Exploiting Phonological Constraints for Handshape Inference in ASL Video
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Handshape is a key articulatory parameter in sign language, and thus handshape recognition from signing video is essential for sign recognition and retrieval. Handshape transitions within monomorphemic lexical signs (the largest class of signs in signed languages) are governed by phonological rules. For example, such transitions normally involve either closing or opening of the hand (i.e., to exclusively use either folding or unfolding of the palm and one or more fingers). Furthermore, akin to allophonic variations in spoken languages, both inter- and intra- signer variations in the production of specific handshapes are observed. We propose a Bayesian network formulation to exploit handshape co-occurrence constraints, also utilizing information about allophonic variations to aid in handshape recognition. We propose a fast non-rigid image alignment method to gain improved robustness to handshape appearance variations during computation of observation likelihoods in the Bayesian network. We evaluate our handshape recognition approach on a large dataset of monomorphemic lexical signs. We demonstrate that leveraging linguistic constraints on handshapes results in improved handshape recognition accuracy. As part of the overall project, we are collecting and preparing for dissemination a large corpus (three thousand signs from three native signers) of American Sign Language (ASL) video. The video have been annotated using SignStream® [Neidle et al.] with labels for linguistic information such as glosses, morphological properties and variations, and start/end handshapes associated with each ASL sign.
- Science Day 2011