Current Machine Translation (MT) models still struggle with more challenging input, such as noisy data and tail-end words and phrases. Several works have addressed this robustness issue by identifying specific categories of noise and variation then tuning models to perform better on them. An important yet under-studied category involves minor variations in nuance (non-typos) that preserve meaning w.r.t. the target language. We introduce and formalize this category as Natural Asemantic Variation (NAV) and investigate it in the context of MT robustness. We find that existing MT models fail when presented with NAV data, but we demonstrate strategies to improve performance on NAV by fine-tuning them with human-generated variations. We also show that NAV robustness can be transferred across languages and find that synthetic perturbations can achieve some but not all of the benefits of organic NAV data.
The evaluation campaign of the International Conference on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2021) featured this year four shared tasks: (i) Simultaneous speech translation, (ii) Offline speech translation, (iii) Multilingual speech translation, (iv) Low-resource speech translation. A total of 22 teams participated in at least one of the tasks. This paper describes each shared task, data and evaluation metrics, and reports results of the received submissions.
The standard machine translation evaluation framework measures the single-best output of machine translation systems. There are, however, many situations where n-best lists are needed, yet there is no established way of evaluating them. This paper establishes a framework for addressing n-best evaluation by outlining three different questions one could consider when determining how one would define a ‘good’ n-best list and proposing evaluation measures for each question. The first and principal contribution is an evaluation measure that characterizes the translation quality of an entire n-best list by asking whether many of the valid translations are placed near the top of the list. The second is a measure that uses gold translations with preference annotations to ask to what degree systems can produce ranked lists in preference order. The third is a measure that rewards partial matches, evaluating the closeness of the many items in an n-best list to a set of many valid references. These three perspectives make clear that having access to many references can be useful when n-best evaluation is the goal.
This paper presents the Johns Hopkins University submission to the 2020 Duolingo Shared Task on Simultaneous Translation and Paraphrase for Language Education (STAPLE). We participated in all five language tasks, placing first in each. Our approach involved a language-agnostic pipeline of three components: (1) building strong machine translation systems on general-domain data, (2) fine-tuning on Duolingo-provided data, and (3) generating n-best lists which are then filtered with various score-based techniques. In addi- tion to the language-agnostic pipeline, we attempted a number of linguistically-motivated approaches, with, unfortunately, little success. We also find that improving BLEU performance of the beam-search generated translation does not necessarily improve on the task metric—weighted macro F1 of an n-best list.