We present an analysis pipeline and best practice guidelines for building and curating corpora of everyday conversation in diverse languages. Surveying language documentation corpora and other resources that cover 67 languages and varieties from 28 phyla, we describe the compilation and curation process, specify minimal properties of a unified format for interactional data, and develop methods for quality control that take into account turn-taking and timing. Two case studies show the broad utility of conversational data for (i) charting human interactional infrastructure and (ii) tracing challenges and opportunities for current ASR solutions. Linguistically diverse conversational corpora can provide new insights for the language sciences and stronger empirical foundations for language technology.
Informal social interaction is the primordial home of human language. Linguistically diverse conversational corpora are an important and largely untapped resource for computational linguistics and language technology. Through the efforts of a worldwide language documentation movement, such corpora are increasingly becoming available. We show how interactional data from 63 languages (26 families) harbours insights about turn-taking, timing, sequential structure and social action, with implications for language technology, natural language understanding, and the design of conversational interfaces. Harnessing linguistically diverse conversational corpora will provide the empirical foundations for flexible, localizable, humane language technologies of the future.
We present Scikit-talk, an open-source toolkit for processing collections of real-world conversational speech in Python. First of its kind, the toolkit equips those interested in studying or modeling conversations with an easy-to-use interface to build and explore large collections of transcriptions and annotations of talk-in-interaction. Designed for applications in speech processing and Conversational AI, Scikit-talk provides tools to custom-build datasets for tasks such as intent prototyping, dialog flow testing, and conversation design. Its preprocessor module comes with several pre-built interfaces for common transcription formats, which aim to make working across multiple data sources more accessible. The explorer module provides a collection of tools to explore and analyse this data type via string matching and unsupervised machine learning techniques. Scikit-talk serves as a platform to collect and connect different transcription formats and representations of talk, enabling the user to quickly build multilingual datasets of varying detail and granularity. Thus, the toolkit aims to make working with authentic conversational speech data in Python more accessible and to provide the user with comprehensive options to work with representations of talk in appropriate detail for any downstream task. For the latest updates and information on currently supported languages and language resources, please refer to: https://pypi.org/project/scikit-talk/