Textual Augmentation Techniques Applied to Low Resource Machine Translation: Case of Swahili

12 Jun 2023  ·  Catherine Gitau, Vukosi Marivate ·

In this work we investigate the impact of applying textual data augmentation tasks to low resource machine translation. There has been recent interest in investigating approaches for training systems for languages with limited resources and one popular approach is the use of data augmentation techniques. Data augmentation aims to increase the quantity of data that is available to train the system. In machine translation, majority of the language pairs around the world are considered low resource because they have little parallel data available and the quality of neural machine translation (NMT) systems depend a lot on the availability of sizable parallel corpora. We study and apply three simple data augmentation techniques popularly used in text classification tasks; synonym replacement, random insertion and contextual data augmentation and compare their performance with baseline neural machine translation for English-Swahili (En-Sw) datasets. We also present results in BLEU, ChrF and Meteor scores. Overall, the contextual data augmentation technique shows some improvements both in the $EN \rightarrow SW$ and $SW \rightarrow EN$ directions. We see that there is potential to use these methods in neural machine translation when more extensive experiments are done with diverse datasets.

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