What Is Speech Synthesis And How Does It Work?

Curious about what is speech synthesis? Discover how this technology works and its various applications in this informative guide.

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Unreal Speech

Speech synthesis is the artificial production of human speech. This technology enables users to convert written text into spoken words. Text to speech technology can be a valuable tool for individuals with disabilities, language learners, educators, and more. In this blog, we will delve into the world of speech synthesis, exploring how it works, its applications, and its impact on various industries. Let's dive in and discover What is speech synthesis and how it is shaping the future of communication.

Table of Contents

What is speech synthesis, how does speech synthesis work, different approaches and techniques speech synthesizers use to produce audio waveforms, applications and use cases of speech synthesis, 7 best text to speech synthesizers on the market.

woman listening to audio quality - What Is Speech Synthesis

Text Analysis

This initial step involves contextual assimilation of the typed text. The software analyzes the text input to understand its context, including recognizing individual words, punctuation, and grammar. Text analysis helps the software generate accurate speech that reflects the intended meaning of the written content.

Linguistic Processing

Linguistic processing involves mapping the text to its corresponding unit of sound. This process helps convert the written words into phonetic sounds used to develop the spoken language. Linguistic processing ensures that the synthesized speech sounds natural and understandable to the listener.

Acoustic Processing

Acoustic processing plays a crucial role in generating the speech's sound qualities, such as pitch, intensity, and tempo. This step focuses on converting the linguistic representations into acoustic signals that mimic the qualities of human speech. Acoustic processing enhances the naturalness of the synthesized speech .

Audio Synthesis

The final step in the speech synthesis process involves the conversion of the generated sound in the textual sequence using synthetic voices or recorded human voices. Audio synthesis aims to create a realistic speech output that closely resembles human speech. This stage ensures that the synthesized speech is clear, coherent, and engaging for the listener.

Affordable Text-to-Speech Solution

If you are looking for cheap, scalable, realistic TTS to incorporate into your products, try our text-to-speech API for free today. Convert text into natural-sounding speech at an affordable and scalable price.

how does it work - What Is Speech Synthesis

Text Input and Analysis

After entering the text you want to convert into speech, the TTS software analyzes the text to understand its linguistic components, breaking it down into phonemes, the smallest units of sound in a language. It then identifies punctuation, emphasis, and other cues to generate natural-sounding speech.

In this stage, the software applies rules of grammar and syntax to ensure that the speech sounds natural. It also incorporates intonation and prosody to convey meaning and emotion, enhancing the naturalness of the synthesized speech.

Linguistic information is converted into parameters governing speech sound generation, transforming linguistic features like phonemes and intonation into acoustic parameters. Pitch, duration, and amplitude are manipulated to produce speech sounds with the desired characteristics.

Acoustic parameters are combined to generate audible speech, possibly undergoing filtering and post-processing to enhance clarity and realism.

Accessible Text-to-Speech Technology

If you are looking for cheap, scalable, realistic TTS to incorporate into your products, try our text-to-speech API for free today. Convert text into enhanced clarity at an affordable and scalable price.

waveforms on laptop - What Is Speech Synthesis

Concatenative Synthesis

Concatenative synthesis involves piecing together pre-recorded segments of speech to create the desired output. It relies on a database of recorded speech units, such as phonemes, syllables, or words, which are concatenated to form complete utterances. This approach can produce highly natural-sounding speech especially when the database contains a large variety of speech units.

Parametric Synthesis

Parametric synthesis generates speech signals by manipulating a set of acoustic parameters that represent various aspects of speech production. These parameters typically include fundamental frequency (pitch), formant frequencies, duration, and intensity. Rather than relying on recorded speech samples, parametric synthesis algorithms use mathematical models to generate speech sounds based on these parameters.

Articulatory Synthesis

Articulatory synthesis attempts to simulate the physical processes involved in speech production, modeling the movements of the articulatory organs (such as the tongue, lips, and vocal cords). It simulates the transfer function of the vocal tract to generate speech sounds based on articulatory gestures and acoustic properties. This approach aims to capture the underlying physiology of speech production, allowing for detailed control over articulatory features and acoustic output.

Formant Synthesis

Formant synthesis focuses on synthesizing speech by generating and manipulating specific spectral peaks, known as formants, which correspond to resonant frequencies in the vocal tract. By controlling the frequencies and amplitudes of these formants, formant synthesis algorithms can produce speech sounds with different vowel qualities and articulatory characteristics. This approach is particularly well-suited for synthesizing vowels and steady-state sounds, but it may struggle with accurately reproducing transient sounds and complex articulatory features.

Cutting-Edge Text-to-Speech Solution

Unreal Speech offers a low-cost, highly scalable text-to-speech API with natural-sounding AI voices which is the cheapest and most high-quality solution in the market. We cut your text-to-speech costs by up to 90%. Get human-like AI voices with our super fast / low latency API, with the option for per-word timestamps. With our simple easy-to-use API, you can give your LLM a voice with ease and offer this functionality at scale. If you are looking for cheap, scalable, realistic TTS to incorporate into your products, try our text-to-speech API for free today. Convert text into natural-sounding speech at an affordable and scalable price.

person adjusting sound - What Is Speech Synthesis

Speech synthesis technology has been a game-changer when it comes to making content more accessible for individuals with visual impairments. By using text-to-speech software, visually impaired individuals can now easily consume written content by listening to it. This eliminates the need for reading and allows them to have text read aloud to them directly from their devices. This innovation has opened up a world of opportunities for people with disabilities, enabling them to access information and tap into resources that were previously out of reach.

eLearning - Enhancing Educational Experiences with Voice Synthesizers

Voice synthesizers are revolutionizing the learning experience with the rise of eLearning platforms. Educators can now create interactive and engaging digital learning modules by leveraging speech synthesis technology.

By incorporating AI voices to read course content, voiceovers for videos, and audio elements, educators can create dynamic learning materials that enhance student engagement and bolster retention rates. This application of speech synthesis has proven to be instrumental in optimizing the learning process and fostering a more immersive educational environment.

Marketing and Advertising - Elevating Brand Communication Through Speech Synthesis

In the world of marketing, text-to-speech technology offers brands a powerful tool to enhance their communication strategies. By using synthetic voices that align with their brand identity, businesses can create voiceovers that resonate with their target audience.

Speech synthesis enables businesses to save costs that would otherwise be spent on hiring voice artists and audio engineers for advertising and promotional content. By integrating human-like voices into marketing videos and product demos, companies can effectively convey their brand message while saving on production expenses.

Content Creation - Crafting Engaging Multimedia Content with Speech Generation Tools

Another exciting application of speech generation technology is in the field of content creation. Content creators can now produce a wide range of multimedia content, including YouTube videos, audiobooks, podcasts, and more, using speech synthesis tools.

These tools enable creators to generate high-quality audio content that is engaging and captivating for their audience. By leveraging speech synthesis, content creators can explore new avenues of creativity and enhance the overall quality of their multimedia projects.

woman trying out text to speech software - What Is Speech Synthesis

1. Unreal Speech: Cheap, Scalable, and Realistic TTS Synthesizer

Unreal Speech offers a low-cost, highly scalable text-to-speech API with natural-sounding AI voices, making it the cheapest and most high-quality solution in the market. It cuts your text-to-speech costs by up to 90%. With their super-fast API, you can get human-like AI voices with the option for per-word timestamps. The easy-to-use API allows you to give your LLM a voice effortlessly, offering this functionality at scale. If you are looking for cheap, scalable, and realistic TTS to incorporate into your products, Unreal Speech is the way to go.

2. Amazon Polly: Cloud-Based TTS Synthesizer

Amazon Polly's cloud-based TTS API uses Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) to generate realistic speech from text. This enables users to integrate speech synthesis into applications seamlessly, enhancing accessibility and engagement.

3. Microsoft Azure: RESTful Architecture for TTS

Microsoft Azure's text-to-speech API follows a RESTful architecture for its text-to-speech interface. This cloud-based service supports flexible deployment, allowing users to run TTS at data sources.

4. Murf: Customizable High-Quality TTS Synthesizer

Murf is popular for its high-quality voiceovers and its ability to customize speech to a remarkable extent. It offers a unique voice model that delivers a lifelike user experience.

5. Speechify: Powerful TTS App Using AI

Speechify is a powerful text-to-speech app written in Python using artificial intelligence. It can help you convert any written text into natural-sounding speech.

6. IBM Watson Text to Speech: High-Quality, Natural-Sounding TTS

IBM Watson is known for its high-quality, natural-sounding voices. It provides a unique API that can be used in several programming languages, including Python.

7. Google Cloud Text to Speech: Global TTS Synthesizer

Google Cloud Text to Speech utilizes Google's powerful AI and machine learning capabilities to provide highly realistic voices. Supporting numerous languages and dialects, it is suitable for global enterprises.

Try Unreal Speech for Free Today — Affordably and Scalably Convert Text into Natural-Sounding Speech with Our Text-to-Speech API

Unreal Speech offers a cost-effective and scalable text-to-speech API with natural-sounding AI voices. It provides the cheapest and most high-quality solution in the market, reducing text-to-speech costs by up to 90%. With its super-fast/low latency API, Unreal Speech delivers human-like AI voices with the option for per-word timestamps. Its simple and easy-to-use API allows for giving your LLM a voice and offering this functionality at scale. If you are looking for an affordable, scalable, and realistic TTS solution to incorporate into your products, try Unreal Speech's text-to-speech API for free today to convert text into natural-sounding speech.

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meaning speech synthesis

What is speech synthesis?

How does speech synthesis work.

Artwork: Context matters: A speech synthesizer needs some understanding of what it's reading.

Artwork: Concatenative versus formant speech synthesis. Left: A concatenative synthesizer builds up speech from pre-stored fragments; the words it speaks are limited rearrangements of those sounds. Right: Like a music synthesizer, a formant synthesizer uses frequency generators to generate any kind of sound.


What are speech synthesizers used for.

Photo: Will humans still speak to one another in the future? All sorts of public announcements are now made by recorded or synthesized computer-controlled voices, but there are plenty of areas where even the smartest machines would fear to tread. Imagine a computer trying to commentate on a fast-moving sports event, such as a rodeo, for example. Even if it could watch and correctly interpret the action, and even if it had all the right words to speak, could it really convey the right kind of emotion? Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, courtesy of Gates Frontiers Fund Wyoming Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress , Prints and Photographs Division.

Who invented speech synthesis?

Artwork: Speak & Spell—An iconic, electronic toy from Texas Instruments that introduced a whole generation of children to speech synthesis in the late 1970s. It was built around the TI TMC0281 chip.

Anna (c. ~2005)

Olivia (c. ~2020).

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Current research, notes and references ↑    pre-processing in described in more detail in "chapter 7: speech synthesis from textual or conceptual input" of speech synthesis and recognition by wendy holmes, taylor & francis, 2002, p.93ff. ↑    for more on concatenative synthesis, see chapter 14 ("synthesis by concatenation and signal-process modification") of text-to-speech synthesis by paul taylor. cambridge university press, 2009, p.412ff. ↑    for a much more detailed explanation of the difference between formant, concatenative, and articulatory synthesis, see chapter 2 ("low-lever synthesizers: current status") of developments in speech synthesis by mark tatham, katherine morton, wiley, 2005, p.23–37. please do not copy our articles onto blogs and other websites articles from this website are registered at the us copyright office. copying or otherwise using registered works without permission, removing this or other copyright notices, and/or infringing related rights could make you liable to severe civil or criminal penalties. text copyright © chris woodford 2011, 2021. all rights reserved. full copyright notice and terms of use . follow us, rate this page, tell your friends, cite this page, more to explore on our website....

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The Ultimate Guide to Speech Synthesis in 2024

meaning speech synthesis

We've reached a stage where technology can mimic human speech with such precision that it's almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Speech synthesis, the process of artificially generating speech, has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, blurring the lines between what's real and what's artificially created. In this blog, we'll delve into the fascinating world of speech synthesis, exploring its history, how it works, and what the future holds for this cutting-edge technology. You can see speech sythesis in action with Murf studio for free.

Try Murf for free

Table of Contents

What is speech synthesis, text to written words, words to phonemes, concatenative, articulatory, assistive technology, marketing and advertising, content creation, software that use speech synthesis, why is murf the best speech synthesis software, what is speech synthesis, why is speech synthesis important, where can i use speech synthesis, what is the best speech synthesis software.

Speech synthesis, in essence, is the artificial simulation of human speech by a computer or any advanced software. It's more commonly also called text to speech . It is a three-step process that involves:

Contextual assimilation of the typed text

Mapping the text to its corresponding unit of sound

Generating the mapped sound in the textual sequence by using synthetic voices or recorded human voices

The quality of the human speech generated depends on how well the software understands the textual context and converts it into a voice.

Today, there is a multitude of options when it comes to text to speech software. They all provide different (and sometimes unique) features that help enhance the quality of synthesized speech. 

Speech generation finds extensive applications in assistive technologies, eLearning, marketing, navigation, hands-free tech, and more. It helps businesses with the cost-optimization of their marketing campaigns and assists those with vision impairments to 'read' text by hearing it read aloud, among other things. Let's understand how this technology works in more detail.

How Does Speech Synthesis Work?

The process of voice synthesis is quite interesting. Speech synthesis is done in three simple steps:

Text-to-word conversion

Word-to-phoneme conversion

Phoneme-to-sound conversion

Text to audio conversion happens within seconds, depending on the accuracy and efficiency of the software in use. Let's understand this process.

Before input text can be completely converted into intelligible human speech,   voice synthesizers must first polish and 'clean up' the entered text. This process is called 'pre-processing' or 'normalization.'

Normalization helps the TTS systems understand the context in which a text needs to be converted into synthesized speech. Without normalization, the converted speech likely ends up sounding unnatural or like complete gibberish.

To understand better, consider the case of abbreviations: "St." is read as "Saint." Without normalization, the software would just read it according to the phonetic rules instead of contextual insight. This may lead to errors.

The second step in text to speech conversion is working with the normalized text and locating the phonemes for each one. Every TTS software has a library of phonemes that corresponds to specific written words. A phoneme is a unique unit of sound that is attributed to a particular word in a language. It helps the text to speech software distinguish one word from another in any language.

When the software receives normalized input, it immediately begins locating the respective phonemes and pieces together bits of sound. However, there's one more catch involved: not all the words that are written the same are read the same way. So, the software looks up the context of the entire sentence to determine the most suitable prosody for a word and selects the right phonemes for output.

For example, "lead" can be read in two ways—"ledd" and "leed." The software selects the most suitable phoneme depending on the context in which the sentence is written.

Phonemes to Sounds

The final step is converting phonemes to sounds. While phonemes determine which sound goes with which word, the software is yet to  produce  any sound at all. There are three ways that the software produces audio waveforms:

This is the method where the software uses pre-recorded bits of the human voice for output. The software works by understanding the recorded snippets and rearranging them according to the list of phonemes it created as the output speech.

The formant method is similar to the way any other electronic device generates sound. By mimicking the frequency, wavelengths, pitches, and other properties of the phonemes in the generated list, the software can generate its own sound. This method is more effective than the concatenative one.

This is the most complex kind of custom speech synthesizer chip that exists (aside from the natural human voicebox) and is capable of mimicking human voice in surprising closeness.

Applications of Speech Synthesis

Speech generation isn't just made for individuals or businesses: it's a noble and inclusive technology that has generated a positive wave across the world by allowing the masses to 'read' by 'listening.' Some of the most notable speech synthesis applications are:

One of the most beneficial speech generation applications   is in assistive technology. According to data from WHO , there are about 2.2 billion people with some form of vision impairment worldwide. That's a lot of people, considering how important reading is for personal development and betterment.

With text to speech software, it has now become possible for these masses to consume typed content by listening to it. Text to speech eliminates the need for reading for visually-impaired people altogether. They can simply listen to the text on the screen or scan a piece of text onto their mobile devices and have it read aloud to them.

eLearning has been on a constant rise since the pandemic restricted most of the world's population to their homes. Today, people have realized how convenient it is to learn new concepts through eLearning videos and explainer videos .

Educators use voice synthesizers to create digital learning modules for learners, enabling a more immersive and engaging learning experience and environment for them. This catalysis has proved to be elemental in improving cognition and retention amongst students.

eLearning courses use speech synthesizers in the following ways:

Deploy AI voices to read the course content out loud

Create voiceovers for video and audio

Create learning prompts

Marketing and advertising are niches that require careful branding and representation. Text to speech gives brands the flexibility to create voiceovers in voices that represent their brand perfectly.

Additionally, speech synthesis helps businesses save a lot of money as well. By adding synthetic, human-like voices to their advertising videos and product demos , businesses save the expenses required for hiring and paying:

Audio engineers

Voice artists

AI voices also help save time while editing the script, eliminating the need to re-record an artist's voice with a new script. The text to speech tool can work with the text to produce audio through the edited script.

One of the most interesting applications of speech generation tools is the creation of video and audio content that is highly engaging. For example, you can create YouTube videos ,  audiobooks ,  podcasts,  and even lyrical tracks using these tools.

Without investing in voice artists, you can leverage hundreds of AI voices and edit them to your preferences. Many TTS tools allow you to adjust:

The pitch of the AI voice

Reading speed

This enables content creators to tailor AI voices to the needs and nature of their content and make it more impactful and engaging.

Natural Readers

Well Said Labs

Amazon Polly

When it comes to TTS, the two most important factors are the quality of output and its brand fit. These are the aspects that Murf helps your business get right with its text to speech modules that have customization capabilities second to none.

Some of the key features and capabilities of the Murf platform are:

Voice editing with adjustments to pitch, volume, emphasis, intonation, pause, speed, and emotion

Voice cloning feature for enterprises that allows them to create a custom voice that is an exact clone of their brand voice for any commercial requirement. 

Voice changer that lets you convert your own recorded voice to a professional sounding studio quality voiceover

Wrapping Up

If you've found yourself needing a voiceover for whichever purpose, text to speech (or speech generation) is your ideal solution. Thankfully, Murf covers all the bases while delivering exemplary performance, customizability, high quality, and variety in text to speech, which makes this platform one of the best in the industry. To generate speech samples for free, visit Murf today.

Speech synthesis is the technology that generates spoken language as output by working with written text as input. In other words, generating text from speech is called speech synthesis. Today, many software offer this functionality with varying levels of accuracy and editability.

Speech generation has become an integral part of countless activities today because of the convenience and advantages it provides. It's important because:

It helps businesses save time and money.

It helps people with reading difficulties understand text.

It helps make content more accessible.

Speech synthesis can be used across a variety of applications:

To create audiobooks and other learning media

In read-aloud applications to help people with reading, vision, and learning difficulties

In hands-free technologies like GPS navigation or mobile phones

On websites for translations or to deliver the key information audibly for better effect

…and many more.

Murf AI is the best TTS software because it allows you to hyper-customize your AI voices and mold them according to your voiceover needs. It also provides you with a suite of tools to further purpose your AI voices for applications like podcasts, audiobooks, videos, audio, and more.

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The Ultimate Guide to Speech Synthesis

Table of contents.

Speech synthesis is an intriguing area of artificial intelligence (AI) that’s been extensively developed by major tech corporations like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google Cloud. It employs deep learning algorithms, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP) to convert written text into spoken words.

Basics of Speech Synthesis

Speech synthesis, also known as text-to-speech (TTS), involves the automatic production of human speech. This technology is widely used in various applications such as real-time transcription services, automated voice response systems, and assistive technology for the visually impaired. The pronunciation of words, including “robot,” is achieved by breaking down words into basic sound units or phonemes and stringing them together.

Three Stages of Speech Synthesis

Speech synthesizers go through three primary stages: Text Analysis, Prosodic Analysis, and Speech Generation.

  • Text Analysis : The text to be synthesized is analyzed and parsed into phonemes, the smallest units of sound. Segmentation of the sentence into words and words into phonemes happens in this stage.
  • Prosodic Analysis : The intonation, stress patterns, and rhythm of the speech are determined. The synthesizer uses these elements to generate human-like speech.
  • Speech Generation : Using rules and patterns, the synthesizer forms sounds based on the phonemes and prosodic information. Concatenative and unit selection synthesizers are the two main types of speech generation. Concatenative synthesizers use pre-recorded speech segments, while unit selection synthesizers select the best unit from a large speech database.

Most Realistic TTS and Best TTS for Android

While many TTS systems produce high quality and realistic speech, Google’s TTS, part of the Google Cloud service, and Amazon’s Alexa stand out. These systems leverage machine learning and deep learning algorithms, creating seamless and almost indistinguishable-from-human speech. The best TTS engine for Android smartphones is Google’s Text-to-Speech, with a wide range of languages and high-quality voices.

Best Python Library for Text to Speech

For Python developers, the gTTS (Google Text-to-Speech) library stands out due to its simplicity and quality. It interfaces with Google Translate’s text-to-speech API, providing an easy-to-use, high-quality solution.

Speech Recognition and Text-to-Speech

While speech synthesis converts text into speech, speech recognition does the opposite. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology, like IBM’s Watson or Apple’s Siri, transcribes human speech into text. This forms the basis of voice assistants and real-time transcription services.

Pronunciation of the word “Robot”

The pronunciation of the word “robot” varies slightly depending on the speaker’s accent, but the standard American English pronunciation is /ˈroʊ.bɒt/. Here is a breakdown:

  • The first syllable, “ro”, is pronounced like ‘row’ in rowing a boat.
  • The second syllable, “bot”, is pronounced like ‘bot’ in ‘bottom’, but without the ‘om’ part.

Example of a Text-to-Speech Program

Google Text-to-Speech is a prominent example of a text-to-speech program. It converts written text into spoken words and is widely used in various Google services and products like Google Translate, Google Assistant, and Android devices.

Best TTS Engine for Android

The best TTS engine for Android devices is Google Text-to-Speech. It supports multiple languages, has a variety of voices to choose from, and is natively integrated with Android, providing a seamless user experience.

Difference Between Concatenative and Unit Selection Synthesizers

Concatenative and unit selection are two main techniques employed in the speech generation stage of a speech synthesizer.

  • Concatenative Synthesizers : They work by stitching together pre-recorded samples of human speech. The recorded speech is divided into small pieces, each representing a phoneme or a group of phonemes. When a new speech is synthesized, the appropriate pieces are selected and concatenated together to form the final speech.
  • Unit Selection Synthesizers : This approach also relies on a large database of recorded speech but uses a more sophisticated selection process to choose the best matching unit of speech for each segment of the text. The goal is to reduce the amount of ‘stitching’ required, thus producing more natural-sounding speech. It considers factors like prosody, phonetic context, and even speaker emotion while selecting the units.

Top 8 Speech Synthesis Software or Apps

  • Google Text-to-Speech : A versatile TTS software integrated into Android. It supports different languages and provides high-quality voices.
  • Amazon Polly : An AWS service that uses advanced deep learning technologies to synthesize speech that sounds like a human voice.
  • Microsoft Azure Text to Speech : A robust TTS system with neural network capabilities providing natural-sounding speech.
  • IBM Watson Text to Speech : Leverages AI to produce speech with human-like intonation.
  • Apple’s Siri : Siri isn’t only a voice assistant but also provides high-quality TTS in several languages.
  • iSpeech : A comprehensive TTS platform supporting various formats, including WAV.
  • TextAloud 4 : A TTS software for Windows, offering conversion of text from various formats to speech.
  • NaturalReader : An online TTS service with a range of natural-sounding voices.
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Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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Speech Synthesis: Text-To-Speech Conversion and Artificial Voices

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The artificial generation of speech has fascinated mankind since ancient times. The robotic-sounding artificial voices from the last century are nowadays replaced with more naturally sounding voices based on pre-recorded human speech. Significant progress in data processing led to qualitative leaps in intelligibility and naturalness. Apart from sizable data of the voice donor, a fully fledged text-to-speech (TTS) synthesizer requires further linguistic resources and components of natural language processing including dictionaries with information on pronunciation and word prosody, morphological structure, and parts-of-speech but also procedures for automatic chunking texts in smaller parts, or morpho-syntactic parsing. TTS technology can be used in many different application domains, for instance, as a communicative aid for those who cannot speak and those who cannot see and in situations characterized as “hands busy, eyes busy” often as a part of spoken dialog systems. One remaining big challenge is evaluation of the quality of synthetic speech output and its appropriateness for the needs of the user. There are also promising developments in speech synthesis that go beyond the pure acoustic channel. Multimodal synthesis includes the visual channel, e.g., in talking heads, whereas silent-speech interfaces and brain-to-speech conversion convert articulatory gestures and brain waves, respectively, to spoken output. Although there has been much progress in quality in the last decade, often achieved by processing enormous amounts of data, TTS today is available only for relatively few languages (probably fewer than 50 with a dominance of English). Thus, a major task will be to find or create linguistic resources and make them available for more languages and language varieties.

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Denby, B., Schultz, T., Honda, K., Hueber, T., Gilbert, J. M., & Brumberg, J. S. (2010). Silent speech interfaces. Speech Communication, 52 (4), 270–287.

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Trouvain, J., Möbius, B. (2019). Speech Synthesis: Text-To-Speech Conversion and Artificial Voices. In: Brunn, S., Kehrein, R. (eds) Handbook of the Changing World Language Map. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73400-2_168-1

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What is Speech Synthesis? A Detailed Guide

Aug 24, 2022 13 mins read

Have you ever wondered how those little voice-enabled devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home work? The answer is speech synthesis! Speech synthesis is the artificial production of human speech that sounds almost like a human voice and is more precise with pitch, speech, and tone. Automation and AI-based system designed for this purpose is called a text-to-speech synthesizer and can be implemented in software or hardware.

The people in the business are fully into audio technology to automate management tasks, internal business operations, and product promotions. The super quality and cheaper audio technology are taking everyone with awe and amazement. If you’re a product marketer or content strategist, you might be wondering how you can use text-to-speech synthesis to your advantage.

Speech Synthesis for Translations of Different Languages

One of the benefits of using text to speech in translation is that it can help improve translation accuracy . It is because the synthesized speech can be controlled more precisely than human speech, making it easier to produce an accurate rendition of the original text. It saves you ample time while saving you the labor of manual work that may have a chance of being error-prone. The speech synthesis translator does not need to spend time recording themselves speaking the translated text. It can be a significant time-saving for long or complex texts.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your translation work, consider using TTS synthesis software. It can help you produce more accurate translations and save you time in the process!

If you’re considering using a text-to-speech tool for translation work, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Choosing a high-quality speech synthesizer is essential to avoid potential errors in the synthesis process.
  • You’ll need to create a script for the synthesizer that includes all the necessary pronunciations for the words and phrases in the text.
  • You’ll need to test the synthesized speech to ensure it sounds natural and intelligible.

Text to Speech Synthesis for Visually Impaired People

With speech synthesis, you can not only convert text into spoken words but also control how the words are spoken. This means you can change the pitch, speed, and tone of voice. TTS is used in many applications, websites, audio newspapers, and audio blogs .

They are great for helping people who are blind or have low vision or for people who want to listen to a book instead of reading it.

Synthesized voice making information accessible

Text to Speech Synthesis for Video Content Creation

With speech synthesis, you can create engaging videos that sound natural and are easy to understand. Let’s face it; not everyone is a great speaker. But with speech synthesis, anyone can create videos that sound professional and are easy to follow.

All you need to do is type out your script. Then, the program will convert your text into spoken words . You can preview the audio to make sure it sounds like you want it to. Then, just record your video and add the audio file.

It’s that simple! With speech synthesis, anyone can create high-quality videos that sound great and are easy to understand. So if you’re looking for a way to take your YouTube channel, Instagram, or TikTok account to the next level, give speech-to-text tools a try! Boost your TikTok views with engaging audio content produced effortlessly through these innovative tools.

What Uses Does Speech Synthesis Have?

The text-to-speech tool has come a long way since its early days in the 1950s. It is now used in various applications, from helping those with speech impairments to creating realistic-sounding computer-generated characters in movies, video games, podcasts, and audio blogs.

Here are some of the most common uses for text-to-speech today:

Synthesized voice is helping everyone

1. Assistive Technology for Those with Speech Impairments

One of the most important uses of TTS is to help those with speech impairments. Various assistive technologies, including text-to-speech (TTS) software, communication aids, and mobile apps, use speech synthesis to convert text into speech.

People with a wide range of speech impairments, including those with dysarthria (a motor speech disorder), mutism (an inability to speak), and aphasia (a language disorder), use audio tools. Nonverbal people with difficulty speaking due to temporary conditions, such as laryngitis, use TTS software.

It includes screen readers read aloud text from websites and other digital documents. Moreover, it includes navigational aids that help people with visual impairments get around.

2. Helping People with Speech Impairments Communicate

People with difficulty speaking due to a stroke or other condition can also benefit from speech synthesis. This can be a lifesaver for people who have trouble speaking but still want to be able to communicate with loved ones. Several apps and devices use this technology to help people communicate.

3. Navigation and Voice Commands—Enhancing GPS Navigation with Spoken Directions

Navigation systems and voice-activated assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are prime examples of TTS software. They convert text-based directions into speech, making it easier for drivers to stay focused on the road. The voice assistants offer voice commands for various tasks, such as sending a text message or setting a reminder. This technology benefits people unfamiliar with an area or who have trouble reading maps.

Synthesized voice helping people with disabilities to live and enjoy equally with others

4. Educational Materials

Speech synthesizers are great to help in preparing educational materials , such as audiobooks, audio blogs and language-learning materials. Some visual learners or those who prefer to listen to material rather than read it. Now educational content creators can create materials for those with reading impairments, such as dyslexia .

After the pandemic, and so many educational programs sent online, you must give your students audio learning material to hear it out on the go. For some people, listening to material helps them focus, understand and memorize things better instead of just reading it.

Synthesized voice has revolutionized the online education system

5. Text-to-Speech for Language Learning

Another great use for text-to-speech is for language learning. Hearing the words spoken aloud can be a lot easier to learn how to pronounce them and remember their meaning. Several apps and software programs use text-to-speech to help people learn new languages.

6. Audio Books

Another widespread use for speech synthesis is in audiobooks. It allows people to listen to books instead of reading them. It can be great for commuters or anyone who wants to be able to multitask while they consume content .

7. Accessibility Features in Electronic Devices

Many electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, now have built-in accessibility features that use speech synthesis. These features are helpful for people with visual impairments or other disabilities that make it difficult to use traditional interfaces. For example, Apple’s iPhone has a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver that uses TTS to speak the names of icons and other elements on the screen.

8. Entertainment Applications

Various entertainment applications, such as video games and movies, use speech synthesizers. In video games, they help create realistic-sounding character dialogue. In movies, adding special effects, such as when a character’s voice is artificially generated or altered. It allows developers to create unique voices for their characters without having to hire actors to provide the voices. It can save time and money and allow for more creative freedom.

These are just some of the many uses for speech synthesis today. As the technology continues to develop, we can expect to see even more innovative and exciting applications for this fascinating technology.

9. Making Videos More Engaging with Lip Sync

Lip sync is a speech synthesizer often used in videos and animations. It allows the audio to match the movement of the lips, making it appear as though the character is speaking the words. Hence, they are used for both educational and entertainment purposes.

Related: Text to Speech and Branding: How Voice Technology Enhance your Brand?

10. Generating Speech from Text in Real-Time

Several tools also use text-to-speech synthesis to generate speech from the text, like live captioning or real-time translation. Audio technology is becoming increasingly important as we move towards a more globalized world.

Speech Synthesizer has revolutionized the business world

How to Choose and Integrate Speech Synthesis?

With the increasing use of speech synthesizer systems, choosing and integrating the right system for a particular application is necessary. This can be difficult as many factors to consider, such as price, quality, performance, accuracy, portability, and platform support. This article will discuss some important factors to consider when choosing and integrating a speech synthesizer system.

  • The quality of a speech synthesizer means its similarity to the human voice and its ability to be understood clearly. Speech synthesis systems were first developed to aid the blind by providing a means of communicating with the outside world. The first systems were based on rule-based methods and simple concatenative synthesis . Over time, however, the quality of text-to-audio tools has improved dramatically. They are now used in various applications, including text-to-speech systems for the visually impaired, voice response systems for telephone services, children’s toys, and computer game characters.
  • Another important factor to consider is the accuracy of the synthetic speech . The accuracy of synthetic speech means its ability to pronounce words and phrases correctly. Many text-to-audio tools use rule-based methods to generate synthetic speech, resulting in errors if the rules are not correctly applied. To avoid these errors, choosing a system that uses high-quality algorithms and has been tuned for the specific application is important.
  • The performance of a speech synthesis system is another important factor to consider. The performance of synthetic speech means its ability to generate synthetic speech in real-time. Many TTS use pre-recorded speech units concatenated together to create synthetic speech. This can result in delays if the units are not properly aligned or if the system does not have enough resources to generate the synthetic speech in real-time. To avoid these delays, choosing a system that uses high-quality algorithms and has been tuned for the specific application is essential.
  • The portability of a speech synthesis system is another essential factor to consider. The portability of synthetic speech means its ability to run on different platforms and devices. Many text-to-audio tools are designed for specific platforms and devices, limiting their portability. To avoid these limitations, choosing a system designed for portability and tested on different platforms and devices is important.
  • The price of a speech synthesis system is another essential factor to consider. The price of synthetic speech is often judged by its quality and accuracy. Many text-to-audio tools are costly, so choosing a system that offers high quality and accuracy at a reasonable price is important.

The Bottom Line With technology

With the unstoppable revolution of technology, audio technology is about to bring the boom and multidimensional benefits for the people in business. You must use audio technology today to upgrade your game in the digital world.

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And so asked ourselves: wouldn't it be great if we can listen to these websites like a podcast, instead of reading? Thenext question also came up: how do people with learning disabilities and visual impairment are able to process information that are online in text?

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What is Speech Synthesis?

Speech synthesis, or text-to-speech, is a category of software or hardware that converts text to artificial speech. A text-to-speech system is one that reads text aloud through the computer's sound card or other speech synthesis device. Text that is selected for reading is analyzed by the software, restructured to a phonetic system, and read aloud. The computer looks at each word, calculates its pronunciation then says the word in its context (Cavanaugh, 2003).

How can speech synthesis help your students?

Speech synthesis has a wide range of components that can aid in the reading process. It assists in word decoding for improved reading comprehension (Montali & Lewandowski, 1996). The software gives voice to difficult words with which students struggle by reading either scanned-in documents or imported files (such as eBooks). In word processing, it will read back students' typed text for them to hear what they have written and then make revisions. The software provides a range in options for student control such as tone, pitch, speed of speech, and even gender of speaker. Highlighting features allow the student to highlight a word or passage as it is being read.

Who can benefit from speech synthesis?

According to O'Neill (1999), there are a wide range of users who may benefit from this software, including:

  • Students with a reading, learning, and/or attention disorder
  • Students who are struggling with reading
  • Students who speak English as a second language
  • Students with low vision or certain mobility problems

What are some speech synthesis programs?

eReader by CAST

The CAST eReader has the ability to read content from the Internet, word processing files, scanned-in text or typed-in text, and further enhances that text by adding spoken voice, visual highlighting, document navigation, page navigation, type and talk capabilities. eReader is available in both Macintosh and Windows versions.

40 Harvard Mills Square, Suite 3 Wakefield, MA 01880-3233 Tel: 781-245-2212 Fax: 781-245-5212 TTY: 781-245-9320 E-mail:  [email protected]

ReadPlease 2003 This free software can be used as a simple word processor that reads what is typed.

ReadPlease ReadingBar ReadingBar (a toolbar for Internet Explorer) allows users to do much more than they were able to before: have web pages read aloud, create MP3 sound files, magnify web pages, make text-only versions of any web page, dictionary look-up, and even translate web pages to and from other languages. ReadingBar is not limited to reading and recording web pages - it is just as good at reading and recording text you see on your screen from any application. ReadingBar is often used to proofread documents and even to learn other languages.

ReadPlease Corporation 121 Cherry Ridge Road Thunder Bay, ON, Canada - P7G 1A7 Phone: 807-474-7702 Fax: 807-768-1285

Read & Write v.6 Software that provides both text reading and work processing support. Features include: speech, spell checking, homophones support, word prediction, dictionary, word wizard, and teacher's toolkit.

textHELP! Systems Ltd. Enkalon Business Centre, 25 Randalstown Road, Antrim Co. Antrim BT41 4LJ N. Ireland [email protected]

Kurweil 3000 Offers a variety of reading tools to assist students with reading difficulties. Tools include: dual highlighting, tools for decoding, study skills, and writing, test taking capabilities, web access and online books, human sounding speech, bilingual and foreign language benefits, and network access and monitoring.

Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc. 14 Crosby Drive Bedford, MA 01730-1402 From the USA or Canada: 800-894-5374 From all other countries: 781-276-0600

Max's Sandbox In MaxWrite (the Word interface), students type and then hear "Petey" the parrot read their words. In addition, it is easy to add the student's voice to the document (if you have a microphone for your computer). It is a powerful tool for documenting student writing and reading and could even be used in creating a portfolio of student language skills. In addition, MaxWrite has more than 300 clip art images for students to use, or you can easily have students access your own collection of images (scans, digital photos, or clip art). Student work can be printed to the printer you designate and saved to the folder you determine (even network folders).

Publisher: eWord Development  

Where can you find more information about speech synthesis?

Research Articles

   MacArthur, Charles A. (1998). Word processing with

speech synthesis and word prediction: Effects on the

Descriptive Articles

Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) Founded in 1984 as the Center for Applied Special Technology, CAST is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to expand educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities through the development and innovative uses of technology. CAST advances Universal Design for Learning (UDL), producing innovative concepts, educational methods, and effective, inclusive learning technologies based on theoretical and applied research. To achieve this goal, CAST:

  • Conducts applied research in UDL,
  • Develops and releases products that expand opportunities for learning through UDL,
  • Disseminates UDL concepts through public and professional channels.

LD Online LD OnLine is a collaboration between public broadcasting and the learning disabilities community. The site offers a wide range of articles and links to information on assistive technology such as speech synthesis.

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  • Published: 24 April 2019

Speech synthesis from neural decoding of spoken sentences

  • Gopala K. Anumanchipalli 1 , 2   na1 ,
  • Josh Chartier 1 , 2 , 3   na1 &
  • Edward F. Chang 1 , 2 , 3  

Nature volume  568 ,  pages 493–498 ( 2019 ) Cite this article

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  • Brain–machine interface
  • Sensorimotor processing

Technology that translates neural activity into speech would be transformative for people who are unable to communicate as a result of neurological impairments. Decoding speech from neural activity is challenging because speaking requires very precise and rapid multi-dimensional control of vocal tract articulators. Here we designed a neural decoder that explicitly leverages kinematic and sound representations encoded in human cortical activity to synthesize audible speech. Recurrent neural networks first decoded directly recorded cortical activity into representations of articulatory movement, and then transformed these representations into speech acoustics. In closed vocabulary tests, listeners could readily identify and transcribe speech synthesized from cortical activity. Intermediate articulatory dynamics enhanced performance even with limited data. Decoded articulatory representations were highly conserved across speakers, enabling a component of the decoder to be transferrable across participants. Furthermore, the decoder could synthesize speech when a participant silently mimed sentences. These findings advance the clinical viability of using speech neuroprosthetic technology to restore spoken communication.

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Berndt, D. J. & Clifford, J. Using dynamic time warping to find patterns in time series. In Proc. 10th ACM Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD) Workshop 359–370 (1994).

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We thank M. Leonard, N. Fox and D. Moses for comments on the manuscript and B. Speidel for his help reconstructing MRI images. This work was supported by grants from the NIH (DP2 OD008627 and U01 NS098971-01). E.F.C. is a New York Stem Cell Foundation-Robertson Investigator. This research was also supported by The William K. Bowes Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The New York Stem Cell Foundation and The Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation.

Reviewer information

Nature thanks David Poeppel and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Author information

These authors contributed equally: Gopala K. Anumanchipalli, Josh Chartier

Authors and Affiliations

Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

Gopala K. Anumanchipalli, Josh Chartier & Edward F. Chang

Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

University of California Berkeley and University of California San Francisco Joint Program in Bioengineering, Berkeley, CA, USA

Josh Chartier & Edward F. Chang

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G.K.A., J.C. and E.F.C. conceived the study; G.K.A. inferred articulatory kinematics; G.K.A. and J.C. designed the decoder; J.C. performed decoder analyses; G.K.A., E.F.C. and J.C. collected data and prepared the manuscript; E.F.C. supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Edward F. Chang .

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended data fig. 1 median original and decoded spectrograms..

a , b , Median spectrograms, time-locked to the acoustic onset of phonemes from original ( a ) and decoded ( b ) audio (/i/, n  = 112; /z/, n  = 115; /p/, n  = 69, /ae/, n  = 86). These phonemes represent the diversity of spectral features. Original and decoded median phoneme spectrograms were well-correlated (Pearson’s r  > 0.9 for all phonemes, P  = 1 × 10 −18 ).

Extended Data Fig. 2 Transcription WER for individual trials.

a , b , WERs for individually transcribed trials for pools with a size of 25 ( a ) or 50 ( b ) words. Listeners transcribed synthesized sentences by selecting words from a defined pool of words. Word pools included correct words found in the synthesized sentence and random words from the test set. One trial is one transcription of one listener of one synthesized sentence.

Extended Data Fig. 3 Electrode array locations for participants.

MRI reconstructions of participants’ brains with overlay of electrocorticographic electrode (ECoG) array locations. P1–5, participants 1–5.

Extended Data Fig. 4 Decoding performance of kinematic and spectral features.

Data from participant 1. a , Correlations of all 33 decoded articulatory kinematic features with ground-truth ( n  = 101 sentences). EMA features represent x and y coordinate traces of articulators (lips, jaw and three points of the tongue) along the midsagittal plane of the vocal tract. Manner features represent complementary kinematic features to EMA that further describe acoustically consequential movements. b , Correlations of all 32 decoded spectral features with ground-truth ( n  = 101 sentences). MFCC features are 25 mel-frequency cepstral coefficients that describe power in perceptually relevant frequency bands. Synthesis features describe glottal excitation weights necessary for speech synthesis. Box plots as described in Fig.  2 .

Extended Data Fig. 5 Comparison of cumulative variance explained in kinematic and acoustic state–spaces.

For each representation of speech—kinematics and acoustics—a principal components analysis was computed and the explained variance for each additional principal component was cumulatively summed. Kinematic and acoustic representations had 33 and 32 features, respectively.

Extended Data Fig. 6 Decoded phoneme acoustic similarity matrix.

Acoustic similarity matrix compares acoustic properties of decoded phonemes and originally spoken phonemes. Similarity is computed by first estimating a Gaussian kernel density for each phoneme (both decoded and original) and then computing the Kullback–Leibler (KL) divergence between a pair of decoded and original phoneme distributions. Each row compares the acoustic properties of a decoded phoneme with originally spoken phonemes (columns). Hierarchical clustering was performed on the resulting similarity matrix. Data from participant 1.

Extended Data Fig. 7 Ground-truth acoustic similarity matrix.

The acoustic properties of ground-truth spoken phonemes are compared with one another. Similarity is computed by first estimating a Gaussian kernel density for each phoneme and then computing the Kullback–Leibler divergence between a pair of a phoneme distributions. Each row compares the acoustic properties of two ground-truth spoken phonemes. Hierarchical clustering was performed on the resulting similarity matrix. Data from participant 1.

Extended Data Fig. 8 Comparison between decoding novel and repeated sentences.

a , b , Comparison metrics included spectral distortion ( a ) and the correlation between decoded and original spectral features ( b ). Decoder performance for these two types of sentences was compared and no significant difference was found ( P  = 0.36 ( a ) and P  = 0.75 ( b ), n  = 51 sentences, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). A novel sentence consists of words and/or a word sequence not present in the training data. A repeated sentence is a sentence that has at least one matching word sequence in the training data, although with a unique production. Comparison was performed on participant 1 and the evaluated sentences were the same across both cases with two decoders trained on differing datasets to either exclude or include unique repeats of sentences in the test set. ns, not significant; P  > 0.05. Box plots as described in Fig.  2 .

Extended Data Fig. 9 Kinematic state–space trajectories for phoneme-specific vowel–consonant transitions.

Average trajectories of principal components 1 (PC1) and 2 (PC2) for transitions from either a consonant or a vowel to specific phonemes. Trajectories are 500 ms and centred at transition between phonemes. a , Consonant to corner vowels ( n  = 1,387, 1,964, 2,259, 894, respectively, for aa, ae, iy and uw). PC1 shows separation of all corner vowels and PC2 delineates between front vowels (iy, ae) and back vowels (uw, aa). b , Vowel to unvoiced plosives ( n  = 2,071, 4,107 and 1,441, respectively, for k, p and t). PC1 was more selective for velar constriction (k) and PC2 for bilabial constriction (p). c , Vowel to alveolars ( n  = 3,919, 3,010 and 4,107, respectively, for n, s and t). PC1 shows separation by manner of articulation (nasal, plosive or fricative) whereas PC2 is less discriminative. d , PC1 and PC2 show little, if any, delineation between voiced and unvoiced alveolar fricatives ( n  = 3,010 and 1,855, respectively, for s and z).

Supplementary information

Supplementary information.

This file contains: a) Place-manner tuples used to augment EMA trajectories; b) Sentences used in listening tests Original Source: MOCHA-TIMIT20 dataset; c) Class sizes for the listening tests; d) Transcription interface for the intelligibility assessment; and e) Number of listeners used for intelligibility assessments.

Reporting Summary

Supplemental video 1: examples of decoded kinematics and synthesized speech production.

The video presents examples of synthesized audio from neural recordings of spoken sentences. In each example, electrode activity corresponding to a sentence is displayed (top). Next, simultaneous decoding of kinematics and acoustics are visually and audible presented. Decoded articulatory movements are displayed (middle left) as the synthesized speech spectrogram unfolds. Following the decoding, the original audio, as spoken by the patient during neural recording, is played. Lastly, the decoded movements and synthesized speech is once again presented. This format is repeated for a total of five examples (from participants P1 and P2). On the last example, kinematics and audio are also decoded and synthesized for silently mimed speech.

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Anumanchipalli, G.K., Chartier, J. & Chang, E.F. Speech synthesis from neural decoding of spoken sentences. Nature 568 , 493–498 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1119-1

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meaning speech synthesis

meaning speech synthesis

How Does Speech Synthesis Work?


  • December 23, 2022

Text analysis and linguistic processing

Speech synthesizers are transforming workplace culture. A speech synthesis reads the text. Text-to-speech is when a computer reads a word aloud. It is to have machines talk simply and sound like people of different ages and genders. Text-to-speech engines are becoming more popular as digital services, and voice recognition grow.

What is speech synthesis?

Speech synthesis, also known as text-to-speech (TTS system), is a computer-generated simulation of the human voice. Speech synthesizers convert written words into spoken language.

Throughout a typical day, you are likely to encounter various types of synthetic speech. Speech synthesis technology, aided by apps, smart speakers, and wireless headphones, makes life easier by improving:

  • Accessibility: If you are visually impaired or disabled, you may use text to speech system to read text content or a screen reader to speak words aloud. For example, the Text-to-Speech synthesizer on TikTok is a popular accessibility feature that allows anyone to consume visual social media content.
  • Navigation: While driving, you cannot look at a map, but you can listen to instructions. Whatever your destination, most GPS apps can provide helpful voice alerts as you travel, some in multiple languages.
  • Voice assistance is available. Intelligent audio assistants such as Siri (iPhone) and Alexa (Android) are excellent for multitasking, allowing you to order pizza or listen to the weather report while performing other physical tasks (e.g., washing the dishes) thanks to their intelligibility. While these assistants occasionally make mistakes and are frequently designed as subservient female characters, they sound pretty lifelike.

What is the history of speech synthesis?

  • Inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen nearly got there with bellows and tubes back in the 18th century.
  • In 1928, Homer W. Dudley, an American scientist at Bell Laboratories/ Bell Labs, created the Vocoder, an electronic speech analyzer. Dudley develops the Vocoder into the Voder, an electronic speech synthesizer operated through a keyboard.
  • Homer Dudley of Bell Laboratories demonstrated the world’s first functional voice synthesizer, the Voder, at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. A human operator was required to operate the massive organ-like apparatus’s keys and foot pedal.
  • Researchers built on the Voder over the next few decades. The first computer-based speech synthesis systems were developed in the late 1950s, and Bell Laboratories made history again in 1961 when physicist John Larry Kelly Jr. gave an IBM 704 talk.
  • Integrated circuits made commercial speech synthesis products possible in telecommunications and video games in the 1970s and 1980s. The Vortex chip, used in arcade games, was one of the first speech-synthesis integrated circuits.
  • Texas Instruments made a name for itself in 1980 with the Speak N Spell synthesizer, which was used as an electronic reading aid for children.
  • Since the early 1990s, standard computer operating systems have included speech synthesizers, primarily for dictation and transcription. In addition, TTS is now used for various purposes, and synthetic voices have become remarkably accurate as artificial intelligence and machine learning have advanced.

meaning speech synthesis

How does Speech Synthesis Work?

Speech synthesis works in three stages: text to words, words to phonemes, and phonemes to sound.

1. Text to words

Speech synthesis begins with pre-processing or normalization, which reduces ambiguity by choosing the best way to read a passage. Pre-processing involves reading and cleaning the text, so the computer reads it more accurately. Numbers, dates, times, abbreviations, acronyms, and special characters need a translation. To determine the most likely pronunciation, they use statistical probability or neural networks.

Homographs—words that have similar pronunciations but different meanings require handling by pre-processing. Also, a speech synthesizer cannot understand “I sell the car” because “sell” can be pronounced, “cell.” By recognizing the spelling (“I have a cell phone”), one can guess that “I sell the car” is correct. A speech recognition solution to transform human voice into text even with complex vocabulary.

2. Words to phonemes

After determining the words, the speech synthesizer produces sounds containing those words. Every computer requires a sizeable alphabetical list of words and information on how to pronounce each word. They’d need a list of the phonemes that make up each word’s sound. Phonemes are crucial since there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet but over 40 phonemes.

In theory, if a computer has a dictionary of words and phonemes, all it needs to do is read a word, look it up in the dictionary, and then read out the corresponding phonemes. However, in practice, it is much more complex than it appears.

The alternative method involves breaking down written words into graphemes and generating phonemes that correspond to them using simple rules.

3. Phonemes to sound

The computer has now converted the text into a list of phonemes. But how do you find the basic phonemes the computer reads aloud when it converts text to speech in different languages? There are three approaches to this.

  • To begin, recordings of humans saying the phonemes will using.
  • The second approach is for the computer to generate phonemes using fundamental sound frequencies.
  • The final approach is to mimic the human voice technique in real-time by natural-sounding with high-quality algorithms.

Concatenative Synthesis

Speech synthesizers that use recorded human voices must be preloaded with a small amount of human sound that can be manipulated. Also, it is based on a human speech that has been recorded.

What is Formant Synthesis?

Formants are the 3-5 key (resonant) frequencies of sound generated and combined by the human vocal cord to produce the sound of speech or singing. Formant speech synthesizers can say anything, including non-existent and foreign words they’ve never heard of. Additive synthesis and physical modeling synthesis are used for generating the synthesized speech output.

What is Articulatory synthesis?

Articulatory synthesis is making computers speak by simulating the intricate human vocal tract and articulating the process that occurs there. Because of its complexity, it is the method that the least researchers have studied the least until now.

In short, voice synthesis software/ text-to-speech synthesis allows users to see written text, hear it, and read it aloud all at the same time. Different software makes use of both computer-generated and human-recorded voices. Speech synthesis is becoming more popular as the demand for customer engagement and organizational process streamlining grows. It facilitates long-term profitability.

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meaning speech synthesis

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speech synthesis

[ speech sin -th uh -sis ]

  • the production of computer-generated audio output that resembles human speech, such as the audio generated by screen readers and other text-to-speech software, by virtual assistants and GPS apps, and by assistive technologies that create synthetic speech to vocalize for people with certain disabilities or serious speech impairment.

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Speech Synthesis

Speech synthesis is the process of creating artificial human speech using a computerized device. These devices are referred to as speech synthesizers or speech computers. There are three phases of the speech synthesis process. During the normalization phase, a speech synthesizer reads a piece of text and uses statistical probability techniques to decide what the most appropriate way to read it aloud would be. The next stage of the process requires the speech synthesizer to use phonemes to generate the sounds necessary to read the piece of text aloud. Next, the speech synthesizer uses short recordings of human speech and sound generation techniques to mimic a human voice and read the piece of text aloud. Businesses in various industries use speech synthesis to create human-like voices for audiobook recordings, video game character voices, and virtual assistant voices.

What Small and Midsize Businesses Need to Know About Speech Synthesis

Small video game development companies with limited budgets often use speech synthesis as a cost-effective way to generate voices for their video game characters. Small publishing companies often use speech synthesis to create audiobooks for their various publications, eliminating the need to pay voice actors to read and record their published works aloud.

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A Systematic Review on the Development of Speech Synthesis

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Kari Lake suggests supporters 'strap on a Glock' to be ready for 2024

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Arizona GOP Senate hopeful Kari Lake told supporters they can "strap on a Glock" to be prepared for the intensity of the 2024 campaign and urged military and law enforcement veterans to be "ready," as her race heats up in a key battleground state. 

“We need to send people to Washington, D.C., that the swamp does not want there,” Lake said toward the end of a Sunday speech to a crowd of Arizonans in Mohave County. “And I can think of a couple people they don’t want there. First on that list is Donald J. Trump; second is Kari Lake.”

She described standing up to the “swamp” in Washington, saying: “They can’t bribe me, they can't blackmail me. That’s why they don’t want me in Washington, D.C. And that’s exactly what President Trump wants me there fighting with him.”

“He’s willing to sacrifice everything I am. That’s why they’re coming after us with lawfare, they’re going to come after us with everything. That’s why the next six months is going to be intense. And we need to strap on our — let’s see. What do we want to strap on?” Lake asked as some in the crowd chuckled. “We’re going to strap on our, our seat belt. We’re going to put on our helmet or your Kari Lake ball cap. We are going to put on the armor of God. And maybe strap on a Glock on the side of us just in case.”

“We’re not going to be the victims of crime,” Lake continued. “We’re not going to have our Second Amendment taken away. We’re certainly not going to have our First Amendment taken away by these tyrants.”

Earlier in the roughly 30-minute remarks, Lake gave another warning about the period between now and Election Day. 

“The next six months are going to be difficult. If you are not ready for action, and I have a feeling with as many veterans and former law enforcement, active law enforcement” — Lake paused to ask for a show of hands —  “… you guys are ready for it,” Lake said to her supporters. “It’s going to be a crazy run, the next six months. This is the moment we have to save our country.”

Lake’s campaign declined to comment when asked to clarify the point of her remarks and whether she was implying there might be political violence in the next six months.

While Lake didn’t explicitly warn of political violence, that’s how one of her supporters took her rhetoric. 

“They’re gonna do everything they can to disrupt the election, whether it’s another pandemic, whether it’s going to be inciting the civil war,” said Geenee Roe, 63, when asked about Lake’s speech afterward. The event included a raffle of an AR-15-style rifle.

NBC News asked the Lake Havasu City resident, who plans to vote for Trump and Lake in 2024, if she believed another American civil war is a concrete possibility. 

“The signs are all there,” said Roe, who believes the political left is trying to push the MAGA movement into trouble. “Saying the MAGA people are bad, that we incite riots — and the whole J6 thing that happened, that was all a setup for sure,” said Roe, referencing the debunked conspiracy theory that the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was a ploy to frame Trump and his supporters. 

Lake’s comments came in Arizona’s northwest Mohave County, which broke for Trump with 75% of the vote in the 2020 presidential election. The Senate hopeful is setting her sights on an even larger margin in 2024.

“If Mohave County shows up 100% or close to it, they can’t cheat their way out of this in Maricopa County, no matter what they do,” Lake said, leaning on a signature talking point.

Lake has continually rejected the 2020 election results, which saw President Joe Biden narrowly defeat Trump in Arizona, and the 2022 election results, which saw her bid for governor fail by a slightly wider margin. Court cases and other reviews of the results have not found evidence of fraud or malfeasance affecting the election results. And in March, Lake decided not to contest her liability in a defamation suit brought by a Republican election official in Maricopa County.

Stephen Richer, the Maricopa County recorder, who plays a key role in election administration, filed a defamation claim against Lake in June alleging that she “repeatedly and falsely accused” him of causing her electoral defeat in the race for governor won by Democrat Katie Hobbs. Lake’s legal team recently filed a default judgment motion that indicated she was not challenging her culpability. She instead will argue against damages in the case.

She continued questioning the integrity of Maricopa County’s election results on Sunday.

“You all know what goes on in Maricopa County. I mean, you know that you know, the garbage that they’re pushing down there,” Lake said of Arizona’s most populous county, where Richer and the Republican-controlled board of supervisors run local elections. 

“We’re gonna need all these counties outside of Maricopa County to show up, and I’m counting on Mohave County to lead the way,” Lake said.

meaning speech synthesis

Alex Tabet is a 2024 NBC News campaign embed.

‘Prejudice, Islamophobia’: Free speech fears as UK redefines extremism

Experts say a new definition disproportionately targets groups that advocate for Muslims’ civil rights.

A woman reacts at an open Iftar, during the fasting month of Ramadan, in London, Britain April 13, 2022

The United Kingdom government’s new definition of “extremism”, touted as a bid to tackle rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the aftermath of Israel’s war on Gaza, has ignited fierce debate across the political spectrum, with critics on all sides claiming it will erode freedom of speech and civil liberties.

Communities Secretary Michael Gove last month named several UK-based far-right organisations, including the neo-Nazi British National Socialist Movement and the Patriotic Alternative, which will be held “to account to assess if they meet our definition of extremism and [we] will take action as appropriate”.

Keep reading

Being branded as ‘extremist’ won’t deter palestine action, uk attack survivors warn against ‘equating muslims with extremism’, what’s in the uk’s new definition of ‘extremism’, taking a page from the french anti-islam playbook, uk redefines ‘extremism’.

Amid heightened domestic tensions since October 7, he also named several prominent groups advocating for Muslims’ civil rights, including the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain – which he described as the UK affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Cage, and Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND).

“The fact that there are immediately Muslim organisations who are labelled as [‘extremist’] tells you exactly what this piece of legislation is intended for,” said Imran Khan QC, the British lawyer who rose to prominence representing the family of Stephen Lawrence, whose racist murder in 1993 exposed institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police.

Organisations deemed “extreme” under the new definition will be blacklisted, made ineligible for government funding, and they will be banned from meeting with ministers.

“What is the starting point of ‘extreme views’?” said Khan, who has worked on numerous “extremism” and “terrorism” cases following the July 2005 bombings in London, and represented surviving families of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

“The classic example that’s always used is about [Nelson] Mandela being a freedom fighter in one instance, and a terrorist in another,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It’s based on prejudice, Islamophobia, racism, and it will be those sections of society who are not able to protect themselves, who are going to be subject to further prosecution and persecution.”

Britain is home to a sizeable Muslim minority of about four million people, or 6 percent of the population.

The last definition of extremism in the UK, which placed greater emphasis on acts of violence, was drafted in 2011.

Individuals or groups were seen to be “extremist” if they demonstrated “vocal or active opposition to British fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

The revised definition is non-statutory, which means proscribed individuals or groups will not be prosecuted.

The government now says extremism is the “promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance”, and that groups with the following aims will be considered extremist:

1. negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others

2. undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights

3. or intentionally create a permissive environment for others to achieve the results in 1 and 2.

The development comes in the wake of weekly national protests held across the UK in solidarity with Palestinians, as Israel’s war on Gaza, which has to date killed about 33,800 people, rages on.

Pro-Palestine rallies in the UK have been riddled with claims that they play host to anti-Semitism. Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman lamented what she called “hate marches” in November after raising the possibility of banning them.

Gove has previously described those attending pro-Palestinian demonstrations as “good-hearted people” who were “lending credence to extremists”.

Amnesty International, Liberty, and Friends of the Earth warned that the latest definition of extremism was too broad.

Other critics say it unfairly targets left-wing, socialist, environmental and anti-fascist groups, such as Palestine Action , which has targeted the UK’s subsidiary factories and offices of Elbit Systems – Israel’s largest arms manufacturer which supplies the majority of land and air munitions used by the Israeli army.

“My worry is that it cannot only serve to further misrepresent and delegitimise such protests, but securitise and criminalise them, Palestinians, Muslims, and the left,” said Aaron Winter, a senior lecturer in sociology at Lancaster University, referring to the naming of MEND, Cage and other organisations by Gove.

He added that while some far-right organisations are also named, the recent opposition to pro-Palestine protests shows the “equivalence is false and indicates that there will be a double standard”.

“This is something we have already seen in the way counter-extremism has disproportionately targeted Muslims.”

In a joint statement published on March 12, the archbishops of Canterbury and York warned the government that its new extremism definition risks “disproportionately targeting Muslim communities” and “driving us apart”.

“The new definition being proposed not only inadvertently threatens freedom of speech, but also the right to worship and peaceful protest – things that have been hard won and form the fabric of a civilised society,” the statement said.

“Crucially, it risks disproportionately targeting Muslim communities, who are already experiencing rising levels of hate and abuse,” it added.

Across the political spectrum, those on the right have also expressed fears the definition could be used to ban groups with socially conservative values around transgender rights, same-sex marriage, or abortion.

“The definition suggests that extremism can be the ‘promotion’ of an ideology based on ‘intolerance’ – this riskily allows for a great deal of subjectivity,” said Rakib Ehsan, an independent counter-extremism analyst.

“Trans-radical activists would argue that believing a biological male can never be a woman is ‘intolerant’,” he added. “Pro-choice organisations might put forward the view that those who support greater protections for the unborn are a fundamental threat to women’s rights.”

In March, Gove said Britons “cherish free speech” and that conservative religious beliefs, anti or pro-trans activists, and environmental protest groups will not have their rights infringed upon.

Days before the new definition was introduced, 12 anti-extremism experts, including three former Conservative home secretaries – Priti Patel, Sajid Javid and Amber Rudd – signed a statement warning about the risks of politicising the issue in the run-up to this year’s general election.

For Khan, the definition evokes memories of othering and racism he felt as the child of Muslim, Pakistani immigrants.

He fears the revised definition will have “more than just a chilling effect” on British Muslims and other disenfranchised communities.

“I fight on behalf of individuals who believe the system isn’t treating them well.  Am I in danger of being labelled an ‘extremist lawyer’ because of somebody who is an extremist?” Khan said.

“We’re becoming more authoritarian, dictatorial [and] preventing legitimate arguments, legitimate attempts at challenging the status quo.”

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Gabriel Attal speaking at a podium in Viry-Châtillon

French PM accused of recycling far-right ideas in youth violence crackdown

Gabriel Attal says state needs ‘real surge of authority’ in speech in Viry-Châtillon, where 15-year-old killed

The French prime minister, Gabriel Attal , is facing criticism for his proposed crackdown on teenage violence in and around schools, after he said some teenagers in France were “addicted to violence”, just as the government seeks to reclaim ground on security issues from the far right before European elections.

In his speech in Viry-Châtillon, a town south of Paris where a 15-year-old boy was beaten and killed this month by a group of young people , Attal said the state needed “a real surge of authority”.

Attal suggested some offenders aged under 18 could be treated as adults in the legal system. He also proposed sending disruptive children far away from their neighbourhoods to boarding schools, and will visit a boarding school next week to promote the measure.

Attal said: “There are twice as many adolescents involved in assault cases, four times more in drug trafficking, and seven times more in armed robberies than in the general population.” He claimed there were also increased “Islamist” influences among school-age children.

Attal said disruptive behaviour could be marked on final school exam grades, which would count in the university applications system. He also plans to expand compulsory school hours to 8am-6pm every weekday for children at middle school, initially in “priority education zones” in low-income areas but later to other schools in France .

Lawyers, magistrates and teachers’ unions, as well as politicians on the left, criticised the measures, which come after Emmanuel Macron urged the government to find solutions to what he called the emergence of daily “ultraviolence” among young people.

Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally is far ahead in the European election polls and has accused the government of being lax on security issues.

Attal suggested that it was time to question the “excuse” of being a minor in the legal system and said he may open a debate on the legal approach to under-18s in France. This could mean some children, in exceptional cases, being denied the right to special judicial treatment for being under 18. He suggested 16-year-olds could be made to immediately appear in court after violations, fast-tracked “like adults”. In France, the age of majority is 18, in accordance with the UN convention on the rights of the child.

The French branch of Unicef said Attal’s proposed measures would threaten the “fundamental principles” of children’s rights in France, in which an educational approach was more important than repressive measures against them.

Adeline Hazan, head of Unicef France, said: “These measures do not seem sufficiently anchored in prevention and support for families, professionals and young perpetrators of violence. Some measures risk worsening inequalities from a young age for children and vulnerable young people.”

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The French magistrates’ union, the Syndicat de la Magistrature, described the measures as “extremely worrying”, saying they would lead to a justice system that “stigmatises”.

Politicians on the left said Attal was recycling the ideas of the far right.

Sophie Vénétitay, secretary general of the teachers’ union Snes-FSU, said the measures were “simplistic” and “irresponsible” and that schools needed staffing, funding and long-term support from the government, not soundbites.

Officials said on Friday that a 14-year-old girl had died of a heart attack in Souffelweyersheim, eastern France, after her school locked down this week to protect itself from a knife attacker . A man had stabbed two girls aged seven and 11 outside a nearby primary school.

  • Gabriel Attal
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Is the US banning TikTok? What a TikTok ban would mean for you.

Even if president joe biden signs the bill into law, it will face a slew of legal challenges from tiktok and its supporters..

meaning speech synthesis

Time may be running out for TikTok .

In March, the House voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill that would force Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations. The bill then moved to the Senate , where its future was uncertain.

This week House Speaker Mike Johnson tied the measure to a foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel, putting it on a fast track to becoming law and increasing the possibility of a ban in the United States. 

The House on Saturday approved the emergency spending package . The measure passed on a bipartisan 360-to-58 vote.

The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week and President Joe Biden has promised to sign it.

One possible hitch: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposes the TikTok bill on First Amendment grounds and the foreign aid package it is attached to, says he wants to drag out the vote. 

But, he conceded in an essay published Friday: "The censors who abound in Congress will likely vote to ban TikTok or force a change in ownership. It will likely soon be law."

What would the TikTok bill do?

The bill would would be a major blow to the popular app which is used by as many as 170 million Americans. It would force ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations within months of the legislation becoming law or face a nationwide ban .

"It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually," TikTok said Saturday in an emailed statement.

What happens if Biden signs the TikTok bill?

Even if Biden signs the bill into law, it will face a slew of legal challenges from TikTok and its supporters . 

TikTok says it will exhaust all legal avenues before it considers divestiture from ByteDance. The popular app has successfully fought back similar measures in the courts.

When would ByteDance be forced to sell TikTok?

The bill itself gives ByteDance nearly a year to divest TikTok – nine months, with a possible three-month extension – far longer than the six-month deadline the original House measure proposed. 

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell of Washington State said the extended deadline could help the bill survive legal challenges.

The Chinese Embassy is meeting with congressional staffers to lobby against the legislation, two Capitol Hill staffers told Politico.

Apple removed several apps including Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads from its app store in China at Beijing’s request in apparent retaliation for the legislation.

Why does Congress want to ban TikTok?

The popular app has faced scrutiny over its Chinese control which lawmakers say poses a national security threat.

TikTok says it has never been asked to provide U.S. user data to the Chinese government and wouldn’t anyway.

TikTok has also come under fire for the way its algorithm recommends videos to users, including videos on sensitive subjects and videos about the Israel-Hamas war

Where does Biden stand on a TikTok ban?

Biden supports a forced sale of TikTok but "has not called for a ban" on the app, his top science advisor said at Semafor's World Economy Summit.

"The big issue for TikTok from a national security perspective is about the vast amount of information that the platform is able to collect about people and specifically the fact that because of its ownership there’s there’s a direct line to the People’s Republic of China, which in in the geopolitics of today is a deeply concerning issue," Arati Prabhakar, the White House Director of Science and Technology Policy, said.

Who opposes the TikTok bill? Free speech advocates and tech groups

Free speech advocates have spoken out against the possibility of a TikTok ban. They say banning TikTok is the wrong way to address concerns about the practices of social media companies.

"Longstanding Supreme Court precedent protects Americans' First Amendment right to access information, ideas, and media from abroad. By banning TikTok, the bill would infringe on this right, and with no real pay-off,"Nadine Farid Johnson, policy director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement. “China and other foreign adversaries could still purchase Americans’ sensitive data from data brokers on the open market. And they could still engage in disinformation campaigns using American-owned platforms.”

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a science and technology policy think tank, also opposes the TikTok bill.

"The TikTok ban is bad policy, plain and simple," ITIF Vice President Daniel Castro said in a statement. And, he said, "it will not stop China’s techno-nationalist agenda."

Would TikTok parent company ByteDance sell TikTok? 

TikTok has said it considers any law that would force a sale as the equivalent of a ban because of the hurdles facing any deal. 

Divestiture also would require Beijing’s approval. Last year, the Chinese government said it opposed a forced sale.

Who would buy TikTok?

"While the price tag will be eye-popping, TikTok's strategic value and consumer platform will have a number of financial and tech strategic players interested," said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives.

Investor groups and major tech giants including Microsoft, Apple and Oracle will consider bids, according to Ives. He also expects joint bids from a handful of Big Tech companies.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and "Shark Tank" star Kevin O’Leary have also expressed interest in buying TikTok.

An initial public offering or a spin-off are two other potential outcomes, Ives said.

What about the TikTok algorithm?

Another key challenge is TikTok’s algorithm that recommends videos to users. The bill prohibits ByteDance from controlling the algorithm. China has cracked down on Chinese tech companies exporting those technologies.

Ives said China and ByteDance "will never allow the source code to be sold to a U.S. tech company in our view."

In addition, "detaching the algorithm from ByteDance would be a very complex process with much scrutiny from U.S. regulators," he said.

How would a TikTok ban work?

If signed into law, the bill would prevent app stores like Apple and Google from distributing or updating TikTok and web hosting companies from distributing it.

Banning the app won’t necessarily stop TikTok fans from using it. In 2020 when India banned TikTok after an incident at the Chinese border, TikTok users found workarounds to circumvent the ban.

Those strategies include using a VPN or changing your location on your phone to fool the app stores. Another option is "side-loading" − downloading and installing a bootleg version of the TikTok app from the internet − but it carries the risk of downloading malware.

Who would benefit from a TikTok ban?

YouTube, Facebook and Instagram would benefit most from a TikTok ban. Snapchat and Pinterest could also draw users and advertising dollars from TikTok, analysts say.

YouTube continues to be the No. 1 app with teens . Nine in 10 teens use the app followed by TikTok (63%), Snapchat (60%) and Instagram (59%), according to Pew Research Center. Teens are less likely to use Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) than they were a decade ago.

X owner Elon Musk conducted a poll on the social media platform, hinting he might bring back mobile video app Vine .  Musk said Friday he opposed banning TikTok.

"In my opinion, TikTok should not be banned in the USA, even though such a ban may benefit the X platform," he wrote on X. "Doing so would be contrary to freedom of speech and expression. It is not what America stands for."

What do Americans think about a TikTok ban?

The American public remains divided. 

Nearly half of the respondents in a CNBC All-America Economic Survey poll taken in March say TikTok should be banned or sold to a non-Chinese company.

Forty percent of Democrats and 60% of Republicans support a ban or a sale of the popular app, the survey found.

Columbia Leaders Grilled at Antisemitism Hearing Over Faculty Comments

The university’s president, Nemat Shafik, agreed that some professors had crossed the line as she testified before House lawmakers on questions of student safety and free speech.

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Nemat Shafik sitting at a table in a blue suit.

Nicholas Fandos ,  Stephanie Saul and Sharon Otterman

Nicholas Fandos and Stephanie Saul reported from New York. Sharon Otterman reported from the Capitol hearing room.

The president of Columbia spent the day on defense.

The president of Columbia said the university had suspended 15 students. She promised that one visiting professor “will never work at Columbia again.”

And when she was grilled over whether she would remove another professor from his leadership position, she appeared to make a decision right there on Capitol Hill: “I think I would, yes.”

The president, Nemat Shafik, disclosed the disciplinary details, which are usually confidential, as part of an all-out effort on Wednesday to persuade a House committee investigating Columbia that she was taking serious action to combat a wave of antisemitism following the Israel-Hamas war.

In nearly four hours of testimony before the Republican-led Committee on Education and the Workforce, Dr. Shafik conceded that Columbia had initially been overwhelmed by an outbreak of campus protests. But she said its leaders now agreed that some had used antisemitic language and that certain contested phrases — like “from the river to the sea” — might warrant discipline.

“I promise you, from the messages I’m hearing from students, they are getting the message that violations of our policies will have consequences,” Dr. Shafik said.

Testifying alongside her, Claire Shipman, the co-chair of Columbia’s board of trustees, made the point bluntly. “We have a moral crisis on our campus,” she said.

Republicans seemed skeptical. But Dr. Shafik’s conciliatory tone offered the latest measure of just how much universities have changed their approach toward campus protests over the last few months.

Many schools were initially hesitant to take strong steps limiting freedom of expression cherished on their campuses. But with many Jewish students, faculty and alumni raising alarms, and with the federal government investigating dozens of schools, some administrators have tried to take more assertive steps to control their campuses.

With 5,000 Jewish students and an active protest movement for the Palestinian cause, Columbia has been among the most scrutinized. Jewish students have described being verbally and even physically harassed, while demonstrators have clashed with administrators over limits to where and when they can assemble.

In bending toward House Republicans in Washington, Dr. Shafik may have further divided her New York City campus, where students had pitched tents and set up a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” early on Wednesday in open violation of university demonstration policies. Activists have rejected charges of antisemitism, and say they are speaking out for Palestinians, tens of thousands of whom have been killed by Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Sheldon Pollock, a retired Columbia professor who helps lead Columbia’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said Dr. Shafik had been “bulldozed and bullied” into saying things she would regret.

“What happened to the idea of academic freedom?” Dr. Pollock asked. “I don’t think that phrase was used even once.”

Dr. Shafik, who took her post in July 2023 after a career in education and international agencies, did repeatedly defend the university’s commitment to free speech. But she said administrators “cannot and should not tolerate abuse of this privilege” when it puts others at risk.

Her comments stood in contrast to testimony last December by the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. Appearing before the same House committee, they offered terse, lawyerly answers and struggled to answer whether students should be punished if they called for the genocide of Jews. The firestorm that followed helped hasten their ousters.

Dr. Shafik missed that earlier hearing because of a preplanned international trip. She made clear on Wednesday she was not about to make similar mistakes.

Asked the same question, about whether calls for genocide violate Columbia’s code of conduct, Dr. Shafik answered in the affirmative — “Yes, it does” — along with the other Columbia leaders at the hearing.

Dr. Shafik explained that the university had suspended two student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, because they repeatedly violated its policies on demonstrations.

She also seemed more willing than the leaders of Harvard or Penn to condemn and potentially discipline students and faculty who use language like “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Some people believe the phrase calls for the elimination of the state of Israel, while its proponents say it is an aspirational call for Palestinian freedom.

“We have some disciplinary cases ongoing around that language,” she said. “We have specified that those kinds of chants should be restricted in terms of where they happen.”

Much of the hearing, though, focused on faculty members, not students.

Under persistent questioning from Republicans, Dr. Shafik went into surprising detail about disciplinary procedures against university professors. She noted that Columbia has about 4,700 faculty members and vowed that there would be “consequences” for employees who “make remarks that cross the line in terms of antisemitism.”

So far, Dr. Shafik said, five faculty members had been removed from the classroom or dismissed in recent months for comments stemming from the war. Dr. Shafik said that Mohamed Abdou, a visiting professor who drew ire for showing support for Hamas on social media, “is grading his students’ papers and will never teach at Columbia again.” Dr. Abdou did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president also disclosed that the university was investigating Joseph Massad, a professor of Middle Eastern studies, who used the word “ awesome ” to describe the Oct. 7 attack led by Hamas that Israel says killed 1,200 people.

Dr. Shafik and other leaders denounced his work in striking terms. But Dr. Shafik struggled to state clearly, when questioned, whether Dr. Massad would be removed from his position leading a university panel.

“Will you make the commitment to remove him as chair?” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, asked her during one fast-paced exchange.

Dr. Shafik replied cautiously, “I think that would be — I think, I would, yes.”

In an email on Wednesday, Dr. Massad said he had not watched the hearing but had seen some clips. He accused Republicans on the committee of distorting his writing and said it was “unfortunate” that Columbia officials had not defended him.

Dr. Massad said it was also “news to me” that he was the subject of a Columbia inquiry. He noted that he was already scheduled to cycle out of his leadership role at the end of the spring semester.

Dr. Shafik’s words deeply worried some supporters of academic freedom.

“We are witnessing a new era of McCarthyism where a House Committee is using college presidents and professors for political theater,” said Irene Mulvey, the president of the American Association of University Professors. “They are pushing an agenda that will ultimately damage higher education and the robust exchanges of ideas it is founded upon.”

Democrats on the House committee uniformly denounced antisemitism, but repeatedly accused Republicans of trying to weaponize a fraught moment for elite universities like Columbia, seeking to undermine them over longstanding political differences.

When Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, the committee’s top ranking Democrat, tried to enlist Ms. Shipman to agree that the committee should be investigating a wide range of bias around race, sex and gender, she resisted.

“We have a specific problem on our campus, so I can speak from what I know, and that is rampant antisemitism,” she said.

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, one of only two Muslim women in Congress, pushed back on Dr. Shafik from the left, questioning what the university was doing to help students who were doxxed over their activism for the Palestinian cause or faced anti-Arab sentiment.

Dr. Shafik said the university had assembled resources to help targeted students.

By the end of the hearing, Republicans began to fact-check her claims, drawing from thousands of pages of documents the university handed over as part of the committee’s investigation.

Representative Virginia Foxx , Republican of North Carolina and the committee’s chairwoman, said that several of the student suspensions Dr. Shafik described had already been lifted and argued that students were still not taking the university’s policies seriously.

In a statement after the hearing, Ms. Stefanik said she likewise found Dr. Shafik’s assurances unpersuasive.

“If it takes a member of Congress to force a university president to fire a pro-terrorist, antisemitic faculty chair,” she said, “then Columbia University leadership is failing Jewish students and its academic mission.

Anemona Hartocollis contributed reporting.

Alan Blinder

Alan Blinder

Here are our takeaways from Wednesday’s antisemitism hearing.

Follow live updates on Pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University.

Four Columbia University officials, including the university’s president and the leaders of its board, went before Congress on Wednesday to try to extinguish criticism that the campus in New York has become a hub of antisemitic behavior and thought.

Over more than three hours, the Columbia leaders appeared to avoid the kind of caustic, viral exchange that laid the groundwork for the recent departures of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania , whose own appearances before the same House committee ultimately turned into public relations disasters.

Here are the takeaways from the hearing on Capitol Hill.

With three words, Columbia leaders neutralized the question that tripped up officials from other campuses.

In December, questions about whether calling for the genocide of Jewish people violated university disciplinary policies led the presidents of Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania to offer caveat-laden, careful answers that ignited fierce criticism .

The topic surfaced early in Wednesday’s hearing about Columbia, and the Columbia witnesses did not hesitate when they answered.

“Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Columbia’s code of conduct?” asked Representative Suzanne Bonamici, Democrat of Oregon.

“Yes, it does,” replied David Greenwald, the co-chair of Columbia’s board of trustees.

“Yes, it does,” Claire Shipman, the board’s other co-chair, said next.

“Yes, it does,” Nemat Shafik, Columbia’s president, followed.

“Yes, it does,” said David Schizer, a longtime Columbia faculty member who is helping to lead a university task force on antisemitism.

To some lawmakers, Columbia’s effort in recent months remains lacking.

Even before the hearing started, Columbia officials have said that its procedures were not up to the task of managing the tumult that has unfolded in the months after the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7.

In a written submission to the committee, Dr. Shafik, who became Columbia’s president last year, said she was “personally frustrated to find that Columbia’s policies and structures were sometimes unable to meet the moment.”

She added the university’s disciplinary system was far more accustomed to dealing with infractions around matters like alcohol use and academic misconduct. But Columbia officials have lately toughened rules around protests and scrutinized students and faculty members alike.

Some Republican lawmakers pressed the university to take more aggressive action.

Representative Tim Walberg, Republican of Michigan, focused on Joseph Massad, a Columbia professor he accused of glorifying the Oct. 7 attack. Mr. Walberg demanded to know whether Ms. Shipman and Mr. Greenwald would approve tenure for Dr. Massad today.

Both said they would not, prompting Mr. Walberg to retort, “Then why is he still in the classroom?"

In an email on Wednesday, Professor Massad said he had not watched the hearing but had seen some clips. He accused Mr. Walberg of distorting his writing and said it was “unfortunate” that Columbia officials had not defended him.

Professor Massad said it was also “news to me” that he was the subject of a Columbia inquiry, as Dr. Shafik said he was.

Dr. Shafik, who noted that Columbia has about 4,700 faculty members, vowed in the hearing that there would be “consequences” for employees who “make remarks that cross the line in terms of antisemitism.”

So far, Dr. Shafik said, five people have been removed from the classroom or ousted from Columbia in recent months. Dr. Shafik said that Mohamed Abdou, a visiting professor who drew the ire of Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, “is grading his students’ papers and will never teach at Columbia again.” Dr. Abdou did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Columbia’s strategy before Congress: Signal collaboration, and even give some ground.

Congressional witnesses can use an array of approaches to get through a hearing, from defiance to genuflection. Columbia leaders’ approach on Wednesday tilted toward the latter as they faced a proceeding titled, “Columbia in Crisis: Columbia University’s Response to Antisemitism.”

Ms. Shipman told lawmakers that she was “grateful” for “the spotlight that you are putting on this ancient hatred,” and Mr. Greenwald said the university appreciated “the opportunity to assist the committee in its important effort to examine antisemitism on college campuses.”

But there were moments when university leaders offered more than Washington-ready rhetoric.

When Ms. Stefanik pressed Dr. Shafik to commit to removing Professor Massad from a leadership post, the president inhaled, her hands folded before her on the witness table.

“I think that would be — I think, I would, yes. Let me come back with yes,” Dr. Shafik responded after a few seconds. (After the hearing, a university spokesman said Professor Massad’s term as chair of an academic review panel was already set to end after this semester.)

Representative Kevin Kiley, Republican of California, effectively asked Dr. Shafik to draw a red line for the faculty.

“Would you be willing to make just a statement right now to any members of the faculty at your university that if they engage in antisemitic words or conduct that they should find another place to work?” Mr. Kiley asked.

“I would be happy to make a statement that anyone, any faculty member, at Columbia who behaves in an antisemitic way or in any way a discriminatory way should find somewhere else to go,” Dr. Shafik replied.

Even though the conciliatory tactics regularly mollified lawmakers, they could deepen discontent on campus.

Republicans are already planning another hearing.

The hearing that contributed to the exits of the Harvard and Penn presidents emboldened the Republicans who control the House committee that convened on Wednesday.

Even before the proceeding with Columbia leaders, they had already scheduled a hearing for next month with top officials from the school systems in New York City, Montgomery County, Md., and Berkeley, Calif.

Stephanie Saul and Anemona Hartocollis contributed reporting.


Anusha Bayya

Anusha Bayya

Riley Chodak, 22, is graduating in a month and said she feels like her senior-year college experience has been snatched away from her because of the atmosphere on campus. “The fact that our campus is blocked off — it feels a little bit like a war zone here,” the Ohio native said. She said she believes the university is “cracking down on anyone who's trying to show anyone solidarity.”

Sharon Otterman

Sharon Otterman

And we are adjourned! No single standout moment. This hearing was perhaps most remarkable for how much the Columbia representatives agreed with the committee that antisemitism was a serious problem on its campus.

It remains to be seen how Columbia’s faculty will respond to their president's pledges to crack down on Joseph Massad and other tenured faculty that the committee targeted as antisemitic and demanded disciplinary action be taken against.

In her closing statement, Representative Virginia Foxx is using some of the thousands of documents she got from Columbia to fact check some of their remarks. She says it was misleading for Columbia to say 15 students have been suspended after Oct. 7. She said only three students were, for antisemitic conduct, and those were lifted. She also says the only two students who remain suspended are the two Jewish students who were accused of attacking a protest with a foul-smelling substance.

Mimi Gupta, 45, a Columbia grad student, was in the Multicultural Center on campus where President Shafik’s testimony is being broadcast on the big screen. “The president of Columbia is just getting eviscerated," she said.

“Senators, they just are asking really leading questions, talking over her and the students are just gasping and are shocked,” she said. Some in the audience occasionally piped up, shouting towards the screen when they felt that those grilling Shafik were being particularly hostile.

Stephanie Saul

Stephanie Saul

Who are the Columbia professors mentioned in the hearing?

Several Columbia faculty members — Joseph Andoni Massad, Katherine Franke and Mohamed Abdou — were in the spotlight at Wednesday’s hearing before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

All three had taken pro-Palestinian stances, and lawmakers grilled university officials over how they responded to what Columbia’s President Nemat Shafik agreed were “unacceptable” comments by the faculty members.

At the hearing, Dr. Shafik divulged that two of the professors — Dr. Massad and Ms. Franke — were under investigation for making “discriminatory remarks,” and said that Dr. Abdou “will never work at Columbia again.” Such responses drew a sharp rebuke from some professors and the American Association of University Professors, which said she capitulated to political grandstanding and, in the process, violated established tenets of academic freedom.

“We are witnessing a new era of McCarthyism where a House committee is using college presidents and professors for political theater,” said Irene Mulvey, national president of the AAUP. She added, “President Shafik’s public naming of professors under investigation to placate a hostile committee sets a dangerous precedent for academic freedom and has echoes of the cowardice often displayed during the McCarthy era.”

Dr. Massad, who is of Palestinian Christian descent, was the focus of Representative Tim Walberg’s questioning. He teaches modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia, where he also received his Ph.D. in political science.

Long known for his anti-Israel positions, he published a controversial article in The Electronic Intifada last October, in the wake of the Hamas attack, describing it as a “resistance offensive” staged in retaliation to Israel’s settler-colonies near the Gaza border.

The piece drew a visceral response and demands for his dismissal in a petition by a Columbia student that was signed by tens of thousands of people. The petition specifically criticized Dr. Massad’s use of the word “awesome” to describe the scene of the attack.

Dr. Massad’s posture has drawn controversy for years. When he was awarded tenure in 2009, 14 Columbia professors expressed their concern in a letter to the provost. Generally, professors with tenure face a much higher bar for termination than those without the status.

More recently, however, professors nationally have rallied to support him, emphasizing his academic right to voice his opinion.

In a statement after the hearing, Dr. Massad said that the House committee members had mischaracterized his article. Mr. Walberg said that Dr. Massad had said Hamas’s murder of Jews was “awesome, astonishing, astounding and incredible.”

“I certainly said nothing of the sort,” Dr. Massad said.

In testimony responding to questions from Mr. Walberg, a Michigan Republican, Dr. Shafik said that Dr. Massad had been removed from a leadership role at the university, where he headed an academic review panel.

But Dr. Massad said in an email that he had not been notified by Columbia that he was under investigation, adding that he had been previously scheduled to end his chairmanship of the academic review committee at the end of the semester, a statement that a spokesman for Columbia verified after the hearing.

Dr. Massad said it was “unfortunate” that Dr. Shafik and other university leaders “would condemn fabricated statements that I never made when all three of them should have corrected the record to show that I never said or wrote such reprehensible statements.”

Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia, was also mentioned in the hearing for her activist role and a comment that “all Israeli students who served in the I.D.F. are dangerous and shouldn’t be on campus,” referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

Ms. Franke recently wrote a piece in The Nation raising questions about academic freedom at Columbia, where she has taught since 1999.

In response to the hearing, Ms. Franke said she had made a comment in a radio program that some students who served in the I.D.F. had harassed others on campus, a reference to an incident in which pro-Palestinian protesters said they were sprayed with a noxious chemical.

“I do not believe, nor did I say, that ‘all Israeli students who served in the I.D.F. are dangerous and should not be on campus,’” she said.

Mohamed Abdou was also named in the hearing. Dr. Abdou was hired as a visiting scholar for the Spring 2024 term, and was teaching a course called “ Decolonial-Queerness and Abolition. ”

A biography on Columbia’s website describes Dr. Abdou as “a North African-Egyptian Muslim anarchist interdisciplinary activist-scholar of Indigenous, Black, critical race and Islamic studies, as well as gender, sexuality, abolition and decolonization.”

Representative Elise Stefanik asked why he was hired even after his social media post on Oct. 11 that read, “I’m with Hamas & Hezbollah & Islamic Jihad.” Dr. Shafik said, “He will never work at Columbia again. Dr. Abdou did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sheldon Pollock, a retired Columbia professor who serves on the executive committee of Columbia’s American Association of University Professors chapter, called such comments about specific professors “deeply worrying,” adding that he thought Dr. Shafik was “bullied by these people into saying things I’m sure she regrets.”

He continued: “What happened to the idea of academic freedom” in today’s testimony? “I don’t think that phrase was used even once.”

A spokesman for Columbia declined to comment on the criticism of Dr. Shafik.

Elise Stefanik is up again. She is trying to get Shafik to condemn “from the River to the Sea” as antisemitic and discipline students for saying it. Shafik says “we are looking at it.”

Annie Karni

Annie Karni

Stefanik asked the same question of Claudine Gay, the former president of Harvard University. Gay’s response was that, while she personally thought the language was “abhorrent,” the university embraced “a commitment to free expression even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful.”

Several Republicans have now praised the Columbia representatives for giving clear answers to their questions.

Stefanik seems to have pushed Shafik into committing to remove a professor, Joseph Massad, who has become a focus of the hearing because of his statements celebrating the Hamas attacks, as chair of the academic review committee. Shafik appeared flustered by the line of questioning, and confused about his current status. But she answered “yes” when asked if she would commit to removing him as chair.

“He was spoken to by his head of department and his dean.” “And what was he told?” “I was not in those conversations, I think —” “But you’re not what he was told —” “That language was unacceptable.” “What was he told? What was he told?” “That that language was unacceptable.” “And were there any other enforcement actions taken? Any other disciplinary actions taken?” “In his case? He has not repeated anything like that ever since.” “Does he need to repeat stating that the massacre of Israeli civilians was awesome? Does he need to repeat his participation in an unauthorized pro-Hamas demonstration on April 4? Has he been terminated as chair?” “Congresswoman, I want to confirm the facts before getting back to you.” “I know you confirmed that he was under investigation.” “Yes, I can confirm that.” “Did you confirm he was still the chair?” “I need to confirm that with you. I’m —” “Well, let me ask you this: Will you make the commitment to remove him as chair?” “I think that would be — I think, I would, yes. Let me come back with yes.”

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Representative Elise Stefanik is challenging President Shafik after she had said in earlier testimony there had not been anti-Jewish protests on campus. Now, under questioning, she acknowledges anti-Jewish things were said at protests.

Overall, Republicans on this committee are pushing Columbia to take a tough stance on defining what antisemitism is, and include anti-Zionist speech, something it has tried not to do. It doesn’t have an official definition of the term.

Representative Aaron Bean, a Republican of Florida, congratulates the Columbia witnesses, saying they did better than the presidents of Harvard and Penn at their hearing in December. They were able to say they were against antisemitism, but he says that there is still fear on campus among Jewish students. “You are saying the right things.”

While there have been some tense moments in the hearing, there has not yet been the kind of viral moment related to the university’s inadequate response to antisemitism that House Republicans were able to create in the infamous hearing with the presidents of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. But that exchange, which ultimately lead to the ouster of two Ivy League presidents, came at the tail end of a session that lasted four and a half hours.

Here are some of the recent antisemitism allegations against Columbia.

The House committee investigating Columbia University for antisemitism has claimed that “an environment of pervasive antisemitism has been documented at Columbia for more than two decades” and that the administration has not done enough in response.

Here are some of the recent allegations :

On Oct. 11, 2023, a Columbia student who is Israeli was beaten with a stick by a former undergraduate who had been ripping down pictures of Israeli hostages, according to the New York Police Department.

Multiple students say they have been cursed at for being Jewish. One student held up a sign in October that read “Columbia doesn’t care about the safety and well-being of Jewish students.”

Following allegations that two Israeli students released a foul-smelling chemical at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in January, a poster appeared around campus with the image of a blue and white skunk with a Star of David on its back.

Several professors have made antisemitic remarks or expressed support for the Oct. 7 attack, including Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics, who published an article on Oct. 8 describing the attack with terms such as “awesome” and “astounding.”

Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, spoke on behalf of pro-Palestinian students who were suspended or hurt. Shafik said she suspended students after a Resistance 101 event, where people spoke in support of Hamas, because they did not cooperate with the investigation. Omar also asks about an alleged chemical attack on pro-Palestinian protesters. Shafik says she reached out to those students, but that the investigation is still with the police.

Omar, one of just two Muslim women serving in Congress, is grilling Shafik from the left, using her time to ask why pro-Palestinian students on campus were evicted, suspended, harassed and intimidated for their participation in a pro-Palestinian event. Shafik said it was a very serious situation and the students refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Two professors, Joseph Massad and Katherine Franke, are “under investigation for discriminatory remarks,” Shafik says, apparently breaking some news here.

Representative Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat of New York, is trying to make the case for pro-Palestinian students who feel they have a right to express their views, saying that those views aren’t necessarily hateful, even if they make people feel uncomfortable. He’s entering for the record a letter from 600 faculty and students supporting open inquiry on campus.

The hearing is back after a brief recess. The length of the proceedings could prove important, since Claudine Gay, Harvard’s former president, has partly blamed the protracted nature of an exchange during December’s hearing for answers she gave that drew widespread criticism.

Representative Lisa McClain, Republican of Michigan, is drilling down on whether there is a definition on campus for antisemitism. David Schizer, who is a co-chair of the university's task force on antisemitism, calls a New York Times article about how the task force has no definition false. However, the committee has no official definition for antisemitism. He offers his own personal definition to the committee, as does Shafik. “For me personally, any discrimination against people of the Jewish faith is antisemitism,” she said.

Earlier in the hearing, Claire Shipman, co-chair of Columbia's board of trustees, detailed steps Columbia has taken to try to get the tensions under control, including suspending two student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

Columbia has been host to charged protests over Gaza in recent months.

Columbia University has toughened how it handles campus protests since the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Here are some of the key moments:

Oct. 12, 2023: Hundreds of protesters gathered at Columbia University for tense pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations that caused school administrators to take the then-extraordinary step of closing the campus to the public. The school now closes the campus routinely when protests are scheduled.

Nov. 9, 2023: Columbia suspended two main pro-Palestinian student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, after they held an unauthorized student walkout. Administrators said the event had “proceeded despite warnings and contained threatening rhetoric and intimidation” after one person shouted anti-Jewish epithets. Protest organizers said they had tried to silence the person.

Jan. 19, 2024: Pro-Palestinian protesters said that someone sprayed them with a foul-smelling substance at a rally, causing at least eight students to seek medical treatment. Columbia labeled the incident a possible hate crime, barred the alleged perpetrators from campus and opened an investigation. Protest attendees, citing video evidence , say they believe the perpetrators were two students who had been verbally harassing them, but Columbia has given no details about their identities.

Feb. 19, 2024: Columbia announced a new protest policy . Protests are now only permitted in designated “demonstration areas” on weekday afternoons, and require two days’ notice to administrators. First-time violators receive warnings. Repeat violators are brought before a judicial board.

April 5, 2024: The university’s president announces the immediate suspension of multiple students accused of playing a role in organizing a March 24 event, “ Resistance 101 ,” at which the presenters spoke openly in support of Hamas and other U.S.-designated terrorist organizations. The students were told they would be evicted from student housing.

Representative Burgess Owens, Republican of Utah, is drilling down on an apparent double standard at Columbia. He suggests that it would not be tolerated for a moment if people called an attack on Black people “awesome” and “stunning” but that it has been acceptable for faculty to say about Jewish students for decades.

Representative Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana, is asking about a glossary given out at the School of Social Work that lists a term that appears to classify Jews as white, and therefore privileged. Shafik says it is not an official document. He also asks why the word "folks" is spelled "folx" in the document, a progressive quirk. "They can't spell?" Shafik says, getting an audience chuckle.

Anemona Hartocollis

Anemona Hartocollis

Representative Gregorio Sablan, a Democrat from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island, seized on the fact that Shafik and other Columbia officials had been cut off, and offered them a chance to complete their answers. Shafik said that many of the questionable appointments “were made in the past in a different era, and that era is done.”

Columbia University has been on strict lockdown all week, and today is no exception. Barricades have been erected, numerous police officers are stationed at both main entrances to the campus and no one is being allowed to enter without a Columbia University ID. Protesters have assembled today on Broadway wearing shirts with the words “Revolution Nothing Less!” on the front.

Nicholas Fandos

Nicholas Fandos

Elise Stefanik has taken aim at college presidents on elite campuses.

She may not be a committee chair, but perhaps no single Republican lawmaker has done more to exert pressure on elite universities since the Israel-Gaza war began than Representative Elise Stefanik of New York.

Ms. Stefanik was already a rising star within her party, the top-ranking woman in Republican House leadership and considered a potential presidential running mate when the House Education and Workforce Committee began investigating antisemitism on college campuses. But her grilling of the presidents of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and M.I.T. at a December hearing became a defining moment .

Ms. Stefanik pressed the leaders to say whether students would violate their universities’ codes of conduct if they called for the genocide of Jews. Their dispassionate, lawyerly answers about context and free speech set off a firestorm that ultimately helped cost two of them, Claudine Gay of Harvard and Elizabeth Magill of the Penn, their jobs.

The exchange also helped win Ms. Stefanik widespread attention and rare plaudits from grudging liberals, who typically revile her for embracing former President Donald J. Trump and his lies about the 2020 election. On Wednesday, she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2024.

Ms. Stefanik is a graduate of Harvard herself. When she first won her seat in 2014, she was the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives. She beat a centrist Democrat, and in the early days of her career, she took on more moderate stances.

These days, she describes herself as “ultra MAGA” and “proud of it .”

Ms. Stefanik, 39, has said she was “stunned” by the responses of the presidents during the last hearing. She plans to reprise that role on Wednesday, grilling the president of Columbia University, Nemat Shafik, and members of its board of trustees.

In an opinion piece in The New York Post before the hearing, Ms. Stefanik said antisemitism at Columbia had become “egregious and commonplace.” She charged Dr. Shafik with failing “to ensure Jewish students are able to attend school in a safe environment.”

Shafik emphasizes that Columbia has ramped up disciplinary proceedings.

In her opening remarks, Nemat Shafik, president of Columbia University, gave an idea of how pervasive complaints of antisemitism have become since Oct. 7, adding that Columbia had been aggressive in pursuing disciplinary action.

Dr. Shafik said that the disciplinary process at Columbia, which has about 5,000 Jewish students, typically handles 1,000 student-conduct cases a year. Most of those are related to typical campus infractions, such as academic dishonesty, the use of alcohol and illegal substances, and one-on-one student complaints.

“Today, student-misconduct cases are far outpacing last year,” said Dr. Shafik, who goes by Minouche.

She did not provide an exact number of complaints this year, and did not address what portion of the increase had to do with protests related to the Israel-Hamas war. But she implied that it was significant.

The university’s current policies were “not designed to address the types of events and protests that followed the Oct. 7 attack,” Dr. Shafik said.

The task of combating antisemitism provided a vehicle for underscoring why colleges and universities matter, she said. Antisemitism had been a scourge for some 2,000 years, she said. “One would hope that by the 21st century, antisemitism would have been related to the dustbin of history, but it has not.”

To deal with it, Dr. Shafik said, she would look toward periods “where antisemitism has been in abeyance.”

“Those periods were characterized by enlightened leadership, inclusive cultures and clarity about rights and obligations,” she said, adding that she was committed to fostering those values at Columbia.

Who are Claire Shipman and David Greenwald?

Testifying alongside Nemat Shafik, the Columbia University president, are the two co-chairs of Columbia’s board of trustees, Claire Shipman and David Greenwald . Like Dr. Shafik, they are relatively new to their roles.

Ms. Shipman is a journalist and author who spent three decades working in television news for ABC, NBC and CNN, and who now writes books about women’s leadership and confidence. A graduate of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and Columbia College, she joined the board of trustees in 2013. She became co-chair in September.

Mr. Greenwald is a corporate lawyer who was chairman of the law firm Fried Frank before stepping down earlier this year. He has also worked as a deputy general counsel for Goldman Sachs. A graduate of Columbia Law School, he also serves on other nonprofit boards, including for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He was elected to the 21-member board in 2018, and become co-chair in September.

Both were on the presidential search committee, which oversaw the process of selecting Dr. Shafik.

David Schizer, a former dean of Columbia Law School and a co-chair of the school’s antisemitism task force , is also testifying. He was announced as an additional witness Monday.

The New York Times

The New York Times

Read Nemat Shafik’s prepared opening remarks.

In her prepared opening statement, Nemat Shafik, the president of Columbia University, laid out ways the university has been responding to antisemitism on campus.

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Here’s the statement.

Nemat shafik is new to columbia, but not to high-profile settings..

Columbia’s president, Nemat Shafik, is no stranger to handling crises.

As a young economist at the World Bank, she advised governments in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, she worked to stabilize national economies during the European debt crisis, and oversaw loans to Middle East countries during the uprisings of the Arab Spring.

Now, as the first female president of Columbia University, Dr. Shafik, who goes by Minouche, finds herself at the center of American political tensions over the war in Gaza and intense criticism over Columbia’s efforts to counter antisemitism.

Dr. Shafik’s supporters hope that her experience — and also what they describe as her cut-to-the-chase decision-making style — will help her navigate the kind of questioning that tripped up her peers from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania in December.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Dr. Shafik’s family relocated to the United States in the 1960s after their home and property in Egypt were nationalized, she has said in interviews.

She lived in Savannah, Ga., as a child, and in Egypt as a teenager, returning to the United States to get her bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Ph.D. in economics from St. Antony’s College, at Oxford University.

After leaving the I.M.F. in 2014, she was a deputy governor of the Bank of England before returning to academia as president of the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2017. She started at Columbia in July . Her response to campus tensions sparked by the Israel-Hamas war has been her first big test.

Read Representative Foxx’s opening remarks.

Virginia Foxx, who chairs the House Education and the Workforce Committee, listed the reasons for calling Wednesday’s hearing on campus antisemitism in her prepared opening remarks.

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