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Towards a Multidimensional Semantics of Discourse Markers in Spoken Dialogue

Volha Petukhova and Harry Bunt

Eighth International Conference on Computational Semantics (IWCS-8 2009)
Tilburg University, Netherlands, January 7-9, 2009


The literature contains a wealth of theoretical and empirical analysis of discourse marker functions in human communication. Some of these studies address the phenomenon that discourse markers are often multifunctional in a given context, but do not study this in systematic and formal ways. In this paper we show that the use of multiple dimensions in distinguishing and annotating semantic units in dialogue, supports a more accurate analysis of the meaning of discourse markers. We provide empirically based analysis which is important to obtain computational semantic form of discourse markers in dialogue. We demonstrate that the multiple communicative functions, which a discourse marker may have, are automatically recognizable from utterance surface-features using machine-learning techniques.

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