Despite the increasing number of large and comprehensive machine translation (MT) systems, evaluation of these methods in various languages has been restrained by the lack of high-quality parallel corpora as well as engagement with the people that speak these languages. In this study, we present an evaluation of state-of-the-art approaches to training and evaluating MT systems in 22 languages from the Turkic language family, most of which being extremely under-explored. First, we adopt the TIL Corpus with a few key improvements to the training and the evaluation sets. Then, we train 26 bilingual baselines as well as a multi-way neural MT (MNMT) model using the corpus and perform an extensive analysis using automatic metrics as well as human evaluations. We find that the MNMT model outperforms almost all bilingual baselines in the out-of-domain test sets and finetuning the model on a downstream task of a single pair also results in a huge performance boost in both low- and high-resource scenarios. Our attentive analysis of evaluation criteria for MT models in Turkic languages also points to the necessity for further research in this direction. We release the corpus splits, test sets as well as models to the public.
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