Machine-oriented NMT Adaptation for Zero-shot NLP tasks: Comparing the Usefulness of Close and Distant Languages

Amirhossein Tebbifakhr, Matteo Negri, Marco Turchi


Abstract
Neural Machine Translation (NMT) models are typically trained by considering humans as end-users and maximizing human-oriented objectives. However, in some scenarios, their output is consumed by automatic NLP components rather than by humans. In these scenarios, translations’ quality is measured in terms of their “fitness for purpose” (i.e. maximizing performance of external NLP tools) rather than in terms of standard human fluency/adequacy criteria. Recently, reinforcement learning techniques exploiting the feedback from downstream NLP tools have been proposed for “machine-oriented” NMT adaptation. In this work, we tackle the problem in a multilingual setting where a single NMT model translates from multiple languages for downstream automatic processing in the target language. Knowledge sharing across close and distant languages allows to apply our machine-oriented approach in the zero-shot setting where no labeled data for the test language is seen at training time. Moreover, we incorporate multi-lingual BERT in the source side of our NMT system to benefit from the knowledge embedded in this model. Our experiments show coherent performance gains, for different language directions over both i) “generic” NMT models (trained for human consumption), and ii) fine-tuned multilingual BERT. This gain for zero-shot language directions (e.g. Spanish–English) is higher when the models are fine-tuned on a closely-related source language (Italian) than a distant one (German).
Anthology ID:
2020.vardial-1.4
Volume:
Proceedings of the 7th Workshop on NLP for Similar Languages, Varieties and Dialects
Month:
December
Year:
2020
Address:
Barcelona, Spain (Online)
Venues:
COLING | VarDial
SIG:
Publisher:
International Committee on Computational Linguistics (ICCL)
Note:
Pages:
36–46
Language:
URL:
https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/2020.vardial-1.4
DOI:
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http://aclanthology.lst.uni-saarland.de/2020.vardial-1.4.pdf