Textless spoken language processing is an exciting area of research that promises to extend applicability of the standard NLP toolset onto spoken language and languages with few or no textual resources.Here, we introduce textless-lib, a PyTorch-based library aimed to facilitate research in the area. We describe the building blocks that the library provides and demonstrate its usability by discuss three different use-case examples: (i) speaker probing, (ii) speech resynthesis and compression, and (iii) speech continuation. We believe that textless-lib substantially simplifies research the textless setting and will be handful not only for speech researchers but also for the NLP community at large.
Speech pre-training has primarily demonstrated efficacy on classification tasks, while its capability of generating novel speech, similar to how GPT-2 can generate coherent paragraphs, has barely been explored. Generative Spoken Language Modeling (GSLM) (CITATION) is the only prior work addressing the generative aspect of speech pre-training, which builds a text-free language model using discovered units. Unfortunately, because the units used in GSLM discard most prosodic information, GSLM fails to leverage prosody for better comprehension and does not generate expressive speech. In this work, we present a prosody-aware generative spoken language model (pGSLM). It is composed of a multi-stream transformer language model (MS-TLM) of speech, represented as discovered unit and prosodic feature streams, and an adapted HiFi-GAN model converting MS-TLM outputs to waveforms. Experimental results show that the pGSLM can utilize prosody to improve both prosody and content modeling, and also generate natural, meaningful, and coherent speech given a spoken prompt. Audio samples can be found at https://speechbot.github.io/pgslm. Codes and models are available at https://github.com/pytorch/fairseq/tree/main/examples/textless_nlp/pgslm.
Speech emotion conversion is the task of modifying the perceived emotion of a speech utterance while preserving the lexical content and speaker identity. In this study, we cast the problem of emotion conversion as a spoken language translation task. We use a decomposition of the speech signal into discrete learned representations, consisting of phonetic-content units, prosodic features, speaker, and emotion. First, we modify the speech content by translating the phonetic-content units to a target emotion, and then predict the prosodic features based on these units. Finally, the speech waveform is generated by feeding the predicted representations into a neural vocoder. Such a paradigm allows us to go beyond spectral and parametric changes of the signal, and model non-verbal vocalizations, such as laughter insertion, yawning removal, etc. We demonstrate objectively and subjectively that the proposed method is vastly superior to current approaches and even beats text-based systems in terms of perceived emotion and audio quality. We rigorously evaluate all components of such a complex system and conclude with an extensive model analysis and ablation study to better emphasize the architectural choices, strengths and weaknesses of the proposed method. Samples are available under the following link: https://speechbot.github.io/emotion
Abstract We introduce Generative Spoken Language Modeling, the task of learning the acoustic and linguistic characteristics of a language from raw audio (no text, no labels), and a set of metrics to automatically evaluate the learned representations at acoustic and linguistic levels for both encoding and generation. We set up baseline systems consisting of a discrete speech encoder (returning pseudo-text units), a generative language model (trained on pseudo- text), and a speech decoder (generating a waveform from pseudo-text) all trained without supervision and validate the proposed metrics with human evaluation. Across 3 speech encoders (CPC, wav2vec 2.0, HuBERT), we find that the number of discrete units (50, 100, or 200) matters in a task-dependent and encoder- dependent way, and that some combinations approach text-based systems.1
Despite their failure to solve the compositional SCAN dataset, seq2seq architectures still achieve astonishing success on more practical tasks. This observation pushes us to question the usefulness of SCAN-style compositional generalization in realistic NLP tasks. In this work, we study the benefit that such compositionality brings about to several machine translation tasks. We present several focused modifications of Transformer that greatly improve generalization capabilities on SCAN and select one that remains on par with a vanilla Transformer on a standard machine translation (MT) task. Next, we study its performance in low-resource settings and on a newly introduced distribution-shifted English-French translation task. Overall, we find that improvements of a SCAN-capable model do not directly transfer to the resource-rich MT setup. In contrast, in the low-resource setup, general modifications lead to an improvement of up to 13.1% BLEU score w.r.t. a vanilla Transformer. Similarly, an improvement of 14% in an accuracy-based metric is achieved in the introduced compositional English-French translation task. This provides experimental evidence that the compositional generalization assessed in SCAN is particularly useful in resource-starved and domain-shifted scenarios.
Studies of discrete languages emerging when neural agents communicate to solve a joint task often look for evidence of compositional structure. This stems for the expectation that such a structure would allow languages to be acquired faster by the agents and enable them to generalize better. We argue that these beneficial properties are only loosely connected to compositionality. In two experiments, we demonstrate that, depending on the task, non-compositional languages might show equal, or better, generalization performance and acquisition speed than compositional ones. Further research in the area should be clearer about what benefits are expected from compositionality, and how the latter would lead to them.
Natural language allows us to refer to novel composite concepts by combining expressions denoting their parts according to systematic rules, a property known as compositionality. In this paper, we study whether the language emerging in deep multi-agent simulations possesses a similar ability to refer to novel primitive combinations, and whether it accomplishes this feat by strategies akin to human-language compositionality. Equipped with new ways to measure compositionality in emergent languages inspired by disentanglement in representation learning, we establish three main results: First, given sufficiently large input spaces, the emergent language will naturally develop the ability to refer to novel composite concepts. Second, there is no correlation between the degree of compositionality of an emergent language and its ability to generalize. Third, while compositionality is not necessary for generalization, it provides an advantage in terms of language transmission: The more compositional a language is, the more easily it will be picked up by new learners, even when the latter differ in architecture from the original agents. We conclude that compositionality does not arise from simple generalization pressure, but if an emergent language does chance upon it, it will be more likely to survive and thrive.
Sequence-processing neural networks led to remarkable progress on many NLP tasks. As a consequence, there has been increasing interest in understanding to what extent they process language as humans do. We aim here to uncover which biases such models display with respect to “natural” word-order constraints. We train models to communicate about paths in a simple gridworld, using miniature languages that reflect or violate various natural language trends, such as the tendency to avoid redundancy or to minimize long-distance dependencies. We study how the controlled characteristics of our miniature languages affect individual learning and their stability across multiple network generations. The results draw a mixed picture. On the one hand, neural networks show a strong tendency to avoid long-distance dependencies. On the other hand, there is no clear preference for the efficient, non-redundant encoding of information that is widely attested in natural language. We thus suggest inoculating a notion of “effort” into neural networks, as a possible way to make their linguistic behavior more human-like.
There is renewed interest in simulating language emergence among deep neural agents that communicate to jointly solve a task, spurred by the practical aim to develop language-enabled interactive AIs, as well as by theoretical questions about the evolution of human language. However, optimizing deep architectures connected by a discrete communication channel (such as that in which language emerges) is technically challenging. We introduce EGG, a toolkit that greatly simplifies the implementation of emergent-language communication games. EGG’s modular design provides a set of building blocks that the user can combine to create new games, easily navigating the optimization and architecture space. We hope that the tool will lower the technical barrier, and encourage researchers from various backgrounds to do original work in this exciting area.