More Than Spoken Words: Nonverbal Message Extraction and Generation.

EMNLP 2023(2023)

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Nonverbal messages (NM) such as speakers’ facial expressions and speed of speech are essential for face-to-face communication, and they can be regarded as implicit knowledge as they are usually not included in existing dialogue understanding or generation tasks. This paper introduces the task of extracting NMs in written text and generating NMs for spoken text. Previous studies merely focus on extracting NMs from relatively small-scale well-structured corpora such as movie scripts wherein NMs are enclosed in parentheses by scriptwriters, which greatly decreases the difficulty of extraction. To enable extracting NMs from unstructured corpora, we annotate the first NM extraction dataset for Chinese based on novels and develop three baselines to extract single-span or multi-span NM of a target utterance from its surrounding context. Furthermore, we use the extractors to extract 749K (context, utterance, NM) triples from Chinese novels and investigate whether we can use them to improve NM generation via semi-supervised learning. Experimental results demonstrate that the automatically extracted triples can serve as high-quality augmentation data of clean triples extracted from scripts to generate more relevant, fluent, valid, and factually consistent NMs than the purely supervised generator, and the resulting generator can in turn help Chinese dialogue understanding tasks such as dialogue machine reading comprehension and emotion classification by simply adding the predicted “unspoken” NM to each utterance or narrative in inputs.
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