Daniel Whitenack


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GUIDE: Creating Semantic Domain Dictionaries for Low-Resource Languages
Jonathan Janetzki | Gerard De Melo | Joshua Nemecek | Daniel Whitenack
Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Research in Computational Linguistic Typology and Multilingual NLP

Over 7,000 of the world’s 7,168 living languages are still low-resourced. This paper aims to narrow the language documentation gap by creating multiparallel dictionaries, clustered by SIL’s semantic domains. This task is new for machine learning and has previously been done manually by native speakers. We propose GUIDE, a language-agnostic tool that uses a GNN to create and populate semantic domain dictionaries, using seed dictionaries and Bible translations as a parallel text corpus. Our work sets a new benchmark, achieving an exemplary average precision of 60% in eight zero-shot evaluation languages and predicting an average of 2,400 dictionary entries. We share the code, model, multilingual evaluation data, and new dictionaries with the research community: https://github.com/janetzki/GUIDE


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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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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 https://github.com/sil-ai/phone-it-in.


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Participatory Research for Low-resourced Machine Translation: A Case Study in African Languages
Wilhelmina Nekoto | Vukosi Marivate | Tshinondiwa Matsila | Timi Fasubaa | Taiwo Fagbohungbe | Solomon Oluwole Akinola | Shamsuddeen Muhammad | Salomon Kabongo Kabenamualu | Salomey Osei | Freshia Sackey | Rubungo Andre Niyongabo | Ricky Macharm | Perez Ogayo | Orevaoghene Ahia | Musie Meressa Berhe | Mofetoluwa Adeyemi | Masabata Mokgesi-Selinga | Lawrence Okegbemi | Laura Martinus | Kolawole Tajudeen | Kevin Degila | Kelechi Ogueji | Kathleen Siminyu | Julia Kreutzer | Jason Webster | Jamiil Toure Ali | Jade Abbott | Iroro Orife | Ignatius Ezeani | Idris Abdulkadir Dangana | Herman Kamper | Hady Elsahar | Goodness Duru | Ghollah Kioko | Murhabazi Espoir | Elan van Biljon | Daniel Whitenack | Christopher Onyefuluchi | Chris Chinenye Emezue | Bonaventure F. P. Dossou | Blessing Sibanda | Blessing Bassey | Ayodele Olabiyi | Arshath Ramkilowan | Alp Öktem | Adewale Akinfaderin | Abdallah Bashir
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

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.