University of Manchester (09/26/12) Daniel Cochlin
META-NET, a European network of researchers, recently completed a study that assessed language technology support for 30 European languages in four different areas, including automatic translation, speech interaction, text analysis, and availability of language resources. Languages spoken by a small number of people could be at risk because they do not have technological support, according to the META-NET report. The researchers found that digital assistance for 21 of the 30 languages is non-existent or weak at best. Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Maltese are at the highest risk of disappearing, while Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, and Polish also are at risk. English has the best language technology support, while Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish have moderate support, according to the report. The researchers say new software is needed to save the languages that are deemed to have the highest risk of disappearing from the modern digital landscape. "As digital information and communication is becoming increasingly dominant, it is vital that sophisticated language technology support is available for a wider range of languages, otherwise collaboration with our European neighbors will become more difficult," says University of Manchester professor Sophia Ananiadou.