Recent work in multilingual machine translation (MMT) has focused on the potential of positive transfer between languages, particularly cases where higher-resourced languages can benefit lower-resourced ones. While training an MMT model, the supervision signals learned from one language pair can be transferred to the other via the tokens shared by multiple source languages. However, the transfer is inhibited when the token overlap among source languages is small, which manifests naturally when languages use different writing systems. In this paper, we tackle inhibited transfer by augmenting the training data with alternative signals that unify different writing systems, such as phonetic, romanized, and transliterated input. We test these signals on Indic and Turkic languages, two language families where the writing systems differ but languages still share common features. Our results indicate that a straightforward multi-source self-ensemble – training a model on a mixture of various signals and ensembling the outputs of the same model fed with different signals during inference, outperforms strong ensemble baselines by 1.3 BLEU points on both language families. Further, we find that incorporating alternative inputs via self-ensemble can be particularly effective when training set is small, leading to +5 BLEU when only 5% of the total training data is accessible. Finally, our analysis demonstrates that including alternative signals yields more consistency and translates named entities more accurately, which is crucial for increased factuality of automated systems.
We present a simple yet effective approach to build multilingual speech-to-text (ST) translation through efficient transfer learning from a pretrained speech encoder and text decoder. Our key finding is that a minimalistic LNA (LayerNorm and Attention) finetuning can achieve zero-shot crosslingual and cross-modality transfer ability by only finetuning 10 50% of the pretrained parameters. This effectively leverages large pretrained models at low training cost such as wav2vec 2.0 for acoustic modeling, and mBART for multilingual text generation. This sets a new state-of-the-art for 36 translation directions (and surpassing cascaded ST for 26 of them) on the large-scale multilingual ST benchmark CoVoST 2 (+6.4 BLEU on average for En-X directions and +6.7 BLEU for X-En directions). Our approach demonstrates strong zero-shot performance in a many-to-many multilingual model (+5.6 BLEU on average across 28 non-English directions), making it an appealing approach for attaining high-quality speech translation with improved parameter and data efficiency.
We describe Facebook’s multilingual model submission to the WMT2021 shared task on news translation. We participate in 14 language directions: English to and from Czech, German, Hausa, Icelandic, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese. To develop systems covering all these directions, we focus on multilingual models. We utilize data from all available sources — WMT, large-scale data mining, and in-domain backtranslation — to create high quality bilingual and multilingual baselines. Subsequently, we investigate strategies for scaling multilingual model size, such that one system has sufficient capacity for high quality representations of all eight languages. Our final submission is an ensemble of dense and sparse Mixture-of-Expert multilingual translation models, followed by finetuning on in-domain news data and noisy channel reranking. Compared to previous year’s winning submissions, our multilingual system improved the translation quality on all language directions, with an average improvement of 2.0 BLEU. In the WMT2021 task, our system ranks first in 10 directions based on automatic evaluation.