Producing Referring Expressions in Dialogue: Insights from a Translation Exercise

Ielka van der Sluis, J. Nagai, S. Luz

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    This paper discusses some of the challenges which arise in
    comparing the outputs of an algorithm for generating referring
    expressions across languages and cultures. The context in
    which the algorithm is employed and evaluated is a virtual environment,
    and the referring expressions in question form part
    of a dialogue script “acted out” by two virtual agents in a furniture
    shop. This setup was created in order to enable us to assess
    perceptions of a scene by English- and Japanese-speaking
    subjects with respect to naturalness of dialogue and behaviour
    of virtual agents, among other things. We show that the process
    of translating the dialogues from English into Japanese
    reveals a variety of contextual factors which need to be taken
    into account for the generation and evaluation of dialogues to
    be successful in the target language. We focus on issues related
    to the use of referring expressions, specially: the utility
    of different types of attributes in the identification of objects,
    the realisation of locative expressions, and how to deal with
    the absence of a distinction between singulars and plurals in
    Japanese. These issues impact on the design and evaluation of
    algorithms for generating referring expressions in interactive
    situations, and call into question the extent to which current
    algorithms are transferrable between languages and cultures,
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of preCogsci 2009: Production of Referring Expressions: Bridging the gap between computational and empirical approaches to reference
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam, the Netherlands
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • generation of referring expressions, realisation of referring expressions, translation, cross-cultural differences.

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