A system and method for improving the response time of text-to-speech synthesis using triphone contexts. The method includes receiving input text, selecting a plurality of N phoneme units from a triphone unit selection database as candidate phonemes for synthesized speech based on the input text, wherein the triphone unit selection database comprises triphone units each comprising three phones and if the candidate phonemes are available in the triphone unit selection database, applying a cost process to select a set of phonemes from the candidate phonemes. If no candidate phonemes are available in the triphone unit selection database, the method includes applying a single phoneme approach to select single phonemes for synthesis, which single phonemes are used in synthesis independent of a triphone structure. The method also includes synthesizing speech using at least one of the set of phonemes from the candidate phonemes and the selected single phonemes for synthesis from the single phoneme approach.
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