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Recognizing emotional speech in Persian: A validated database of Persian emotional speech (Persian ESD)

An Erratum to this article was published on 26 November 2014


Research on emotional speech often requires valid stimuli for assessing perceived emotion through prosody and lexical content. To date, no comprehensive emotional speech database for Persian is officially available. The present article reports the process of designing, compiling, and evaluating a comprehensive emotional speech database for colloquial Persian. The database contains a set of 90 validated novel Persian sentences classified in five basic emotional categories (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, and sadness), as well as a neutral category. These sentences were validated in two experiments by a group of 1,126 native Persian speakers. The sentences were articulated by two native Persian speakers (one male, one female) in three conditions: (1) congruent (emotional lexical content articulated in a congruent emotional voice), (2) incongruent (neutral sentences articulated in an emotional voice), and (3) baseline (all emotional and neutral sentences articulated in neutral voice). The speech materials comprise about 470 sentences. The validity of the database was evaluated by a group of 34 native speakers in a perception test. Utterances recognized better than five times chance performance (71.4 %) were regarded as valid portrayals of the target emotions. Acoustic analysis of the valid emotional utterances revealed differences in pitch, intensity, and duration, attributes that may help listeners to correctly classify the intended emotion. The database is designed to be used as a reliable material source (for both text and speech) in future cross-cultural or cross-linguistic studies of emotional speech, and it is available for academic research purposes free of charge. To access the database, please contact the first author.

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  1. The Stanislavski method is a progression of techniques (e.g., imagination and other mental or muscular techniques) used to train actors to experience a state similar to the intended emotion. This method, which is based on the concept of emotional memory, helps actors to draw on believable emotions in their performances (O’Brien, 2011).

  2. In order to prevent the same participant from taking the test twice, the IP address of each participant’s computer was checked.

  3. On the basis of earlier explanations, Ms. Tailor was a lady who worked as a tailor, but whose family name is not Tailor.


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Author note

The authors express their appreciation to Silke Paulmann, Maria Macuch, Klaus Scherer, Luna Beck, Dar Meshi, Francesca Citron, Pooya Keshtiari, Arsalan Kahnemuyipour, Saeid Sheikh Rohani, Georg Hosoya, Jörg Dreyer, Masood Ghayoomi, Elif Alkan Härtwig, Lea Gutz, Reza Nilipour, Yahya Modarresi Tehrani, Fatemeh Izadi, Trudi Falamaki-Zehnder, Liila Taruffi, Laura Hahn, Karl Brian Northeast, Arash Aryani, Christa Bös, and Afsaneh Fazly for their help with sentence construction and validation, recordings, data collection and organization, and manuscript preparation. A special thank you to our two speakers Mithra Zahedi and Vahid Etemad. The authors also thank all of the participants who took part in the various experiments in this study. This research was financially supported by a grant from the German Research Society (DFG) to N.K.

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Correspondence to Niloofar Keshtiari.

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Copyright 2010–2012 Niloofar Keshtiari. All rights reserved. This database, despite being available to researchers, is subject to copyright law. Any unauthorized use, copying, or distribution of material contained in the database without written permission from the copyright holder will lead to copyright infringement with possible ensuing litigation. Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of March 11 (1996) describe the legal protection of databases. Published work that refers to the Persian Emotional Speech Database (Persian ESD) should cite this article.

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Appendix A: Sample of the Persian sentences included in the database, along with their transliteration, glosses, and English translation

figure a

Abbreviations used are as follows: Ez: ezafe particle; CL: clitic ; CL.3SG third person singular clitic; DOM: direct object marker; 3SG: third person singular.

Appendix B: List of scenarios

Anger: The director is late for the rehearsal again and we have to work until late at night. Once again I have to cancel an important date.
Disgust: I have a summer job in a restaurant. Today I have to clean the toilets which are incredibly filthy and smell very strongly.
Fear: While I am on a tour bus, the driver loses control of the bus while trying to avoid another car. The bus comes to a standstill at the edge of a precipice, threatening to fall over.
Happiness: I am acting in a new play. From the start, I get along extremely well with my colleagues who even throw a party for me.
Sadness: I get a call to tell me that my best friend died suddenly.

Example 1

figure b

Note that Persian is written from right to left. The abbreviations are as follow: Ez: ezafe particle; CL.3SG third person singular clitic; DOM: direct object marker; 3SG: third person singular.

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Keshtiari, N., Kuhlmann, M., Eslami, M. et al. Recognizing emotional speech in Persian: A validated database of Persian emotional speech (Persian ESD). Behav Res 47, 275–294 (2015).

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  • Emotion recognition
  • Speech
  • Emotional speech database
  • Prosody
  • Persian