the standard ICPhS review process [see here]. Accepted papers will be allocated either to this special session or a general session. When submitting you can specify if you want to be considered for this special session.


Laurent Besacier – LIG UGA (France)
Alexis Michaud – LACITO CNRS (France)
Martine Adda-Decker – LPP CNRS (France)
Gilles Adda – LIMSI CNRS (France)
Steven Bird – CDU (Australia)
Graham Neubig – CMU (USA)
François Pellegrino – DDL CNRS (France)
Sakriani Sakti – NAIST (Japan)
Mark Van de Velde – LLACAN CNRS (France)


This special session is endorsed by SIGUL (Joint ELRA and ISCA Special Interest Group on Under-resourced Languages)