AlignTool – The automatic temporal alignment of spoken utterances in German, Dutch and British English for psycholinguistic purposes
Prof. Dr. Eva Belke
Funded by the German Research Council
In many studies of language production, the dependent variables are the latency
with which speakers produce a spoken response to a stimulus or the temporal
structure of a spoken utterance (specifically onset- and offset-times of words).
Measuring these variables automatically often yields partially incorrect
results. However, exact measurements through the visual inspection of the
recordings are extremely time-consuming and resourceful. We present AlignTool,
an open source alignment tool based on Praat and the
automatic speech recognition system
MAUS. AlignTool establishes
preliminarily the onset and offset times of words and phonemes in spoken
utterances by means of a voice-activitiy detection device implemented in Praat
and a forced alignment of the spoken utterances and their orthographic
transcriptions in MAUS. AlignTool creates a Praat text grid file for inspection
and manual correction by the user, if necessary. AlignTool functions as a
voice-key but also automatically aligns word onsets and offsets in longer
utterances, for instance in semi-spontaneous dialogues. AlignTool can deal with
files with a poor signal-to-noise ratio but may require more manual corrections
with decreasing audio quality. However, AlignTool cannot deal with continuous
background noise (e.g., from an MRT scanner) or dialogue sequences that include
longer intervals of simultaneous speech by more than one speaker. We hope that
by rendering the temporal analyses of complex utterances feasible, AlignTool
will pave the way for new avenues in language production research.
We have evaluated AlignTool's accuracy extensively in a variety of recording
contexts and experimental settings. AlignTool and the results of its evaluation
are documented in a paper in Behavior Research Methods:
Schillingmann, L., Ernst, J., Keite, V., Wrede, B., Meyer, A.S., & Belke, E.
(2018). AlignTool: The automatic temporal alignment of spoken utterances in
German, Dutch and British English for psycholinguistic purposes.
Behavior Research Methods, 50, 466-489. Download
AlignTool was developped as part of a collaboration between the members of the
Applied Informatics Group at the University of Bielefeld (Lars Schillingmann,
Britta Wrede) and psycholinguists at Ruhr-University Bochum (Eva Belke, Jessica
Ernst, Verena Keite) and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Antje
S. Meyer). This work was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG,
BE3176/4-1). The source code for AlignTool is available
To download AlignTool (version 0c2855a) click
You find a detailed documentation of the installation and use of AlignTool
here. It includes a documentation of how to align
automatically data from the Map Task corpus. The TextGrid example files for this
are available here.
If you want to make recordings of multiple trials segmented by a trial-onset
beep, you can use this one.
Please cite AlignTool and its documentation as follows: