AI & SOCIETY

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 65–77 | Cite as

Speak to me and I tell you who you are! A language-attitude study in a cultural-heritage application

  • Brigitte Krenn
  • Stephanie Schreitter
  • Friedrich Neubarth
Original Article
  • 336 Downloads

Abstract

Research on intelligent agents has demonstrated that the degree an artificial entity resembles a human correlates with the likelihood that the entity will evoke social and psychological processes in humans. Language-attitude studies based on natural voices have provided evidence that human listeners socially assess and evaluate their communication partners according to the language variety they use. Taking the two findings together, we hypothesize that synthetically generated language varieties have social effects similar to those reported from language-attitude studies on natural speech. We present the design of a set of synthetic voices representing standard and dialectal varieties of Austrian German which were built into an existing cultural-heritage application letting virtual tourist guides speak in different varieties. With this setup, we performed a language-attitude study assessing the social evaluation of the characters represented by the synthetic voices. Our results are in accordance with previous findings from natural speech, but it also turned out that the specific context constitutes a major criterion for the preference or rejection of certain language varieties. In addition, we show that not only the particular variety, but also features relating to the voice quality of the synthesized speech bring about attributions of different social aspects and stereotypes. Together they strongly influence the attitudes of the listeners towards the artificial speakers showing the importance of an accurate voice design—including features related to particular language varieties—for the development of artificial agents.

Keywords

Language-attitude study Synthetic voices Language varieties Social evaluation Virtual character design 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brigitte Krenn
    • 1
  • Stephanie Schreitter
    • 1
  • Friedrich Neubarth
    • 1
  1. 1.Austrian Research Institute for Artificial IntelligenceViennaAustria

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