Previous approaches of analyzing spontaneously spoken language often have been based on encoding syntactic and semantic knowledge manually and symbolically. While there has been some progress using statistical or connectionist language models, many current spoken- language systems still use a relatively brittle, hand-coded symbolic grammar or symbolic semantic component.
In contrast, we describe a so-called screening approach for learning robust processing of spontaneously spoken language. A screening approach is a flat analysis which uses shallow sequences of category representations for analyzing an utterance at various syntactic, semantic and dialog levels. Rather than using a deeply structured symbolic analysis, we use a flat connectionist analysis. This screening approach aims at supporting speech and language processing by using (1) data-driven learning and (2) robustness of connectionist networks. In order to test this approach, we have developed the SCREEN system which is based on this new robust, learned and flat analysis.
In this paper, we focus on a detailed description of SCREEN's architecture, the flat syntactic and semantic analysis, the interaction with a speech recognizer, and a detailed evaluation analysis of the robustness under the influence of noisy or incomplete input. The main result of this paper is that flat representations allow more robust processing of spontaneous spoken language than deeply structured representations. In particular, we show how the fault-tolerance and learning capability of connectionist networks can support a flat analysis for providing more robust spoken-language processing within an overall hybrid symbolic/connectionist framework.Click here to return to Volume 6 contents list