International Journal of Speech Technology

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 385–392 | Cite as

Production of referring expressions in Arabic

  • Imtiaz Hussain KhanEmail author
Special Issue Article


Most existing studies on evaluation of the generation of referring expressions (GRE) algorithms intend to find how close GRE output is to human output, when they generate expressions in a similar situation. This article explores how native Arabic speakers produce referring expressions. Participants were presented with objects in visual domains and they were asked to describe the (marked) target object by typing a description (Arabic expressions) which can uniquely identify the target to their addressee. The data revealed that a large proportion (above 35 %) of overspecifying descriptions were produced by participants, and that this overspecification is not only because of certain preference for some attributes over the other attributes, the overspecification (and also sometime underspecification) may be because of the complexity (in terms of length) of the description itself. These data were also compared against the TUNA corpus data, which were elicited by native English speakers in identical conditions as ours. A comparative analysis of Arabic and English descriptions reveals that overall both Arabic and English speakers produce similar linguistic descriptions under the identical conditions, implying that reference generation phenomena are not language specific.


Generation of referring expressions Underspecifying descriptions Overspecifying descriptions Minimal descriptions Arabic referring expressions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia

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