The English of Philippine Call Centre Agents

The English of Philippine Call
Centre Agents
Kingsley Bolton & Martin Weisser
City University of Hong Kong
[email protected]
[email protected]
Project Background
Data Preparation
Data Analysis
Preliminary Results
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Project Background
• initial research carried out by Bolton on High-level
Proficiency in Second-language Use research
programme at Stockholm University
– interviews with call centre managers, trainers, & agents
– collection of around 1,400 call centre dialogues
• current research:
– re-transcription & -organisation of dialogue data
– enriching of data on the levels of
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Data Preparation (1)
• automatic conversion of original transcriptions
– extraction to plain text documents
– conversion to simple DART XML format
• manual pre-editing by student helpers
– correction of conversion errors
– improvement of transcription consistency, e.g.
punctuation, etc.
– addition of pause measurements
– addition of phonological/grammatical observations
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Data Preparation (2) –
Original XML Format
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Data Analysis (1)
• automatic annotation in DART (Dialogue
Annotation & Research Tool) ⇒ 16,432 units/86
• annotation levels included
– syntactic c-units: address, decl, dm, yes, no, imp, qwh, q-yn, frag
– (surface-)polarity
– semantics (topics)
– semantico-pragmatics (modes)
– pragmatics (speech acts)
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Data Analysis (2) –
Automatic Annotation Results
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Data Analysis (3)
• extraction of CSR-related information
– syntax–speech-act parings for interaction strategy
– n-grams (1-8 words) for analysis of formulaic
– grammatical feature observations for identifying
‘non-native’ features
– phonological feature observations for identifying
‘non-native’ features
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Preliminary Results – Phonology (1)
• pronoun reduction (37): e.g. may i have your first
and last name please
• elision:
– final fricatives, e.g. this might probably be familiar to
yourself; and then you have to less 5 dollars and 99
cents for the home protection plan because this is free
for 18 months
– final plosives (24): that's right; but you will need to
talk to our technical department; you need to call us
the 5th of A... the fifth of July so we can remove it from
your account
• ‘eng-dropping’ (5), e.g. what type of shows or
programs do you enjoy watching
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Preliminary Results – Phonology (2)
• devoicing:
– final fricatives (8): let me just advise <comment
type="phon" sounds_like="ədvaɪs" content="final
fricative devoiced" /> you that …; just give me one
minute please; there was a refund submitted
• dental fricative replacement: you can also make a
debit or credit card payment through <comment
type="phon" content="tru" />
• unaspirated initial plosives: have you returned the
equipment to <comment type="phon"
content="unaspirated initial plosive" /> us
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Preliminary Results – Phonology (3)
• epenthetic vowels:
– shwas (69), e.g. as what ə you check ə; you're eligible to get one
plan from Earthlink ə
– unreduced past tense morphemes: e.g. what's the last bill paid
<comment type="phon" sounds_like="peɪjəd"
content="epenthetic vowel" /> please
• contrastive ‘stress’ /strong forms (27):
– whole words, e.g. because you just tell them that we will not be
charging anything to them since you are the account holder; is
there anybody there with you who can speak English
– individual syllables: and i'm calling from Satellite TV Provider;
there's no commitment here so you need not sign any contract;
as soon as we receive the uh rebate form that i advised you to
download (uptalk, rather than stress?)
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Preliminary Results – Grammar (1)
• plurals
– unmarked (28)
– incorrectly marked (2), e.g. there is a 6 dollars leasing
fee monthly
– unidiomatic (1): with regards to the breakfast
• auxiliary use
– missing (3), e.g. and we will Ø giving you a 5 dollar
discount for uh 14 months
– double (1): and uh that's will be your partial charge
from today up to the 4th of May
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Preliminary Results – Grammar (2)
• prepositions
– added, e.g. exit out from that screen
– unidiomatic: e.g. the promotion that we you can also take advantage
with; and this will allow us to replace your single tuner recordable
receiver to; i can assist you to that; how long have you been staying
with this address; the reason why we're calling you today is uh to tell
you today about this great offer wherein we can provide you free
equipment, free installation, and a special programming discount (22)
– missing: there are things that we can we can take care of over the
• ‘quantification’
– non-count → count, e.g. you already provided those information
online; however you will need to replace one of your old equipment ə
– incorrect comparison adverb: that will be 10 dollars more of what
you're paying right now
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Preliminary Results – Grammar (3)
• determiner (non-)use
– missing, e.g. can also be caused by a damaged
cable; do you have an email address
• question ‘inversion/embedding’, e.g. do you
know how much is the John Brown University
rate so i could check here on my system
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Preliminary Results – Formulaic
• in case ⇒
– if that will be the case
– if in case
• this ⇒ that one, e.g. can you spell that one for
me; let me just verify that one for you
• non-contractions (192), e.g. i would like; i will;
that is, etc.
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Interaction Analysis (1) –
• abundance of terms of address 893 (9.435%):
– mainly deferential (Sir, Madam)
– frequent unusual placement (‘syntax-breaking’), e.g.
but i do apologize │ Sir│if you had not been provided
the rebate form; you do not have the High Definition
uhm eh capability at this time│Sir │with the receiver
that you have
• lack of (polite) indirectness
– relatively high number of imperatives (~5%)
– indirect imperatives, e.g. and i want you to tell me if
you see Main Menu on your screen
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
Interaction Analysis (2) –
• low number of requests for directives:
only .28%, e.g. for which journey do you wish
to purchase a ticket; would you like smoking or
non smoking (examples from Trainline corpus)
• mainly responding discourse markers (DMs)
– acknowledging DMs 829 (8.759%) vs. initiating
DMs 601 (6.35%)
– agreeing DMs 66 (0.697%)
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents
• Bolton, K. (2010). ‘Thank you for calling’: Asian Englishes and ‘nativelike’ performance in Asian call centres. In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.). The
Routledge handbook of world Englishes (pp. 550-564). London: Routledge.
• Friginal, E. (2009). The language of outsourced call centers: A corpusbased study of cross-cultural interaction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John
• Lockwood, J., Forey, G., & Price, H. (2008). English in the Philippine call
centers and BPO operations: Issues, opportunities and research. In M. L. S.
Bautista & K. Bolton (Eds.), Philippine English: Linguistic and literary
perspectives (pp. 219-241). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
• Weisser, M. (2010). Annotating dialogue corpora semi-automatically: A
corpus-linguistic approach to Pragmatics. unpublished Habilitation,
University of Bayreuth.
• Weisser, M. (2011). DART – the Dialogue Annotation and Research Tool.
Submitted to the International Journal of Corpus Linguistics.
The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents

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