Sound-imitation word recognition for environmental sounds disambiguation in determining phonemes of sound-imitation words

Kazushi Ishihara*, Kazunori Komatani, Tetsuya Ogata, Hiroshi G. Okuno

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental sounds are very helpful in understanding environmental situations and in telling the approach of danger, and sound-imitation words (sound-related onomatopoeia) are important expressions to inform such sounds in human communication, especially in Japanese language. In this paper, we design a method to recognize sound-imitation words (SIWs) for environmental sounds. Critical issues in recognizing SIW are how to divide an environmental sound into recognition units and how to resolve representation ambiguity of the sounds. To solve these problems, we designed three-stage procedure that transforms environmental sounds into sound-imitation words, and phoneme group expressions that can represent ambiguous sounds. The three-stage procedure is as follows: (1) a whole waveform is divided into some chunks, (2) the chunks are transformed into sound-imitation syllables by phoneme recognition, (3) a sound-imitation word is constructed from sound-imitation syllables according to the requirements of the Japanese language. Ambiguity problem is that an environmental sound is often recognized differently by different listeners even under the same situation. Phoneme group expressions are new phonemes for environmental sounds, and they can express multiple sound-imitation words by one word. We designed two sets of phoneme groups: "a set of basic phoneme group" and "a set of articulation-based phoneme group" to absorb the ambiguity. Based on subjective experiments, the set of basic phoneme groups proved more appropriate to represent environmental sounds than the articulation-based one or a set of normal Japaneses phonemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-236
Number of pages8
JournalTransactions of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Environmental sounds
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Retrieval system
  • Sound-imitation word

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence


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