Identifying the Russian voiceless non-palatalized fricatives /f/, /s/, and /ʃ/ from acoustic cues using machine learning
This paper shows that machine learning techniques are very successful at classifying the Russian voiceless non-palatalized fricatives [f], [s], and [ʃ] using a small set of acoustic cues. From a data sample of 6320 tokens of read sentences produced by 40 participants, temporal and spectral measurements are extracted from the full sound, the noise duration, and the middle 30 ms windows. Furthermore, 13 mel-frequency cepstral coefficients (MFCCs) are computed from the middle 30 ms window. Classifiers based on single decision trees, random forests, support vector machines, and neural networks are trained and tested to distinguish between these three fricatives. The results demonstrate that, first, the three acoustic cue extraction techniques are similar in terms of classification accuracy (93% and 99%) but that the spectral measurements extracted from the full frication noise duration result in slightly better accuracy. Second, the center of gravity and the spectral spread are sufficient for the classification of [f], [s], and [ʃ] irrespective of contextual and speaker variation. Third, MFCCs show a marginally higher predictive power over spectral cues (<2%). This suggests that both sets of measures provide sufficient information for the classification of these fricatives and their choice depends on the particular research question or application.