Review of text-to-speech conversion for English

J Acoust Soc Am. 1987 Sep;82(3):737-93. doi: 10.1121/1.395275.


The automatic conversion of English text to synthetic speech is presently being performed, remarkably well, by a number of laboratory systems and commercial devices. Progress in this area has been made possible by advances in linguistic theory, acoustic-phonetic characterization of English sound patterns, perceptual psychology, mathematical modeling of speech production, structured programming, and computer hardware design. This review traces the early work on the development of speech synthesizers, discovery of minimal acoustic cues for phonetic contrasts, evolution of phonemic rule programs, incorporation of prosodic rules, and formulation of techniques for text analysis. Examples of rules are used liberally to illustrate the state of the art. Many of the examples are taken from Klattalk, a text-to-speech system developed by the author. A number of scientific problems are identified that prevent current systems from achieving the goal of completely human-sounding speech. While the emphasis is on rule programs that drive a format synthesizer, alternatives such as articulatory synthesis and waveform concatenation are also reviewed. An extensive bibliography has been assembled to show both the breadth of synthesis activity and the wealth of phenomena covered by rules in the best of these programs. A recording of selected examples of the historical development of synthetic speech, enclosed as a 33 1/3-rpm record, is described in the Appendix.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Linguistics
  • Phonetics*
  • Self-Help Devices*
  • Speech*