New report on Arabic digital language resources

While the U.S. Government is recruiting madly to translate and teach Arabic or develop Arabic language automation systems, an EC funded project – NEMLAR – has just produced a handy report on available digital speech and language resources and analysis tools in European and Mediterranean countries (plus U.S. Resources from the Linguistic Data Consortium), based on a survey of key academic and commercial players.

Section 4 gives a list of what experts consider to be their desiderata for resources and tools, whose length suggests Arabic will not be engineered into our language infrastructure very soon.

It’s also hard to know from EU security authorities (EUROPOL and the 25 or so National Intelligence units) how strategic Arabic is actually considered in the wake of the recent geopolitical events, and therefore how much they would fork out to invest in scalable, operational search and translate systems.

The French defense establishment, for one, has long been researching into Arabic language technology, but I notice it recently contracted the Canadian company Alis to provide some translation gisting support. But this may tell us more about the contrast in PR styles between North America and Europe than actual contracts for developing Arabic language technology.

Andrew Joscelyne
European, a language technology industry watcher since Electric Word was first published, sometime journalist, consultant, market analyst and animateur of projects. Interested in technologies for augmenting human intellectual endeavour, multilingual méssage, the history of language machines, the future of translation, and the life of the digital mindset.

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