document-fr | AfroLID: A Neural Language Identification Tool for 517 African Languages
Language identification (LID) is a crucial precursor for NLP, especially for mining web data. Problematically, most of the world’s 7000+ languages today are not covered by LID technologies. We address this pressing issue for Africa by introducing AfroLID, a neural LID toolkit for 517 African languages and varieties. AfroLID exploits a multidomain web dataset manually curated from across 14 language families utilizing five orthographic systems. When evaluated on our blind Test set, AfroLID achieves 95.89 F1- score. We also compare AfroLID to five existing LID tools that each cover a small number of African languages, finding it to outperform them on most languages. We further show the utility of AfroLID in the wild by testing it on the acutely under-served Twitter domain. Finally, we offer a number of controlled case studies and perform a linguistically-motivated error analysis that allow us to both showcase AfroLID’s powerful capabilities and limitations.