We introduce Multi-SimLex, a large-scale lexical resource and evaluation benchmark covering data sets for 12 typologically diverse languages, including major languages (e.g., Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Russian) as well as less-resourced ones (e.g., Welsh, Kiswahili). Each language data set is annotated for the lexical relation of semantic similarity and contains 1,888 semantically aligned concept pairs, providing a representative coverage of word classes (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs), frequency ranks, similarity intervals, lexical fields, and concreteness levels. Additionally, owing to the alignment of concepts across languages, we provide a suite of 66 crosslingual semantic similarity data sets. Because of its extensive size and language coverage, Multi-SimLex provides entirely novel opportunities for experimental evaluation and analysis. On its monolingual and crosslingual benchmarks, we evaluate and analyze a wide array of recent state-of-the-art monolingual and crosslingual representation models, including static and contextualized word embeddings (such as fastText, monolingual and multilingual BERT, XLM), externally informed lexical representations, as well as fully unsupervised and (weakly) supervised crosslingual word embeddings. We also present a step-by-step data set creation protocol for creating consistent, Multi-Simlex–style resources for additional languages. We make these contributions—the public release of Multi-SimLex data sets, their creation protocol, strong baseline results, and in-depth analyses which can be helpful in guiding future developments in multilingual lexical semantics and representation learning—available via a Web site that will encourage community effort in further expansion of Multi-Simlex to many more languages. Such a large-scale semantic resource could inspire significant further advances in NLP across languages.
We present Attract-Repel, an algorithm for improving the semantic quality of word vectors by injecting constraints extracted from lexical resources. Attract-Repel facilitates the use of constraints from mono- and cross-lingual resources, yielding semantically specialized cross-lingual vector spaces. Our evaluation shows that the method can make use of existing cross-lingual lexicons to construct high-quality vector spaces for a plethora of different languages, facilitating semantic transfer from high- to lower-resource ones. The effectiveness of our approach is demonstrated with state-of-the-art results on semantic similarity datasets in six languages. We next show that Attract-Repel-specialized vectors boost performance in the downstream task of dialogue state tracking (DST) across multiple languages. Finally, we show that cross-lingual vector spaces produced by our algorithm facilitate the training of multilingual DST models, which brings further performance improvements.