Formality Style Transfer for Noisy, User-generated Conversations: Extracting Labeled, Parallel Data from Unlabeled Corpora

Isak Czeresnia Etinger and Alan W Black
Carnegie Mellon University


Typical datasets used for style transfer in NLP contain aligned pairs of two opposite extremes of a style. As each existing dataset is sourced from a specific domain and context, most use cases will have a sizable mismatch from the vocabulary and sentence structures of any dataset available. This reduces the performance of the style transfer, and is particularly significant for noisy, user-generated text. To solve this problem, we show a technique to derive a dataset of aligned pairs from an unlabeled corpus by using an auxiliary dataset. We test the technique with the Yahoo Formality Dataset and 6 novel datasets we produced, which consist of scripts from 5 popular TV-shows (Friends, Futurama, Seinfeld, Southpark, Stargate SG-1) and the Slate Star Codex online forum. We gather 1080 human evaluations, which show that our method produces a sizable change in formality while maintaining fluency and context; and that it considerably outperforms OpenNMT's Seq2Seq model directly trained on the Yahoo Formality Dataset. Additionally, we publish the full pipeline code and our novel datasets.