Stephanie Brandl


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How Conservative are Language Models? Adapting to the Introduction of Gender-Neutral Pronouns
Stephanie Brandl | Ruixiang Cui | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Gender-neutral pronouns have recently been introduced in many languages to a) include non-binary people and b) as a generic singular. Recent results from psycholinguistics suggest that gender-neutral pronouns (in Swedish) are not associated with human processing difficulties. This, we show, is in sharp contrast with automated processing. We show that gender-neutral pronouns in Danish, English, and Swedish are associated with higher perplexity, more dispersed attention patterns, and worse downstream performance. We argue that such conservativity in language models may limit widespread adoption of gender-neutral pronouns and must therefore be resolved.

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Do Transformer Models Show Similar Attention Patterns to Task-Specific Human Gaze?
Oliver Eberle | Stephanie Brandl | Jonas Pilot | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Learned self-attention functions in state-of-the-art NLP models often correlate with human attention. We investigate whether self-attention in large-scale pre-trained language models is as predictive of human eye fixation patterns during task-reading as classical cognitive models of human attention. We compare attention functions across two task-specific reading datasets for sentiment analysis and relation extraction. We find the predictiveness of large-scale pre-trained self-attention for human attention depends on ‘what is in the tail’, e.g., the syntactic nature of rare contexts.Further, we observe that task-specific fine-tuning does not increase the correlation with human task-specific reading. Through an input reduction experiment we give complementary insights on the sparsity and fidelity trade-off, showing that lower-entropy attention vectors are more faithful.

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Challenges and Strategies in Cross-Cultural NLP
Daniel Hershcovich | Stella Frank | Heather Lent | Miryam de Lhoneux | Mostafa Abdou | Stephanie Brandl | Emanuele Bugliarello | Laura Cabello Piqueras | Ilias Chalkidis | Ruixiang Cui | Constanza Fierro | Katerina Margatina | Phillip Rust | Anders Søgaard
Proceedings of the 60th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (Volume 1: Long Papers)

Various efforts in the Natural Language Processing (NLP) community have been made to accommodate linguistic diversity and serve speakers of many different languages. However, it is important to acknowledge that speakers and the content they produce and require, vary not just by language, but also by culture. Although language and culture are tightly linked, there are important differences. Analogous to cross-lingual and multilingual NLP, cross-cultural and multicultural NLP considers these differences in order to better serve users of NLP systems. We propose a principled framework to frame these efforts, and survey existing and potential strategies.

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A Cross-lingual Comparison of Human and Model Relative Word Importance
Felix Morger | Stephanie Brandl | Lisa Beinborn | Nora Hollenstein
Proceedings of the 2022 CLASP Conference on (Dis)embodiment

Relative word importance is a key metric for natural language processing. In this work, we compare human and model relative word importance to investigate if pretrained neural language models focus on the same words as humans cross-lingually. We perform an extensive study using several importance metrics (gradient-based saliency and attention-based) in monolingual and multilingual models, including eye-tracking corpora from four languages (German, Dutch, English, and Russian). We find that gradient-based saliency, first-layer attention, and attention flow correlate strongly with human eye-tracking data across all four languages. We further analyze the role of word length and word frequency in determining relative importance and find that it strongly correlates with length and frequency, however, the mechanisms behind these non-linear relations remain elusive. We obtain a cross-lingual approximation of the similarity between human and computational language processing and insights into the usability of several importance metrics.


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Times Are Changing: Investigating the Pace of Language Change in Diachronic Word Embeddings
Stephanie Brandl | David Lassner
Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Computational Approaches to Historical Language Change

We propose Word Embedding Networks, a novel method that is able to learn word embeddings of individual data slices while simultaneously aligning and ordering them without feeding temporal information a priori to the model. This gives us the opportunity to analyse the dynamics in word embeddings on a large scale in a purely data-driven manner. In experiments on two different newspaper corpora, the New York Times (English) and die Zeit (German), we were able to show that time actually determines the dynamics of semantic change. However, there is by no means a uniform evolution, but instead times of faster and times of slower change.