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The 5th ELRC Conference: Europe needs multilingualism

| Language & Text Understanding | Multilinguality and Language Technology | Saarbrücken

On 10 March, people from all across Europe (and beyond) got together for the Fifth ELRC Conference. Organized by DFKI’s Data & Resources Group at MLT Saarbrücken, the online event attracted more than 450 participants from different sectors, including European SMEs, public services as well as representatives from research and the language technology (LT) industry. 

In her welcome address, June Lowery-Kingston, Head of the Sector “Accessibility, Multilingualism and Safer Internet” at the European Commission, stressed that “Europe needs multilingualism, and Europe needs powerful language technologies made in Europe for Europe." And in order to achieve this, language data is key. Under the guiding motto “…because #languagedatamatters,” the ELRC Conference put a spotlight on data quality and the reuse of language data, illustrating both the legal and the technical perspective when it comes to validating, curating and anonymizing language resources. For smaller languages, building LT and training machine translation is a lot more difficult due to the lack of available data. In the worst case, this could lead to digital extinction. That’s why the ELRC Conference also featured numerous sessions about data collection for low-resourced languages, presenting EU-funded projects that focus on languages like Norwegian, Maltese or Albanian (e.g. MaCoCu and PRINCIPLE) and Translators without Borders, an organization striving for “a world where knowledge knows no language barriers”. 

The conference also highlighted that Europe has to become more independent of digital solutions from outside the EU. This is not only important for the European industry and Europe’s autonomy, but also for the citizens’ security and privacy. In this context, the European Language Resource Coordination is also playing a key role: Data collected within ELRC helps to improve the quality of CEF eTranslation and to extend its coverage and functionalities – and through its numerous events, the initiative is raising awareness on the value of language data and strengthening the technical and legal know-how of potential data donors.

The record-breaking participant number and the interactive discussions marked another important milestone towards a truly multilingual Europe and showed the growing awareness on the importance of language data and LT. The full conference recording is available on Youtube. All presentations can also be downloaded from the event page. 


About the project
The European Language Resource Coordination (ELRC) was initiated by the European Commission in 2015. Led by Dr. Andrea Lösch (Research Department Multilinguality and Language Technology, DFKI), ELRC focuses on the collection and provision of language resources and aims to improve the quality, performance and language coverage of eTranslation, the European Commission’s machine translation service.

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