Sebastian Vincent


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MTCue: Learning Zero-Shot Control of Extra-Textual Attributes by Leveraging Unstructured Context in Neural Machine Translation
Sebastian Vincent | Robert Flynn | Carolina Scarton
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: ACL 2023

Efficient utilisation of both intra- and extra-textual context remains one of the critical gaps between machine and human translation. Existing research has primarily focused on providing individual, well-defined types of context in translation, such as the surrounding text or discrete external variables like the speaker’s gender. This work introduces MTCue, a novel neural machine translation (NMT) framework that interprets all context (including discrete variables) as text. MTCue learns an abstract representation of context, enabling transferability across different data settings and leveraging similar attributes in low-resource scenarios. With a focus on a dialogue domain with access to document and metadata context, we extensively evaluate MTCue in four language pairs in both translation directions. Our framework demonstrates significant improvements in translation quality over a parameter-matched non-contextual baseline, as measured by BLEU (+0.88) and Comet (+1.58). Moreover, MTCue significantly outperforms a “tagging” baseline at translating English text. Analysis reveals that the context encoder of MTCue learns a representation space that organises context based on specific attributes, such as formality, enabling effective zero-shot control. Pre-training on context embeddings also improves MTCue’s few-shot performance compared to the “tagging” baseline. Finally, an ablation study conducted on model components and contextual variables further supports the robustness of MTCue for context-based NMT.


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Controlling Formality in Low-Resource NMT with Domain Adaptation and Re-Ranking: SLT-CDT-UoS at IWSLT2022
Sebastian Vincent | Loïc Barrault | Carolina Scarton
Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Spoken Language Translation (IWSLT 2022)

This paper describes the SLT-CDT-UoS group’s submission to the first Special Task on Formality Control for Spoken Language Translation, part of the IWSLT 2022 Evaluation Campaign. Our efforts were split between two fronts: data engineering and altering the objective function for best hypothesis selection. We used language-independent methods to extract formal and informal sentence pairs from the provided corpora; using English as a pivot language, we propagated formality annotations to languages treated as zero-shot in the task; we also further improved formality controlling with a hypothesis re-ranking approach. On the test sets for English-to-German and English-to-Spanish, we achieved an average accuracy of .935 within the constrained setting and .995 within unconstrained setting. In a zero-shot setting for English-to-Russian and English-to-Italian, we scored average accuracy of .590 for constrained setting and .659 for unconstrained.


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Towards Personalised and Document-level Machine Translation of Dialogue
Sebastian Vincent
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Student Research Workshop

State-of-the-art (SOTA) neural machine translation (NMT) systems translate texts at sentence level, ignoring context: intra-textual information, like the previous sentence, and extra-textual information, like the gender of the speaker. As a result, some sentences are translated incorrectly. Personalised NMT (PersNMT) and document-level NMT (DocNMT) incorporate this information into the translation process. Both fields are relatively new and previous work within them is limited. Moreover, there are no readily available robust evaluation metrics for them, which makes it difficult to develop better systems, as well as track global progress and compare different methods. This thesis proposal focuses on PersNMT and DocNMT for the domain of dialogue extracted from TV subtitles in five languages: English, Brazilian Portuguese, German, French and Polish. Three main challenges are addressed: (1) incorporating extra-textual information directly into NMT systems; (2) improving the machine translation of cohesion devices; (3) reliable evaluation for PersNMT and DocNMT.