Frozen Pretrained Transformers for Neural Sign Language Translation

Autor/a: DE COSTER, Mathieu; D'OOSTERLINCK, Karel; PIZURICA, Marija; RABAEY, Paloma; VERLINDEN, Severina; VAN HERREWEGHE, Mieke; DAMBRE, Joni
Año: 2021
Editorial: Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Automatic Translation for Signed and Spoken Languages (AT4SSL)
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Medios de comunicación y acceso a la información » Informática y Nuevas Tecnologías, Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


One of the major challenges in sign language translation from a sign language to a spoken language is the lack of parallel corpora. Recent works have achieved promising results on the RWTH-PHOENIX-Weather 2014T dataset, which consists of over eight thousand parallel sen- tences between German sign language and German. However, from the perspective of neural machine translation, this is still a tiny dataset. To improve the performance of models trained on small datasets, transfer learning can be used. While this has been previously applied in sign language translation for feature extraction, to the best of our knowledge, pretrained language models have not yet been investigated. We use pretrained BERT-base and mBART-50 models to initialize our sign language video to spoken language text translation model. To mitigate overfitting, we apply the frozen pretrained transformer technique: we freeze the majority of parameters during training. Using a pretrained BERT model, we outperform a baseline trained from scratch by 1 to 2 BLEU-4. Our results show that pretrained language models can be used to improve sign language translation performance and that the self-attention patterns in BERT transfer in zero-shot to the encoder and decoder of sign language translation models.