With a large and all-encompassing consortium consisting of 52 partners covering all European countries, research and industry and all major pan-European initiatives, the European Language Equality (ELE) project develops a strategic research, innovation and implementation agenda as well as a roadmap for achieving full digital language equality in Europe by 2030. The whole project is designed in such a way that all individual work streams create input for the strategic agenda, for example, in terms of empirical evidence, desk research or technology deep dives.
Despite the META-NET White Paper series reporting on this issue almost ten years ago, technology support for Europe’s languages is still characterised by a stark imbalance. While many resources and technologies exist for English, the majority of other languages suffer from a lack of technology support. As the META-NET White Papers reported, more than 21 European languages are in danger of digital extinction. We will develop a strategic plan and roadmap to address this situation in a comprehensive way by establishing full digital language equality in 2030.
The main tangible results to be produced by the ELE project are as follows:
- The research partners will prepare updates of the 32 META-NET White Papers, which will also include the results of an enormous and exhaustive data collection procedure that will provide a detailed, empirical and dynamic map of technology support for our languages.
- A number of networks and initiatives (CLAIRE, CLARIN, LT Innovate, META-NET, ELG, ECSPM, EFNIL ELEN, LIBER, NEM and Wikipedia) will produce one report each in which they collect, consolidate and present their own position, needs, wishes, demands and visions with regard to Language Technology and the idea of establishing digital language equality in Europe.
- The industry partners will produce four technical deep dives for the main areas of Language Technology: Machine Translation, Speech Technologies, Text Analytics and Natural Language Understanding as well as Data.
- These, and a number of additional reports, will be used as input for the strategic agenda and roadmap, which will be consolidated in early 2022.
- The ELE project will take into account more than 70 languages.
The ELE project is a direct response to the resolution “Language equality in the digital age”, which was passed by the European Parliament in a landslide vote – 592 votes in favour and only 45 against – in September 2018. The report provides more than 40 recommendations, including:
25. Establish a large-scale, long-term coordinated funding programme for research, development and innovation in the field of language technologies, at European, national and regional levels, tailored specifically to Europe’s needs and demands
27. Europe has to secure its leadership in language-centric AI
ELE will develop a strategic plan that will provide concrete steps to put these recommendations, and others, into action.
Collaboration with ELG
ELE started on 1 January 2021 and runs for 18 months. The project will end in June 2022, just like its sister project European Language Grid (ELG), with which ELE closely collaborates, especially with regard to the ELG NCCs, the network of National Competence Centres, and through using and promoting the European Language Grid cloud platform itself for several purposes in ELE. Both projects will organise a joint final conference, META-FORUM 2022, to be held in Brussels in June 2022.