The ABAIR Initiative: Bringing Spoken Irish into the Digital Space

Ailbhe Ní Chasaide, Neasa Ní Chiaráin, Christoph Wendler, Harald Berthelsen, Andy Murphy, Christer Gobl


The processes of language demise take hold when a language ceases to belong to the mainstream of life’s activities. Digital communication technology increasingly pervades all aspects of modern life. Languages not digitally ‘available’ are ever more marginalised, whereas a digital presence often yields unexpected opportunities to integrate the language into the mainstream. The ABAIR initiative embraces three central aspects of speech technology development for Irish (Gaelic): the provision of technology-oriented linguistic-phonetic resources; the building and perfecting of core speech technologies; and the development of technology applications, which exploit both the technologies and the linguistic resources. The latter enable the public, learners, and those with disabilities to integrate Irish into their day-to-day usage. This paper outlines some of the specific linguistic and sociolinguistic challenges and the approaches adopted to address them. Although machine-learning approaches are helping to speed up the process of technology provision, the ABAIR experience highlights how phonetic-linguistic resources are also crucial to the development process. For the endangered language, linguistic resources are central to many applications that impact on language usage. The sociolinguistic context and the needs of potential end users should be central considerations in setting research priorities and deciding on methods.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1407

Cite as: Chasaide, A.N., Chiaráin, N.N., Wendler, C., Berthelsen, H., Murphy, A., Gobl, C. (2017) The ABAIR Initiative: Bringing Spoken Irish into the Digital Space. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 2113-2117, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1407.


@inproceedings{Chasaide2017,
  author={Ailbhe Ní Chasaide and Neasa Ní Chiaráin and Christoph Wendler and Harald Berthelsen and Andy Murphy and Christer Gobl},
  title={The ABAIR Initiative: Bringing Spoken Irish into the Digital Space},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={2113--2117},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1407},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1407}
}