Aided by technology, people are increasingly able to communicate across geographical, cultural, and language barriers. This ability also results in new challenges, as interlocutors need to adapt their communication approaches to increasingly diverse circumstances. In this work, we take the first steps towards automatically assisting people in adjusting their language to a specific communication circumstance. As a case study, we focus on facilitating the accurate transmission of pragmatic intentions and introduce a methodology for suggesting paraphrases that achieve the intended level of politeness under a given communication circumstance. We demonstrate the feasibility of this approach by evaluating our method in two realistic communication scenarios and show that it can reduce the potential for misalignment between the speaker’s intentions and the listener’s perceptions in both cases.
This paper describes the design and functionality of ConvoKit, an open-source toolkit for analyzing conversations and the social interactions embedded within. ConvoKit provides an unified framework for representing and manipulating conversational data, as well as a large and diverse collection of conversational datasets. By providing an intuitive interface for exploring and interacting with conversational data, this toolkit lowers the technical barriers for the broad adoption of computational methods for conversational analysis.
People often share personal narratives in order to seek advice from others. To properly infer the narrator’s intention, one needs to apply a certain degree of common sense and social intuition. To test the capabilities of NLP systems to recover such intuition, we introduce the new task of inferring what is the advice-seeking goal behind a personal narrative. We formulate this as a cloze test, where the goal is to identify which of two advice-seeking questions was removed from a given narrative. The main challenge in constructing this task is finding pairs of semantically plausible advice-seeking questions for given narratives. To address this challenge, we devise a method that exploits commonalities in experiences people share online to automatically extract pairs of questions that are appropriate candidates for the cloze task. This results in a dataset of over 20,000 personal narratives, each matched with a pair of related advice-seeking questions: one actually intended by the narrator, and the other one not. The dataset covers a very broad array of human experiences, from dating, to career options, to stolen iPads. We use human annotation to determine the degree to which the task relies on common sense and social intuition in addition to a semantic understanding of the narrative. By introducing several baselines for this new task we demonstrate its feasibility and identify avenues for better modeling the intention of the narrator.