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Proceedings of the Fourth Italian Conference on Computational Linguistics CLiC-it 2017

 | 
Roberto Basili
, 
Malvina Nissim
, 
Giorgio Satta

TWITTIRÒ: a Social Media Corpus with a Multi-layered Annotation for Irony

Alessandra Teresa Cignarella, Cristina Bosco et Viviana Patti

Résumé

In this paper we describe our work concerning the application of a multi-layered scheme for the fine-grained annotation of irony (Karoui et al., 2017) on a new Italian social media corpus. In applying the annotation on this corpus containing tweets, i.e. twittirò, we outlined both strengths and weaknesses of the scheme when applied on Italian, thus giving further clarity on the future directions that can be followed in the multilingual and cross-language perspective.

In questo articolo descriviamo la creazione di un corpus di testi estratti da social media in italiano e l’applicazione ad esso di uno schema multilivello per l’annotazione a grana fine dell’ironia sviluppato in (Karoui et al., 2017). Nell’applicare l’annotazione a questo corpus composto da messaggi di Twitter, i.e. TWITTIRÒ, abbiamo discusso i punti di forza ed i limiti dello schema stesso, in modo da evidenziare le direzioni da seguire in futuro anche in prospettiva multilingue e cross linguistica.

Texte intégral

1 Introduction

1The recognition of irony and the identification of pragmatic and linguistic devices that activate it are known as very challenging tasks to be performed by both humans or automatic tools (Mihalcea and Pulman, 2007; Reyes et al., 2010; Kouloumpis et al., 2011; Maynard and Funk, 2011; Reyes et al., 2012; Hernández Farías et al., 2016). Our goal, was to create an annotated Italian corpus through which we could address some issues concerning formalization and automatic detection of irony. This work collocates, therefore, in the context of a multilingual project for studying irony and for developing resources to be exploited in training NLP tools for sentiment analysis.

2Providing that irony detection is a field that has been growing very fast in the last few years (Maynard and Greenwood, 2014; Ghosh et al., 2015; Sulis et al., 2016), and also taking into account that generation of irony (whether it is spoken or written) may also depends on the language and culture in which it is expressed, the main aim of this work is that of replying to the following research questions: Is it possible to formally model irony? If so, how?

3Through the present paper indeed, we aim at contributing to the study of irony not only in Italian, but rather in a multilingual and cross-linguistic perspective. Our hope is that, on the one hand, studying the use of figurative language in Italian social media texts, will help us to better understand the developing of this figure of speech itself -irony- and its relations with humor. On the other hand, the study will lead us to the discovery of features and patterns that can be shared and confronted with similar projects in other languages.

2 Data collection

4In this section we describe the methodology applied in the collection of tweets, and the internal structure of the dataset. Our work is part and extends a wider joint project with other research groups working on English and French (Karoui et al., 2017). In the French and English datasets, where the same annotation scheme for irony has been applied, tweets were retrieved by using Twitter APIs and filtered through specific hashtags exploited by users to self-mark their ironic intention (#irony, #sarcasm, #sarcastic). Providing that Italian users exploit a series of humorous hashtags, but no long-term single hashtag is established and shared among them, the same procedure could not be applied.

  • 1 A portion of these tweets (400 messages) has already been exploited and analyzed in (Karoui et al., (...)

5Some corpora from Twitter, where the presence of irony is marked, have been made available for Italian in the last few years, and we extracted from them tweets to be included in twittirò according to the distribution presented in Table 11.

Table 1: Tweet distribution in twittirò

Corpus

Number of tweets

TW-SPINO

400

SENTIPOLC

600

TW-BS

600

twittirò

1,600

6As it is shown in Table 1 the tweets were collected from three different pre-existent datasets.

  • TW-SPINO is a portion of SENTITUT (Bosco et al., 2013) which contains tweets collected from the satirical blog Spinoza.it. The language used is grammatically correct and featured by a high register and style, while the topics are variegate with a clear preference for jokes concerning the world of politics and general news.

 

1. Pubblicata la classifica mondiale della libertà di stampa. Non possiamo dirvi altro. [giga]
→ (The world ranking for freedom of printing competition has been published. We cannot say anything else. [giga])

  • SENTIPOLC (Basile et al., 2014) contains tweets generated by common users and therefore it is less homogeneous than TW-SPINO, with a frequent use of creative hashtags, mentions, repetitions of laughters. We selected here the political tweets with reference to the government of Monti between 2011 and 2012.

2. Mario Monti? non era il nome di un antipasto? #FullMonti #laresadeiconti #elezioni #308.
→ (Mario Monti? Wasn’t it the name of a starter? #FullMonti #laresadeiconti #elezioni #308.)

  • TW-BS (Stranisci et al., 2015; Stranisci et al., 2016) contains tweets on the debate of the reform of Italian School “Buona Scuola”.

3. @fattoquotidiano Quest’anno è peggio del solito: oltre all’amianto c’è anche #labuonascuola.
→(@fattoquotidiano This year worse than usual: in addition to asbestos there is also #labuonascuola.)

3 A multi-layered annotation scheme

7The main goal of the scheme proposed in (Karoui et al., 2017) is to provide a fine-grained representation of irony and to achieve this goal it includes four different levels of annotation as follows.

 

8LEVEL 1: CLASS. It concerns the classification of tweets into ironic or not ironic, but it does not apply in principle to our case where the corpus only includes ironic tweets.

 

9LEVEL 2: CONTRADICTION TYPE. As stated from various linguistic theories (Grice, 1975; Sperber and Wilson, 1981; Clark and Gerrig, 1984), irony is often exhibited through the presence of a clash or a contradiction between two elements. In tweets, these elements, henceforth named P1 and P2, can be found both as two lexicalized clues belonging to the internal context, see example below, or can be one in the utterance and the other outside, as part of some pragmatic context external to the tweet.
According to (Karoui et al., 2015), we annotate the contradiction that relies exclusively on the lexical clues internal to the utterance as explicit, while the contradiction that combines lexical clues with an additional pragmatic context external to the utterance, as implicit.

10Explicit contradiction: It can involve a contradiction between proposition P1 and proposition P2 that have e.g. opposite polarities, like in the example below where the opposition is between liberate (free) and processate (process).

4. [Liberate]P1 Greta e Vanessa. Saranno [processate]P2 in Italia. [@maurizioneri79]
→ (Greta and Vanessa have been [freed]P1. They will [undergo trial]P2 in Italy. [@maurizioneri79].)

 

11Implicit contradiction: The irony occurs because the writer believes that his audience can detect the disparity between P1 and P2 on the basis of contextual knowledge or common background shared with the writer.

  • 2 The official document that presented the school reform had hyphenation mistakes.

5. La [buona scuola e le sillabe]P1 http:t.conS42fRjAKp
→ (The [buona scuola and the syllables]P1 http:t.conS42fRjAKp)2 2

 

12LEVEL 3: CATEGORIES. Both forms of contradictions can be expressed through different rhetorical devices, patterns or features that are grouped under different labels.

13Analogy: In this category are summoned also other figures of speech that comprehend mechanisms of comparison, such as simile and metaphor.

5. Il governo #Monti mi ricorda la corazzata kotiokmin.
→ (Monti’s government reminds me of the Battleship Kotiokmin)

 

14Hyperbole/exaggeration: It is a figure of speech which consists in expressing an idea or a feeling with an exaggerated way.

6. #M5S #Renzi, se tra un anno non ci saranno 170 mila insegnanti di ruolo in più, te li porto tutti a @Palazzo Chigi #labuonascuola.
→(#M5S #Renzi, if in one year at least 170,000 teachers will not be employed, I will bring them all to @Palazzo Chigi #labuonascuola.)

 

15Euphemism: It is a figure of speech which is used to reduce the facts of an expression or an idea considered unpleasant in order to soften the reality.

7. Nel 2006 Charlie Hebdo aveva pubblicato delle vignette satiriche su Maometto. Ci hanno messo un po’ a capirle. [nicodio]
→ (In 2006 Charlie Hebdo published some satirical comic stips regarding Mohammad. It took them a while to understand them.)

 

16Rhetorical question: It is a figure of speech in the form of a question asked in order to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.

8. Mario Monti? non era il nome di un antipasto? #FullMonti #laresadeiconti #elezioni #308.
→ (Mario Monti? Wasn’t it the name of an appetizer? #FullMonti #laresadeiconti #elezioni #308.)

 

17Context shift (explicit only): It occurs by the sudden change of the topic/frame in the tweet.

9. @matteorenzi Più che la #labuonascuola direi #carascuola visto che ci vogliono più di 800 euro a pischello....quasi quanto 5 kg di gelato
→ (More than the #labuonascuola I’d say #carascuola being that more than 800 euros are needed for each kid....almost like 5 kilograms of icecream.)

 

18Register changing: (sub-category of the former) in which the “context shift” is due to a sudden change of linguistic style, exploitation of vulgarities or, on the contrary, a rather pompous style. In Italian tweets, users often recur to the exploitation of dialectal expression:

10. Mario, Monti sulla #cadrega.
→ (Mario, Monti on the #chair.)

 

19False assertion (implicit only): Indicates that a proposition, fact or an assertion fails to make sense against the reality. The speaker expresses the opposite of what he thinks or something wrong with respect to a context. External knowledge is fundamental to understand the irony (it is, in fact, implicit only).

  • 3 Minister Gelmini was never in charge of public work administration. It is a reference to an erroneo (...)

11. Totoministri per il governo Monti: Gelmini ai lavori pubblici, farà il tunnel dei neutrini!
→(Footbal pools of ministers for the Monti’s government: Gelmini at public works’ ministry, she will build the tunnel of neutrinos!)3

 

20Oxymoron/paradox (explicit only): This category is equivalent to the category false assertion except that the contradiction, this time, is explicit.

  • 4 It is common knowledge that people from Rome are often late, thus the paradox of creating a crimina (...)

12. Individuata una mafia tipicamente romana. Prima di mezzogiorno non prendeva appuntamenti.
→(Identified a typical Rome’s mafia. It did not fixed appointments before midday.)4

 

21Other: This last category represents ironic tweets, which can not be classified under one of the other seven previous categories. It can occur in case of humor or situational irony.

13. Sicilia, arriva barcone di migranti e a bordo c’è anche un gatto. Vengono a rubarci i nostri like. [@LughinoViscorto]
→ (Sicily, a big boat full of refugees arrives. There’s also a kitty on board. They come here and steal our likes.)

 

22LEVEL 4: CLUES. Clues represent words that can help annotators to decide in which category belongs a given ironic tweet, such as like for analogy, very for hyperbole/exaggeration. Clues include also negation words, emoticons, punctuation marks, interjections, named entity (and mentions). Since the extraction of the information about this level can be done, to a great extent by automatic tools, we did not addressed this specific task by manual annotation.

4 Annotation and Disagreement

23Given the complexity of irony attested in literature, it is not surprising that the task of annotating irony often leads to disagreement between annotators, which are connected to their individual experience, sense of humor and situational context (Grice, 1975; Grice, 1978; Sperber and Wilson, 1981; Wilson and Sperber, 2007; Reyes et al., 2010; Fink et al., 2011; Reyes et al., 2012).

24In our work, the annotation process involved three people previously trained in similar tasks. Since we are aiming at testing the value of the annotation scheme, the 1,200 new tweets were tagged by two independent annotators (A1 and A2) and by a third (A3) only where a disagreement is detected between A1 and A2. According to (Karoui et al., 2017), the annotators were asked to apply the second and third levels of the scheme, thus classifying each tweet as featured by implicit or explicit contradiction and selecting for it a category tag between the eight proposed.

4.1 Disagreement Analysis

25The inter-annotator agreement (IAA) between A1 and A2 for the labeling of implicit vs. explicit, calculated with Cohen’s coefficient, is κ = 0.41 (moderate agreement), and the distributions of these labels for each annotator are reported in Table 2. Our data analysis, for the moment, seems to corroborate the results of Karoui et al. (2017) where the annotation for the pair EXPLICIT vs.

26IMPLICIT, obtained a kappa of 0.65 (substantial agreement).

27It is interesting to note that while in French implicit activation is the majority (76.42%), in Italian the majority is represented by the explicit type. This is an important result that shows that annotators are able to identify which are the textual spans that activate the incongruity in ironic tweets, whether explicit or implicit. Further studies are surely needed about the activation type of irony for Italian.

Table 2: Inter-annotator agreement on type tags

A2

implicit

explicit

TOTAL

A1

implicit

104

136

240

explicit

63

897

960

TOTAL

167

1033

1200

28The IAA regarding category tags is slightly higher, κ = 0.46 (moderate agreement), as we will examine in detail later. The comparison with the French dataset (Karoui et al., 2017) shows a slightly higher inter-annotator agreement: κ = 0.56 (still moderate). For the second time a clearer identification of pragmatic devices is encountered in French, overcoming the results obtained between Italian annotators.

29It is also interesting to mention that, Karoui et al. (2017) operated some calculations when similar devices were grouped together and the scores showed an increment to κ = 0.60.

30Since our work is mainly focused on category tags, their exploitation and distribution, we will discuss in particular on the tweets where A1 and A2 were in disagreement and the need A3’s annotation was required (579 tweets). As support, Table 3 shows the distribution of category tags exploited by A1 and A2.

31The analysis of the disagreement detected in this new experimental dataset supports the following ideas. Firstly, observing the tag distribution between A1 and A2, the tag oxymoron/paradox is the more frequently exploited, followed by false assertion (see charts in Fig. 1). Concerning the latter, it is also observed a stronger bias from A1 towards that category tag (15.9%) compared to A2 choices (8.4%).

Figure 1: Category tags exploited by the two annotators

Figure 1: Category tags exploited by the two annotators

32The comparison with the annotation results obtained on the French dataset furthermore triggers the need of a deeper research on the application of the scheme in a cross-linguistic perspective.

5 Discussion

33Throughout a deeper analysis, the following main issues emerged.

34The choice between the category tags oxymoron/paradox and false assertion seems to be strongly influenced by personal biases (see Table 3). In the annotation guidelines it is indeed stated that the labels represent the same category but the former as realized in the context of an explicit contradiction, and the latter when an implicit contradiction happens. For example, in the following tweet A1 tagged as explicit oxymoron/paradox, while A2 as implicit false assertion.

3514. Adesso ho capito perché ci son così pochi #presepi in giro. La gente ha paura che il #Governo #Monti faccia pagare l’#ICI anche su quelli...
→ (Now I get why there are so few Christmas cribs around. People are worried that Monti will put a tax also on them...)

Table 3: Inter-annotator agreement on category tags

A2

analogy

euphemism

false assertion

oxymoron paradox

context shift

hyperbole

rhetorical question

other

TOTAL

A1

analogy

131

4

9

13

16

8

7

23

211

euphemism

4

33

8

7

10

5

1

6

74

false assertion

6

1

53

21

7

4

0

9

101

oxymoron paradox

10

8

34

121

21

3

4

21

222

context shift

9

2

4

31

62

8

2

14

132

hyperbole

7

4

13

19

4

29

1

14

91

rhetorical question

8

5

6

25

17

2

127

8

198

other

19

7

22

10

16

4

3

90

171

TOTAL

194

64

149

247

153

63

145

185

1200

36Another issue we want to address is that of the strong overlapping of RHETORICAL QUESTION with any other tag. As we can see from the following example, it is true that a rhetorical question is made, but the trigger of irony are the paradox and absurdity of the question itself.

3715. Ma secondo voi super #Mario #Monti riuscirà a tassare anche la felicità?
→(What do you think, will super #Mario #Monti manage to put a tax also on happiness?)

38The problem is caused by the fact that rhetorical question is a category tag that pertains to the linguistic level of pragmatics, which can coexist with semantical or lexical category tags such as analogy or oxymoron/paradox. An improvement in agreement could be that of allowing the presence of one or more categories at the same time.

39We have also noticed the exploitation of a common pattern, which we believe should constitute a new category on its own. We named it false logical conclusion, most of the time is an explicit contradiction, and it expresses which kind of relationship exists between a P 1 and P 2. In 45 out of 82 cases, when a false logical conclusion was signaled by at least one annotator (54.88%), the category was tagged as other. We can interpret this as a statistically relevant signal of unsatisfaction of annotators towards the available seven applicable category-tags. Finally, we noticed a high presence of negative words in the whole corpus.

6 Conclusions and future work

40The paper describes our work concerning the application of a fine-grained annotation scheme for pragmatic phenomena. In particular, it has been used to annotate the rhetorical device of irony in texts from Twitter. It confirms how this task is challenging, it contributed to shed some light on linguistic phenomena and to significantly extend the resource in (Karoui et al., 2017) with new Italian annotated data to be exploited in future experiments on irony detection in a multi-lingual perspective5. The disagreement in the annotation of irony in the three sub-corpora tw-spino, sentipolc and tw-bs, which are featured by different characteristics, is a further issue to be addressed. In future work, we plan therefore to investigate the differences in the disagreemente detected across the three portions of twittirò providing in-depth analysis of currently available and new linguistic data.

Acknowledgements

41The work of Cristina Bosco, Alessandra Teresa Cignarella and Viviana Patti was partially funded by Progetto di Ateneo/CSP 2016 (Immigrants, Hate and Prejudice in Social Media, project S1618L2 BOSC01).

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Notes

1 A portion of these tweets (400 messages) has already been exploited and analyzed in (Karoui et al., 2017).

2 The official document that presented the school reform had hyphenation mistakes.

3 Minister Gelmini was never in charge of public work administration. It is a reference to an erroneous statement about neutrinos that the Minister had previously uttered.

4 It is common knowledge that people from Rome are often late, thus the paradox of creating a criminal organization that is also often late.

5 The dataset is available at: https://github.com/IronyAndTweets/Scheme

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: Category tags exploited by the two annotators
URL http://books.openedition.org/aaccademia/docannexe/image/2382/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 176k

Auteurs

Dipartimento di Informatica, Università degli studi di Torino – alessandra.cignarell@edu.unito.it

Dipartimento di Informatica, Università degli studi di Torino – bosco@di.unito.it

Dipartimento di Informatica, Università degli studi di Torino – patti@di.unito.it

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