History of speech synthesis

Authored by: Brad H. Story

The Routledge Handbook of Phonetics

Print publication date:  April  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138648333
eBook ISBN: 9780429056253
Adobe ISBN:


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For the past two centuries or more, devices capable of generating artificial or synthetic speech have been developed and used to investigate phonetic phenomena. Early systems built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were mechanical constructions whose components essentially formed a simulation of the human larynx and vocal tract. They served as a demonstration that speech production could be understood as a physical system, a concept that was largely hypothetical at the time. In addition, the modest success of these devices to synthesize artificial, but humanlike speech gave promise that, with adequate control, a machine could potentially be used to “talk” for persons with speech impairments.

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