Project Description TALC - Tool for Analyzing Language and Communication

RESEARCHING SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN A DIGITAL WORLD

Analyzing natural speech and language samples of children is a well-known source of insights when conducting research in the field of speech and language acquisition. The process of collecting, manual transcription and analysis of these data however is extremely time-consuming and costly. Because of that, the data basis for many milestones in speech and language development is scarce due to small sample sizes.

Meanwhile speech recognition and processing technology has been developed to a point where use for research purposes in linguistics and speech-language-pathology seems possible. For the recognition of adult language, technology has evolved to mainstream applications like Siri, Alexa or Dragon Speech. However processing child utterances is much more challenging due to their acoustic and language properties.

The TALC project develops a hard- and software tool which enables recording as well as (semi)automatized transcription and linguistic analysis of natural speech samples. Researching speech and language development is transformed digitally on the interface of linguistics, computer linguistics, speech and language pathology / pedagogy and computer science:

  • Big data access is possible by making the process of recording, transcription and analysis more applicable
  • Knowledge drawn from data is based on longer sequences of natural communication
  • Transferring results into intervention is facilitated by analyzing individual environments for speech and language acquisition
  • TALC data can provide an alternative in evaluating change in everyday communication (as demanded by the ICF)

WHAT IS TALC?

TALC is a small, wearable tool, which allows recordings of several hours of natural communication. The matching software in a first step identifies individual speakers (e.g. in a child-parent or child-teacher interaction) and (semi)automatically transcribes the sample. The transcript is then analyzed using specific descriptive and linguistic parameters (e.g. word count, conversational turns, word classes). In addition, acoustic information from the environment (e.g. electronic media) will be analyzed. The TALC-project aims to be able to provide all these features also in multilingual and institutional contexts (e.g. kindergarten or school).

THE TALC DATABASE

The TALC Database will allow subsequent use of data collected during the development of TALC and TALC projects conducted by the Lab for Relational Communication Research and associated researchers. It will contain data of mono- and multilingual children as transcripts of additional audio data.

The TALC Database currently being installed. Access information will be provided when the database is online.

The TALC Database will allow subsequent use of data collected during the development of TALC and TALC projects conducted by the Lab for Relational Communication Research. It will contain data of mono- and multilingual children as transcripts or audio data.

The TALC Database is currently being installed. Access informations will be provided when the database is online.

TALC PROJECT STATUS

TALC has two parallel project branches in Germany and South Africa. Complementary teams of the disciplines Speech and Language Therapy, (Computer) Linguistics, Information Science and Electric/Electronic Engineering are working at both locations. TALC is being developed in German and Afrikaans and will be extended to other languages. In both countries the talc pilot studies have started in 2019.

Prof. Juan Bornman from the University of Pretoria has the TALC project leadership in South Africa. Researchers at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town are also involved in the project.