Paper: Towards a model of formal and informal address in English

ACL ID E12-1064
Title Towards a model of formal and informal address in English
Venue Annual Meeting of The European Chapter of The Association of Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 2012
Authors

Informal and formal (?T/V?) address in dia- logue is not distinguished overtly in mod- ern English, e.g. by pronoun choice like in many other languages such as French (?tu?/?vous?). Our study investigates the status of the T/V distinction in English liter- ary texts. Our main findings are: (a) human raters can label monolingual English utter- ances as T or V fairly well, given sufficient context; (b), a bilingual corpus can be ex- ploited to induce a supervised classifier for T/V without human annotation. It assigns T/V at sentence level with up to 68% accu- racy, relying mainly on lexical features; (c), there is a marked asymmetry between lex- ical features for formal speech (which are conventionalized and therefore general) and informal speech (which are text-specific).