Chandler: An Explainable Sarcastic Response Generator
Silviu Oprea | Steven Wilson | Walid Magdy
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations
We introduce Chandler, a system that generates sarcastic responses to a given utterance. Previous sarcasm generators assume the intended meaning that sarcasm conceals is the opposite of the literal meaning. We argue that this traditional theory of sarcasm provides a grounding that is neither necessary, nor sufficient, for sarcasm to occur. Instead, we ground our generation process on a formal theory that specifies conditions that unambiguously differentiate sarcasm from non-sarcasm. Furthermore, Chandler not only generates sarcastic responses, but also explanations for why each response is sarcastic. This provides accountability, crucial for avoiding miscommunication between humans and conversational agents, particularly considering that sarcastic communication can be offensive. In human evaluation, Chandler achieves comparable or higher sarcasm scores, compared to state-of-the-art generators, while generating more diverse responses, that are more specific and more coherent to the input.
We consider the distinction between intended and perceived sarcasm in the context of textual sarcasm detection. The former occurs when an utterance is sarcastic from the perspective of its author, while the latter occurs when the utterance is interpreted as sarcastic by the audience. We show the limitations of previous labelling methods in capturing intended sarcasm and introduce the iSarcasm dataset of tweets labeled for sarcasm directly by their authors. Examining the state-of-the-art sarcasm detection models on our dataset showed low performance compared to previously studied datasets, which indicates that these datasets might be biased or obvious and sarcasm could be a phenomenon under-studied computationally thus far. By providing the iSarcasm dataset, we aim to encourage future NLP research to develop methods for detecting sarcasm in text as intended by the authors of the text, not as labeled under assumptions that we demonstrate to be sub-optimal.
We investigate the impact of using author context on textual sarcasm detection. We define author context as the embedded representation of their historical posts on Twitter and suggest neural models that extract these representations. We experiment with two tweet datasets, one labelled manually for sarcasm, and the other via tag-based distant supervision. We achieve state-of-the-art performance on the second dataset, but not on the one labelled manually, indicating a difference between intended sarcasm, captured by distant supervision, and perceived sarcasm, captured by manual labelling.