LINGUIST List 9.141

Fri Jan 30 1998

FYI: Sign Language, Speech Synthesis Markup Language

Editor for this issue: Anita Huang <>


  1. Adam Schembri, New CD-ROM of Auslan (Australian Sign Language)
  2. Richard Sproat, SABLE v0.1

Message 1: New CD-ROM of Auslan (Australian Sign Language)

Date: 27 Jan 1998 13:08:43 +1100
From: Adam Schembri <>
Subject: New CD-ROM of Auslan (Australian Sign Language)

The Auslan (Australian Sign Language) Dictionary on CD-ROM "Signs of
Australia", edited by Trevor Johnston, is now available.

It features:

- approximately 4000 Auslan signs with instant access to a video movie for 
 each sign, with slow motion and repeat viewing options
- signs presented by deaf native signers
- a written introduction to the background and history of Auslan
- brief introduction to aspects of Auslan grammar (in Auslan and English)
- instructions (in Auslan and English) on how to use the CD-ROM dictionary
- information on the phonological structure of each sign; the meaning of the 
 sign (explained in COBUILD Dictionary style); sign class (nominal, verbal, 
 functor etc.); English words or phrases that can be used to translate each 
 sign; grammatical information about the sign (directional verb etc.); the 
 "lexicalisation" status of each sign (whether the sign is a highly 
 standardised and widely used lexicalised sign, a regional lexicalised sign, 
 a technical lexicalised sign of restricted usage, an obsolete lexicalised 
 sign, or a semi-lexicalised classifier sign); the state or region where the 
 sign is used, including a map showing this distribution; information on folk
 etymology and source of sign (if a borrowing from ASL, BSL etc.)
- access to sign synonyms and antonyms
- the dictionary can be searched by English word, by topic area, or by a 
 subset of phonological features (handshape + hand arrangement + location)
- an introduction to fingerspelling, both two-handed (Anglo-Australian manual 
 alphabet) and one-handed (North American and Irish manual alphabets) with 
 fingerspelling practice and quiz screens

Windows 3.1, Windows95, Windows NT compatible (Mac version soon to be released)
Recommended system requirements: Pentium processor, 16MB RAM, minimum 8MB 
hard disk space, 16 bit colour (video card) or better, sound card optional, 
Retail price: $AU175.00
(Australian dollar, due to Asian currency crisis, = $US 0.65c approx.)
Cost of postage and handling for overseas orders: $7.00 (air registered mail)

Renwick College, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
Private Bag 29, Parramatta, NSW, 2124, AUSTRLIA
Phone (voice/TTY): 02 9872 0303
Fax: 02 9873 1614

Also available at:
Deafness Resources Australia (Australian Communication Exchange)
Locked Bag 5380, Parramatta, NSW, 2124, AUSTRALIA
Phone (voice): 02 9204 2970 (TTY) 02 9204 2993
Outside Sydney metro area: (voice) 1800 656 428 (TTY) 1800 642 664
Fax: 02 9204 2972
Email (credit card orders only):

For any more information, contact me directly.

Adam Schembri
Department of Linguistics
University of Sydney
NSW 2006
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Message 2: SABLE v0.1

Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 11:15:35 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Sproat <>
Subject: SABLE v0.1

The first draft of the SABLE speech synthesis markup language
specification is now available for public comment. This first draft
combines many of the features of the Spoken Text Markup Language
(STML) developed at Bell Labs and Edinburgh, and the Java Speech
Markup Language (JSML) developed by Sun Microsystems and its partners.

The goal of the SABLE initiative is to produce a standard markup
language for speech synthesizers. We encourage speech synthesis
users, and speech synthesis developers and researchers, and anyone
generally interested in speech technology to review the draft and to
join in its development.

Some background on the proposed standard is given below. The complete
document can be found at:

To join the discussion on SABLE, send a message to
requesting to be added to the mailing list.

 Andrew Hunt
 Sun Microsystems Laboratories

 Richard Sproat
 Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies

 Paul Taylor
 Centre for Speech Technology Research, University of Edinburgh

- --------------------------------------------------------------------


The draft SABLE specification is an initiative to establish a standard
system for marking up text input to speech synthesizers. The current
draft (version 0.1) is being circulated for comment by users,
developers and researchers of speech synthesis.

The SABLE mailing list is Please join the specification
process by sending your comments to this list. To subscribe, send
email to or (it is not yet an
automated list).

he SABLE web site is
Revisions of SABLE will be available at that site.

The name SABLE is tentative. At some time it may change to ??ML for ?
? Markup Language.


Currently, speech synthesizers are controlled by a multitude of
proprietary tag sets. These tag sets vary substantially across
synthesizers and are an inhibitor to the adoption of speech synthesis
technology by developers.

This SABLE markup language is being developed with the following goals in 
* Enable markup of speech synthesis text input. 

* Internationalized: appropriate to a large number of languages. 

* Easy to learn and use: SABLE should not require specialized knowledge
 of speech synthesis, linguistics or markup languages, though users
 with such experience should be able to apply their knowledge.

* Portability: provide application developers with a consistent
 mechanism for controlling synthesizers from different companies and on
 different platforms.

* Tools: enable the creation of tools for use and control of speech
 synthesis: for example, software that generates SABLE text, SABLE
 editing tools, pronunciation and lexicon tools, SABLE parsers and

* Extensibility: SABLE should be able to evolve to support new features
 in future releases. SABLE should allow individual synthesizers to
 provide enhanced features without compromising the portability of
 SABLE text.


The SABLE specification evolved as an initiative to combine three
existing speech synthesis markup languages:

 SSML, the Speech Synthesis Markup Language 
 STML, the Spoken Text Markup Language 
 JSML, the Java Synthesis Markup Language 
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