Cross-Lingual Natural Language Generation via Pre-Training

09/23/2019 ∙ by Zewen Chi, et al. ∙ 1

In this work we focus on transferring supervision signals of natural language generation (NLG) tasks between multiple languages. We propose to pretrain the encoder and decoder of a sequence-to-sequence model under both monolingual and cross-lingual settings. The pre-training objective encourages the model to represent different languages in the shared space, so that we can conduct zero-shot cross-lingual transfer. After the pre-training procedure, we use monolingual data to fine-tune the pre-trained model on downstream NLG tasks. Then the sequence-to-sequence model trained in a single language can be directly evaluated beyond that language (i.e., accepting multi-lingual input and producing multi-lingual output). Experimental results on question generation and abstractive summarization show that our model outperforms the machine-translation-based pipeline methods for zero-shot cross-lingual generation. Moreover, cross-lingual transfer improves NLG performance of low-resource languages by leveraging rich-resource language data.

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