A Challenge Set Approach to Evaluating Machine Translation

Abstract

Neural machine translation represents an exciting leap forward in translation quality. But what longstanding weaknesses does it resolve, and which remain? We address these questions with a challenge set approach to translation evaluation and error analysis. A challenge set consists of a small set of sentences, each hand-designed to probe a system’s capacity to bridge a particular structural divergence between languages. To exemplify this approach, we present an English–French challenge set, and use it to analyze phrase-based and neural systems. The resulting analysis provides not only a more fine-grained picture of the strengths of neural systems, but also insight into which linguistic phenomena remain out of reach.

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