Transfer learning has proven to be crucial in advancing the state of speech and natural language processing research in recent years. In speech, a model pre-trained by self-supervised learning transfers remarkably well on multiple tasks. However, the lack of a consistent evaluation methodology is limiting towards a holistic understanding of the efficacy of such models. SUPERB was a step towards introducing a common benchmark to evaluate pre-trained models across various speech tasks. In this paper, we introduce SUPERB-SG, a new benchmark focusing on evaluating the semantic and generative capabilities of pre-trained models by increasing task diversity and difficulty over SUPERB. We use a lightweight methodology to test the robustness of representations learned by pre-trained models under shifts in data domain and quality across different types of tasks. It entails freezing pre-trained model parameters, only using simple task-specific trainable heads. The goal is to be inclusive of all researchers, and encourage efficient use of computational resources. We also show that the task diversity of SUPERB-SG coupled with limited task supervision is an effective recipe for evaluating the generalizability of model representation.
Documentation of endangered languages (ELs) has become increasingly urgent as thousands of languages are on the verge of disappearing by the end of the 21st century. One challenging aspect of documentation is to develop machine learning tools to automate the processing of EL audio via automatic speech recognition (ASR), machine translation (MT), or speech translation (ST). This paper presents an open-access speech translation corpus of Highland Puebla Nahuatl (glottocode high1278), an EL spoken in central Mexico. It then addresses machine learning contributions to endangered language documentation and argues for the importance of speech translation as a key element in the documentation process. In our experiments, we observed that state-of-the-art end-to-end ST models could outperform a cascaded ST (ASR > MT) pipeline when translating endangered language documentation materials.