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The NXT-format Switchboard Corpus: a rich resource for investigating the syntax, semantics, pragmatics and prosody of dialogue

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This paper describes a recently completed common resource for the study of spoken discourse, the NXT-format Switchboard Corpus. Switchboard is a long-standing corpus of telephone conversations (Godfrey et al. in SWITCHBOARD: Telephone speech corpus for research and development. In Proceedings of ICASSP-92, pp. 517–520, 1992). We have brought together transcriptions with existing annotations for syntax, disfluency, speech acts, animacy, information status, coreference, and prosody; along with substantial new annotations of focus/contrast, more prosody, syllables and phones. The combined corpus uses the format of the NITE XML Toolkit, which allows these annotations to be browsed and searched as a coherent set (Carletta et al. in Lang Resour Eval J 39(4):313–334, 2005). The resulting corpus is a rich resource for the investigation of the linguistic features of dialogue and how they interact. As well as describing the corpus itself, we discuss our approach to overcoming issues involved in such a data integration project, relevant to both users of the corpus and others in the language resource community undertaking similar projects.

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This work was supported by Scottish Enterprise through the Edinburgh-Stanford Link, and via EU IST Cognitive Systems IP FP6-2004-IST-4-27657 “Paco-Plus” to Mark Steedman. Thanks to Bob Ladd, Florian Jaeger, Jonathan Kilgour, Colin Matheson and Shipra Dingare for useful discussions, advice and technical help in the development of the corpus and annotation standards; and to Joanna Keating, Joseph Arko and Hannele Nicholson for their hard work in annotating. Thanks also to the creators of existing Switchboard annotations who kindly agreed to include them in the corpus, including Joseph Piccone, Malvina Nissim, Annie Zaenen, Joan Bresnan, Mari Ostendorf and their respective colleagues. Finally, thank you to the Linguistics Data Consortium for agreeing to release the corpus under a ShareAlike licence through their website, and for their work in finalising the corpus data and permissions for release.

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Calhoun, S., Carletta, J., Brenier, J.M. et al. The NXT-format Switchboard Corpus: a rich resource for investigating the syntax, semantics, pragmatics and prosody of dialogue. Lang Resources & Evaluation 44, 387–419 (2010).

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