The Keystone Role Played by Questions in Debate
Zlata Kikteva | Kamila Gorska | Wassiliki Siskou | Annette Hautli-Janisz | Chris Reed
Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Computational Approaches to Discourse
Building on the recent results of a study into the roles that are played by questions in argumentative dialogue (Hautli-Janisz et al.,2022a), we expand the analysis to investigate a newly released corpus that constitutes the largest extant corpus of closely annotated debate. Questions play a critical role in driving dialogical discourse forward; in combative or critical discursive environments, they not only provide a range of discourse management techniques, they also scaffold the semantic structure of the positions that interlocutors develop. The boundaries, however, between providing substantive answers to questions, merely responding to questions, and evading questions entirely, are fuzzy and the way in which answers, responses and evasions affect the subsequent development of dialogue and argumentation structure are poorly understood. In this paper, we explore how questions have ramifications on the large-scale structure of a debate using as our substrate the BBC television programme Question Time, the foremost topical debate show in the UK. Analysis of the data demonstrates not only that questioning plays a particularly prominent role in such debate, but also that its repercussions can reverberate through a discourse.
QT30: A Corpus of Argument and Conflict in Broadcast Debate
Annette Hautli-Janisz | Zlata Kikteva | Wassiliki Siskou | Kamila Gorska | Ray Becker | Chris Reed
Proceedings of the Thirteenth Language Resources and Evaluation Conference
Broadcast political debate is a core pillar of democracy: it is the public’s easiest access to opinions that shape policies and enables the general public to make informed choices. With QT30, we present the largest corpus of analysed dialogical argumentation ever created (19,842 utterances, 280,000 words) and also the largest corpus of analysed broadcast political debate to date, using 30 episodes of BBC’s ‘Question Time’ from 2020 and 2021. Question Time is the prime institution in UK broadcast political debate and features questions from the public on current political issues, which are responded to by a weekly panel of five figures of UK politics and society. QT30 is highly argumentative and combines language of well-versed political rhetoric with direct, often combative, justification-seeking of the general public. QT30 is annotated with Inference Anchoring Theory, a framework well-known in argument mining, which encodes the way arguments and conflicts are created and reacted to in dialogical settings. The resource is freely available at http://corpora.aifdb.org/qt30.