Skip to main content

Explicit Discourse Argument Extraction for German

  • 597 Accesses

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNAI,volume 11697)


We present an approach to the extraction of arguments for explicit discourse relations in German, as a sub-task of the larger task of shallow discourse parsing for German. Using the Potsdam Commentary Corpus, we evaluate two methods (one based on constituency trees, the other based on dependency trees) to extract both the internal and the external argument, for which our best results are 86.73 and 77.85 respectively. We demonstrate portability of this set of heuristics to another language and also put these scores into perspective by applying the same method to English and compare this to published results.


  • Discourse processing
  • Shallow discourse parsing
  • Discourse argument extraction

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-27947-9_3
  • Chapter length: 13 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-27947-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   79.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1.


  1. 1.

    For readability, only the relation with id 5 is shown in this excerpt. In the corpus, relations are also annotated for the connectives Und and um...zu in this sample text. Note that this example is not glossed, as its purpose is illustrating the structure of annotations in our corpus, not so much its actual content.

  2. 2.

  3. 3.

    Note that while the PCC guidelines allow for these constructions, they contain no syntactic directives per se and instruct the annotator to select the minimal token span necessary to interpret the discourse relation without phrasing this in terms of syntactic units.


  1. Baldridge, J., Elwell, R.: Discourse connective argument identification with connective specific rankers. In: 2008 IEEE International Conference on Semantic Computing(ICSC), pp. 198–205, August 2008.

  2. Biran, O., McKeown, K.: PDTB discourse parsing as a tagging task: the two taggers approach. In: SIGDIAL Conference, pp. 96–104. The Association for Computer Linguistics (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bourgonje, P., Stede, M.: Identifying explicit discourse connectives in German. In: Proceedings of the 19th Annual SIGdial Meeting on Discourse and Dialogue, Melbourne, Australia (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  4. Brants, S., et al.: Tiger: linguistic interpretation of a german corpus. Res. Lang. Comput. 2(4), 597–620 (2004).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  5. Dinesh, N., Lee, A., Miltsakaki, E., Prasad, R., Joshi, A.K., Webber, B.L.: Attribution and the (non-)alignment of syntactic and discourse arguments of connectives. In: FCA@ACL, pp. 29–36. Association for Computational Linguistics (2005)

    Google Scholar 

  6. Grave, E., Bojanowski, P., Gupta, P., Joulin, A., Mikolov, T.: Learning word vectors for 157 languages. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2018) (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hooda, S., Kosseim, L.: Argument labeling of explicit discourse relations using LSTM neural networks. CoRR abs/1708.03425 (2017).

  8. Lin, Z., Ng, H.T., Kan, M.Y.: A PDTB-styled end-to-end discourse parser. Nat. Lang. Eng. 20, 151–184 (2014)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  9. Mann, W., Thompson, S.: Rhetorical structure theory: towards a functional theory of text organization. TEXT 8, 243–281 (1988)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  10. Oepen, S., et al.: OPT: Oslo-Potsdam-Teesside–pipelining rules, rankers, and classifier ensembles for shallow discourse parsing. In: Proceedings of the CONLL 2016 Shared Task, Berlin (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  11. Prasad, R., et al.: The Penn discourse treebank 2.0. In: Proceedings of LREC (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  12. Prasad, R., Miltsakaki, E., Dinesh, N., Lee, A., Joshi, A.: The Penn discourse TreeBank 2.0 annotation manual, January 2007

    Google Scholar 

  13. Rafferty, A.N., Manning, C.D.: Parsing three German treebanks: lexicalized and unlexicalized baselines. In: Proceedings of the Workshop on Parsing German, PaGe 2008, pp. 40–46. Association for Computational Linguistics (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Stede, M.: Das potsdamer kommentarkorpus. In: Lenk, H.E. (ed.) Persuasionsstile in Europa II. Olms, Hildesheim (2016)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Stede, M., Neumann, A.: Potsdam commentary corpus 2.0: annotation for discourse research. In: Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2014). European Language Resources Association (ELRA), Reykjavik, May 2014

    Google Scholar 

  16. Versley, Y., Gastel, A.: Linguistic tests for discourse relations in the TüBa-D/Z corpus of written German. Dialogue Discourse, pp. 1–24 (2012)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Wang, J., Lan, M.: A refined end-to-end discourse parser. In: Proceedings of the Nineteenth Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning - Shared Task, pp. 17–24. Association for Computational Linguistics (2015)

    Google Scholar 

  18. Wellner, B.: Sequence models and ranking methods for discourse parsing. Ph.D. thesis, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  19. Wellner, B., Pustejovsky, J.: Automatically identifying the arguments of discourse connectives. In: Proceedings of the 2007 Joint Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing and Computational Natural Language Learning (EMNLP-CoNLL) (2007).

  20. Xue, N., Ng, H.T., Pradhan, S., Prasad, R., Bryant, C., Rutherford, A.: The CoNLL-2015 shared task on shallow discourse parsing. In: Proceedings of the Nineteenth Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning - Shared Task. pp. 1–16. Association for Computational Linguistics, Beijing, China, July 2015.

  21. Xue, N., et al.: CoNLL 2016 shared task on multilingual shallow discourse parsing. In: Proceedings of the CoNLL-16 Shared Task, pp. 1–19. Association for Computational Linguistics (2016).

Download references


Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) - 323949969. We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Bourgonje .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Bourgonje, P., Stede, M. (2019). Explicit Discourse Argument Extraction for German. In: Ekštein, K. (eds) Text, Speech, and Dialogue. TSD 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11697. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-27946-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-27947-9

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)