Generative Adversarial Phonology: Modeling Unsupervised Phonetic and Phonological Learning With Neural Networks

Abstract: 

Training deep neural networks on well-understood dependencies in speech data can provide new insights into how they learn internal representations. This paper argues that acquisition of speech can be modeled as a dependency between random space and generated speech data in the Generative Adversarial Network architecture and proposes a methodology to uncover the network's internal representations that correspond to phonetic and phonological properties. The Generative Adversarial architecture is uniquely appropriate for modeling phonetic and phonological learning because the network is trained on unannotated raw acoustic data and learning is unsupervised without any language-specific assumptions or pre-assumed levels of abstraction. A Generative Adversarial Network was trained on an allophonic distribution in English, in which voiceless stops surface as aspirated word-initially before stressed vowels, except if preceded by a sibilant [s]. The network successfully learns the allophonic alternation: the network's generated speech signal contains the conditional distribution of aspiration duration. The paper proposes a technique for establishing the network's internal representations that identifies latent variables that correspond to, for example, presence of [s] and its spectral properties. By manipulating these variables, we actively control the presence of [s] and its frication amplitude in the generated outputs. This suggests that the network learns to use latent variables as an approximation of phonetic and phonological representations. Crucially, we observe that the dependencies learned in training extend beyond the training interval, which allows for additional exploration of learning representations. The paper also discusses how the network's architecture and innovative outputs resemble and differ from linguistic behavior in language acquisition, speech disorders, and speech errors, and how well-understood dependencies in speech data can help us interpret how neural networks learn their representations.

Author: 
Gašper Beguš
Publication date: 
July 8, 2020
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Citation: 
Beguš, G. (2020). Generative Adversarial Phonology: Modeling Unsupervised Phonetic and Phonological Learning With Neural Networks. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, 3, 44. https://doi.org/10.3389/frai.2020.00044