For real-life applications, it is crucial that end-to-end spoken language translation models perform well on continuous audio, without relying on human-supplied segmentation. For online spoken language translation, where models need to start translating before the full utterance is spoken,most previous work has ignored the segmentation problem. In this paper, we compare various methods for improving models’ robustness towards segmentation errors and different segmentation strategies in both offline and online settings and report results on translation quality, flicker and delay. Our findings on five different language pairs show that a simple fixed-window audio segmentation can perform surprisingly well given the right conditions.
As machine translation (MT) metrics improve their correlation with human judgement every year, it is crucial to understand the limitations of these metrics at the segment level. Specifically, it is important to investigate metric behaviour when facing accuracy errors in MT because these can have dangerous consequences in certain contexts (e.g., legal, medical). We curate ACES, a translation accuracy challenge set, consisting of 68 phenomena ranging from simple perturbations at the word/character level to more complex errors based on discourse and real-world knowledge. We use ACES to evaluate a wide range of MT metrics including the submissions to the WMT 2022 metrics shared task and perform several analyses leading to general recommendations for metric developers. We recommend: a) combining metrics with different strengths, b) developing metrics that give more weight to the source and less to surface-level overlap with the reference and c) explicitly modelling additional language-specific information beyond what is available via multilingual embeddings.
Neural metrics have achieved impressive correlation with human judgements in the evaluation of machine translation systems, but before we can safely optimise towards such metrics, we should be aware of (and ideally eliminate) biases toward bad translations that receive high scores. Our experiments show that sample-based Minimum Bayes Risk decoding can be used to explore and quantify such weaknesses. When applying this strategy to COMET for en-de and de-en, we find that COMET models are not sensitive enough to discrepancies in numbers and named entities. We further show that these biases are hard to fully remove by simply training on additional synthetic data and release our code and data for facilitating further experiments.
Many sequence-to-sequence tasks in natural language processing are roughly monotonic in the alignment between source and target sequence, and previous work has facilitated or enforced learning of monotonic attention behavior via specialized attention functions or pretraining. In this work, we introduce a monotonicity loss function that is compatible with standard attention mechanisms and test it on several sequence-to-sequence tasks: grapheme-to-phoneme conversion, morphological inflection, transliteration, and dialect normalization. Experiments show that we can achieve largely monotonic behavior. Performance is mixed, with larger gains on top of RNN baselines. General monotonicity does not benefit transformer multihead attention, however, we see isolated improvements when only a subset of heads is biased towards monotonic behavior.
Data-driven subword segmentation has become the default strategy for open-vocabulary machine translation and other NLP tasks, but may not be sufficiently generic for optimal learning of non-concatenative morphology. We design a test suite to evaluate segmentation strategies on different types of morphological phenomena in a controlled, semi-synthetic setting. In our experiments, we compare how well machine translation models trained on subword- and character-level can translate these morphological phenomena. We find that learning to analyse and generate morphologically complex surface representations is still challenging, especially for non-concatenative morphological phenomena like reduplication or vowel harmony and for rare word stems. Based on our results, we recommend that novel text representation strategies be tested on a range of typologically diverse languages to minimise the risk of adopting a strategy that inadvertently disadvantages certain languages.
Transfer learning is a popular strategy to improve the quality of low-resource machine translation. For an optimal transfer of the embedding layer, the child and parent model should share a substantial part of the vocabulary. This is not the case when transferring to languages with a different script. We explore the benefit of romanization in this scenario. Our results show that romanization entails information loss and is thus not always superior to simpler vocabulary transfer methods, but can improve the transfer between related languages with different scripts. We compare two romanization tools and find that they exhibit different degrees of information loss, which affects translation quality. Finally, we extend romanization to the target side, showing that this can be a successful strategy when coupled with a simple deromanization model.