How does Grammatical Gender Affect Noun Representations in Gender-Marking Languages?

Hila Gonen, Yova Kementchedjhieva, Yoav Goldberg


Abstract
Many natural languages assign grammatical gender also to inanimate nouns in the language. In such languages, words that relate to the gender-marked nouns are inflected to agree with the noun’s gender. We show that this affects the word representations of inanimate nouns, resulting in nouns with the same gender being closer to each other than nouns with different gender. While “embedding debiasing” methods fail to remove the effect, we demonstrate that a careful application of methods that neutralize grammatical gender signals from the words’ context when training word embeddings is effective in removing it. Fixing the grammatical gender bias results in a positive effect on the quality of the resulting word embeddings, both in monolingual and cross lingual settings. We note that successfully removing gender signals, while achievable, is not trivial to do and that a language-specific morphological analyzer, together with careful usage of it, are essential for achieving good results.
Anthology ID:
W19-3622
Volume:
Proceedings of the 2019 Workshop on Widening NLP
Month:
August
Year:
2019
Address:
Florence, Italy
Venues:
ACL | WS | WiNLP
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
64–67
Language:
URL:
https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/W19-3622
DOI:
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