A Weighted Reliability Measure for Phonetic Transcription

Oller, D. Kimbrough; Ramsdell, Heather L.
December 2006
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Dec2006, Vol. 49 Issue 6, p1391
Academic Journal
Purpose: The purpose of the present work is to describe and illustrate the utility of a new tool for assessment of transcription agreement. Traditional measures have not characterized overall transcription agreement with sufficient resolution, specifically because they have often treated all phonetic differences between segments in transcriptions as equivalent, thus constituting an unweighted approach to agreement assessment. The measure the authors have developed calculates a weighted transcription agreement value based on principles derived from widely accepted tenets of phonological theory. Method: To investigate the utility of the new measure, 8 coders transcribed samples of speech and infant vocalizations. Comparing the transcriptions through a computer-based implementation of the new weighted and the traditional unweighted measures, they investigated the scaling properties of both. Results: The results illustrate better scaling with the weighted measure, in particular because the weighted measure is not subject to the floor effects that occur with the traditional measure when applied to samples that are difficult to transcribe. Furthermore, the new weighted measure shows orderly relations in degree of agreement across coded samples of early canonical-stage babbling, early meaningful speech in English, and 3 adult languages. Conclusions: The authors conclude that the weighted measure may provide improved foundations for research on phonetic transcription and for monitoring of transcription reliability.


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