Investigating Low-resource Machine Translation for English-to-Tamil

Statistical machine translation (SMT) which was the dominant paradigm in machine translation (MT) research for nearly three decades has recently been superseded by the end-to-end deep learning approaches to MT. Although deep neural models produce state-of-the-art results in many translation tasks, they are found to under-perform on resource-poor scenarios. Despite some success, none of the present-day benchmarks that have tried to overcome this problem can be regarded as a universal solution to the problem of translation of many low-resource languages. In this work, we investigate the performance of phrase-based SMT (PB-SMT) and neural MT (NMT) on a rarely-tested low-resource language-pair, English-to-Tamil, taking a specialised data domain (software localisation) into consideration. In particular, we produce rankings of our MT systems via a social media platform-based human evaluation scheme, and demonstrate our findings in the low-resource domain-specific text translation task.

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