Transformer-based models are the modern work horses for neural machine translation (NMT), reaching state of the art across several benchmarks. Despite their impressive accuracy, we observe a systemic and rudimentary class of errors made by current state-of-the-art NMT models with regards to translating from a language that doesn’t mark gender on nouns into others that do. We find that even when the surrounding context provides unambiguous evidence of the appropriate grammatical gender marking, no tested model was able to accurately gender occupation nouns systematically. We release an evaluation scheme and dataset for measuring the ability of NMT models to translate gender morphology correctly in unambiguous contexts across syntactically diverse sentences. Our dataset translates from an English source into 20 languages from several different language families. With the availability of this dataset, our hope is that the NMT community can iterate on solutions for this class of especially egregious errors.
Cross-lingual named-entity lexica are an important resource to multilingual NLP tasks such as machine translation and cross-lingual wikification. While knowledge bases contain a large number of entities in high-resource languages such as English and French, corresponding entities for lower-resource languages are often missing. To address this, we propose Lexical-Semantic-Phonetic Align (LSP-Align), a technique to automatically mine cross-lingual entity lexica from mined web data. We demonstrate LSP-Align outperforms baselines at extracting cross-lingual entity pairs and mine 164 million entity pairs from 120 different languages aligned with English. We release these cross-lingual entity pairs along with the massively multilingual tagged named entity corpus as a resource to the NLP community.
Quality estimation aims to measure the quality of translated content without access to a reference translation. This is crucial for machine translation systems in real-world scenarios where high-quality translation is needed. While many approaches exist for quality estimation, they are based on supervised machine learning requiring costly human labelled data. As an alternative, we propose a technique that does not rely on examples from human-annotators and instead uses synthetic training data. We train off-the-shelf architectures for supervised quality estimation on our synthetic data and show that the resulting models achieve comparable performance to models trained on human-annotated data, both for sentence and word-level prediction.
Recent work in multilingual translation advances translation quality surpassing bilingual baselines using deep transformer models with increased capacity. However, the extra latency and memory costs introduced by this approach may make it unacceptable for efficiency-constrained applications. It has recently been shown for bilingual translation that using a deep encoder and shallow decoder (DESD) can reduce inference latency while maintaining translation quality, so we study similar speed-accuracy trade-offs for multilingual translation. We find that for many-to-one translation we can indeed increase decoder speed without sacrificing quality using this approach, but for one-to-many translation, shallow decoders cause a clear quality drop. To ameliorate this drop, we propose a deep encoder with multiple shallow decoders (DEMSD) where each shallow decoder is responsible for a disjoint subset of target languages. Specifically, the DEMSD model with 2-layer decoders is able to obtain a 1.8x speedup on average compared to a standard transformer model with no drop in translation quality.
The scarcity of parallel data is a major obstacle for training high-quality machine translation systems for low-resource languages. Fortunately, some low-resource languages are linguistically related or similar to high-resource languages; these related languages may share many lexical or syntactic structures. In this work, we exploit this linguistic overlap to facilitate translating to and from a low-resource language with only monolingual data, in addition to any parallel data in the related high-resource language. Our method, NMT-Adapt, combines denoising autoencoding, back-translation and adversarial objectives to utilize monolingual data for low-resource adaptation. We experiment on 7 languages from three different language families and show that our technique significantly improves translation into low-resource language compared to other translation baselines.
Is bias amplified when neural machine translation (NMT) models are optimized for speed and evaluated on generic test sets using BLEU? We investigate architectures and techniques commonly used to speed up decoding in Transformer-based models, such as greedy search, quantization, average attention networks (AANs) and shallow decoder models and show their effect on gendered noun translation. We construct a new gender bias test set, SimpleGEN, based on gendered noun phrases in which there is a single, unambiguous, correct answer. While we find minimal overall BLEU degradation as we apply speed optimizations, we observe that gendered noun translation performance degrades at a much faster rate.
Predicting the quality of machine translation has traditionally been addressed with language-specific models, under the assumption that the quality label distribution or linguistic features exhibit traits that are not shared across languages. An obvious disadvantage of this approach is the need for labelled data for each given language pair. We challenge this assumption by exploring different approaches to multilingual Quality Estimation (QE), including using scores from translation models. We show that these outperform single-language models, particularly in less balanced quality label distributions and low-resource settings. In the extreme case of zero-shot QE, we show that it is possible to accurately predict quality for any given new language from models trained on other languages. Our findings indicate that state-of-the-art neural QE models based on powerful pre-trained representations generalise well across languages, making them more applicable in real-world settings.
We present a machine foreign-language teacher that takes documents written in a student’s native language and detects situations where it can replace words with their foreign glosses such that new foreign vocabulary can be learned simply through reading the resulting mixed-language text. We show that it is possible to design such a machine teacher without any supervised data from (human) students. We accomplish this by modifying a cloze language model to incrementally learn new vocabulary items, and use this language model as a proxy for the word guessing and learning ability of real students. Our machine foreign-language teacher decides which subset of words to replace by consulting this language model. We evaluate three variants of our student proxy language models through a study on Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). We find that MTurk “students” were able to guess the meanings of foreign words introduced by the machine teacher with high accuracy for both function words as well as content words in two out of the three models. In addition, we show that students are able to retain their knowledge about the foreign words after they finish reading the document.
We present a machine foreign-language teacher that modifies text in a student’s native language (L1) by replacing some word tokens with glosses in a foreign language (L2), in such a way that the student can acquire L2 vocabulary simply by reading the resulting macaronic text. The machine teacher uses no supervised data from human students. Instead, to guide the machine teacher’s choice of which words to replace, we equip a cloze language model with a training procedure that can incrementally learn representations for novel words, and use this model as a proxy for the word guessing and learning ability of real human students. We use Mechanical Turk to evaluate two variants of the student model: (i) one that generates a representation for a novel word using only surrounding context and (ii) an extension that also uses the spelling of the novel word.
This paper describes the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Kyoto University submissions to the Speech Translation evaluation campaign at IWSLT2018. Our end-to-end speech translation systems are based on ESPnet and implements an attention-based encoder-decoder model. As comparison, we also experiment with a pipeline system that uses independent neural network systems for both the speech transcription and text translation components. We find that a transfer learning approach that bootstraps the end-to-end speech translation system with speech transcription system’s parameters is important for training on small datasets.
We present a feature-rich knowledge tracing method that captures a student’s acquisition and retention of knowledge during a foreign language phrase learning task. We model the student’s behavior as making predictions under a log-linear model, and adopt a neural gating mechanism to model how the student updates their log-linear parameters in response to feedback. The gating mechanism allows the model to learn complex patterns of retention and acquisition for each feature, while the log-linear parameterization results in an interpretable knowledge state. We collect human data and evaluate several versions of the model.