Multilingual Controllable Transformer-Based Lexical Simplification

Kim Cheng Sheang, Horacio Saggion


Text is by far the most ubiquitous source of knowledge and information and should be made easily accessible to as many people as possible; however, texts often contain complex words that hinder reading comprehension and accessibility. Therefore, suggesting simpler alternatives for complex words without compromising meaning would help convey the information to a broader audience. This paper proposes mTLS, a multilingual controllable Transformer-based Lexical Simplification (LS) system fined-tuned with the T5 model. The novelty of this work lies in the use of language-specific prefixes, control tokens, and candidates extracted from pretrained masked language models to learn simpler alternatives for complex words. The evaluation results on three well-known LS datasets-LexMTurk, BenchLS, and NNSEval-show that our model outperforms the previous state-of-the-art models like LSBert and ConLS. Moreover, further evaluation of our approach on the part of the recent TSAR-2022 multilingual LS shared-task dataset shows that our model performs competitively when compared with the participating systems for English LS and even outperforms the GPT-3 model on several metrics. Moreover, our model obtains performance gains also for Spanish and Portuguese.

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