The Map Task design was intended to provide a common corpus for a vertical study of dialogue generating material which can be discussed at levels from the acoustic to the sociolinguistic. All the relevant parameters incorporated in the design are described here. The various forms in which the resulting corpus is available are described on the top-level page of HCRC Map Task Corpus website.
The Map Task
is a cooperative task involving two participants.
The two speakers sit opposite one another and each has a map which the
other cannot see.
One speaker -- designated the Instruction Giver --
has a route marked on her map;
the other speaker -- the Instruction Follower -- has no route.
The speakers are told that their goal is to reproduce the Instruction
Giver's route on the Instruction Follower's map.
The maps are not identical and the speakers are told this explicitly
at the beginning of their first session.
It is, however, up to them to discover how the two maps differ.
This manipulation of mismatches between landmarks enables us to control the information initially shared by the participants.
Since the only constraint on the range of map landmarks is the ease with which the feature can be represented graphically (that is, choice is restricted only by the ingenuity of the artist) we were able to include landmark names of phonological interest. Thus, feature names provided sites for four optional phonological reduction processes:
Example information giver's map and matching information follower's map.
Subjects are necessarily paired for the task, and since the pairing is under the experimenter's control we were able to vary systematically the familiarity between the participants, by asking subjects to attend with a friend. Each pair of familiar subjects was tested in coordination with another pair who were unknown to either member of the first pair. Two pairs formed a quadruple of subjects who used among them a different set of four map-pairs, with maps being assigned to pairs by Latin Square. Each subject participated in four dialogues, twice as Instruction Giver and twice as Instruction Follower, once in each case with a familiar partner, and once with an unfamiliar partner. As Instruction Giver they gave directions on the same map, but when following they used different maps each time. Half of the subjects gave instructions to a familiar partner first, the others to an unfamiliar partner first.
The option of placing a small barrier between Map Task participants to prevent them from seeing each other's faces allowed us to control the availability of the visual channel for communication. Half of the subjects who took part in the task were able to make eye-contact with their partner, while the other half had no eye-contact.
After they had completed their map dialogues, subjects were asked to read a wordlist containing all the feature names from the set of maps they had encountered. Feature names appeared twice in random order, and subjects were asked to read the list slowly and carefully, aiming for a between word interval of approximately one second. These list readings provided citation forms against which the unscripted dialogue forms could be compared.
Materials were recorded on Digital Audio Tape (Sony DTC1000ES) using one Shure SM10A close-talking microphone and one DAT channel per speaker. Split-screen video recordings were also made for half of the dialogues, capturing an almost full-face image of both subjects. Dialogues were orthographically transcribed and then checked several times against the original DAT recordings.
All sixty-four subjects who participated were undergraduates at the University of Glasgow. Sixty-one of the 64 subjects were Scottish, 56 of them having been born or brought-up within a thirty mile radius of Glasgow. Half the subjects were male, half were female, and their mean age was 20. Subjects accommodated easily to the task and experimental setting, producing unselfconscious and relatively fluent speech.
The experiment uses a Latin Squares design. Participants were asked to come to the experiment with someone they knew, thus forming familiar pairs. Two pairs make a quad. In the table, a1 came with a2, and b1, with b2.
C = Contrast; M = Match; ID = Campus Interface(?) ID
|Quads 1-4||c 1,2,5,6||Unfamiliar|
|Quads 5-8||c 1,2,5,6||Familiar|