Machine Translation

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 123–140 | Cite as

Exploiting syntactic relationships in a phrase-based decoder: an exploration

  • Tim Hunter
  • Philip Resnik


Phrase-based decoding is conceptually simple and straightforward to implement, at the cost of drastically oversimplified reordering models. Syntactically aware models make it possible to capture linguistically relevant relationships in order to improve word order, but they can be more complex to implement and optimise. In this paper, we explore a new middle ground between phrase-based and syntactically informed statistical MT, in the form of a model that supplements conventional, non-hierarchical phrase-based techniques with linguistically informed reordering based on syntactic dependency trees. The key idea is to exploit linguistically-informed hierchical structures only for those dependencies that cannot be captured within a single flat phrase. For very local dependencies we leverage the success of conventional phrase-based approaches, which provide a sequence of target-language words appropriately ordered and ready-made with any agreement morphology. Working with dependency trees rather than constituency trees allows us to take advantage of the flexibility of phrase-based systems to treat non-constituent fragments as phrases. We do impose a requirement—that the fragment be a novel sort of “dependency constituent”—on what can be translated as a phrase, but this is much weaker than the requirement that phrases be traditional linguistic constituents, which has often proven too restrictive in MT systems.


Statistical MT Phrase-based translation Syntax Reordering 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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