DIT++ Taxonomy of dialogue acts

Release 4, February 2010. Differences with release 3.2 (February 2008) are listed here.)

The DIT++ taxonomy is a comprehensive system of dialogue act types obtained by extending the taxonomy of Dynamic Interpretation Theory (DIT), originally developed for information dialogues (Bunt, 1994), with a number of dialogue act types from DAMSL (Allen & Core, 1997) and other schemas. The DIT++ taxonomy forms a multidimensional system not only in the sense that it supports the assignment of multiple tags to markables, but also in the sense that dimensions have a conceptual status, independent of annotation activities, as different aspects of communication that may be addressed independent of each other by dialogue acts (see Bunt, 2006)). Applied to annotation, the multidimensionality of the schema means that a markable (i.e. a functionally relevant segment of dialogue behaviour) may have more than one communicative function -- maximally one in each dimension. In the taxonomy, dimensions are represented in boldface italic.

For convenience, the taxonomy is structured not only in dimensions but also in some additional groupings that do not have a theoretical significane, but that are convenient for understanding the structure of the set of communicative functions, as well for referring to certain groups of funcions. Such groupings are represented in italics.

Some communicative functions are specific for a certain dimension, the so-called "dimension-specific" functions. Other functions are "general-purpose" in the sense that they can be used in every dimension. In the presentation of the DIT++ communicative functions below, first the general-purpose functions are shown and subsequently the dimension-specific functions.

This document consists of three parts. The first part shows the taxonomy of communicative functions, beginning with the general-purpose functions. The hierarchical relations in the taxonomy, indicated by indentation, represent relative degrees of specificity of dialogue acts, in the sense that a more specific act has stronger preconditions than a less specific act (which dominates it in the taxonomy); in other words, the preconditions of more specific dialogue act logically entail those of any dominating act in the hierarchy. A communicative function inherits all the preconditions of its ancestors in the hierarchy. For instance, a Check Question is more specific than a Propositional Question because it has an additional precondition, concerning the speaker's expectation of the answer. Similarly, a Confirm(ation) is more specific than a Propositional Answer. This is reflected in the taxonomy by Check Question being dominated by Propositional Question, and Confirm by Propositional Answer.

The second part contains the definitions of all the communicative functions; you can consult the definition of a communicative function by clicking on its name in the taxonomy. The third part gives examples of the linguistic and/or nonverbal expression of these functions; to see examples, click on a definition.

The concepts from the DIT++ taxonomy have been applied and evaluated in a number of annotation efforts and in the design of a dialogue manager module that is capable of generating multifunctional contributions to a dialogue. For the latter application, see Keizer and Bunt, 2006 and 2007. For its application to annotation, see Geertzen and Bunt (2006) and Petukhova and Bunt (2007) and Geertzen et al. (2007). For its use in other studies of dialogue see Bunt (2007), Roser Morante's PhD thesis (November 2007) and Bunt, Morante & Keizer (2007). See also the Annotation guidelines for applying the DIT++ descriptors in the annotation of dialogues.
  • General-Purpose Communicative Functions
  • Dimension-Specific Communicative Functions

    DIT definitions

    (Click to see examples)
  • General-Purpose Communicative Functions are functions that can be applied to any kind of semantic content. In particular, they can be applied not only to content information concerning a certain activity, but also to information concerning the communication. In the latter case they form a `dialogue control act'. For example, the utterance I did not hear what you said has the communicative function Inform, and in view of the type of is semantic content, it provides (negative) feedback about the speaker's perception of the previous utterance.



    'DIAMOND' = from DIAMOND project corpus of dialogues (in Dutch);
    'IMIX' = from IMIX project corpus of dialogues (in Dutch);
    'AMI' = from AMI project corpus of dialogues (in English)
    'SCHISMA' = from SCHISMA project corpus of dialogues (in Dutch);
    'OVIS" = from OVIS project corpus of dialogues (in Dutch).
  • General-Purpose Communicative Functions
  • Feedback Elicitation acts:
  • Partner Communication Management acts
  • Own Communication Management acts
  • Time management acts
  • Discourse structure management acts:

    Different in release 3 from previous release (release 2, October 2006):

  • Terminological changes:
  • Deleted:
  • Added:
  • Merged:

    Different in release 3, version 2 (February, 2008) from release 3.1:

    In the definitions of commissive and directive functions a few typos have been corrected and minor improvements made. In previous releases, the taxonomy included the functions Accept Request, Decline Request, Accept Offer, Decline Offer, Accept Suggestion, and Decline Suggestion, which in release 3.1 were replaced by the more general functions Address Request/Offer/Suggestion, in order to accomodate the occurrence of conditional acceptance of requests, offers and suggestions. We found that the more specific Accept/Decline functions are also useful, however, so they have been reintroduced as special cases of the Address functions.

    Release 3.1: November 15, 2007
    Last modified, as Release 3.2: February 8, 2008