Washington D.C, Dec 10 : Look no more, the best formula for giving directions is here as a team of linguists has discovered the best word order.
To give good directions, it is not enough to say the right things: saying them in the right order is also important, shows a study. Sentences that start with a prominent landmark and end with the object of interest work better than sentences where this order is reversed. These results could have direct applications in the fields of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction.
“Here we show for the first time that people are quicker to find a hard-to-see person in an image when the directions mention a prominent landmark first, as in ‘Next to the horse is the man in red’, rather than last, as in ‘The man in red is next to the horse’,” says lead author Alasdair Clarke from the University of Aberdeen.
The results suggest that people who give directions keep a mental record of which objects in an image are easy to see, prefer to use these as landmarks, and treat them differently than harder-to-see objects when planning the word order of descriptions. This strategy helps listeners to find the target quickly.
“Listeners start processing the directions before they’re finished, so it’s good to give them a head start by pointing them towards something they can find quickly, such as a landmark. But if the target your listener is looking for is itself easy to see, then you should just start your directions with that,” concludes co-author Micha Elsner.
These results could help to develop computer algorithms for automatic direction-giving.
The study appears in Frontiers in Psychology. (ANI)