Sharing Welsh language technologies with the world
On 25 January, academic researchers, local developers and representatives from some of the digital sector’s most prominent companies met to discuss and share best practice in the field of language technologies, at the Technology and Welsh Language Conference 2019. This is the third annual conference held by the Language Technologies Unit at Canolfan Bedwyr, Bangor University’s Centre for Welsh Language Services, Research and Technology.
This year, the conference was opened by Welsh Government Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan AM, who presented to delegates the Welsh Government’s Welsh Language Technology Action Plan. This ambitious plan aims to ensure the full use of technology in the Government’s aim of having a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
In addition to discussing the Action Plan, workshops and roundtable discussions centred on themes such as the use of digital strategies in language regeneration, Welsh language speech-recognition technology and how language technologies can be vehicles for economic development. In addition, attention was given to other minority languages and technology’s place in the health of those languages.
Speakers at this year’s conference included a representative of international digital powerhouse, Mozilla, a researcher from Dublin City University and Wales’ National Wikimedian, Jason Evans.
Assessing the impact of this year’s conference, Head of the Language Technologies Unit, Delyth Prys, said:
“We’re incredibly pleased to welcome Eluned Morgan to open this year’s conference. Welsh is a member of a family of small languages across the world that are keen to succeed in this new technological and digital age and opportunities such as this, to share ideas and innovative developments, are important for us all. With support from the Welsh Government, Wales is at the forefront in using language technologies to revive and protect the Welsh language and we’re pleased to be able to share these developments with the wider international community.”
This was echoed by Professor Jerry Hunter, Pro Vice-chancellor for Welsh-medium:
"As well as being a major Welsh-medium higher education provider, it is great to see Bangor University leading on all those supplementary elements - research, policy and technology - which contribute to the Welsh Government's goal of having a million speakers of Welsh by 2050. These are not separate aspects, developed in silos, but rather the infrastructure we need as we head towards this ambitious goal."
Opening this year’s conference, Eluned Morgan AM expressed the need for Welsh technology to maintain the current pace of development and to share its own expertise with others:
“Technology has already transformed the way we live our lives, and changes may be even quicker in the future. It’s good to see a conference like this which enables people to learn from each other for the benefit of all our languages as they’re used in technology.”
Publication date: 28 January 2019