We are witnessing an English language invasion of both academic education and international business, and this trend is hard to stop. To compensate, the Estonian language must be embedded as widely as possible in technology, writes Pekka Myllylä.
Nelson Mandela is credited with saying that if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
There are nearly 7,000 languages in the world, but not all of them are equally represented on the internet
“98% of website content is in twelve of the most spoken languages, and the English language has a clear lead."
Major computer programs have been released in English initially, although, as an example, Microsoft Word in the Estonian language is already celebrating its 20th birthday in August this year. Despite the small number of users on the world scale, this office software became available in the Estonian language relatively quickly, although to this day Estonian programs and applications are relatively rare, apart from solutions developed in Estonia.
In the technology domain, there is fierce competition for new products and services, which ideally must be scalable or usable all over the world. Mandarin, Spanish, or even German versions of software are supplementary language choices, but do Estonian and other small-nation languages have any chance at all in this vast world of technology?
It is important that rarer and complex languages do not remain “silent”.
The great desire to use modern technology dictates new rules of the game, and many people and companies are willing to accept that these technologies do not have support in the Estonian language. But this is not the way to go, because maintaining the place of rarer languages in the technology world is essential.
“Sometimes it's even hard to understand if you're chatting with a real person or a robot. Machines learn a language just like humans, though development could be faster."
Sophisticated NLP (natural language processing) algorithms allow robots to have meaningful multilingual conversations at any time or anywhere and on any smart device. Sometimes it's even hard to understand if you're chatting with a real person or a robot. Machines learn a language just like humans, though development could be faster.
Looking to the future, it is clear that a language will exist as long as it has technological support
Recent advances in language technology offer multilingual solutions, which can protect more than 20 European languages that may one day be threatened by digital extinction. This threat concerns not only the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian languages, but also many others that are not among Europe's most common.
Visionaries understand that wealthy is the world of the future where people can use a chosen language without restriction. Artificial intelligence, like the human mind, is constantly developing and changing. Language technologies are working actively towards multilingual design of artificial intelligence, paying particular attention to rarer, often morphologically complex languages, such as the Finno-Ugric or Baltic languages.
In recent years, the Estonian public sector has provided support for the development of technological solutions in Estonian
Examples are the automated speech recognition systems of the Parliament of Estonia and courts, and machine translation systems for a number of registers and document collections, such as official announcements.
The interest and support of the Estonian Government is vital, especially in the early stages of development and data collection and processing. One of the most important aspects of the development process is the availability of data in Estonian. Equally important is work done at the Tallinn University of Technology, University of Tartu and all private sector companies to provide top-level language technology solutions for the Estonian language.
We are witnessing an English language invasion of both academic education and international business, and this trend is hard to stop. To compensate, the Estonian language must be embedded as widely as possible in technology.
“When using different applications and devices, I highly recommend using your native language over foreign languages, if this option is available. This will increase the number of Estonian language users in the digital world and help to strengthen the position of rare languages"
Moreover, artificial intelligence makes it easier to expand the selection of languages. This should be at a standard that doesn't make native speakers blush with anger or shame.
Editor - Kaupo Meiel. Article Originally Published: https://www.err.ee/1608140464/pekka-myllyla-artificial-intelligence-development-helps-keep-Estonian-language
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