The role of an author’s L1 in SLA can be challenging for automated CEFR classification, in that texts from different L1 groups may be too heterogeneous to combine them as training data. We experiment with recent debiasing approaches by attempting to devoid textual representations of L1 features. This results in a more homogeneous group when aggregating CEFR-annotated texts from different L1 groups, leading to better classification performance. Using iterative null-space projection, we marginally improve classification performance for a linear classifier by 1 point. An MLP (e.g. non-linear) classifier remains unaffected by this procedure. We discuss possible directions of future work to attempt to increase this performance gain.
Cross-lingual natural language processing relies on translation, either by humans or machines, at different levels, from translating training data to translating test sets. However, compared to original texts in the same language, translations possess distinct qualities referred to as translationese. Previous research has shown that these translation artifacts influence the performance of a variety of cross-lingual tasks. In this work, we propose a novel approach to reducing translationese by extending an established bias-removal technique. We use the Iterative Null-space Projection (INLP) algorithm, and show by measuring classification accuracy before and after debiasing, that translationese is reduced at both sentence and word level. We evaluate the utility of debiasing translationese on a natural language inference (NLI) task, and show that by reducing this bias, NLI accuracy improves. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to debias translationese as represented in latent embedding space.