Herman Kamper


2020

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Participatory Research for Low-resourced Machine Translation: A Case Study in African Languages
Wilhelmina Nekoto | Vukosi Marivate | Tshinondiwa Matsila | Timi Fasubaa | Taiwo Fagbohungbe | Solomon Oluwole Akinola | Shamsuddeen Muhammad | Salomon Kabongo Kabenamualu | Salomey Osei | Freshia Sackey | Rubungo Andre Niyongabo | Ricky Macharm | Perez Ogayo | Orevaoghene Ahia | Musie Meressa Berhe | Mofetoluwa Adeyemi | Masabata Mokgesi-Selinga | Lawrence Okegbemi | Laura Martinus | Kolawole Tajudeen | Kevin Degila | Kelechi Ogueji | Kathleen Siminyu | Julia Kreutzer | Jason Webster | Jamiil Toure Ali | Jade Abbott | Iroro Orife | Ignatius Ezeani | Idris Abdulkadir Dangana | Herman Kamper | Hady Elsahar | Goodness Duru | Ghollah Kioko | Murhabazi Espoir | Elan van Biljon | Daniel Whitenack | Christopher Onyefuluchi | Chris Chinenye Emezue | Bonaventure F. P. Dossou | Blessing Sibanda | Blessing Bassey | Ayodele Olabiyi | Arshath Ramkilowan | Alp Öktem | Adewale Akinfaderin | Abdallah Bashir
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2020

Research in NLP lacks geographic diversity, and the question of how NLP can be scaled to low-resourced languages has not yet been adequately solved. ‘Low-resourced’-ness is a complex problem going beyond data availability and reflects systemic problems in society. In this paper, we focus on the task of Machine Translation (MT), that plays a crucial role for information accessibility and communication worldwide. Despite immense improvements in MT over the past decade, MT is centered around a few high-resourced languages. As MT researchers cannot solve the problem of low-resourcedness alone, we propose participatory research as a means to involve all necessary agents required in the MT development process. We demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of participatory research with a case study on MT for African languages. Its implementation leads to a collection of novel translation datasets, MT benchmarks for over 30 languages, with human evaluations for a third of them, and enables participants without formal training to make a unique scientific contribution. Benchmarks, models, data, code, and evaluation results are released at https://github.com/masakhane-io/masakhane-mt.

2019

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Pre-training on high-resource speech recognition improves low-resource speech-to-text translation
Sameer Bansal | Herman Kamper | Karen Livescu | Adam Lopez | Sharon Goldwater
Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)

We present a simple approach to improve direct speech-to-text translation (ST) when the source language is low-resource: we pre-train the model on a high-resource automatic speech recognition (ASR) task, and then fine-tune its parameters for ST. We demonstrate that our approach is effective by pre-training on 300 hours of English ASR data to improve Spanish English ST from 10.8 to 20.2 BLEU when only 20 hours of Spanish-English ST training data are available. Through an ablation study, we find that the pre-trained encoder (acoustic model) accounts for most of the improvement, despite the fact that the shared language in these tasks is the target language text, not the source language audio. Applying this insight, we show that pre-training on ASR helps ST even when the ASR language differs from both source and target ST languages: pre-training on French ASR also improves Spanish-English ST. Finally, we show that the approach improves performance on a true low-resource task: pre-training on a combination of English ASR and French ASR improves Mboshi-French ST, where only 4 hours of data are available, from 3.5 to 7.1 BLEU.

2017

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Towards speech-to-text translation without speech recognition
Sameer Bansal | Herman Kamper | Adam Lopez | Sharon Goldwater
Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Volume 2, Short Papers

We explore the problem of translating speech to text in low-resource scenarios where neither automatic speech recognition (ASR) nor machine translation (MT) are available, but we have training data in the form of audio paired with text translations. We present the first system for this problem applied to a realistic multi-speaker dataset, the CALLHOME Spanish-English speech translation corpus. Our approach uses unsupervised term discovery (UTD) to cluster repeated patterns in the audio, creating a pseudotext, which we pair with translations to create a parallel text and train a simple bag-of-words MT model. We identify the challenges faced by the system, finding that the difficulty of cross-speaker UTD results in low recall, but that our system is still able to correctly translate some content words in test data.