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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) Version 1.1

W3C announced that the Voice Browser Working Group has published an
updated Working Draft for the "Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML)
Version 1.1" specification, part of the W3C framework for enabling access
to the Web using spoken interaction. Appendix G documents the
specification changes since SSML Version 1.0; a colored diff-marked
version is also available for comparison purposes. Please send comments
by 17-April-2008. This document enhances SSML 1.0 to provide better
support for a broader set of natural (human) languages. To determine in
what ways, if any, SSML is limited by its design with respect to
supporting languages that are in large commercial or emerging markets
for speech synthesis technologies but for which there was limited or no
participation by either native speakers or experts during the development
of SSML 1.0, the W3C held three workshops on the Internationalization of
SSML. The first workshop, in Beijing, PRC, in October 2005, focused
primarily on Chinese, Korean, and Japanese languages, and the second
workshop, in Crete, Greece, in May 2006, focused primarily on Arabic,
Indian, and Eastern European languages. The third workshop, in Hyderabad,
India, in January 2007, focused heavily on Indian and Middle Eastern
languages. Information collected during these workshops was used to
develop a requirements document. Changes from SSML 1.0 are motivated by
these requirements. SSML provides a rich, XML-based markup language for
assisting the generation of synthetic speech in Web and other applications.
It provides a standard way to control aspects of speech such as
pronunciation, volume, pitch, rate, etc. across different
synthesis-capable platforms. SSML is part of a larger set of markup
specifications for voice browsers developed through the open processes
of the W3C. A related initiative to establish a standard system for
marking up text input is SABLE, which tried to integrate many different
XML-based markups for speech synthesis into a new one. The intended use
of SSML is to improve the quality of synthesized content. Different
markup elements impact different stages of the synthesis process. The
markup may be produced either automatically, for instance via XSLT or
CSS3 from an XHTML document, or by human authoring. Markup may be present
within a complete SSML document or as part of a fragment embedded in
another language, although no interactions with other languages are
specified as part of SSML itself. Most of the markup included in SSML
is suitable for use by the majority of content developers.

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