Colin Leong


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JWSign: A Highly Multilingual Corpus of Bible Translations for more Diversity in Sign Language Processing
Shester Gueuwou | Sophie Siake | Colin Leong | Mathias Müller
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

Advancements in sign language processing have been hindered by a lack of sufficient data, impeding progress in recognition, translation, and production tasks. The absence of comprehensive sign language datasets across the world’s sign languages has widened the gap in this field, resulting in a few sign languages being studied more than others, making this research area extremely skewed mostly towards sign languages from high-income countries. In this work we introduce a new large and highly multilingual dataset for sign language translation: JWSign. The dataset consists of 2,530 hours of Bible translations in 98 sign languages, featuring more than 1,500 individual signers. On this dataset, we report neural machine translation experiments. Apart from bilingual baseline systems, we also train multilingual systems, including some that take into account the typological relatedness of signed or spoken languages. Our experiments highlight that multilingual systems are superior to bilingual baselines, and that in higher-resource scenarios, clustering language pairs that are related improves translation quality.


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Phone-ing it in: Towards Flexible Multi-Modal Language Model Training by Phonetic Representations of Data
Colin Leong | Daniel Whitenack
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Multi-modal techniques offer significant untapped potential to unlock improved NLP technology for local languages. However, many advances in language model pre-training are focused on text, a fact that only increases systematic inequalities in the performance of NLP tasks across the world’s languages. In this work, we propose a multi-modal approach to train language models using whatever text and/or audio data might be available in a language. Initial experiments using Swahili and Kinyarwanda data suggest the viability of the approach for downstream Named Entity Recognition (NER) tasks, with models pre-trained on phone data showing an improvement of up to 6% F1-score above models that are trained from scratch. Preprocessing and training code will be uploaded to

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Quality at a Glance: An Audit of Web-Crawled Multilingual Datasets
Julia Kreutzer | Isaac Caswell | Lisa Wang | Ahsan Wahab | Daan van Esch | Nasanbayar Ulzii-Orshikh | Allahsera Tapo | Nishant Subramani | Artem Sokolov | Claytone Sikasote | Monang Setyawan | Supheakmungkol Sarin | Sokhar Samb | Benoît Sagot | Clara Rivera | Annette Rios | Isabel Papadimitriou | Salomey Osei | Pedro Ortiz Suarez | Iroro Orife | Kelechi Ogueji | Andre Niyongabo Rubungo | Toan Q. Nguyen | Mathias Müller | André Müller | Shamsuddeen Hassan Muhammad | Nanda Muhammad | Ayanda Mnyakeni | Jamshidbek Mirzakhalov | Tapiwanashe Matangira | Colin Leong | Nze Lawson | Sneha Kudugunta | Yacine Jernite | Mathias Jenny | Orhan Firat | Bonaventure F. P. Dossou | Sakhile Dlamini | Nisansa de Silva | Sakine Çabuk Ballı | Stella Biderman | Alessia Battisti | Ahmed Baruwa | Ankur Bapna | Pallavi Baljekar | Israel Abebe Azime | Ayodele Awokoya | Duygu Ataman | Orevaoghene Ahia | Oghenefego Ahia | Sweta Agrawal | Mofetoluwa Adeyemi
Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, Volume 10

With the success of large-scale pre-training and multilingual modeling in Natural Language Processing (NLP), recent years have seen a proliferation of large, Web-mined text datasets covering hundreds of languages. We manually audit the quality of 205 language-specific corpora released with five major public datasets (CCAligned, ParaCrawl, WikiMatrix, OSCAR, mC4). Lower-resource corpora have systematic issues: At least 15 corpora have no usable text, and a significant fraction contains less than 50% sentences of acceptable quality. In addition, many are mislabeled or use nonstandard/ambiguous language codes. We demonstrate that these issues are easy to detect even for non-proficient speakers, and supplement the human audit with automatic analyses. Finally, we recommend techniques to evaluate and improve multilingual corpora and discuss potential risks that come with low-quality data releases.

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Bloom Library: Multimodal Datasets in 300+ Languages for a Variety of Downstream Tasks
Colin Leong | Joshua Nemecek | Jacob Mansdorfer | Anna Filighera | Abraham Owodunni | Daniel Whitenack
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

We present Bloom Library, a linguistically diverse set of multimodal and multilingual datasets for language modeling, image captioning, visual storytelling, and speech synthesis/recognition. These datasets represent either the most, or among the most, multilingual datasets for each of the included downstream tasks. In total, the initial release of the Bloom Library datasets covers 363 languages across 32 language families. We train downstream task models for various languages represented in the data, showing the viability of the data for future work in low-resource, multimodal NLP and establishing the first known baselines for these downstream tasks in certain languages (e.g., Bisu [bzi], with an estimated population of 700 users). Some of these first-of-their-kind baselines are comparable to state-of-the-art performance for higher-resourced languages. The Bloom Library datasets are released under Creative Commons licenses on the Hugging Face datasets hub to catalyze more linguistically diverse research in the included downstream tasks.

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A Few Thousand Translations Go a Long Way! Leveraging Pre-trained Models for African News Translation
David Adelani | Jesujoba Alabi | Angela Fan | Julia Kreutzer | Xiaoyu Shen | Machel Reid | Dana Ruiter | Dietrich Klakow | Peter Nabende | Ernie Chang | Tajuddeen Gwadabe | Freshia Sackey | Bonaventure F. P. Dossou | Chris Emezue | Colin Leong | Michael Beukman | Shamsuddeen Muhammad | Guyo Jarso | Oreen Yousuf | Andre Niyongabo Rubungo | Gilles Hacheme | Eric Peter Wairagala | Muhammad Umair Nasir | Benjamin Ajibade | Tunde Ajayi | Yvonne Gitau | Jade Abbott | Mohamed Ahmed | Millicent Ochieng | Anuoluwapo Aremu | Perez Ogayo | Jonathan Mukiibi | Fatoumata Ouoba Kabore | Godson Kalipe | Derguene Mbaye | Allahsera Auguste Tapo | Victoire Memdjokam Koagne | Edwin Munkoh-Buabeng | Valencia Wagner | Idris Abdulmumin | Ayodele Awokoya | Happy Buzaaba | Blessing Sibanda | Andiswa Bukula | Sam Manthalu
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent advances in the pre-training for language models leverage large-scale datasets to create multilingual models. However, low-resource languages are mostly left out in these datasets. This is primarily because many widely spoken languages that are not well represented on the web and therefore excluded from the large-scale crawls for datasets. Furthermore, downstream users of these models are restricted to the selection of languages originally chosen for pre-training. This work investigates how to optimally leverage existing pre-trained models to create low-resource translation systems for 16 African languages. We focus on two questions: 1) How can pre-trained models be used for languages not included in the initial pretraining? and 2) How can the resulting translation models effectively transfer to new domains? To answer these questions, we create a novel African news corpus covering 16 languages, of which eight languages are not part of any existing evaluation dataset. We demonstrate that the most effective strategy for transferring both additional languages and additional domains is to leverage small quantities of high-quality translation data to fine-tune large pre-trained models.