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Research by Canolfan Bedwyr’s Language Technologies Unit informs European agenda

Research and expertise by Canolfan Bedwyr's Language Technologies Unit were referenced the European Parliament recently, as Plaid Cymru's European MP, Jill Evans, credited the work of the Unit as being at the forefront of minority language technology. The MEP presented findings of the recommendations made by the Digital Language Diversity Project (DLDP) in its report on ensuring linguistic equality in the fields of digital technology. Following the speech by Jill Evans MEP, the head of the Language Technologies Unit, Delyth Prys, and the Unit's Chief Software Engineer, Dewi Bryn Jones, were invited to speak at a conference on language technologies and digital equality within a multilingual Europe.Delyth Prys (4th from left) and Dewi Bryn Jones (right) at the European Parliament with Jill Evans MEP (centre)Delyth Prys (4th from left) and Dewi Bryn Jones (right) at the European Parliament with Jill Evans MEP (centre)

The DLDP’s report, in the form of a Digital Language Survival Kit, lists those essential digital resources required by minority languages in Europe, and how linguistic communities can measure their own language’s present health in order to improve the pool of resources at their disposal. Extending this report was one of the recommendations made in the Language Equality in the Digital Age report passed by the European Parliament on 11 September this year.

Other recommendations from the report to the European Parliament included a call to strengthen European institutions' frameworks for language technology policies and the creation of new research policies to increase the use of language technology in Europe. It also called for education policies to ensure the future of languages ​​in digital age, to increase the support for private companies and public bodies to make better use of language technologies and to increase the research investment in the field.

Speaking after her presentation on the Unit’s latest research and the resources they’ve previously provided on Welsh language technologies to the Welsh National Language Technologies Portal (http://techiaith.cymru) , Delyth Prys said:

‘It was rewarding to receive recognition by the European Parliament for the pioneering aspects of research and to see that other linguistic communities look to us to lead the way. There’s so much that we can share with one another as we create technology platforms for numerous languages, in terms of resources, methodology and training. The work we’ve done in creating electronic dictionaries, machine translation and speech technology in the Welsh language has shown the way ahead for other minority languages in Europe. In addition to this, there has been a broad welcome to the notion that promoting language technology industries and software within our own communities is a means of empowering those very communities and contributes towards economic regeneration.’

Publication date: 4 October 2018