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A Network of Excellence forging the
Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance

META-NET Strategic Research Agenda for Multilingual Europe 2020

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The future of European markets

Key Messages

European society is multilingual: the diversity of its cultural heritage is an asset and an opportunity.

  • Europe is and will remain a multilingual, integrative and inclusive society. Geographical Europe has more than 80 languages, including the EU’s 23 official languages as well as minority and immigrant languages.
  • Languages without sufficient technological support will become marginalised and threatened by digital extinction.
  • While decent technologies exist for English, Europe’s other languages are under-supported, many of them seriously.

Language barriers must be overcome: language technology is a key enabler which will help solve this problem.

  • Language barriers are hindering the free flow of information, goods, knowledge, thought and innovation.
  • If the European community makes a dedicated push, we can get rid of many language barriers by 2020 and thus fully realise the single digital space and marketplace.
  • Europeans will be able to communicate with one another, with their governments and with web services in their native mother tongue.

Development of Language Technology in the forthcoming years

Language technology is a key enabling technology for the next IT revolution.

  • The next revolution in IT will bring technology much closer to the human user.
  • The next generation of IT will be able to handle human language, knowledge and emotion in meaningful ways.
  • Language technology will enable a host of powerful innovative services in the exploitation of big data, in knowledge use and transmission, in the control of technology, in learning and in many other areas.
  • After having missed some opportunities in the past, Europe still has a splendid chance to become a leading actor and economic beneficiary of this revolution.
  • The problem in Europe is the lack of take-up by industry because research and innovation funding in LT has fallen short of the scale, coordination and breath needed to drive the ball into the goal.

By a focused, concerted, major interdisciplinary LT research effort, Europe can preserve its precious languages, benefit from language diversity and from existing strengths and play a leading role in the next IT revolution.

  • This SRA outlines three priority themes with ambitious research goals, powerful applications and first indicative roadmaps: Translingual Cloud; Social Intelligence and e-Participation; Socially Aware Interactive Assistants.
  • A needed horizontal effort across the priority themes is the coordinated development, improvement and sharing of indispensable base technologies and resources for all European languages.
  • A cloud platform is proposed for providing free and commercial language technology services including the access to a wealth of public and private web-services in any European language.
  • The massive push needs to be accompanied by policy making such as regulations supporting the multilingual setup of our society and the effective utilisation of language data for research and technology development.
  • The proposed measures have the power to bring about a quantum leap in the evolution of IT, put Europe in a leading position in a core area of economic growth and to allow our languages to thrive in the digital age.