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Automatic speech recognition by computers can provide the most natural and efficient method of communication between humans and computers. The key-issue in some specific applications such as electronic shopping on the World Wide Web (WWW) is not just to improve the syllable or word recognition accuracy but to achieve correct understanding of the speech. Thus, key-phrase understanding, which integrates real world knowledge with key-phrase recognition techniques and then achieves partial speech understanding, plays an important role in such areas. A general framework for such a key-phrase understanding problem is presented and an initial application to be used in voice memo systems for Mandarin Chinese has been developed.