Streaming End-to-End Bilingual ASR Systems with Joint Language Identification

Multilingual ASR technology simplifies model training and deployment, but its accuracy is known to depend on the availability of language information at runtime. Since language identity is seldom known beforehand in real-world scenarios, it must be inferred on-the-fly with minimum latency. Furthermore, in voice-activated smart assistant systems, language identity is also required for downstream processing of ASR output. In this paper, we introduce streaming, end-to-end, bilingual systems that perform both ASR and language identification (LID) using the recurrent neural network transducer (RNN-T) architecture. On the input side, embeddings from pretrained acoustic-only LID classifiers are used to guide RNN-T training and inference, while on the output side, language targets are jointly modeled with ASR targets. The proposed method is applied to two language pairs: English-Spanish as spoken in the United States, and English-Hindi as spoken in India. Experiments show that for English-Spanish, the bilingual joint ASR-LID architecture matches monolingual ASR and acoustic-only LID accuracies. For the more challenging (owing to within-utterance code switching) case of English-Hindi, English ASR and LID metrics show degradation. Overall, in scenarios where users switch dynamically between languages, the proposed architecture offers a promising simplification over running multiple monolingual ASR models and an LID classifier in parallel.

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