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Contrasting instructions: from grammar to layout

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  1. Contrasting instructions: from grammar to layout Judy Delin University of Stirling & Information Design Unit John Bateman University of Bremen Ghent, Saturday 22 September 2001; CoLLaTE

  2. Overview of Talk • Instructions: a contrastive view and some contrastive discourse-functional results • But what is the “text”? • An approach to multimodal text • Uses • Outlook

  3. Why instructions? • Instructional texts provide a body of linguistic products where one can be very sure that many similar functional goals will need to be achieved... • regardless of exact content, regardless of language and regardless of culture.

  4. Why instructions? 1994 onwards: several projects with the goal of producing instructional texts automatically using the technology of Natural Language Generation

  5. Target language independent specification of content and style NaturalLanguage Generation System InstructionalTexts Multilingual Grammars, Semantics and Discourse Strategies

  6. Drafter Project (EU) Gist Project (EU) Agile Project (EU) Drafter-II (UK EPSRC) Target language independent specification of content and style NaturalLanguage Generation System InstructionalTexts Multilingual Grammars, Semantics and Discourse Strategies

  7. Target language independent specification of content and style NaturalLanguage Generation System InstructionalTexts Multilingual Grammars, Semantics and Discourse Strategies

  8. InstructionalTexts Multilingual Grammars, Semantics and Discourse Strategies

  9. InstructionalTexts functional motivation for the particular grammatical and semantic selections made in any instructional text ? Multilingual Grammars, Semantics and Discourse Strategies

  10. Method • A collection of instructional texts were collected in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese... • ‘Functional’ categories were proposed for utterances in the texts • The texts were annotated for the functional categories • The range of linguistic realisations of a category were considered

  11. Directives Asking/telling the user to perform actions or not perform them Very widespread and very varied: English (8page document): 136 tokens / 14 types Japanese (91page document): 285 tokens / 37 types

  12. Examples (English) (1) Lift at sides of lid and remove. Lift out dust bag. (2) ...please contact your nearest Electrolux Service Centre. (3) To check the bag first disconnect the hose coupling. (4) These warning are provided in the interest of safety. You must read them. (5) Ensure that the lengths of wire inside the plug are prepared correctly. (6) The suction control will normally be kept fully closed to maintain maximum suction. (7) Release the hinged right-hand part of the Grille by moving the left-hand part a little to the left.

  13. Examples (English) (1) Lift at sides of lid and remove. Lift out dust bag. (2) ...please contact your nearest Electrolux Service Centre. (3) To check the bag first disconnect the hose coupling. (4) These warning are provided in the interest of safety. You must read them. (5) Ensure that the lengths of wire inside the plug are prepared correctly. (6) The suction control will normally be kept fully closed to maintain maximum suction. (7) Release the hinged right-hand part of the Grille by moving the left-hand part a little to the left.

  14. Directives overview (English)

  15. Motivations? • Previous work (e.g. Ervin-Tripp) mention: • face-work • giving the directed room to manoever • power relations • speaker/writer as beneficiary

  16. Motivations? • Previous work (e.g. Ervin-Tripp) mention: • face-work • giving the directed room to manoever • power relations • speaker/writer as beneficiary But these issues are not relevant in instructions, ... or if relevant, are the same within all instructions and so cannot be source of variation

  17. Directive motivations (English)

  18. Directive motivations (English) Main body of instructions

  19. Directive motivations (English) Outside main body of task

  20. Directive motivations (English) Uncertainty about actor

  21. Directive motivations (English) task logical structure

  22. Directive motivations (English) too patronising?

  23. Summary of Motivations • sensitive to whether the required action is considered outside the set of acts that the user is committed to by buying the device • dependent on location in document structure • warnings/recommendations • critical instructions • genuine indeterminacy of actor • interaction of semantic/rhetorical constraints

  24. Directives overview (Japanese) Request -te kudasai (please V) -o V kudasai (honorific-polite please V) Gerund / conjunction V- te (V and ... / by V-ing) V (-masu form) (V and ...) Declarative -u / -ru ending (plain affirmative) -masu ending (polite affirmative) Collective/tentative address -shiyou (plain let’s) -shimashou (polite let’s)

  25. Two dimensions distance/formality respect(keigo)

  26. Summary of Variation (Japanese) • interaction of semantic/rhetorical constraints • dependent on location in document structure • warnings/recommendations • critical instructions • TEXTUAL SIGNPOSTING • sensitive to how much of an imposition an action is on the user

  27. Example of very finely balanced estimation of ‘imposition’ • Hoshoukikan-chu wa ... hanbaiten ga shuuri sasete itadakimasu Within the guarantee period ... the shop will repair it. • Hoshoukikan-ga sugite iru toki wa ... gokibou ni yori yuuryou shuuri itashimasu When the guarantee has expired... if you wish, we will repair it for a charge

  28. Example of very finely balanced estimation of ‘imposition’ • Hoshoukikan-chu wa ... hanbaiten ga shuuri sasete itadakimasu “we will receive the favour of your allowing us to repair it” • Hoshoukikan-ga sugite iru toki wa ... gokibou ni yori yuuryou shuuri itashimasu “repair[polite] it for you”

  29. Genre-specificy of form/function matches across languages • -te kudasai : please • but occurs throughout main body of instructions • -te itadaki / itashimasu : respect • in situations of imposition

  30. An interim conclusion... Contrastive accounts that involve functional motivations of construction use need to be carried our relative to genre

  31. An interim conclusion... However, ... we also need to pay close attention to Language/culture ....

  32. The English instructions...

  33. Warning hierarchy: VCR recorder Warning hierarchy: rice cooker

  34. We consider that it would be a mistake to treat this as some cute feature of Japanese instructions irrelevant for the linguistic analysis. The information to be presented differs in its modality assignment in the two languages in this genre.

  35. “One example will do for thousands, one complex type for hundreds of possible types. I select from Paiute, the language of the Indians of the arid plateaus of southwestern Utah. The word wii-to-kuchum-punku-rügani-yugwi-va-ntü-m(ü) is of unusual length even for its own language, but it is no psychological monster for all that. It means ”they who are going to sit and cut up with a knife a black cow (or bull)”, or, in the order of the Indian elements, ”knife-black-buffalo-pet-cut-up-sit (plur.)-future-participle-animate-plural”. The formula of this word, in accordance with our symbolism, would be (F)+(E)+C+d+A+B+(g)+(h)+(i)+(0). It is the plural of the future participle of a compound verb ”to sit and cut up” – A+B. The elements (g)—which denotes futurity—(h)—a a participle unit—and (i)—indicating the animate plural—are grammatical elements which convey nothing when detached. The formula (0) is intended to imply that the finished word conveys, in addition to what is definitely expressed, a further relational idea, that of subjectivity; in other words, the form can only be used as the subject of a sentence, not in an objective or other syntactic relation. The radical element A (”to cut up”), before entering into combination with the coordinate element B (”to sit”), is itself compounded with two nominal elements or element-groups—an instrumentally used stem (F) (”knife”), which may be freely used as the radical element of noun forms but cannot be employed as an absolute noun in its given form, and an objectively used group—(E)+C+d (”black cow or bull”). This group in turn consists of an adjectival radical element (E) (”black”), which cannot be independently employed..., and the compound noun C+d (”buffalo-pet”). ... ... appended to B alone, but to the whole basic complex as a unit—and that the elements (h)+(i)+(0) transform the verbal expression into a formally well-defined noun.” (Sapir. Language. 1921:31-32)

  36. (h) (i) (0) Sapir’s analysis into ‘immediate constituents’ drawn as a tree 0- subject m(ü)- animate-plural ntü- participle va- future (g) yugwi sit B wii- knife rügani cut up to- black A kuchum buffalo punku pet (F) (E) C d

  37. Research Goal: to investigate the use of different modes of information presentation across genres and languages • the GeM project: ‘Genre and Multimodality’ • http://www.gem.stir.ac.uk

  38. The GeM model • Content structure • Rhetorical structure • Layout structure • Navigation structure • Linguistic structure • Canvas constraints • Production constraints • Consumption constraints

  39. Stages in Analysis • Content analysis: what ‘facts’ are being communicated?

  40. Stages in Analysis • Content analysis: what ‘facts’ are being communicated? • Rhetorical analysis: what is the RST structure?

  41. Stages in Analysis • Content analysis: what ‘facts’ are being communicated? • Rhetorical analysis: what is the RST structure? • Layout analysis: • what layout elements are there? • what is their hierarchical structure?

  42. Stages in Analysis • Content analysis: what ‘facts’ are being communicated? • Rhetorical analysis: what is the RST structure? • Layout analysis: • what layout elements are there? • what is their hierarchical structure? • Does the layout support the rhetoric?