Leonie Weissweiler


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Crosslingual Transfer Learning for Low-Resource Languages Based on Multilingual Colexification Graphs
Yihong Liu | Haotian Ye | Leonie Weissweiler | Renhao Pei | Hinrich Schuetze
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2023

In comparative linguistics, colexification refers to the phenomenon of a lexical form conveying two or more distinct meanings. Existing work on colexification patterns relies on annotated word lists, limiting scalability and usefulness in NLP. In contrast, we identify colexification patterns of more than 2,000 concepts across 1,335 languages directly from an unannotated parallel corpus. We then propose simple and effective methods to build multilingual graphs from the colexification patterns: ColexNet and ColexNet+. ColexNet’s nodes are concepts and its edges are colexifications. In ColexNet+, concept nodes are additionally linked through intermediate nodes, each representing an ngram in one of 1,334 languages. We use ColexNet+ to train \overrightarrow{\mbox{ColexNet+}}, high-quality multilingual embeddings that are well-suited for transfer learning. In our experiments, we first show that ColexNet achieves high recall on CLICS, a dataset of crosslingual colexifications. We then evaluate \overrightarrow{\mbox{ColexNet+}} on roundtrip translation, sentence retrieval and sentence classification and show that our embeddings surpass several transfer learning baselines. This demonstrates the benefits of using colexification as a source of information in multilingual NLP.

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Counting the Bugs in ChatGPT’s Wugs: A Multilingual Investigation into the Morphological Capabilities of a Large Language Model
Leonie Weissweiler | Valentin Hofmann | Anjali Kantharuban | Anna Cai | Ritam Dutt | Amey Hengle | Anubha Kabra | Atharva Kulkarni | Abhishek Vijayakumar | Haofei Yu | Hinrich Schuetze | Kemal Oflazer | David Mortensen
Proceedings of the 2023 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Large language models (LLMs) have recently reached an impressive level of linguistic capability, prompting comparisons with human language skills. However, there have been relatively few systematic inquiries into the linguistic capabilities of the latest generation of LLMs, and those studies that do exist (i) ignore the remarkable ability of humans to generalize, (ii) focus only on English, and (iii) investigate syntax or semantics and overlook other capabilities that lie at the heart of human language, like morphology. Here, we close these gaps by conducting the first rigorous analysis of the morphological capabilities of ChatGPT in four typologically varied languages (specifically, English, German, Tamil, and Turkish). We apply a version of Berko’s (1958) wug test to ChatGPT, using novel, uncontaminated datasets for the four examined languages. We find that ChatGPT massively underperforms purpose-built systems, particularly in English. Overall, our results—through the lens of morphology—cast a new light on the linguistic capabilities of ChatGPT, suggesting that claims of human-like language skills are premature and misleading.

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Construction Grammar Provides Unique Insight into Neural Language Models
Leonie Weissweiler | Taiqi He | Naoki Otani | David R. Mortensen | Lori Levin | Hinrich Schütze
Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Construction Grammars and NLP (CxGs+NLP, GURT/SyntaxFest 2023)

Construction Grammar (CxG) has recently been used as the basis for probing studies that have investigated the performance of large pretrained language models (PLMs) with respect to the structure and meaning of constructions. In this position paper, we make suggestions for the continuation and augmentation of this line of research. We look at probing methodology that was not designed with CxG in mind, as well as probing methodology that was designed for specific constructions. We analyse selected previous work in detail, and provide our view of the most important challenges and research questions that this promising new field faces.

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A Crosslingual Investigation of Conceptualization in 1335 Languages
Yihong Liu | Haotian Ye | Leonie Weissweiler | Philipp Wicke | Renhao Pei | Robert Zangenfeind | Hinrich Schütze
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Languages differ in how they divide up the world into concepts and words; e.g., in contrast to English, Swahili has a single concept for ‘belly’ and ‘womb’. We investigate these differences in conceptualization across 1,335 languages by aligning concepts in a parallel corpus. To this end, we propose Conceptualizer, a method that creates a bipartite directed alignment graph between source language concepts and sets of target language strings. In a detailed linguistic analysis across all languages for one concept (‘bird’) and an evaluation on gold standard data for 32 Swadesh concepts, we show that Conceptualizer has good alignment accuracy. We demonstrate the potential of research on conceptualization in NLP with two experiments. (1) We define crosslingual stability of a concept as the degree to which it has 1-1 correspondences across languages, and show that concreteness predicts stability. (2) We represent each language by its conceptualization pattern for 83 concepts, and define a similarity measure on these representations. The resulting measure for the conceptual similarity between two languages is complementary to standard genealogical, typological, and surface similarity measures. For four out of six language families, we can assign languages to their correct family based on conceptual similarity with accuracies between 54% and 87%

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How to Distill your BERT: An Empirical Study on the Impact of Weight Initialisation and Distillation Objectives
Xinpeng Wang | Leonie Weissweiler | Hinrich Schütze | Barbara Plank
Proceedings of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 2: Short Papers)

Recently, various intermediate layer distillation (ILD) objectives have been shown to improve compression of BERT models via Knowledge Distillation (KD). However, a comprehensive evaluation of the objectives in both task-specific and task-agnostic settings is lacking. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work comprehensively evaluating distillation objectives in both settings. We show that attention transfer gives the best performance overall. We also study the impact of layer choice when initializing the student from the teacher layers, finding a significant impact on the performance in task-specific distillation. For vanilla KD and hidden states transfer, initialisation with lower layers of the teacher gives a considerable improvement over higher layers, especially on the task of QNLI (up to an absolute percentage change of 17.8 in accuracy). Attention transfer behaves consistently under different initialisation settings. We release our code as an efficient transformer-based model distillation framework for further studies.


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CaMEL: Case Marker Extraction without Labels
Leonie Weissweiler | Valentin Hofmann | Masoud Jalili Sabet | Hinrich Schuetze
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

We introduce CaMEL (Case Marker Extraction without Labels), a novel and challenging task in computational morphology that is especially relevant for low-resource languages. We propose a first model for CaMEL that uses a massively multilingual corpus to extract case markers in 83 languages based only on a noun phrase chunker and an alignment system. To evaluate CaMEL, we automatically construct a silver standard from UniMorph. The case markers extracted by our model can be used to detect and visualise similarities and differences between the case systems of different languages as well as to annotate fine-grained deep cases in languages in which they are not overtly marked.

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The better your Syntax, the better your Semantics? Probing Pretrained Language Models for the English Comparative Correlative
Leonie Weissweiler | Valentin Hofmann | Abdullatif Köksal | Hinrich Schütze
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Construction Grammar (CxG) is a paradigm from cognitive linguistics emphasising the connection between syntax and semantics. Rather than rules that operate on lexical items, it posits constructions as the central building blocks of language, i.e., linguistic units of different granularity that combine syntax and semantics. As a first step towards assessing the compatibility of CxG with the syntactic and semantic knowledge demonstrated by state-of-the-art pretrained language models (PLMs), we present an investigation of their capability to classify and understand one of the most commonly studied constructions, the English comparative correlative (CC). We conduct experiments examining the classification accuracy of a syntactic probe on the one hand and the models’ behaviour in a semantic application task on the other, with BERT, RoBERTa, and DeBERTa as the example PLMs. Our results show that all three investigated PLMs are able to recognise the structure of the CC but fail to use its meaning. While human-like performance of PLMs on many NLP tasks has been alleged, this indicates that PLMs still suffer from substantial shortcomings in central domains of linguistic knowledge.