The majority of the linguistic technologies available today are in English, mainly due to its position as lingua franca. The situation constitutes a new threat to minority languages, which are pushed out of the technological world by other stronger languages which dominate it. However, according to the paper written by Evas, the same technology could be used as an empowerment tool, broadening the audience to which minority languages have access.
Further Technological Development
According to Evas and his team, language technologies could be used to connect different languages if they are developed further, because the already existing technologies are mainly in languages such as Spanish or French. Current automatic translation software fails to produce remotely adequate results, as they work by comparing sentences with others which have already been translated by human beings rather than machines. As minority languages do not have a sufficient amount of available written material, the results are very poor due to the lack of sample material.
Incorporating Minority Languages Online
Another way in which language technology could help the development of minority languages is by incorporating them in platforms we use to communicate. Today, much of our informal conversations take place in written form via emails, text messages or on social media. Generally, these work in default with a majority language, which means that it makes communicating in a minority language particularly hard. So far, there have been cases of crowdsourcing through which platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been translated, but until the online world acquires a truly multilingual perspective, language technologies will continue to affect minority languages negatively.
Technology to Help Community Bonding
According to Evas, technology offers possibilities which should be further exploited. An example of this is the ability to remain in touch with your mother tongue whenever an individual moves to a different country. Social media can help keep communities together wherever the members are located, which can contribute to the perpetuation of the use of the community’s particular language. However, for technology to be positive, an effort needs to be made, states Evas.
About the Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance
The Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance is a combination of researchers, technology providers and users and language professionals who strive to further Language Technology with the aim of unifying Europe as a single market. Ultimately, the Alliance works towards the creation of a shared vision and joint agenda for all the members of the European Union.