Interchange Format: a critical view

Lucia Tovena (Universite de Lille 3)


This contribution discusses the annotation language Interchange Format
(IF).  IF has been developed within the C-STAR II project
(http://www.c-star.org).  The main purpose of this language is to
serve as interlingua in the multilingual translation system developed
by the consortium. Currently IF is based on domain actions in the
travel and accommodation planning domain (Tovena 1998, Pianesi and
Tovena 1998, Levin et al. 1998). It is the result of joint effort by
the members of the group and has been growing with the needs.  The
success of the project C-STAR II has shown that the use of IF as a
language independent tool for the formal representation of the
information content of communicative exchanges is highly promising,
although the optimal design of this type of formalism is still an open
issue.  IF radicalises the Verbmobil (Alexandersson et al. 1997)
approach to Dialogue Acts, i.e. the notion used to express the primary
communicative intention of a dialogue segment. IF domain actions
contain dialogue acts but also part of the propositional content of a
segment.

After a short presentation of the syntax and lexicon of IF, I will focus on its semantics, or rather lack thereof. As a matter of fact, IF does not come with an explicitly defined semantics, rather its representations are interpreted in an intuitive way. I will devote the rest of the talk to examining these mechanisms of interpretation.