Workshop on Machine Translation for Semitic languages: issues and approaches

Anthology ID:
September 23-27
New Orleans, USA
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Semitic linguistic phenomena and variations
Nizar Habash

SMTTIDES – and all that
Stephan Vogel

The CMU Arabic-to-English statistical MT system
Alicia Tribble | Stephan Vogel

Issues in Arabic MT
Alex Fraser

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Roots & patterns vs. stems plus grammar-lexis specifications: on what basis should a multilingual database centred on Arabic be built?
Joseph Dichy | Ali Farghaly

Machine translation engines draw on various types of databases. This paper is concerned with Arabic as a source or target language, and focuses on lexical databases. The non-concatenative nature of Arabic morphology, the complex structure of Arabic word-forms, and the general use of vowel-free writing present a real challenge to NLP developers. We show here how and why a stem-grounded lexical database, the items of which are associated with grammar-lexis specifications – as opposed to a root-&-pattern database –, is motivated both linguistically and with regards to efficiency, economy and modularity. Arguments in favour of databases relying on stems associated with grammar-lexis specifications (such as DIINAR.1 or the Arabic dB under development at SYSTRAN), rather than on roots and patterns, are the following: (a) The latter include huge numbers of rule-generated word-forms, which do not actually appear in the language. (b) Rule-generated lemmas – as opposed to existing ones – are widely under-specified with regards to grammar-lexis relations. (c) In a Semitic language such as Arabic, the mapping of grammar-lexis specifications that need to be associated with every lexical entry of the database is decisive. (d) These specifications can only be included in a stem-based dB. Points (a) to (d) are crucial and in the context of machine translation involving Arabic.

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Inductive coding of the Arabic lexicon
Ali Farghaly | Jean Senellart

SYSTRAN started the design and the development of Arabic, Farsi and Urdu to English machine translation systems in July 2002. This paper describes the methodology and implementation adopted for dictionary building and morphological analysis. SYSTRAN’s IntuitiveCoding® technology (ICT) for facilitates the creation, update, and maintenance of Arabic, Farsi and Urdu lexical entries, is more modular and less costly. ICT for Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu requires the implementation of stem-based lexical entries, the authentic scripts for each language, a statistical Arabic stem-guesser, and separate declarative modules for internal and external morphology.

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Application of corpus-based techniques to Amharic texts
Sisay Fissaha | Johann Haller

A number of corpus-based techniques have been used in the development of natural language processing application. One area in which these techniques have extensively been applied is lexical development. The current work is being undertaken in the context of a machine translation project in which lexical development activities constitute a significant portion of the overall task. In the first part, we applied corpus-based techniques to the extraction of collocations from Amharic text corpus. Analysis of the output reveals important collocations that can usefully be incorporated in the lexicon. This is especially true for the extraction of idiomatic expressions. The patterns of idiom formation which are observed in a small manually collected data enabled extraction of large set of idioms which otherwise may be difficult or impossible to recognize. Furthermore, preliminary results of other corpus-based techniques, that is, clustering and classification, that are currently being under investigation are presented. The results show that clustering performed no better than the frequency base line whereas classification showed a clear performance improvement over the frequency base line. This in turn suggests the need to carry out further experiments using large sets of data and more contextual information.

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Towards semantic composition of Arabic: a λ-DRT based approach
Bassam Haddad | Mustafa Yaseen

This paper addresses issues related to employing logic-based semantic composition as a meaning representation for Arabic within a unification-based syntax-semantics interface. Since semantic representation has to be compositional on the level of semantic processing λ-calculus based on Discourse Representation Theory can be utilized as a helpful and practical technique for the semantic construction of ARABIC in Arabic understanding systems. As ARABIC computational linguistics is also short of feature-based compositional syntax-semantics interfaces we hope that this approach might be a further motivation to redirect research to modern semantic construction techniques for developing an adequate model of semantic processing for Arabic and even no existing formal theory is capable to provide a complete and consistent account of all phenomena involved in Arabic semantic processing.

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A corpus based morphological analyzer for unvocalized modern Hebrew
Alon Itai | Erel Segal

Most words in Modern Hebrew texts are morphologically ambiguous. We describe a method for finding the correct morphological analysis of each word in a Modern Hebrew text. The program first uses a small tagged corpus to estimate the probability of each possible analysis of each word regardless of its context and chooses the most probable analysis. It then applies automatically learned rules to correct the analysis of each word according to its neighbors. Finally, it uses a simple syntactical analyzer to further correct the analysis, thus combining statistical methods with rule-based syntactic analysis. It is shown that this combination greatly improves the accuracy of the morphological analysis—achieving up to 96.2% accuracy.

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A chart parser for analyzing modern standard Arabic sentence
Eman Othman | Khaled Shaalan | Ahmed Rafea

The parsing of Arabic sentence is a necessary prerequisite for many natural language processing applications such as machine translation and information retrieval. In this paper we report our attempt to develop an efficient chart parser for Analyzing Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) sentence. From a practical point of view, the parser is able to satisfy syntactic constraints reducing parsing ambiguity. Lexical semantic features are also used to disambiguate the sentence structure. We explain also an Arabic morphological analyzer based on ATN technique. Both the Arabic parser and the Arabic morphological analyzer are implemented in Prolog. The linguistic rules were acquired from a set of sentences from MSA sentence in the Agriculture domain.

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A two-level syntax-based approach to Arabic-English statistical machine translation
Charles Schafer | David Yarowsky

We formulate an original model for statistical machine translation (SMT) inspired by characteristics of the Arabic-English translation task. Our approach incorporates part-of-speech tags and linguistically motivated phrase chunks in a 2-level shallow syntactic model of reordering. We implement and evaluate this model, showing it to have advantageous properties and to be competitive with an existing SMT baseline. We also describe cross-categorial lexical translation coercion, an interesting component and side-effect of our approach. Finally, we discuss the novel implementation of decoding for this model which saves much development work by constructing finite-state machine (FSM) representations of translation probability distributions and using generic FSM operations for search. Algorithmic details, examples and results focus on Arabic, and the paper includes discussion on the issues and challenges of Arabic statistical machine translation.

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Resources for processing Israeli Hebrew
Shuly Wintner | Shlomo Yona

We describe work in progress whose main objective is to create a collection of resources and tools for processing Hebrew. These resources include corpora of written texts, some of them annotated in various degrees of detail; tools for collecting, expanding and maintaining corpora; tools for annotation; lexicons, both monolingual and bilingual; a rule-based, linguistically motivated morphological analyzer and generator; and a WordNet for Hebrew. We emphasize the methodological issue of well-defined standards for the resources to be developed. The design of the resources guarantees their reusability, such that the output of one system can naturally be the input to another.