Google Research


A Review in Verse

Upon submitting our paper, "Poetic" Statistical Machine Translation: Rhyme and Meter, to be reviewed for the EMNLP-2010 conference, we expected that the reviewers would be surprised, and hopefully enjoy the paper, but we did not expect a response in verse. In order to preserve it for posterity, we provide it here.

From an anonymous reviewer:

This paper has an admirable objective;
one that would have most of us spewing invective.
Can current SMT systems be hacked
to translate verse with its form intact?

It sounds difficult but don't be alarmed;
simply cast each form of verse you wish unharmed
into a feature that maintains state of the relevant kind.
Do the voodoo they do and you can use both Moses and Hiero, you'll find.

Ahh, you say, what if I am not as picky,
and want my decoder to produce any kind of poetry?
Fear not, the authors thought of that too-
a min-combination of these verse features is in the cards for you.

Now a word or two about evaluation.
The authors have an interesting notion
of translating WMT09 with a poetic flair-
the couplet in Table 2 is a translation beyond compare.

But what about BLEU, you implore.
Is meaning impaired when form comes before?
Indeed, the metric of choice suffers a 50% decline,
when translating a real French verse as well as WMT09.

There is novelty here and cleverness too,
and yet I have a question for the authors - actually two.
The haiku in table 2 is the baseline translation
with dropped words; is this always the situation?

And my second query is a selfish one;
are there any plans to release this implementation
so that the rest of us can fiddle
now that the authors have solved the first part of the riddle?

So, with today's SMT systems, one must elect
either to get the form or the meaning correct.
However, the authors propose future innovation:
a special poetry decoder and paraphrase-based augmentation.

With that I will now close,
but not before I compose
my strong recommendation
for an oral presentation.

The authors' response:

I have never yet seen
A poetic review
Therefore, I have been
Quite stunned, and thank you!

To first question you asked,
I will summon my pluck
and will answer, as tasked,
It is, "No, just luck".

To the second, contrite,
I am answering "No",
Copyright is a fright,
And will not let it go.

As I'm ending this note,
I'm most thankful to you,
And I wish I may quote
From your splendid review.

The reviewer's comment after the author's response:

It is downright unfortunate,
that such interesting work should remain private.
However, I impose no such restrictions on my review,
If you would like to quote from it, please do.
©2012 Google