Who, What, When, Where, Why? Comparing Multiple Approaches to the Cross-Lingual 5W Task


Parton, K., McKeown, K., Coyne, R. E., Diab, M. T., Grishman, R., Hakkani-Tür, D., … & Yaman, S. (2009). Who, what, when, where, why? comparing multiple approaches to the cross-lingual 5w task.


Cross-lingual tasks are especially difficult due to the compounding effect of errors in language processing and errors in machine translation (MT). In this paper, we present an error analysis of a new cross-lingual task: the 5W task, a sentence-level understanding task which seeks to return the English 5W’s (Who, What, When, Where and Why) corresponding to a Chinese sentence. We analyze systems that we developed, identifying specific problems in language processing and MT that cause errors. The best cross-lingual 5W system was still 19% worse than the best monolingual 5W system, which shows that MT significantly degrades sentence-level understanding. Neither source-language nor target language analysis was able to circumvent problems in MT, although each approach had advantages relative to the other. A detailed error analysis across multiple systems suggests directions for future research on the problem.

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