MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced
Domains – What Works and What Not
and Raivis SKADIƻŠ
Abstract. In this paper the authors present various techniques of how to achieve
MT domain adaptation with limited in-domain resources. This paper gives a case
study of what works and what not if one has to build a domain specific machine
translation system. Systems are adapted using in-domain comparable monolingual
and bilingual corpora (crawled from the Web) and bilingual terms and named
entities. The authors show how to efficiently integrate terms within statistical
machine translation systems, thus significantly improving upon the baseline.
Keywords. statistical machine translation, domain adaptation, comparable corpora
This paper focuses on a very practical aspect of statistical machine translation (SMT) –
tailoring it to a particular narrow domain. The state-of-the-art SMT has reached a level
when it can be used by professional translators to improve productivity (for example,
see ), but to train practically usable domain specific SMT systems we need a
significant amount of parallel and monolingual corpora . In this paper we are
searching for methods allowing us to build a domain specific SMT system even if we
have a very limited in-domain parallel corpus consisting of just a few thousand parallel
If we do not have a big domain specific parallel corpus we can look for other
resources that could compensate for it. In this paper we show how we can benefit from
in-domain texts in the Web, e.g., how we can collect or crawl an in-domain comparable
corpus from the Web and how we can use it to build domain specific SMT systems. We
are showing how general out-of-domain SMT systems can be tailored using data
extracted from the in-domain comparable corpus. Particularly we are dealing with
domain specific terminology and named entities (NE). We extract terms and named
entities from initial parallel training data. These terms and named entities are used to
collect a comparable corpus from the Web. Then we extract parallel terms from the
collected comparable corpus, and finally we integrate them in the SMT system. The
Corresponding author: Tilde, VienƯbas gatve 75a, Riga, Latvia; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corresponding author: Tilde, VienƯbas gatve 75a, Riga, Latvia; E-mail: email@example.com
Human Language Technologies – The Baltic Perspective
A. Tavast et al. (Eds.)
© 2012 The Authors and IOS Press.
This article is published online with Open Access by IOS Press and distributed under the terms
of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License.
adapted SMT system quality changes are evaluated in respect to a general out-of-
domain baseline system. The process is thoroughly described in the further sections.
1. Baseline System
We start our experiments with the creation of an English-Latvian baseline system. In
the experiments we assume that the following data is available beforehand:
xa relatively large out-of-domain parallel corpus. For this paper we used the
publicly available DGT-TM
English-Latvian parallel corpus (release of 2007).
The corpus consists of 804,501 unique parallel sentence pairs and 791,144
unique Latvian sentences. The monolingual corpus is used for language
xa small amount of in-domain parallel sentences (up to two or three thousand
parallel sentences). In our experiments we have selected the automotive
domain (more precisely, service manuals) as the target domain. The in-domain
data is split in two sets - tuning and evaluation. The tuning set and the
evaluation set consist of 1,745 and 872 unique sentence pairs from the
automotive domain. All systems were tuned with minimum error rate training
(MERT ) using the in-domain tuning set and evaluated on the evaluation set.
For MT system training (including the baseline system) we use the LetsMT! 
Web-based platform for SMT system creation. The LetsMT! platform is built upon the
state-of-the-art Moses  SMT experiment management system (EMS).
The baseline system’s results using different automatic evaluation methods (BLEU
, NIST , TER , and METEOR ) are given in Table 1.
Table 1 Baseline system’s evaluation results
Case sensitive BLEU NIST TER METEOR
No 10.97 3.9355 89.75 0.1724
Yes 10.31 3.7953 90.40 0.1301
2. Initial Extraction and Alignment of Terms and Named Entities
The first step in our SMT system adaptation technique is acquisition of translated in-
domain term pairs. Bilingual terminology will allow making the SMT system term-
aware and will allow finding better translation candidates for narrow domain
translation tasks. To acquire the term pairs we use bilingual comparable corpora from
In order to find important domain specific documents on the Web, we use the
small amount of available parallel data and extract seed terms and named entities for a
focussed narrow domain Web crawl. Terms and named entities are monolingually
tagged in the parallel in-domain data. For terms we use the Tilde’s Wrapper System for
CollTerm (TWSC)  and for named entities – TildeNER  for Latvian and
The DGT Multilingual Translation Memory of the Acquis Communautaire: DGT-TM (available at:
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains 177
for English. In parallel, a Moses phrase table is created from the in-domain
Then the monolingually tagged terms and NEs (in our experiment 542 unique
English and 786 unique Latvian units in total) are bilingually aligned using the Moses
phrase table. At first we try to find all symmetric term and named entity phrases in the
phrase table that have been monolingually tagged in both languages. We allow only
full phrase table entry and term or named entity alignments, that is, a phrase is
considered valid only if all tokens from the phrase are identical to tokens of the
corresponding term or named entity. In order to allow also inflective form alignments,
all tokens of all terms, named entities and phrases are stemmed prior to alignment. This
allows finding more translation candidates in cases when some inflective forms have
not been tagged as terms, but others have.
After the symmetric alignment we align also terms and named entities that have
been tagged by only one of the monolingual taggers. If a phrase is aligned in the phrase
table with multiple phrases from the other language, we select the translation candidate
that has the highest averaged (source-to-target and target-to-source) translation
probability within the phrase table. This step allows finding terms and NEs, which have
been missed by one of the monolingual taggers, thus increasing the amount of extracted
term and named entity phrases. The alignment method on the in-domain parallel data
produced 783 bilingually aligned term and NE phrases.
3. Comparable Corpora Collection
The second step in our SMT system adaptation technique requires collection of
bilingual in-domain comparable corpora from the Web. We use the bilingual terms and
NEs that were extracted from the parallel in-domain data as seed terms for focussed
monolingual crawling of two monolingual narrow domain Web corpora with the FMC
 crawler. By using bilingually aligned seed terms we ensure that the crawled
corpora will be comparable and within one domain for both English and Latvian
languages. As the aligned seed terms may contain also out-of-domain or cross-domain
term and NE phrases, we apply a ranking method based on reference corpus statistics,
more precisely, we use the inverse document frequency (IDF)  scores of words
from general (broad) domain corpora (for instance, the whole Wikipedia and current
news corpora) to weigh the specificity of a phrase. We rank each bilingual phrase using
the following equation:
denote phrases in the source and target languages and ܫܦܨ
denote the respective language IDF score functions that return an IDF score
for a given token. The ranking method was selected through a heuristic analysis so that
specific in-domain term and named entity phrases would be ranked higher than broad-
domain or cross-domain phrases. This technique also allows filtering out phrase pairs
Apache OpenNLP (available at: http://opennlp.apache.org/).
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains178
where a phrase may have a more general meaning in one language, but a specific
meaning in the other language. After applying a threshold on the ranks, 614 phrase
pairs were kept in the seed term list for corpora collection.
Additionally to the seed terms FMC requires seed URLs. In total 55 English and
14 Latvian in-domain seed URLs were manually collected.
When the seed terms and seed URLs were acquired, a 48 hour focussed
monolingual web crawl was initiated for both languages. The collected English and
Latvian corpora were filtered for duplicates, broken into sentences and tokenised. The
statistics of the collected corpora are given in Table 2.
Table 2 Monolingual automotive domain corpora statistics
Sentences Tokens Unique
Tokens in Unique
English 34,540 8,743,701 58,526,502
Latvian 6,155 1,664,403 15,776,967
Both monolingual corpora were aligned in the document level using DictMetric
, a tool that scores document pair comparability and aligns document pairs that
exceed a specified comparability score threshold. Executing DictMetric on narrow
domain comparable corpora may cause over-generation of document pairs, that is,
every document from one language can be paired with many documents from the other
language. Therefore, we filtered the document alignments so that each Latvian
document would be paired with the top three comparable English documents and vice
versa, thus creating 81,373 document pairs. The comparable corpus statistics after
document level alignment are given in Table 3.
Table 3 English-Latvian automotive comparable corpus statistics
Tokens in Unique
English 24,124 1,114,609 15,660,911
Latvian 5,461 247,846 3,939,921
4. Extraction of Term Pairs from Comparable Corpus
Once the bilingual comparable corpus is collected, the third step is to extract
translated term pairs. Both parts (the Latvian and the English documents) similarly as
in the first step are monolingually tagged with TWSC. In this step we tag only terms as
the precision of named entity mapping without a phrase table is well below 90% and
this would create unnecessary noise in the extracted data for SMT adaptation. Then
using the document alignment information of the comparable corpus we map terms
bilingually using the TerminologyAligner (TEA)  tool with a translation
confidence score threshold of 0.7 (with a precision of 90% and higher ). In total
369 in-domain term pairs were extracted from the bilingual comparable corpus.
It is possible to use these newly extracted terms in an iterative comparable corpora
collection process, thus bootstrapping also the in-domain translated term pair collection.
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains 179
However, in this paper we limit corpora collection to only one iteration in order to have
a proof-of-concept of the whole SMT system adaptation process.
5. SMT System Adaptation
Following domain adaptation methods suggested in earlier research  we start the
SMT adaptation task by adding an in-domain language model built using the Latvian
monolingual comparable corpora that was collected in the second step. We built the
SMT system (named Int_LM) using two language models (a general and an in-domain
model). Both language models have different weights determined with system tuning
(MERT). The in-domain monolingual language model increases SMT quality to 11.3
BLEU points (a relative increase of only 3.0% over the baseline system). We trained
also an SMT system (named In-domain_LM_only) using only the in-domain language
model. The experiment achieved 11.16 BLEU points, which is an increase over the
baseline system, but also a decrease over the Int_LM system. This was expected as
MERT has tuned the in-domain language model to be more important, but the in-
domain language model may not contain some general language phrases that the broad
domain corpus has (thus also interpolation of the two models achieves a higher score).
We continue our experiments by adding the translated term pairs (in total 610) that
were extracted from the in-domain tuning set to the parallel data corpus and the
corresponding Latvian translations to the in-domain monolingual corpus, from which
the SMT system is trained. This simple addition of in-domain term translations to the
SMT system (named Int_LM+T_Terms) increased the quality to 12.93 BLEU points (a
relative increase of 17.8% over the baseline system). After adding also term pairs
extracted from the comparable corpus collected from the Web (in total 369 new pairs)
the quality of the system (named Int_LM+T&CC_Terms) increased to 13.5 BLEU
points (a relative increase of 23.1% over the baseline system).
Considering also term banks as possible translated term resources, we extracted
6,767 unique in-domain automotive term pairs from EuroTermBank
. Then we trained
an SMT system (named Int_LM+ETB_Terms) with the same parameters as the
Int_LM+T_Terms system. The system achieved 11.26 BLEU points, which is a
decrease in comparison with the Int_LM system and much worse than
Int_LM+T&CC_Terms (the best thus far performing system). The reason for the
decrease is fairly simple – term banks in many cases provide multiple translation
candidates for a single term. This causes ambiguities in the translation model and can
result in selection of the wrong translation hypothesis. To solve this issue (at least
partially), the term pairs from the term bank would have to be semantically
disambiguated in respect to the required domain so that only the correct in-domain
pairs would be used in the SMT system training.
Recent results in MT system adaptation  suggest that pseudo-parallel sentence
pairs extracted from in-domain comparable corpora and used for SMT system training
can significantly improve SMT system quality. Using the same pseudo-parallel
sentence extraction tool (LEXACC ) we extracted 6,718 and 678 unique sentence
pairs with two parallelism confidence score thresholds 0.51 and 0.35 (the thresholds
were based on previous evaluation on comparable news domain corpora). These
sentence pairs were then added to the available parallel data and the in-domain
EuroTermBank - the largest free online terminology resource (http://www.eurotermbank.com/)
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains180
monolingual corpus. The results after training the SMT systems (named
Int_LM+LEXACC_0.35 and Int_LM+LEXACC_0.51) show a decrease in BLEU points
(10.75 and 11.08 respectively) in comparison with the Int_LM system. After manually
analysing the MT output of Int_LM+LEXACC_0.35 in comparison with the baseline
system, it is evident that the translation quality has decreased because of non-parallel
sentence alignments in the LEXACC extracted sentence pairs that cause in-domain
term phrase pairs to receive lower weights (translation probability scores) in the
translation model. Although, in-domain terms in the pseudo-parallel sentences are in
many cases paired with correct translations, they are often also paired with incorrect
translations, thus creating noise for the translation model. This is not to say that the
pseudo-parallel sentences in general do not help improving SMT quality, but that for
very narrow and under-resourced domains where it is difficult to find strongly
comparable in-domain corpora in the Web, the results can lower translation quality
because of incorrect term translation hypothesis. We have shown in  that in cases
where large strongly comparable in-domain corpora are available, the pseudo-parallel
sentences extracted from the corpora (up to 500,000 sentence pairs and more) can
achieve a translation quality increase of up to five times in comparison to the baseline
system. The challenge, however, is finding such in-domain strongly comparable
So far in our experiments only the in-domain language model helps distinguishing
in-domain translation hypotheses from broad (general) domain hypotheses. Therefore,
in the next step we transformed the Moses phrase table of the translation model to an
in-domain term-aware phrase table. We do this by adding a sixth feature to the default
5 features that are used in Moses phrase tables. The 6
feature receives the following
x“1” if a phrase on both sides (in both languages) does not contain a term pair
from a bilingual term list. If a phrase contains a term only on one side (in one
language), but not on the other, it receives the value “1” as such situations
indicate about possible out-of-domain (wrong) translation candidates.
x“2” if a phrase on both sides (in both languages) contains a term pair from the
In order to find out whether a phrase in the phrase table contains a given term or
not, phrases and terms are stemmed prior to comparison. This allows finding inflected
forms of term phrases even if those are not given in the bilingual term list. The sixth
feature identifies phrases containing in-domain term translations and allows filtering
out out-of-domain (wrong) translation hypothesis in the translation process.
With the described methodology we transformed phrase tables of the systems
Int_LM+T_Terms (using the 610 tuning data term pairs) and Int_LM+T&CC_Terms
(using additionally the 369 term pairs from the comparable corpora) to term-aware
phrase tables. After tuning with MERT two new systems were created. The system
achieves 13.19 BLEU points and the system
achieves 13.61 BLEU point (a relative increase of 24.1%
over the baseline system and the highest measured increase in this experiment).
Although the increase in translation quality over the systems without the 6
relatively small, the translations show better translation hypotheses selection for in-
Complete results of the previously described automotive domain systems are
shown in Table 4 (“CS” stands for “Case Sensitive” evaluation).
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains 181
To show that improvements in SMT quality are consistent also using larger
corpora, we trained a new English-Latvian baseline system (Big_Baseline) using
5,363,043 parallel sentence pairs for translation model training and 33,270,743
monolingual Latvian sentences for the language model training. The system was tuned
using the same tuning set and evaluated on the same evaluation set as before. The
adapted systems (Big_Int_LM+T&CC_Terms and Big_Int_LM+T&CC_Terms+6
were built exactly as the Int_LM+T&CC_Terms and Int_LM+T&CC_Terms+6
systems from the previous experiment. The results (in Table 5) show a relative BLEU
increase of 8.8% and 14.9% for the system without the 6
feature and with the 6
feature over the baseline. As more data creates higher ambiguity, the 6
increasing the results significantly more than in the previous experiment. This shows
the potential of the method when applied on larger corpora.
Table 4 English-Latvian automotive domain SMT system adaptation results
System BLEU BLEU
Baseline 10.97 10.31 3.9355 3.7953 89.75 90.40 0.1724 0.1301
Int_LM 11.30 10.61 3.9606 3.8190 89.74 90.34 0.1736 0.1312
In-domain_LM_only 11.16 10.52 3.9447 3.8074 89.31 89.92 0.1726 0.1305
Int_LM+T_Terms 12.93 12.12 4.2243 4.0598 88.58 89.32 0.1861 0.1418
Int_LM+T&CC_Terms 13.50 12.65 4.2927 4.1105 88.86 89.70 0.1878 0.1443
Int_LM+ETB_Terms 11.26 10.52 3.9456 3.7882 89.43 90.04 0.1737 0.1290
Int_LM+LEXACC_0.35 10.75 10.09 3.7935 3.6682 90.31 90.86 0.1646 0.1229
Int_LM+LEXACC_0.51 11.08 10.28 3.9132 3.7709 90.23 90.78 0.1706 0.1286
13.19 12.36 4.2657 4.0962 88.84 89.62 0.1876 0.1439
13.61 12.78 4.3514 4.1747 88.54 89.32 0.1920 0.1469
Table 5 English-Latvian automotive domain big SMT system adaptation results
System BLEU BLEU
Big_Baseline 15.85 15.00 4.8448 4.6934 73.80 75.12 0.2098 0.1651
CC_Terms 17.24 16.12 5.0020 4.8278 72.16 73.59 0.2163 0.1717
18.21 17.08 5.1476 4.9626 70.22 71.62 0.2191 0.1747
In this paper we have presented techniques for SMT domain adaptation utilizing
bilingual terms and bilingual comparable corpora collected from the Web. The
experiment results show that integration of terminology within SMT systems even with
simple techniques (adding translated term pairs to the parallel data corpus or adding an
in-domain language model) can achieve an SMT system quality improvement of up to
23.1% over the baseline system. Transformation of translation model phrase tables into
term-aware phrase tables can boost the quality up to 24.1% over the baseline system
mostly because of wrong translation candidate filtering in the translation process.
The experiments also show that the usage of pseudo-parallel sentence pairs extracted
from weakly comparable narrow-domain corpora and term pairs acquired from term
banks without a sophisticated term sense disambiguation and semantic analysis of the
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains182
source text may not result in increased SMT quality due to the added noise in in-
domain translation hypotheses.
The research within the project ACCURAT leading to these results has received
funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013),
grant agreement n° 248347. The research within the project TaaS leading to these
results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme
(FP7/2007-2013), grant agreement n° 296312. This work has been supported by the
European Social Fund within the project «Support for Doctoral Studies at University of
 01SkadiƼš, R., PuriƼš, M., SkadiƼa, I., and Vasiƺjevs, A. Evaluation of SMT in localization to under-
resourced inflected language. In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference of the European
Association for Machine Translation EAMT 2011, 2011, p. 35-40, Leuven, Belgium.
 02Koehn, P. and Schroeder, J. Experiments in domain adaptation for statistical machine translation. In:
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Statistical Machine Translation, 2007, Prague.
 03Lewis, W., Wendt, C. and Bullock, D., Achieving Domain Specificity in SMT without Overt Siloing.
In: Proceedings of the 7
International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC
 04Bertoldi, N., Haddow, B., Fouet, J.B. Improved Minimum Error Rate Training in Moses, The Prague
Bulletin of Mathematical Linguistics, Vol. 91 (2009), p. 7-16, Prague, Czech Republic.
 05Vasiljevs, A., Gornostay, T. and Skadins, R. LetsMT! – Online Platform for Sharing Training Data and
Building User Tailored Machine Translation. In: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference
Baltic HLT 2010, 2010, p. 133-140, Riga, Latvia.
 06Koehn, P., Hoang, H., Birch, A., Callison-Burch, C., Federico, M., Bertoldi, N., Cowan, B., Shen, W.,
Moran, C., Zens, R., Dyer, C., Bojar, O., Constantin, A. and Herbst, E. Moses: Open Source Toolkit for
Statistical Machine Translation, Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
(ACL), demonstration session, June 2007, Prague, Czech Republic.
 07Papineni, K., Roukos, S., Ward, T., and Zhu, W. J. BLEU: a method for automatic evaluation of
machine translation. In Proceedings of ACL-2002: 40
Annual meeting of the Association for
Computational Linguistics, 2002, p. 311-318.
 08Doddington, G. Automatic evaluation of machine translation quality using n-gram co-occurrence
statistics. In: Proceedings of the second international conference on Human Language Technology
Research (HLT 2002), 2002, p. 138-145, San Diego, USA.
 09Snover, M., Dorr, B., Schwartz, R., Micciulla, L. and Makhoul, J. A Study of Translation Edit Rate
with Targeted Human Annotation. In: Proceedings of Association for Machine Translation in the
 10Banerjee, S. and Lavie, A. METEOR: An Automatic Metric for MT Evaluation with Improved
Correlation with Human Judgments. In: Proceedings of the Workshop on Intrinsic and Extrinsic
Evaluation Measures for MT and/or Summarization at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Association of
Computational Linguistics (ACL 2005), June 2005, Michigan, USA.
 11Pinnis, M., Ljubešiü, N., ùtefănescu, D., SkadiƼa, I., Tadiü, M. and Gornostay, T. Term Extraction,
Tagging and Mapping Tools for Under-Resourced Languages. In: Proceedings of the 10
on Terminology and Knowledge Engineering (TKE 2012), 20-21 June, 2012, Madrid, Spain.
 12Pinnis, M. Latvian and Lithuanian Named Entity Recognition with TildeNER. In Proceedings of
LREC 2012, 21-27 May, 2012, Istanbul, Turkey.
 13ACCURAT D3.5. Tools for building comparable corpus from the Web, version 3.0, 29
(http://www.accurat-project.eu/), 46 pages.
 14Spärck Jones, K. A statistical interpretation of term specificity and its application in retrieval. Journal
of Documentation, volume 28, 1972, p. 11-21.
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains 183
 15ACCURAT D2.6 (2011). Toolkit for multi-level alignment and information extraction from
comparable corpora, version 3.0. 29
June, 2012 (http://www.accurat-project.eu/), 164 pages.
 16ùtefănescu, D., Ion, R. and Hunsicker, S. Hybrid Parallel Sentence Mining from Comparable
Corpora. In: Proceedings of the 16th Annual Conference of the European Association for Machine
Translation (EAMT 2012), 2012, p. 137-144, Trento, Italy.
 17ACCURAT D5.4. Report on requirements, implementation and evaluation of usability in application
for software localization, version 1.0. 29
June, 2012 (http://www.accurat-project.eu/), 38 pages.
M. Pinnis and R. Skadi¸nš / MT Adaptation for Under-Resourced Domains184