The Extended SPaRKy Restaurant Corpus: designing a corpus with variable information density


Natural language generation (NLG) systems rely on corpora for both hand-crafted approaches in a traditional NLG architecture and for statistical end-to-end (learned) generation systems. Limitations in existing resources, however, make it difficult to develop systems which can vary the linguistic properties of an utterance as needed. For example, when users' attention is split between a linguistic and a secondary task such as driving, a generation system may need to reduce the information density of an utterance to compensate for the reduction in user attention.

We introduce a new corpus in the restaurant recommendation and comparison domain, collected in a paraphrasing paradigm, where subjects wrote texts targeting either a general audience or an elderly family member. This design resulted in a corpus of more than 5000 texts which exhibit a variety of lexical and syntactic choices and differ with respect to average word & sentence length and surprisal. The corpus includes two levels of meaning representation: flat 'semantic stacks' for propositional content and Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) relations between these propositions.