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A Network of Excellence forging the
Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance

Memorandum of Understanding between Clarin and META-NET

 

Introduction

The Network of Excellence “Technologies for the Multilingual European Information Society”, henceforth META-NET, established by DG INFSO of the European Commission (EC) under Framework Programme 7, and the “Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure”, henceforth CLARIN, a consortium established under the Research Infrastructures Programme of the EC, recognise the complementarity of their objectives and declare their intent for multi-level collaboration.

Scope and Objectives of the Participants

CLARIN is a research infrastructure in the ESFRI framework. It constitutes a large-scale pan- European collaborative effort to facilitate research by coordinating and making existing language resources and tools available and readily useable for the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) on a sustainable basis. CLARIN offers resources (data and tools) and services to allow computer-aided language processing, addressing one or more of the multiple roles language plays (e.g., carrier of cultural content and knowledge, instrument of communication, component of identity and object of study) in the Humanities and Social Sciences and neighbouring disciplines in the broadest possible sense. By doing this CLARIN will provide an advanced and innovative environment for e-Research and e-Science which will make language resources and technologies (LRT) visible, accessible and interoperable based on portals and standards.

META-NET is a Network of Excellence dedicated to the technological foundations of the European multilingual information society. By developing a long demanded open resource exchange and sharing facility code-named META-SHARE, it will create the basis for developing the necessary technologies and applications for the multitude of European and other relevant languages. By forging an alliance of researchers, technology providers, corporate users, language professionals and other stakeholders and by developing together with these partners a shared vision and a strategic research agenda, META-NET shall prepare an ambitious joint effort needed for realizing Europe’s digital single market and information space. By building bridges to neighbouring technology areas, META-NET will approach open research problems in collaboration with other fields such as machine learning, social computing, cognitive systems, knowledge technologies and multimedia content.

Orientation and Target Communities of the Participants

CLARIN is oriented towards the deployment and adaptation of language resources, tools and technologies in order to offer language-related services primarily to the SSH research community (e.g., scholars and researchers in history, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, literary studies, computational linguistics, law, etc.). CLARIN aggregates language data and tools relevant to a wide range of languages, including endangered languages, and to content that has its own properties and processing requirements, be it in the form of text, speech or other modalities. Catering for this community entails offering services to researchers who may have limited IT skills or interest, and therefore require highly automatic processing of data and content. CLARIN anticipates the need of modern research to build interdisciplinary virtual communities working on virtual collections and building virtual workflows to tackle their research questions.

CLARIN is in the process of establishing itself as an ERIC that operates a federation of (interconnected) national CLARIN Centres. They offer language resources and services to the whole European Social Sciences and Humanities communities in a persistent and sustainable way mainly guaranteed by strong repositories. The right to decide about financial and licensing conditions will always remain with the owners, but CLARIN favours and actively promotes a free and open access and open source policy. It builds on existing LRT centres (including repositories, service centres and centres of expertise) and infrastructure initiatives and plays a pioneering role in the emerging European ecosystem of infrastructures, thereby significantly strengthening the European Research Area.

META-NET aims at supporting Human Language Technology (HLT) development, i.e., technologies underpinning language-savvy products and services for the digital information society and a single online market. META-NET focuses primarily on EU languages (official, national but also regional ones) and the languages of EU’s major partners, i.e., more on contemporary business and everyday communication language (broadly conceived). All language-enabled communication modalities, i.e., text, speech, still and animated images, sign languages, etc. play an important role. Equally important is the cross-lingual dimension for multilingual Europe.

META-NET aims at creating a sustainable network of repositories of language data, tools and related web services documented with high-quality metadata, aggregated in central inventories allowing for uniform search and access to resources. Data and tools can be both open and with restricted access rights, free and for-a-fee. This network of repositories, META-SHARE, targets existing but also new and emerging language data, tools and systems required for building and evaluating new technologies, products and services. In this respect, reuse, combination, repurposing and re-engineering of language data and tools, play a crucial role. META-SHARE will eventually be an important component of a language technology marketplace for HLT researchers and developers, language professionals (translators, interpreters, etc.), as well as industrial players, especially SMEs, catering for the full development cycle of HLT, from research through to innovative products and services. To achieve its goals, META-NET intends to play a central role in building an ecosystem with collaborating projects tackling different facets of language resources, technology development and evaluation.

The establishment of such a network may include a joint effort between the European Commission and the Member States through available adequate instruments.

Conclusion

CLARIN and META-NET are two complementary initiatives, serving different communities with different but harmonizable goals. They have identified shared interests and approaches with respect to methods and instruments in the area of language resource infrastructures concerning both technical solutions and organizational models.

Both CLARIN and META-NET aim at describing language resources with appropriate metadata, as well as their sharing, maintenance and reuse. While the fact that the two projects target different user communities may call for different metadata profiles, CLARIN and META-NET envisage an open metadata domain of data and tools, based on interoperable metadata descriptions for categories of data and tools relevant to their joint user communities. The purpose of interoperable metadata descriptions is to enable cooperation, the possibility to link data objects and/or their descriptions, the exchange of data of interest to both communities and the way towards fostering standardisation and interoperability of data and tools, wherever possible and necessary. Both parties declare their intent to pursue this cooperation and to build upon their deliberation on an agreement concerning existing and emerging standards.

At the time of signature, CLARIN and META-NET intend to collaborate in the setup of language resource repositories, resource identification procedures, metadata infrastructure, as well as legal issues in sharing and distributing language resources.

The parties also agree that while they retain their integrity and pursue their goals, they will explore the possibility to give access to data objects residing in their respective repositories. The parties agree to prepare, by September 2010, an initial list of concrete areas and mutual objectives on which to collaborate, and plans for implementing this.

 

Signed on behalf of CLARIN

Signed on behalf of META-NET

Steven Krauwer

Coordinator of CLARIN

 

Hans Uszkoreit

Coordinator of META-NET