NoDaLiDa 2023 - May 22-24, 2023


Machine vs. Human: Exploring the Impact of Commercial Machine Translation Systems on German

Anastassia Shaitarova, Anne Göhring, Martin Volk

Machine Translation (MT) has become an integral part of daily life for millions of people, with its output being so fluent that users often cannot distinguish it from human translation. However, these fluid texts often harbor algorithmic traces, from limited lexical choices to societal misrepresentations. This raises concerns about the possible effects of MT on natural language and human communication and calls for regular evaluations of machine-generated translations for different languages. Our paper explores the output of three widely used engines (Google, DeepL, Microsoft Azure) and one smaller commercial system. We translate the English and French source texts of seven diverse parallel corpora into German and compare MT-produced texts to human references in terms of lexical, syntactic, and morphological features. Additionally, we investigate how MT leverages lexical borrowings and analyse the distribution of anglicisms across the German translations. 

Multi-way Variational NMT for UGC: Improving Robustness in Zero-shot Scenarios via Mixture Density Networks

José Carlos Rosales Núñez, Djamé Seddah, Guillaume Wisniewski

This work presents a novel Variational Neural Machine Translation (VNMT) architecture with enhanced robustness properties, which we investigate through a detailed case-study addressing noisy French user-generated content (UGC) translation to English. We show that the proposed model, with results comparable or superior to state-of-the-art VNMT, improves performance over UGC translation in a zero-shot evaluation scenario while  keeping optimal translation scores on in-domain test sets. We elaborate on such results by visualizing and explaining how neural learning representations behave when processing UGC noise. In addition, we show that VNMT enforces robustness to the learned embeddings, which can be later used for robust transfer learning approaches. 

Filtering Matters: Experiments in Filtering Training Sets for Machine Translation

Steinþór Steingrímsson, Hrafn Loftsson, Andy Way

We explore different approaches for filtering parallel data for MT training, whether the same filtering approaches suit different datasets, and if separate filters should be applied to a dataset depending on the translation direction. We evaluate the results of different approaches, both manually and on a downstream NMT task. We find that, first, it is beneficial to inspect how well different filtering approaches suit different datasets and, second, that while MT systems trained on data prepared using different filters do not differ substantially in quality, there is indeed a statistically significant difference. Finally, we find that the same training sets do not seem to suit different translation directions. 

Machine Translation for Low-resource Finno-Ugric Languages

Lisa Yankovskaya, Maali Tars, Andre Tättar, Mark Fishel

This paper focuses on neural machine translation (NMT) for low-resource Finno-Ugric languages. Our contributions are three-fold: (1) we extend existing and collect new parallel and monolingual corpora for 20 languages, (2) we expand the 200-language translation benchmark FLORES-200 with manual translations into nine new languages, and (3) we present experiments using the collected data to create NMT systems for the included languages and investigate the impact of back-translation data on the NMT performance for low-resource languages. Experimental results show that carefully selected limited amounts of back-translation directions yield the best results in terms of translation scores, for both high-resource and low-resource output languages.