Uri Berger


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A Large-Scale Multilingual Study of Visual Constraints on Linguistic Selection of Descriptions
Uri Berger | Lea Frermann | Gabriel Stanovsky | Omri Abend
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

We present a large, multilingual study into how vision constrains linguistic choice, covering four languages and five linguistic properties, such as verb transitivity or use of numerals. We propose a novel method that leverages existing corpora of images with captions written by native speakers, and apply it to nine corpora, comprising 600k images and 3M captions. We study the relation between visual input and linguistic choices by training classifiers to predict the probability of expressing a property from raw images, and find evidence supporting the claim that linguistic properties are constrained by visual context across languages. We complement this investigation with a corpus study, taking the test case of numerals. Specifically, we use existing annotations (number or type of objects) to investigate the effect of different visual conditions on the use of numeral expressions in captions, and show that similar patterns emerge across languages. Our methods and findings both confirm and extend existing research in the cognitive literature. We additionally discuss possible applications for language generation.


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A Computational Acquisition Model for Multimodal Word Categorization
Uri Berger | Gabriel Stanovsky | Omri Abend | Lea Frermann
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies

Recent advances in self-supervised modeling of text and images open new opportunities for computational models of child language acquisition, which is believed to rely heavily on cross-modal signals. However, prior studies has been limited by their reliance on vision models trained on large image datasets annotated with a pre-defined set of depicted object categories. This is (a) not faithful to the information children receive and (b) prohibits the evaluation of such models with respect to category learning tasks, due to the pre-imposed category structure. We address this gap, and present a cognitively-inspired, multimodal acquisition model, trained from image-caption pairs on naturalistic data using cross-modal self-supervision. We show that the model learns word categories and object recognition abilities, and presents trends reminiscent of ones reported in the developmental literature.