The Devil is in the Errors: Leveraging Large Language Models for Fine-grained Machine Translation Evaluation

Patrick Fernandes
Mara Finkelstein
Parker Riley
André Martins
Graham Neubig
Ankush Garg
Conference on Machine Translation(2023)


Automatic evaluation of machine translation (MT) is a critical tool driving the rapid iterative development of MT systems. While considerable progress has been made on direct estimation of quality scores, the resulting metrics lack the informativeness of more detailed schemes that annotate individual errors, such as Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM). In this paper, we fill this gap by proposing \textbf{\textsc{AutoMQM}}, a prompting technique which leverages the \textit{reasoning} and \textit{in-context learning} capabilities of large language models (LLMs) and asks them to identify and categorize errors in translations. We start by evaluating recent LLMs, such as PaLM and PaLM-2, through simple \textit{score prediction} prompting, and we study the impact of labeled data through in-context learning and finetuning. We then evaluate \textsc{AutoMQM} with PaLM-2 models, and we find that it improves performance compared to just prompting for scores (with particularly large gains for larger models) while providing interpretability through error spans that align with human annotations.

Research Areas