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Communications of the ACM

Arab World special section: Big trends

Connecting Arabs: Bridging the Gap in Dialectal Speech Recognition

woman in hijab on mobile phone, illustration

Credit: ProStockStudio

Automatic speech recognition refers to the process through which speech is converted into text. Over the decades, automatic speech recognition has achieved many milestones, thanks to advances in machine learning and low-cost computer hardware. As a result, the best systems for English have achieved a single-digit word error rate (WER) and, in some conversational tasks, performance is comparable to human transcribers. This led researchers to debate whether the machine has reached human parity in speech recognition.9,16

Unlike English, speech recognition in Arabic faces many challenges, even with such advanced techniques. Arabic poses a set of unique challenges due to its rich dialectal variety, with modern standard Arabic (MSA) being the only standardized dialect.4


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