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.
The surging demand for multilingual dialogue systems often requires a costly labeling process for each language addition. For low resource languages, human annotators are continuously tasked with the adaptation of resource-rich language utterances for each new domain. However, this prohibitive and impractical process can often be a bottleneck for low resource languages that are still without proper translation systems nor parallel corpus. In particular, it is difficult to obtain task-specific low resource language annotations for the English-derived creoles (e.g. Nigerian and Cameroonian Pidgin). To address this issue, we utilize the pretrained language models i.e. BART which has shown great potential in language generation/understanding – we propose to finetune the BART model to generate utterances in Pidgin by leveraging the proximity of the source and target languages, and utilizing positive and negative examples in constrastive training objectives. We collected and released the first parallel Pidgin-English conversation corpus in two dialogue domains and showed that this simple and effective technique is suffice to yield impressive results for English-to-Pidgin generation, which are two closely-related languages.
Multilingual pre-trained language models (PLMs) have demonstrated impressive performance on several downstream tasks for both high-resourced and low-resourced languages. However, there is still a large performance drop for languages unseen during pre-training, especially African languages. One of the most effective approaches to adapt to a new language is language adaptive fine-tuning (LAFT) — fine-tuning a multilingual PLM on monolingual texts of a language using the pre-training objective. However, adapting to target language individually takes large disk space and limits the cross-lingual transfer abilities of the resulting models because they have been specialized for a single language. In this paper, we perform multilingual adaptive fine-tuning on 17 most-resourced African languages and three other high-resource languages widely spoken on the African continent to encourage cross-lingual transfer learning. To further specialize the multilingual PLM, we removed vocabulary tokens from the embedding layer that corresponds to non-African writing scripts before MAFT, thus reducing the model size by around 50%. Our evaluation on two multilingual PLMs (AfriBERTa and XLM-R) and three NLP tasks (NER, news topic classification, and sentiment classification) shows that our approach is competitive to applying LAFT on individual languages while requiring significantly less disk space. Additionally, we show that our adapted PLM also improves the zero-shot cross-lingual transfer abilities of parameter efficient fine-tuning methods.
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