Computational Linguistics, Volume 46, Issue 4 - December 2020

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Sparse Transcription
Steven Bird

The transcription bottleneck is often cited as a major obstacle for efforts to document the world’s endangered languages and supply them with language technologies. One solution is to extend methods from automatic speech recognition and machine translation, and recruit linguists to provide narrow phonetic transcriptions and sentence-aligned translations. However, I believe that these approaches are not a good fit with the available data and skills, or with long-established practices that are essentially word-based. In seeking a more effective approach, I consider a century of transcription practice and a wide range of computational approaches, before proposing a computational model based on spoken term detection that I call “sparse transcription.” This represents a shift away from current assumptions that we transcribe phones, transcribe fully, and transcribe first. Instead, sparse transcription combines the older practice of word-level transcription with interpretive, iterative, and interactive processes that are amenable to wider participation and that open the way to new methods for processing oral languages.

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Efficient Outside Computation
Daniel Gildea

Weighted deduction systems provide a framework for describing parsing algorithms that can be used with a variety of operations for combining the values of partial derivations. For some operations, inside values can be computed efficiently, but outside values cannot. We view out-side values as functions from inside values to the total value of all derivations, and we analyze outside computation in terms of function composition. This viewpoint helps explain why efficient outside computation is possible in many settings, despite the lack of a general outside algorithm for semiring operations.

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What Should/Do/Can LSTMs Learn When Parsing Auxiliary Verb Constructions?
Miryam de Lhoneux | Sara Stymne | Joakim Nivre

There is a growing interest in investigating what neural NLP models learn about language. A prominent open question is the question of whether or not it is necessary to model hierarchical structure. We present a linguistic investigation of a neural parser adding insights to this question. We look at transitivity and agreement information of auxiliary verb constructions (AVCs) in comparison to finite main verbs (FMVs). This comparison is motivated by theoretical work in dependency grammar and in particular the work of Tesnière (1959), where AVCs and FMVs are both instances of a nucleus, the basic unit of syntax. An AVC is a dissociated nucleus; it consists of at least two words, and an FMV is its non-dissociated counterpart, consisting of exactly one word. We suggest that the representation of AVCs and FMVs should capture similar information. We use diagnostic classifiers to probe agreement and transitivity information in vectors learned by a transition-based neural parser in four typologically different languages. We find that the parser learns different information about AVCs and FMVs if only sequential models (BiLSTMs) are used in the architecture but similar information when a recursive layer is used. We find explanations for why this is the case by looking closely at how information is learned in the network and looking at what happens with different dependency representations of AVCs. We conclude that there may be benefits to using a recursive layer in dependency parsing and that we have not yet found the best way to integrate it in our parsers.

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A Graph-Based Framework for Structured Prediction Tasks in Sanskrit
Amrith Krishna | Bishal Santra | Ashim Gupta | Pavankumar Satuluri | Pawan Goyal

We propose a framework using energy-based models for multiple structured prediction tasks in Sanskrit. Ours is an arc-factored model, similar to the graph-based parsing approaches, and we consider the tasks of word segmentation, morphological parsing, dependency parsing, syntactic linearization, and prosodification, a “prosody-level” task we introduce in this work. Ours is a search-based structured prediction framework, which expects a graph as input, where relevant linguistic information is encoded in the nodes, and the edges are then used to indicate the association between these nodes. Typically, the state-of-the-art models for morphosyntactic tasks in morphologically rich languages still rely on hand-crafted features for their performance. But here, we automate the learning of the feature function. The feature function so learned, along with the search space we construct, encode relevant linguistic information for the tasks we consider. This enables us to substantially reduce the training data requirements to as low as 10%, as compared to the data requirements for the neural state-of-the-art models. Our experiments in Czech and Sanskrit show the language-agnostic nature of the framework, where we train highly competitive models for both the languages. Moreover, our framework enables us to incorporate language-specific constraints to prune the search space and to filter the candidates during inference. We obtain significant improvements in morphosyntactic tasks for Sanskrit by incorporating language-specific constraints into the model. In all the tasks we discuss for Sanskrit, we either achieve state-of-the-art results or ours is the only data-driven solution for those tasks.

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Multi-SimLex: A Large-Scale Evaluation of Multilingual and Crosslingual Lexical Semantic Similarity
Ivan Vulić | Simon Baker | Edoardo Maria Ponti | Ulla Petti | Ira Leviant | Kelly Wing | Olga Majewska | Eden Bar | Matt Malone | Thierry Poibeau | Roi Reichart | Anna Korhonen

We introduce Multi-SimLex, a large-scale lexical resource and evaluation benchmark covering data sets for 12 typologically diverse languages, including major languages (e.g., Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Russian) as well as less-resourced ones (e.g., Welsh, Kiswahili). Each language data set is annotated for the lexical relation of semantic similarity and contains 1,888 semantically aligned concept pairs, providing a representative coverage of word classes (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs), frequency ranks, similarity intervals, lexical fields, and concreteness levels. Additionally, owing to the alignment of concepts across languages, we provide a suite of 66 crosslingual semantic similarity data sets. Because of its extensive size and language coverage, Multi-SimLex provides entirely novel opportunities for experimental evaluation and analysis. On its monolingual and crosslingual benchmarks, we evaluate and analyze a wide array of recent state-of-the-art monolingual and crosslingual representation models, including static and contextualized word embeddings (such as fastText, monolingual and multilingual BERT, XLM), externally informed lexical representations, as well as fully unsupervised and (weakly) supervised crosslingual word embeddings. We also present a step-by-step data set creation protocol for creating consistent, Multi-Simlex–style resources for additional languages. We make these contributions—the public release of Multi-SimLex data sets, their creation protocol, strong baseline results, and in-depth analyses which can be helpful in guiding future developments in multilingual lexical semantics and representation learning—available via a Web site that will encourage community effort in further expansion of Multi-Simlex to many more languages. Such a large-scale semantic resource could inspire significant further advances in NLP across languages.