Code switching (CS) refers to the phenomenon of interchangeably using words and phrases from different languages. CS can pose significant accuracy challenges to NLP, due to the often monolingual nature of the underlying systems. In this work, we focus on CS in the context of English/Spanish conversations for the task of speech translation (ST), generating and evaluating both transcript and translation. To evaluate model performance on this task, we create a novel ST corpus derived from existing public data sets. We explore various ST architectures across two dimensions: cascaded (transcribe then translate) vs end-to-end (jointly transcribe and translate) and unidirectional (source -> target) vs bidirectional (source <-> target). We show that our ST architectures, and especially our bidirectional end-to-end architecture, perform well on CS speech, even when no CS training data is used.
The conventional paradigm in speech translation starts with a speech recognition step to generate transcripts, followed by a translation step with the automatic transcripts as input. To address various shortcomings of this paradigm, recent work explores end-to-end trainable direct models that translate without transcribing. However, transcripts can be an indispensable output in practical applications, which often display transcripts alongside the translations to users.We make this common requirement explicit and explore the task of jointly transcribing and translating speech. Although high accuracy of transcript and translation are crucial, even highly accurate systems can suffer from inconsistencies between both outputs that degrade the user experience. We introduce a methodology to evaluate consistency and compare several modeling approaches, including the traditional cascaded approach and end-to-end models. We find that direct models are poorly suited to the joint transcription/translation task, but that end-to-end models that feature a coupled inference procedure are able to achieve strong consistency. We further introduce simple techniques for directly optimizing for consistency, and analyze the resulting trade-offs between consistency, transcription accuracy, and translation accuracy.1
Over its three decade history, speech translation has experienced several shifts in its primary research themes; moving from loosely coupled cascades of speech recognition and machine translation, to exploring questions of tight coupling, and finally to end-to-end models that have recently attracted much attention. This paper provides a brief survey of these developments, along with a discussion of the main challenges of traditional approaches which stem from committing to intermediate representations from the speech recognizer, and from training cascaded models separately towards different objectives. Recent end-to-end modeling techniques promise a principled way of overcoming these issues by allowing joint training of all model components and removing the need for explicit intermediate representations. However, a closer look reveals that many end-to-end models fall short of solving these issues, due to compromises made to address data scarcity. This paper provides a unifying categorization and nomenclature that covers both traditional and recent approaches and that may help researchers by highlighting both trade-offs and open research questions.
Variational Neural Machine Translation (VNMT) is an attractive framework for modeling the generation of target translations, conditioned not only on the source sentence but also on some latent random variables. The latent variable modeling may introduce useful statistical dependencies that can improve translation accuracy. Unfortunately, learning informative latent variables is non-trivial, as the latent space can be prohibitively large, and the latent codes are prone to be ignored by many translation models at training time. Previous works impose strong assumptions on the distribution of the latent code and limit the choice of the NMT architecture. In this paper, we propose to apply the VNMT framework to the state-of-the-art Transformer and introduce a more flexible approximate posterior based on normalizing flows. We demonstrate the efficacy of our proposal under both in-domain and out-of-domain conditions, significantly outperforming strong baselines.
The state of the art in machine translation (MT) is governed by neural approaches, which typically provide superior translation accuracy over statistical approaches. However, on the closely related task of word alignment, traditional statistical word alignment models often remain the go-to solution. In this paper, we present an approach to train a Transformer model to produce both accurate translations and alignments. We extract discrete alignments from the attention probabilities learnt during regular neural machine translation model training and leverage them in a multi-task framework to optimize towards translation and alignment objectives. We demonstrate that our approach produces competitive results compared to GIZA++ trained IBM alignment models without sacrificing translation accuracy and outperforms previous attempts on Transformer model based word alignment. Finally, by incorporating IBM model alignments into our multi-task training, we report significantly better alignment accuracies compared to GIZA++ on three publicly available data sets.
Active learning (AL) for machine translation (MT) has been well-studied for the phrase-based MT paradigm. Several AL algorithms for data sampling have been proposed over the years. However, given the rapid advancement in neural methods, these algorithms have not been thoroughly investigated in the context of neural MT (NMT). In this work, we address this missing aspect by conducting a systematic comparison of different AL methods in a simulated AL framework. Our experimental setup to compare different AL methods uses: i) State-of-the-art NMT architecture to achieve realistic results; and ii) the same dataset (WMT’13 English-Spanish) to have fair comparison across different methods. We then demonstrate how recent advancements in unsupervised pre-training and paraphrastic embedding can be used to improve existing AL methods. Finally, we propose a neural extension for an AL sampling method used in the context of phrase-based MT - Round Trip Translation Likelihood (RTTL). RTTL uses a bidirectional translation model to estimate the loss of information during translation and outperforms previous methods.
In an increasingly globalized world, situations in which people of different native tongues have to communicate with each other become more and more frequent. In many such situations, human interpreters are prohibitively expensive or simply not available. Automatic spoken language translation (SLT), as a cost-effective solution to this dilemma, has received increased attention in recent years. For a broad number of applications, including live SLT of lectures and oral presentations, these automatic systems should ideally operate in real time and with low latency. Large and highly specialized vocabularies as well as strong variations in speaking style – ranging from read speech to free presentations suffering from spontaneous events – make simultaneous SLT of lectures a challenging task. This paper presents our progress in building a simultaneous German-English lecture translation system. We emphasize some of the challenges which are particular to this language pair and propose solutions to tackle some of the problems encountered.