In this work, we introduce BanglaBERT, a BERT-based Natural Language Understanding (NLU) model pretrained in Bangla, a widely spoken yet low-resource language in the NLP literature. To pretrain BanglaBERT, we collect 27.5 GB of Bangla pretraining data (dubbed ‘Bangla2B+’) by crawling 110 popular Bangla sites. We introduce two downstream task datasets on natural language inference and question answering and benchmark on four diverse NLU tasks covering text classification, sequence labeling, and span prediction. In the process, we bring them under the first-ever Bangla Language Understanding Benchmark (BLUB). BanglaBERT achieves state-of-the-art results outperforming multilingual and monolingual models. We are making the models, datasets, and a leaderboard publicly available at https://github.com/csebuetnlp/banglabert
to advance Bangla NLP.
Despite being the seventh most widely spoken language in the world, Bengali has received much less attention in machine translation literature due to being low in resources. Most publicly available parallel corpora for Bengali are not large enough; and have rather poor quality, mostly because of incorrect sentence alignments resulting from erroneous sentence segmentation, and also because of a high volume of noise present in them. In this work, we build a customized sentence segmenter for Bengali and propose two novel methods for parallel corpus creation on low-resource setups: aligner ensembling and batch filtering. With the segmenter and the two methods combined, we compile a high-quality Bengali-English parallel corpus comprising of 2.75 million sentence pairs, more than 2 million of which were not available before. Training on neural models, we achieve an improvement of more than 9 BLEU score over previous approaches to Bengali-English machine translation. We also evaluate on a new test set of 1000 pairs made with extensive quality control. We release the segmenter, parallel corpus, and the evaluation set, thus elevating Bengali from its low-resource status. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first ever large scale study on Bengali-English machine translation. We believe our study will pave the way for future research on Bengali-English machine translation as well as other low-resource languages. Our data and code are available at https://github.com/csebuetnlp/banglanmt.