Acapela Releases North Sami TTS Voices

The Norwegian Sami Parliament (Sametinget) has officially introduced Elle and Biera, two new North Sami text-to-speech voices created by Acapela Group, which is based in Belgium.

Sami is a family of languages spoken in northern Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The most widespread is North Sami, spoken by about 20,000 people.

The project also involved Divvun and Giellatekno (the Centre for Sami Language Technology at the University of Tromsø).

To create Sami TTS, Acapela used existing databases and lexica provided by Sametinget and worked with linguists from Sametinget and the University of Tromsø. Resources collected since the start of the project in 2005 have been used to create the male and female voices that are now available as Colibri voices, based on Acapela's HMM technology. This technology allows generation of speech from trained statistical models where spectrum and prosody are modeled together.

"At Acapela, we are proud of this achievement and happy to contribute to the spread of the Sami language. North Sami text-to-speech is part of a global project initiated by Sametinget to contribute to continued speaking, teaching, and learning of this minority language. This is fully in line with Acapela's approach to languages and audio cultural heritage and with our dedication to create voices for all," said Lars-Erik Larsson, CEO of Acapela Group, in a statement.

"I am very happy that we now have the possibility to use this technology for the Sami language. The text-to-speech system is a good tool and has become important for many language cultures in the world. It's also a tool that can be used by those attempting to learn Sami, for example by reading the content on the Internet and online newspapers," said Aili Keskitalo, president of the Sami Parliament, in a statement.

Hear voice samples of Elle and Biera on soundcloud or play with your own Sami words on the online interactive demo.


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