Emily Gade


Whose Language Counts as High Quality? Measuring Language Ideologies in Text Data Selection
Suchin Gururangan | Dallas Card | Sarah Dreier | Emily Gade | Leroy Wang | Zeyu Wang | Luke Zettlemoyer | Noah A. Smith
Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Language models increasingly rely on massive web crawls for diverse text data. However, these sources are rife with undesirable content. As such, resources like Wikipedia, books, and news often serve as anchors for automatically selecting web text most suitable for language modeling, a process typically referred to as quality filtering. Using a new dataset of U.S. high school newspaper articles—written by students from across the country—we investigate whose language is preferred by the quality filter used for GPT-3. We find that newspapers from larger schools, located in wealthier, educated, and urban zones (ZIP codes) are more likely to be classified as high quality. We also show that this quality measurement is unaligned with other sensible metrics, such as factuality or literary acclaim. We argue that privileging any corpus as high quality entails a language ideology, and more care is needed to construct training corpora for language models, with better transparency and justification for the inclusion or exclusion of various texts.