Who Needs Words? Lexicon-Free Speech Recognition



Lexicon-free speech recognition naturally deals with the problem of out-of-vocabulary (OOV) words. In this paper, we show that character-based language models (LM) can perform as well as word-based LMs for speech recognition, in word error rates (WER), even without restricting the decoding to a lexicon. We study character-based LMs and show that convolutional LMs can effectively leverage large (character) contexts, which is key for good speech recognition performance downstream. We specifically show that the lexicon-free decoding performance (WER) on utterances with OOV words using character-based LMs is better than lexicon-based decoding, with character or word-based LMs.

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