Turn-Yielding Cues in Task-Oriented Dialogue

Agustín Gravano and Julia Hirschberg

SIGDIAL Workshop on Discourse and Dialogue (SIGDIAL 2009)
Queen Mary University of London, September 11-12, 2009


We examine a number of objective, automatically computable turn-yielding cues

--- distinct prosodic, acoustic and syntactic events in a speaker's speech that tend to precede a smooth turn exchange --- in the Columbia Games Corpus, a large corpus of task-oriented dialogues. We show that the likelihood of occurrence of a turn-taking attempt from the interlocutor increases linearly with the number of cues conjointly displayed by the speaker. Our results are important for improving the coordination of speaking turns in interactive voice-response systems, so that systems can correctly estimate when the user is willing to yield the conversational floor, and so that they can produce their own turn-yielding cues appropriately.