Parallel corpora are ideal for extracting a multilingual named entity (MNE) resource, i.e., a dataset of names translated into multiple languages. Prior work on extracting MNE datasets from parallel corpora required resources such as large monolingual corpora or word aligners that are unavailable or perform poorly for underresourced languages. We present CLC-BN, a new method for creating an MNE resource, and apply it to the Parallel Bible Corpus, a corpus of more than 1000 languages. CLC-BN learns a neural transliteration model from parallel-corpus statistics, without requiring any other bilingual resources, word aligners, or seed data. Experimental results show that CLC-BN clearly outperforms prior work. We release an MNE resource for 1340 languages and demonstrate its effectiveness in two downstream tasks: knowledge graph augmentation and bilingual lexicon induction.
Bias research in NLP is a rapidly growing and developing field. Similar to CrowS-Pairs (Nangia et al., 2020), we assess gender bias in masked-language models (MLMs) by studying pairs of sentences with gender swapped person references.Most bias research focuses on and often is specific to English.Using a novel methodology for creating sentence pairs that is applicable across languages, we create, based on CrowS-Pairs, a multilingual dataset for English, Finnish, German, Indonesian and Thai.Additionally, we propose SJSD, a new bias measure based on Jensen–Shannon divergence, which we argue retains more information from the model output probabilities than other previously proposed bias measures for MLMs.Using multilingual MLMs, we find that SJSD diagnoses the same systematic biased behavior for non-English that previous studies have found for monolingual English pre-trained MLMs. SJSD outperforms the CrowS-Pairs measure, which struggles to find such biases for smaller non-English datasets.
Transformers are arguably the main workhorse in recent natural language processing research. By definition, a Transformer is invariant with respect to reordering of the input. However, language is inherently sequential and word order is essential to the semantics and syntax of an utterance. In this article, we provide an overview and theoretical comparison of existing methods to incorporate position information into Transformer models. The objectives of this survey are to (1) showcase that position information in Transformer is a vibrant and extensive research area; (2) enable the reader to compare existing methods by providing a unified notation and systematization of different approaches along important model dimensions; (3) indicate what characteristics of an application should be taken into account when selecting a position encoding; and (4) provide stimuli for future research.
In previous work, it has been shown that BERT can adequately align cross-lingual sentences on the word level. Here we investigate whether BERT can also operate as a char-level aligner. The languages examined are English, Fake English, German and Greek. We show that the closer two languages are, the better BERT can align them on the character level. BERT indeed works well in English to Fake English alignment, but this does not generalize to natural languages to the same extent. Nevertheless, the proximity of two languages does seem to be a factor. English is more related to German than to Greek and this is reflected in how well BERT aligns them; English to German is better than English to Greek. We examine multiple setups and show that the similarity matrices for natural languages show weaker relations the further apart two languages are.
With the advent of end-to-end deep learning approaches in machine translation, interest in word alignments initially decreased; however, they have again become a focus of research more recently. Alignments are useful for typological research, transferring formatting like markup to translated texts, and can be used in the decoding of machine translation systems. At the same time, massively multilingual processing is becoming an important NLP scenario, and pretrained language and machine translation models that are truly multilingual are proposed. However, most alignment algorithms rely on bitexts only and do not leverage the fact that many parallel corpora are multiparallel. In this work, we exploit the multiparallelity of corpora by representing an initial set of bilingual alignments as a graph and then predicting additional edges in the graph. We present two graph algorithms for edge prediction: one inspired by recommender systems and one based on network link prediction. Our experimental results show absolute improvements in F1 of up to 28% over the baseline bilingual word aligner in different datasets.
Recently, it has been found that monolingual English language models can be used as knowledge bases. Instead of structural knowledge base queries, masked sentences such as “Paris is the capital of [MASK]” are used as probes. We translate the established benchmarks TREx and GoogleRE into 53 languages. Working with mBERT, we investigate three questions. (i) Can mBERT be used as a multilingual knowledge base? Most prior work only considers English. Extending research to multiple languages is important for diversity and accessibility. (ii) Is mBERT’s performance as knowledge base language-independent or does it vary from language to language? (iii) A multilingual model is trained on more text, e.g., mBERT is trained on 104 Wikipedias. Can mBERT leverage this for better performance? We find that using mBERT as a knowledge base yields varying performance across languages and pooling predictions across languages improves performance. Conversely, mBERT exhibits a language bias; e.g., when queried in Italian, it tends to predict Italy as the country of origin.
The size of the vocabulary is a central design choice in large pretrained language models, with respect to both performance and memory requirements. Typically, subword tokenization algorithms such as byte pair encoding and WordPiece are used. In this work, we investigate the compatibility of tokenizations for multilingual static and contextualized embedding spaces and propose a measure that reflects the compatibility of tokenizations across languages. Our goal is to prevent incompatible tokenizations, e.g., “wine” (word-level) in English vs. “v i n” (character-level) in French, which make it hard to learn good multilingual semantic representations. We show that our compatibility measure allows the system designer to create vocabularies across languages that are compatible – a desideratum that so far has been neglected in multilingual models.
With more than 7000 languages worldwide, multilingual natural language processing (NLP) is essential both from an academic and commercial perspective. Researching typological properties of languages is fundamental for progress in multilingual NLP. Examples include assessing language similarity for effective transfer learning, injecting inductive biases into machine learning models or creating resources such as dictionaries and inflection tables. We provide ParCourE, an online tool that allows to browse a word-aligned parallel corpus, covering 1334 languages. We give evidence that this is useful for typological research. ParCourE can be set up for any parallel corpus and can thus be used for typological research on other corpora as well as for exploring their quality and properties.
We present Graformer, a novel Transformer-based encoder-decoder architecture for graph-to-text generation. With our novel graph self-attention, the encoding of a node relies on all nodes in the input graph - not only direct neighbors - facilitating the detection of global patterns. We represent the relation between two nodes as the length of the shortest path between them. Graformer learns to weight these node-node relations differently for different attention heads, thus virtually learning differently connected views of the input graph. We evaluate Graformer on two popular graph-to-text generation benchmarks, AGENDA and WebNLG, where it achieves strong performance while using many fewer parameters than other approaches.
Recent research investigates factual knowledge stored in large pretrained language models (PLMs). Instead of structural knowledge base (KB) queries, masked sentences such as “Paris is the capital of [MASK]” are used as probes. The good performance on this analysis task has been interpreted as PLMs becoming potential repositories of factual knowledge. In experiments across ten linguistically diverse languages, we study knowledge contained in static embeddings. We show that, when restricting the output space to a candidate set, simple nearest neighbor matching using static embeddings performs better than PLMs. E.g., static embeddings perform 1.6% points better than BERT while just using 0.3% of energy for training. One important factor in their good comparative performance is that static embeddings are standardly learned for a large vocabulary. In contrast, BERT exploits its more sophisticated, but expensive ability to compose meaningful representations from a much smaller subword vocabulary.
Pretrained language models achieve state-of-the-art results on many NLP tasks, but there are still many open questions about how and why they work so well. We investigate the contextualization of words in BERT. We quantify the amount of contextualization, i.e., how well words are interpreted in context, by studying the extent to which semantic classes of a word can be inferred from its contextualized embedding. Quantifying contextualization helps in understanding and utilizing pretrained language models. We show that the top layer representations support highly accurate inference of semantic classes; that the strongest contextualization effects occur in the lower layers; that local context is mostly sufficient for contextualizing words; and that top layer representations are more task-specific after finetuning while lower layer representations are more transferable. Finetuning uncovers task-related features, but pretrained knowledge about contextualization is still well preserved.
Word alignments are useful for tasks like statistical and neural machine translation (NMT) and cross-lingual annotation projection. Statistical word aligners perform well, as do methods that extract alignments jointly with translations in NMT. However, most approaches require parallel training data and quality decreases as less training data is available. We propose word alignment methods that require no parallel data. The key idea is to leverage multilingual word embeddings – both static and contextualized – for word alignment. Our multilingual embeddings are created from monolingual data only without relying on any parallel data or dictionaries. We find that alignments created from embeddings are superior for four and comparable for two language pairs compared to those produced by traditional statistical aligners – even with abundant parallel data; e.g., contextualized embeddings achieve a word alignment F1 for English-German that is 5 percentage points higher than eflomal, a high-quality statistical aligner, trained on 100k parallel sentences.
Self-Attention Networks (SANs) are an integral part of successful neural architectures such as Transformer (Vaswani et al., 2017), and thus of pretrained language models such as BERT (Devlin et al., 2019) or GPT-3 (Brown et al., 2020). Training SANs on a task or pretraining them on language modeling requires large amounts of data and compute resources. We are searching for modifications to SANs that enable faster learning, i.e., higher accuracies after fewer update steps. We investigate three modifications to SANs: direct position interactions, learnable temperature, and convoluted attention. When evaluating them on part-of-speech tagging, we find that direct position interactions are an alternative to position embeddings, and convoluted attention has the potential to speed up the learning process.
Pretrained language models (PLMs) learn stereotypes held by humans and reflected in text from their training corpora, including gender bias. When PLMs are used for downstream tasks such as picking candidates for a job, people’s lives can be negatively affected by these learned stereotypes. Prior work usually identifies a linear gender subspace and removes gender information by eliminating the subspace. Following this line of work, we propose to use DensRay, an analytical method for obtaining interpretable dense subspaces. We show that DensRay performs on-par with prior approaches, but provide arguments that it is more robust and provide indications that it preserves language model performance better. By applying DensRay to attention heads and layers of BERT we show that gender information is spread across all attention heads and most of the layers. Also we show that DensRay can obtain gender bias scores on both token and sentence levels. Finally, we demonstrate that we can remove bias multilingually, e.g., from Chinese, using only English training data.
It has been shown that multilingual BERT (mBERT) yields high quality multilingual representations and enables effective zero-shot transfer. This is surprising given that mBERT does not use any crosslingual signal during training. While recent literature has studied this phenomenon, the reasons for the multilinguality are still somewhat obscure. We aim to identify architectural properties of BERT and linguistic properties of languages that are necessary for BERT to become multilingual. To allow for fast experimentation we propose an efficient setup with small BERT models trained on a mix of synthetic and natural data. Overall, we identify four architectural and two linguistic elements that influence multilinguality. Based on our insights, we experiment with a multilingual pretraining setup that modifies the masking strategy using VecMap, i.e., unsupervised embedding alignment. Experiments on XNLI with three languages indicate that our findings transfer from our small setup to larger scale settings.
Word embeddings are useful for a wide variety of tasks, but they lack interpretability. By rotating word spaces, interpretable dimensions can be identified while preserving the information contained in the embeddings without any loss. In this work, we investigate three methods for making word spaces interpretable by rotation: Densifier (Rothe et al., 2016), linear SVMs and DensRay, a new method we propose. In contrast to Densifier, DensRay can be computed in closed form, is hyperparameter-free and thus more robust than Densifier. We evaluate the three methods on lexicon induction and set-based word analogy. In addition we provide qualitative insights as to how interpretable word spaces can be used for removing gender bias from embeddings.
We present a new method for estimating vector space representations of words: embedding learning by concept induction. We test this method on a highly parallel corpus and learn semantic representations of words in 1259 different languages in a single common space. An extensive experimental evaluation on crosslingual word similarity and sentiment analysis indicates that concept-based multilingual embedding learning performs better than previous approaches.