We've produced an infographic highlighting the opportunity for growth of the European digital market through Language Technology. Please feel free to share and reuse the image with a link back to this site.
Recently we conducted an internal survey to find out about the existence and availability of national corpora (or similar) for the various European languages covered by our network. The results of this small study showed that for almost every European language there exists some reference corpus of an established quality and in many cases produced or otherwise endorsed by the respective official language body. However, despite these corpora existing and being held by national organisations in the majority of cases, it is not possible for language technology researchers to get access to these corpora for their own work. For example, it is not possible for researchers to download or to run their own analysis over the data.
In most cases the reasons cited for these restrictions are copyright and redistribution restrictions that the corpus owners or corpus compilers have with publishers who provided the source data. These restrictions prevent researchers from using the data for non profit purposes such as scientific research which can benefit the entire language and language technology community. This is a striking finding in the wake of our recent publication of the Languages in the Digital Age series which highlighted that a lack of resources or a lack of availability of resources is putting many European languages at risk in the digital age.
In response to these findings, we have prepared an open letter to all the official language bodies in Europe and to those holding onto the various corpora calling on them to consider trying to make this important language data available for research purposes. Our open letter is also addressed to the European Patent Office. In this letter we ask for those with the power to do so to reconsider their distribution policies to allow greater access to their data for research. We also offer to provide a safe and secure mechanism (META-SHARE) to share the data should they choose to do so, and also any help we can provide regarding licensing, copyright and other legal issues.
The open letter, including a recipient list, is reproduced below. If you feel, as we do, that there is a huge benefit to liberating these corpora and making them available for research then please contact your local language body and let them know that you are in favour of our proposal.
We are very pleased to announce the Human Language Technology Days 2012 international event to be held on 27–28 September 2012 in Warsaw. The event is organised by the Institute of Computer Science of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the University of Łódź in the framework of the ICT-PSP project CESAR
(Central and South-East European Resources, part of META-NET).
Human Language Technology Days 2012 intends to promote language technology and its research, economic and societal potential, by gathering experts and users who will discuss the important issues on the future of languages and language processing in a multilingual European and global digital information society. How does massive digitisation of information, knowledge and everyday communication affect our language? Will our language change or even disappear? Will Polish be used in the communication channels of 21st century on equal grounds with other European languages? What steps do we need to take in order to assure that? Under the high patronage of the Minister of Science and Higher Education and the president of the Polish Academy of Sciences, we have gathered speakers from the European Commission, IBM, Google, Polish Academy of Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and many other European research infrastructure institutions.
This event, at the same time, is a Road Show of European language technology, a presentation of the state-of-the-art services in which development of language resources and language tools are currently at and how they can be used for research and business. Particular attention will be drawn to language technology for Polish and the role it plays in research, administration and business within the digital information society.
The event is co-located with ICT Proposers’ Day 2012
, which offers numerous possibilities to have bilateral discussions with the European Commission staff on 26 September 2012 about Language Technology related calls, namely ICT Call 10 and SME-DCA call.
We sincerely invite you to register for HLT Days 2012
and look forward to seeing you in Warsaw!
Earlier this year, on June 20/21, hundreds of people from the extended Language Technology community gathered in Brussels for META-NET’s annual conference event – META-FORUM. Among them not only researchers keen to discuss their work, but also representatives of language communities, national and European administration, and many businesses and industry leaders showcasing products and services at the industry showcase META-EXHIBITION which ran in parallel with the main event.
META-FORUM, as the name suggests, serves as a gathering point, a hub for these diverse communities of interest to meet and discuss developments, problems and opportunities presented by the challenges of a modern and multilingual Europe. This year’s event themed “A Strategy for Multilingual Europe” proved to be another exciting and fruitful meeting for the community.
Proceedings opened on the first day with an address on the “Technological Challenges of the European Multilingual Society” from Thibaut Kleiner a member of the cabinet of Neelie Kroes (Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and Vice-President of the European Commission) which gave a warning to the assembled delegates that the language technology community in Europe has to demonstrate that it can make the step from research to innovation or risk losing funding. The day went on to include a joint session with the European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL) on Europe and its languages including key results from the META-NET Language White Paper Series, a session on home grown European Language Technologies, and a joint session with LT Innovate on future directions in European LT including the Strategic Research Agenda for Multilingual Europe 2020. Day one finished off with the presentation of the annual META Prize and Seal of Recognition awards and presentations from the winners.
The second day’s agenda was as packed as the first. Sessions included a discussion on plans for LT research and innovation on the European level with Roberto Cencioni and Kimmo Rossi representing the European Commission. META-NET’s own META-SHARE infrastructure was showcased and future plans and directions were discussed with the assembled community representatives. Next, national representatives got a chance to present plans for LT research and innovation in member states and regions in the afternoon. META-FORUM 2012 was brought to a close with a keynote address from Fernando Pereira of Google who highlighted Google’s work to develop highly scalable language technology workflows and to create links between natural language text, external knowledge bases, and other types of data.
For those who were unable to attend, or if there was a presentation you want to see again or share with your colleagues who couldn’t make it, there’s good news! We’ve compiled a report summarising the main points of each session. The report provides a synopsis of each speaker’s presentation (including slides), their main points and relevant links to other resources. In addition you’ll also find links to videos of each presentation and panel discussion as well as the opening session by and the closing keynote address. Please have a look and share with your colleagues. Feel free to share your thoughts with us on the discussion forum, on social media through Facebook or Twitter, or email email@example.com.
The UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) recently conducted a review of which subject areas to 'grow', 'maintain' or 'reduce', in terms of the proportion of the total EPSRC portfolio. Recognising the multidisciplinary nature of Natural Language Processing and the vital role played by LT underpinning future technological development in areas such as healthcare, the digital economy, and intelligent information infrastructure, the decision was been made to maintain funding for NLP research.
This is a strong endorsement of the potential for Language Technologies and the great work being done in this field in the UK. In addition, the EPSRC recognised META-NET’s work when conducting this review. Amongst the evidence cited in support of the decision was the META-NET Vision Paper, which was produced in conjunction with our three Vision Groups drawn from R&D and Industry experts.
The far reaching potential of LT is being recognised by more and more decision makers throughout Europe and the world. By working together through META-NET and the Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance, the Language Technology R&D industry and language communities are successfully helping to shape the agenda for future work in our field. The potential is huge, our impact is large and increasing, and the time for us to act is now.
In the UK, META-NET is represented by the Universities of Manchester, Edinburgh, Wolverhampton and Sheffield.
To view the EPSRC’s announcement, see: http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/ourportfolio/researchareas/Pages/natlangproc.aspx
Last week META-NET partners from the University of Lisbon participated in the 21st Communications Congress, organized by the APDC- Associação Portuguesa para o Desenvolvimento das Comunicações (Portuguese Association for the Development of Communications), where they showcased META-NET’s work and specifically META-SHARE.
The Communications Congress, now in its 21st edition, took place on the 23rd and 24th of November, in Lisbon's Congressional Centre. The theme for the event was "Quantifying the Future”. It is the largest annual congress and trade ICT fair for information and communications technologies and the new media in Portugal. The congress had approximately 1500 participants and 80 speakers, among which were representatives of the sector’s biggest and most important organisations.
The opening session of the Communications Congress was presented the president of APDC, Pedro Norton, along with the president of ANACOM, José Amado da Silva and the Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho.
The University of Lisbon took part in the event with an exhibition stand presenting both META-SHARE and META-NET. The META-SHARE platform was showcased as part of the Congress’ Innovation Lounge, an exhibition area dedicated to innovative products and services and to networking with and among ICT and New Media companies. In this area, about 30 start-ups were represented, along with products and services from the 20 most significant companies in the sector.
During his visit to the fair, the Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho stopped by the META-NET stand, where Ana Tavares and Antonio Branco presented META-SHARE to him. The Prime Minister was made aware of META-NET and our work as a European network of excellence in Language Technology R&D aiming to launch the technological basis for a multilingual information society in Europe. The Prime Minister praised META-NET as a highly relevant project making a significant impact, and underlining the importance of the innovative research undertaken to foster technological development.
On Friday and Saturday October 21st and 22nd last META-NETizens from all across Europe came together in Berlin for the first META-NET Network Meeting and General Assembly.
On Friday and Saturday October 21st and 22nd last META-NETizens from all across Europe came together in Berlin for the first META-NET Network Meeting and General Assembly. In total 93 participants attended the meetings representing every node in the META-NET Network of Excellence incorporating four European projects, T4ME, CESAR, METANET4U and META-NORD.
For many this meeting was the first time they met their colleagues from other partner organisations in the Network and so, in addition to the agenda items, it proved a useful opportunity to meet each other and discuss current work and new ideas.
The agenda included updates on the current state of play and next steps in the overall META-NET initiative, each of the partner projects, as well as an update and discussion about rolling out META-SHARE. We also engaged in extensive discussions about the forthcoming publication of the Language Whitepapers. Cross language comparison and clustering with respect to tools and resources was the hot topic for discussion here. But thanks to the strong representation from all partners the issues were thrashed out and tough decisions were taken to move the papers forward. There were also some lively discussions around the visions presented in the Strategic Research Agenda being drafted by the Technology Council. Then followed some discussion on cooperation on horizontal issues across work packages and projects and some closing remarks from Hans Uszkoreit to bring proceedings to a close.
The first META-NET Network Meeting and General Assembly was a fruitful and engaging meeting for all. The many interactive sessions gave each partner a chance to get involved and help shape the work of the Network and the informal discussions amongst partners helped strengthen the close working relationships in the Network. We’re looking forward to acting on all this to further the META-NET cause.
Since the latter half of the 20th century and right up to the present day the society in which we live in has changed dramatically. Advances in medicine have extended our lives. Economic and social changes have shaped the way we work and live. Improvements in technology and increased access have made information and communication technology a part of our daily lives and have helped us make further advances through sharing information and ideas. Possibly the most noticeable change brought about by these advances has been the growth in the number of languages we encounter in going about our business. Improved communication and information sharing opens up a whole new world of possibilities to us, but that world speaks with many voices in many languages. Understanding one’s neighbour and being able to share his insight has become a part of life for the modern European citizen; and with that so too has the need for multilingualism. We stand looking forward into the 21st century living in a rich and diverse multilingual Europe. In his/her daily life a citizen will encounter many different languages on public transport, in the media or on product packaging.
Yet, in this linguistically rich multilingual Europe we find that some languages are at risk of dying out or being left behind in the information society. This is shocking given that no language is inherently more difficult to learn or use for communication than another and that as Europeans we value all of our languages equally. As our society becomes more and more technologically enabled in the home, at the workplace, and at school, the language in which information is produced, accessed and exchanged becomes a crucial factor. If a language is poorly resourced with technology which supports information communication, it is at risk of being left behind other languages more readily better resourced with websites, online discussion fora and other information technology tools. Thus we risk our cultural heritage and riches, a part of our own identity by allowing our languages to fall behind in the information age.
META-NET has undertaken a systematic review and comparison of 30 European languages, covering each country and official language as well as regional and minority languages. These reviews concentrate on the social and economic status of each language in the country/countries where it is spoken and look at how well equipped they are to cope with the emerging multilingual European information society. These reviews have been formulated into a Language Whitepaper for each language which presents this view in a frank manner and draws comparisons across other European languages to give a true picture of European multilingualism and where each language is positioned in the Language Technology landscape.
Today, on the European Day of Languages, we celebrate linguistic diversity in Europe and reaffirm our commitment to foster and preserve our languages as a cultural asset. Language Technology is a crucial tool in this task both in ensuring preservation of a language in the information age, as a teaching and learning tool, and in improving our everyday lives. We invite you to read these Language Whitepapers and consider the situation for your own languages and those you encounter in daily life and ask how can Language Technology for your language improve things for you?
In a multi agency, multilingual push to emphasise the importance of the findings of these Whitepapers, META-NET members are today issuing press releases in each country and each language. The individual releases highlight the importance of multilingualism in each region and emphasise specific LT issues affecting each region and language. We invite you to read these press releases and statements which have been prepared in consultation with and are backed by various national stakeholders including National Institutes of Language, publishing houses, the media and government ministries.