- Abstract: In this paper, we introduce a new task, Contextual Text Style Transfer, to translate a sentence within a paragraph context into the desired style (e.g., informal to formal, offensive to non-offensive). Two new datasets, Enron-Context and Reddit-Context, are introduced for this new task, focusing on formality and offensiveness, respectively. Two key challenges exist in contextual text style transfer: 1) how to preserve the semantic meaning of the target sentence and its consistency with the surrounding context when generating an alternative sentence with a specific style; 2) how to deal with the lack of labeled parallel data. To address these challenges, we propose a Context-Aware Style Transfer (CAST) model, which leverages both parallel and non-parallel data for joint model training. For parallel training data, CAST uses two separate encoders to encode each input sentence and its surrounding context, respectively. The encoded feature vector, together with the target style information, are then used to generate the target sentence. A classifier is further used to ensure contextual consistency of the generated sentence. In order to lever-age massive non-parallel corpus and to enhance sentence encoder and decoder training, additional self-reconstruction and back-translation losses are introduced. Experimental results on Enron-Context and Reddit-Context demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed model over state-of-the-art style transfer methods, across style accuracy, content preservation, and contextual consistency metrics.
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