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The English of Philippine Call Centre Agents Kingsley Bolton & Martin Weisser City University of Hong Kong.

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Presentation on theme: "The English of Philippine Call Centre Agents Kingsley Bolton & Martin Weisser City University of Hong Kong."— Presentation transcript:

1 The English of Philippine Call Centre Agents Kingsley Bolton & Martin Weisser City University of Hong Kong

2 Outline Project Background Data Preparation Data Analysis Preliminary Results The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents1

3 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 (CSAs) – collection of around 1,400 call centre dialogues current research: – re-transcription & -organisation of dialogue data – enriching of data on the levels of phonology syntax/grammar semantico-pragmatic pragmatics The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents2

4 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 Agents3

5 Data Preparation (2) – Original XML Format The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents4

6 Data Analysis (1) automatic annotation in DART (Dialogue Annotation & Research Tool) ⇒ 16,432 units/86 dialogues annotation levels included – syntactic c-units: address, decl, dm, yes, no, imp, q- wh, q-yn, frag – (surface-)polarity – semantics (topics) – semantico-pragmatics (modes) – pragmatics (speech acts) The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents5

7 Data Analysis (2) – Automatic Annotation Results The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents6

8 Data Analysis (3) extraction of CSR-related information – syntax–speech-act parings for interaction strategy analysis – n-grams (1-8 words) for analysis of formulaic patterns – grammatical feature observations for identifying ‘non-native’ features – phonological feature observations for identifying ‘non-native’ features The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents7

9 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 Agents8

10 Preliminary Results – Phonology (2) devoicing: – final fricatives (8): let me just advise 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 unaspirated initial plosives: have you returned the equipment to us The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents9

11 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 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 Agents10

12 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 Agents11

13 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 phone ‘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 Agents12

14 Preliminary Results – Grammar (3) determiner (non-)use – missing, e.g. can also be caused by a damaged cable; do you have an 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 Agents13

15 Preliminary Results – Formulaic Expressions 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 Agents14

16 Interaction Analysis (1) – (Im)Politeness 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 Agents15

17 Interaction Analysis (2) – (Non-)Initiative 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 Agents16

18 Questions? The English of Pilippine Call Centre Agents17

19 References Bolton, K. (2010). ‘Thank you for calling’: Asian Englishes and ‘native- like’ performance in Asian call centres. In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.). The Routledge handbook of world Englishes (pp ). London: Routledge. Friginal, E. (2009). The language of outsourced call centers: A corpus- based study of cross-cultural interaction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 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 ). 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 Agents18


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