Sakura’s Participation in WAT 2021: Effectiveness of Pretrained Models for Multilingual and Multimodal Machine Translation

Author: Raymond Susanto, Dongzhe Wang, Sunil Kumar Yadav, Mausam Jain, Ohnmar Htun


This paper introduces our neural machine translation systems’ participation in the WAT 2021 shared translation tasks (team ID: sakura). We participated in the (i) NICT-SAP, (ii) Japanese-English multimodal translation, (iii) Multilingual Indic, and (iv) Myanmar-English translation tasks. Multilingual approaches such as mBART (Liu et al., 2020) are capable of pre-training a complete, multilingual sequence-to-sequence model through denoising objectives, making it a great starting point for building multilingual translation systems. Our main focus in this work is to investigate the effectiveness of multilingual finetuning on such a multilingual language model on various translation tasks, including low-resource, multimodal, and mixed-domain translation. We further explore a multimodal approach based on universal visual representation (Zhang et al., 2019) and compare its performance against a unimodal approach based on mBART alone.

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