Free/open-source machine translation as a tool for the preservation of language diversity


Friday 8 November, 09-10, Auditorium 1

Preservation of linguistic diversity would not be possible without effective support of what could be called 'minor' languages so that they become 'grown up' languages, capable of standing the wave of uniformity that is sometimes advocated as the price that has to be paid for an efficient global economy. In this talk I argue that machine translation stands out among human language technologies as one of the most powerful tools to effectively support minor languages. However, the  power of machine translation is only fully unleashed if it is developed and distributed under free/open-source licenses, as this maximizes the involvement and the empowering of the language communities concerned, and favours cross-fertilization with other language technologies  used to support their language. As an example, I will review the eight-year experience of the Apertium free/open-source machine translation project in supporting minor languages.