Sentiment analysis is one of the most widely studied applications in NLP, but most work focuses on languages with large amounts of data. We introduce the first large-scale human-annotated Twitter sentiment dataset for the four most widely spoken languages in Nigeria—Hausa, Igbo, Nigerian-Pidgin, and Yorùbá—consisting of around 30,000 annotated tweets per language, including a significant fraction of code-mixed tweets. We propose text collection, filtering, processing and labeling methods that enable us to create datasets for these low-resource languages. We evaluate a range of pre-trained models and transfer strategies on the dataset. We find that language-specific models and language-adaptive fine-tuning generally perform best. We release the datasets, trained models, sentiment lexicons, and code to incentivize research on sentiment analysis in under-represented languages.
African languages are spoken by over a billion people, but they are under-represented in NLP research and development. Multiple challenges exist, including the limited availability of annotated training and evaluation datasets as well as the lack of understanding of which settings, languages, and recently proposed methods like cross-lingual transfer will be effective. In this paper, we aim to move towards solutions for these challenges, focusing on the task of named entity recognition (NER). We present the creation of the largest to-date human-annotated NER dataset for 20 African languages. We study the behaviour of state-of-the-art cross-lingual transfer methods in an Africa-centric setting, empirically demonstrating that the choice of source transfer language significantly affects performance. While much previous work defaults to using English as the source language, our results show that choosing the best transfer language improves zero-shot F1 scores by an average of 14% over 20 languages as compared to using English.
We participated in the WMT 2022 Large-Scale Machine Translation Evaluation for the African Languages Shared Task. This work describes our approach, which is based on filtering the given noisy data using a sentence-pair classifier that was built by fine-tuning a pre-trained language model. To train the classifier, we obtain positive samples (i.e. high-quality parallel sentences) from a gold-standard curated dataset and extract negative samples (i.e. low-quality parallel sentences) from automatically aligned parallel data by choosing sentences with low alignment scores. Our final machine translation model was then trained on filtered data, instead of the entire noisy dataset. We empirically validate our approach by evaluating on two common datasets and show that data filtering generally improves overall translation quality, in some cases even significantly.
Abstract We take a step towards addressing the under- representation of the African continent in NLP research by bringing together different stakeholders to create the first large, publicly available, high-quality dataset for named entity recognition (NER) in ten African languages. We detail the characteristics of these languages to help researchers and practitioners better understand the challenges they pose for NER tasks. We analyze our datasets and conduct an extensive empirical evaluation of state- of-the-art methods across both supervised and transfer learning settings. Finally, we release the data, code, and models to inspire future research on African NLP.1
We introduce GEM, a living benchmark for natural language Generation (NLG), its Evaluation, and Metrics. Measuring progress in NLG relies on a constantly evolving ecosystem of automated metrics, datasets, and human evaluation standards. Due to this moving target, new models often still evaluate on divergent anglo-centric corpora with well-established, but flawed, metrics. This disconnect makes it challenging to identify the limitations of current models and opportunities for progress. Addressing this limitation, GEM provides an environment in which models can easily be applied to a wide set of tasks and in which evaluation strategies can be tested. Regular updates to the benchmark will help NLG research become more multilingual and evolve the challenge alongside models. This paper serves as the description of the data for the 2021 shared task at the associated GEM Workshop.
Language is a fundamental component of human communication. African low-resourced languages have recently been a major subject of research in machine translation, and other text-based areas of NLP. However, there is still very little comparable research in speech recognition for African languages. OkwuGbé is a step towards building speech recognition systems for African low-resourced languages. Using Fon and Igbo as our case study, we build two end-to-end deep neural network-based speech recognition models. We present a state-of-the-art automatic speech recognition (ASR) model for Fon, and a benchmark ASR model result for Igbo. Our findings serve both as a guide for future NLP research for Fon and Igbo in particular, and the creation of speech recognition models for other African low-resourced languages in general. The Fon and Igbo models source code have been made publicly available. Moreover, Okwugbe, a python library has been created to make easier the process of ASR model building and training.
In this paper, we focus on the task of multilingual machine translation for African languages and describe our contribution in the 2021 WMT Shared Task: Large-Scale Multilingual Machine Translation. We introduce MMTAfrica, the first many-to-many multilingual translation system for six African languages: Fon (fon), Igbo (ibo), Kinyarwanda (kin), Swahili/Kiswahili (swa), Xhosa (xho), and Yoruba (yor) and two non-African languages: English (eng) and French (fra). For multilingual translation concerning African languages, we introduce a novel backtranslation and reconstruction objective, BT&REC, inspired by the random online back translation and T5 modelling framework respectively, to effectively leverage monolingual data. Additionally, we report improvements from MMTAfrica over the FLORES 101 benchmarks (spBLEU gains ranging from +0.58 in Swahili to French to +19.46 in French to Xhosa).
Research in NLP lacks geographic diversity, and the question of how NLP can be scaled to low-resourced languages has not yet been adequately solved. ‘Low-resourced’-ness is a complex problem going beyond data availability and reflects systemic problems in society. In this paper, we focus on the task of Machine Translation (MT), that plays a crucial role for information accessibility and communication worldwide. Despite immense improvements in MT over the past decade, MT is centered around a few high-resourced languages. As MT researchers cannot solve the problem of low-resourcedness alone, we propose participatory research as a means to involve all necessary agents required in the MT development process. We demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of participatory research with a case study on MT for African languages. Its implementation leads to a collection of novel translation datasets, MT benchmarks for over 30 languages, with human evaluations for a third of them, and enables participants without formal training to make a unique scientific contribution. Benchmarks, models, data, code, and evaluation results are released at https://github.com/masakhane-io/masakhane-mt.
All over the world and especially in Africa, researchers are putting efforts into building Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems to help tackle the language barriers in Africa, a continent of over 2000 different languages. However, the low-resourceness, diacritical, and tonal complexities of African languages are major issues being faced. The FFR project is a major step towards creating a robust translation model from Fon, a very low-resource and tonal language, to French, for research and public use. In this paper, we introduce FFR Dataset, a corpus of Fon-to-French translations, describe the diacritical encoding process, and introduce our FFR v1.1 model, trained on the dataset. The dataset and model are made publicly available, to promote collaboration and reproducibility.