Getting to “Hearer-old”: Charting Referring Expressions Across Time

Ieva Staliūnaitė, Hannah Rohde, Bonnie Webber, Annie Louis


Abstract
When a reader is first introduced to an entity, its referring expression must describe the entity. For entities that are widely known, a single word or phrase often suffices. This paper presents the first study of how expressions that refer to the same entity develop over time. We track thousands of person and organization entities over 20 years of New York Times (NYT). As entities move from hearer-new (first introduction to the NYT audience) to hearer-old (common knowledge) status, we show empirically that the referring expressions along this trajectory depend on the type of the entity, and exhibit linguistic properties related to becoming common knowledge (e.g., shorter length, less use of appositives, more definiteness). These properties can also be used to build a model to predict how long it will take for an entity to reach hearer-old status. Our results reach 10-30% absolute improvement over a majority-class baseline.
Anthology ID:
D18-1466
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing
Month:
October-November
Year:
2018
Address:
Brussels, Belgium
Venue:
EMNLP
SIG:
SIGDAT
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
4350–4359
Language:
URL:
https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/D18-1466
DOI:
10.18653/v1/D18-1466
Bib Export formats:
BibTeX MODS XML EndNote
PDF:
http://aclanthology.lst.uni-saarland.de/D18-1466.pdf
Video:
 https://vimeo.com/306166016