Issues in Translating and Producing Japanese Referring Expressions for Dialogues
This paper presents an analysis of cross-cultural and linguistic issues in the generation of referring expressions (REs) for English and Japanese dialogues. The analysis is based on a translation activity carried out for a study on the perception of automatically generated REs in a virtual world involving participants in Tokyo and Dublin and complemented by two data elicitation studies. In order to preserve the output of the RE generation algorithm the translation sought to produce a Japanese dialogue in which the REs were as close to the English originals as possible, but within a scenario adapted to the Japanese culture. The two data elicitation experiments assessed Japanese speakers preferences of REs in the same dialogue context. Insights from this work are relevant to the design of RE generation algorithms for use in real-life situations and raise questions as to what extent the current algorithms are transferable between languages and cultures. Results suggest that current approaches to generating REs are biased towards the English language, which becomes apparent when considering, for instance, the realisation of Japanese locative expressions and the absence of a distinction between singular and plural in the Japanese language.
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