HC1 2010--2011: Assessed Assignment 3
annotating dialogue

Issued: Thursday 3rd March 2011, Deadline: 12 noon, Thursday 24th March 2011

Your task is to annotate a given transcript of a video at the level of speech acts and then annotate it with the communicative intent. The video will give you nonverbal clues as well as the sound of the speech: both can be important in deciphering and annotating the intention of what is said in the dialogue.

The video is an interview between a journalist, Jeremy Paxman, and a politician, Tony Blair. The video is at:            


A transcript of the video is given below. The interviewer's turns are transcribed as P, and the interviewee's turns are transcribed as B. The topic is the number of illegal immigrants in Britain at the time of the interview.

P: Can you give us a rough idea of how many there are maybe?
B: At this point I am speculating on that. What I do know ...
P: Is it tens of thousands? Hundred of thousands? Millions?
B: I said I don't think there is any point in speculating. But I can say ...
P: But you have no idea
B: (Stutters) Well, it's not a question of having no idea.
P: But what is your idea Prime minister?
B: What I can say is how many people are applying for asylum month by month. How many people are you removing and what is the backlog and we are dealing with all the (not understandable because of laughter).
P: Prime minister, you have really no idea of how many failed asylum seekers there are illegally in this country.
B: I can't ...
P: You don't know.
B: … because people are here illegally...
P: You don't know.
B: ...which is difficult for the very reason...
P: You don't know.

1.  Annotate the transcript at the level of speech acts: example labels you might use are the following (
in alphabetical order):

indication of what clarifications can be made repetition with clarification
avoidance interruption repetition of refusal to answer with qualification
clarification request nonverbal rephrasing question as a statement
defence providing a partial answer rephrasing the question
denial of accusation question and probing speculation
forceful clarification redirect question
indication of inappropriateness of question refusal to answer with qualification

Feel free to modify the label and extend the set proposed in the examples. You do not need to use all the labels listed. You should however ensure that the full transcript is annotated. In a number of cases you may decide to annotate an utterance, or part of an utterance, with more than one label.

Indicate clearly the set of labels that you use.

2.  Annotate the transcript at the level of the particular speaker's intent, example labels you might use are:

accusation of ignorance                             challenge                         demonstration of knowledge
irony                                                            ridicule

As with question 1,  feel free to modify the label and extend the set proposed; you do not need to use all the labels listed; the full transcript should be annotated;  an utterance may have more than one label; indicate clearly the set of labels that you use.

3. Consider each of the following statements that might be proposed as indicating the (possible) communicative intent of the interview participants:

  1. The interviewer (P) wishes to show the interviewee's (B) lack of knowledge
  2. B follows P's agenda
  3. P tries to undermine the audience's confidence in B
  4. B is ridiculed
  5. P accommodates to the status B
  6. B believes the question is irrelevant to the issue of discussion
  7. P and B show agreement on the issue of discussion
  8. B is manipulated by P
  9. P respects B
  10. B comes off well in the interview
  11. P comes off well in the interview

For each statement:
-  argue whether or not the statement is supported by the interview;
-  illustrate each answer by providing evidence from the transcripts using the relevant annotation labels.

4. Consider the methods that you have used in annotating and interpreting this interview. Comment briefly on which aspects of this process were straightforward and which were more difficult, and why this might be.


Assessments should be submitted to the Informatics Teaching Office (ITO) in Appleton Tower, Room 4.02, Level 4. You must submit a single typed copy of each assignment---please make sure you staple the pages together.

Please make sure that the assignments are clearly marked with your full name, matriculation number, the course title, your tutorial group, and the assignment number.

Please note the policy on late assignments.

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