W3C Extends Speech Framework to Asian Languages

Author(s) and publish date


SSML 1.1 Enhances Asian Language Support and Author Controls



http://www.w3.org/ — 7 September 2010 — The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today extended speech on the Web to an enormous new market by improving support for Asian languages and multi-lingual voice applications. The Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML 1.1) Recommendation provides control over voice selection as well as speech characteristics such as pronunciation, volume, and pitch. SSML is part of W3C's Speech Interface Framework for building voice applications, which also includes the widely deployed VoiceXML and the Pronunciation Lexicon (for providing speech engines guidance on proper pronunciation).

"With SSML 1.1 there is an intentional focus on Asian language support," said Dan Burnett, Co-Chair of the Voice Browser Working Group and Director of Speech Technologies and Standards at Voxeo, "including Chinese languages, Japanese, Thai, Urdu, and others, to provide a wide deployment potential. With SSML 1.0 we already had strong traction in North America and western Europe, so this focus makes SSML 1.1 incredibly strong globally. We are really pleased to have many collaborators in China, in particular, focusing on SSML improvements and iterations."

The multilingal enhancements in this version of SSML result from discussions at W3C Workshops held in China, Greece, and India. SSML 1.1 also provides application designers greater control over voice selection and handling of content in unexpected languages.

Estimates suggest that around 85% of voice response (IVR) systems deployed in North America and Western Europe use VoiceXML and SSML. The new version of SSML will open significant new markets, thanks to the improved support for non-Western European languages. A number of North American and European vendors of text-to-speech (TTS) products have indicated they expect to support SSML 1.1 within the coming year.

About the World Wide Web Consortium

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 350 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/

Media Contacts

Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>, +1.718.260.9447
Marie-Claire Forgue <mcf@w3.org>, +33 6 76 86 33 41

Testimonials for SSML


SSML is considered to be very important at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), both by users of speech synthesis and by the developers of DFKI's own open source system MARY TTS. We particularly welcome the new multilinguality and pronunciation lexicon support in SSML 1.1, since they promote the important goals of interoperability and reuse.

— Massimo Romanelli, W3C Advisory Committee Representative, and Marc Schröder, Senior Researcher and Lead Developer of MARY TTS


SSML 1.1 enhances SSML 1.0 to provide better support for a broader set of natural (human) languages including Chinese. As a leading provider of Chinese speech and language technology, iFLYTEK is very pleased to see the publication of SSML 1.1 Recommendations. iFLYTEK supports the SSML 1.1 specification in its InterPhonic 6.0 platform which is the most widely used Text-to-Speech (TTS) solution in China. SSML 1.1 offers an available method to synthesize content for the user of InterPhonic 6.0. iFLYTEK supports W3C's efforts to enhance the user experience and is committed to the advancement of open standards.

— Yan Yun, iFLYTEK

Kyoto Institute of Technology

Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) congratulates the Voice Browser Working Group on the announcement of Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) 1.1 as a W3C Recommendation. We expect that SSML 1.1 will play a key role in the development of internationalized speech technology.

— Associate Professor Masahiro Araki, Interactive Intelligence lab., Department of Information Science, Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kyoto Institute of Technology


SSML 1.1 is an XML-based mark-up language designed to facilitate use of SSML (and VoiceXML & MRCP) for all languages - including Mandarin, Japanese, and many others. As a speech technology provider, Loquendo believes the SSML 1.1 Recommendation will drive speech applications by enabling fine-grained control of parameters - pronunciation, speaking rate, etc. - so enhancing TTS quality. It will enable service providers and content creators to deliver a richer user experience, while lowering barriers to accessibility for differently-able people. Loquendo is pleased to contribute to SSML development and actively participate in the W3C Voice Browser and Multimodal Interaction Working Groups.

— Daniele Sereno, Vice President Product Engineering, Loquendo


SSML is an important part of the overall ecosystem of W3C standards enabling speech across a variety of applications. SSML in particular provides a key way to render richer, more natural sounding speech. We are particularly pleased that SSML 1.1 provides advancements in several key areas, including support for Asian and Eastern European languages as well as improved audio controls for authors. The headway in the Recommendation is the result of the work of the dedicated individuals and companies around the world who value the importance of standards work and support the W3C Voice Browser Working Group. Voxeo is very proud to have been involved in this significant global accomplishment.

— Dan Burnett, Co-Editor SSML 1.1, Director of Speech Technologies, Voxeo

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