A classification scheme for annotating speech acts in a business email corpus

De Felice, Rachele; Darby, Jeannique; Fisher, Anthony and Peplow, David (2013). A classification scheme for annotating speech acts in a business email corpus. ICAME Journal, 37 pp. 71–105.

URL: http://icame.uib.no/ij37/Pages_71-106.pdf


This paper reports on the process of manual annotation of speech acts in a corpus of business emails, in the context of the PROBE project (PRagmatics of Business English). The project aims to bring together corpus, computational, and theoretical linguistics by drawing on the insights made available by the annotated corpus. The corpus data sheds light on the linguistic and discourse structures of speech act use in business email communication. This enhanced linguistic description can be compared to theoretical linguistic representations of speech act categories to assess how well traditional distinctions relate to real-world, naturally occurring data. From a computational perspective, the annotated data is required for the development of an automated speech act tagging tool. Central to this research is the creation of a high quality, manually annotated speech act corpus, using an easily interpretable classification scheme. We discuss the scheme chosen for the project and the training guidelines given to the annotators, and describe the main challenges identified by the annotators.

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