Transformers analyzing poetry. Multilingual metrical pattern prediction with transfomer-based language models

Javier De la Rosa, Álvaro Pérez, Mirella De Sisto, Laura Hernández Lorenzo, Aitor Diaz, Salvador Ros, Elena González-Blanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The splitting of words into stressed and unstressed syllables is the foundation for the scansion of poetry, a process that aims at determining the metrical pattern of a line of verse within a poem. Intricate language rules and their exceptions, as well as poetic licenses exerted by the authors, make calculating these patterns a nontrivial task. Some rhetorical devices shrink the metrical length, while others might extend it. This opens the door for interpretation and further complicates the creation of automated scansion algorithms useful for automatically analyzing corpora on a distant reading fashion. In this paper, we compare the automated metrical pattern identification systems available for Spanish, English, and German, against fine-tuned monolingual and multilingual language models trained on the same task. Despite being initially conceived as models suitable for semantic tasks, our results suggest that transformers-based models retain enough structural information to perform reasonably well for Spanish on a monolingual setting, and outperforms both for English and German when using a model trained on the three languages, showing evidence of the benefits of cross-lingual transfer between the languages.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalNeural Computing and Applications
Early online date15 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • Digital humanities
  • Language models
  • Natural language processing
  • Poetry


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