PIO Director stresses need to prevent the digital extinction of smaller languages

The need to prevent the digital extinction of smaller languages was stressed by PIO Director, Sophie Michaelides, at the 8th European Language Resource Coordination Board (LRB) Meeting, in Amsterdam.

Addressing the conference which stresses the importance of promoting the digitization of smaller and minority languages to avoid digital extinction, Michaelides said

When we talk about multilingualism and the importance of breaking down language barriers within the EU, we need to stress the need of prevention of the digital extinction of smaller languages. I would like thus to refer to the European Parliament vote of 11 September 2018 on language equality which stresses the importance of promoting the digitization of smaller and minority languages in order to avoid digital extinction.

The fact that our language, Greek, is a smaller language, not by age or by richness by any means, but definitely by the number of people it is spoken by, gives us one more reason to contribute to eTranslation. To facilitate the communication of national public services and citizens from countries with under-resourced languages, just like ours, she remarked.

As the government Communication Authority, Michaelides said, it is our job to provide citizens with the best possible information, both quantitative and qualitative. And this communication can only be maximized through languages by bridging the gap between widely used and less spoken languages. With our active contribution to the ELRC, we want Cyprus to be amongst the protagonists in this valuable effort for digitization of European languages thus promoting the digitization of the under-resourced Greek language.

CEF e-Translation is a significant tool in making digital public services multilingual, said the PIO Director and contributing to Language Equality in the digital era. Together with the EU’s commitment to promote under-resourced languages in the digital era, gave us the push we needed to submit an application for the open CEF-Automated Translation Call 2019 focusing on the Collaborative language resource projects for the provision of language resources to CEF AT through ELRC-SHARE.

As regards to the future contribution of Cyprus in the ELRC, it is important to stress that a plethora of language data can be identified within the public services with monolingual and bilingual content which can be a useful contribution to machine translation in multilingual services, such as e-Commerce and e-Government. For this reason, she said that a direct communication channel in the member-states from which the ELRC can directly draw officially acquired language data, is worth giving a thought.

Outlining the priorities in the Cyprus Action Plan, she underlined establishing synergies with national agents in projects and initiatives, closer cooperation with The Open Data Portal and the Unit for Administrative Reform.

She also proposed broadening of resources with the addition of speech data, data for Artificial Intelligence and other types of LRs to textual resources. Financial and technological assistance being essential.

In addition, she said that the establishment of a national database is essential to share the benefits of linguistic data collection.

Meetings like this, workshops and tech meetings in the field of automated translation like neural translation as well as the technical tools leading to automization and digitization of languages, provide all with the edification, the technical knowhow, but most importantly the drive to go on.

Regarding PIO’s role, Michaelides said the Press and information Office is the Government Communication Agency which delivers communication services to the government and information services to the public, while using interpersonal, non-verbal, visual, oral and written means of dissemination.

Since the Press and Information Office’s involvement in the ELRC work in 2018, Michaelides said, it has contributed to a large amount of data to the depository, beginning by submitting 400,000 words before the workshop and last month, another 193,514 words in the form of Greek and English press releases. I believe that a load of about 700,000 words is an important step forward and a significant corner stone in our common goal, the language data collection, she concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency