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Inducing Sentence Structure from Parallel Corpora for Reordering

  • John DeNero
  • Jakob Uszkoreit
Proceedings of the 2011 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), Association for Computational Linguistics


When translating among languages that differ substantially in word order, machine translation (MT) systems benefit from syntactic preordering—an approach that uses features from a syntactic parse to permute source words into a target-language-like order. This paper presents a method for inducing parse trees automatically from a parallel corpus, instead of using a supervised parser trained on a treebank. These induced parses are used to preorder source sentences. We demonstrate that our induced parser is effective: it not only improves a state-of-the-art phrase-based system with integrated reordering, but also approaches the performance of a recent preordering method based on a supervised parser. These results show that the syntactic structure which is relevant to MT pre-ordering can be learned automatically from parallel text, thus establishing a new application for unsupervised grammar induction.

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