Newsletter #13 – April 2022

Dear reader,

After two years of being online (more on this in the social media highlights), META-FORUM finally returns to Brussels: On 8 and 9 June 2022 we invite you to our hybrid conference on innovative language technology, the multilingual information society and the results of our ELG and ELE projects. Details on the conference and a link to the registration form, as well as some information on the final release of the ELG platform, can be found in the ELG section down below.

Scrolling a little further, you will be asked for a last time to participate in our ELE survey on the digital support of European languages, which closes by the end of this week and for which we are still seeking further participants – every voice counts! The ELE section also includes information on a challenge for sign spotting in Spanish sign language at this year’s ECCV conference and a profile on the European Language Equality Network. Don’t miss out and have a good week!

With best regards

Georg Rehm

Language Technology and NLP in the news
Social media highlights
  • Miriam Vellinga of the Frisian language organisation Afûk has taken over the Twitter account @EuroDigiLang, which lends its voice to activists of European regional and minority languages. In an interview with Global Voices, she explains how she advocates for Frisian in the digital world.
  • Microsoft has added two new regional languages to its translation service. Find out which and enjoy the view of a great European landscape in this LinkedIn update by Christian Federmann.

  • There’s digital language and then there’s digital language: Khia Johnson asks about the meaning of online and offline, which seems to have changed back and forth over the years. Maybe this discussion should be taken offline.
General news

Six weeks are left until the start of META-FORUM 2022 and many of you have already registered to participate on site in Brussels. We invite all interested LT experts and enthusiasts to our two-day hybrid conference on “Joining the European Language Grid – Together Towards Digital Language Equality”. The two conference days on 8 and 9 June 2022 are divided evenly into presenting and discussing the latest ELG release on day one and the results of the ELE project on day two. Highlights include use cases and best practices of ELG, a session on AI projects and initiatives, the Digital Language Equality Metric and updates on the ELG and ELE books. Have a look at our website for more information and the option to register for on-site or online participation, free of charge as usual.

Speaking of the new ELG release: You might soon find the European Language Grid to look a little different. The final version of ELG is set to arrive by the middle of May, showcasing a new design and many additional features, including a more informational landing page with statistics from the ELG catalogue and a number of use cases. For this, we are currently collecting best practice examples of organisations and individual projects making use of ELG as a hosting platform, LT database or point of contact for partners and customers. If you would like to share your experience with ELG and be featured on the new landing page as well as our social media channels, write us a quick email and we will send you a short questionnaire. We would be happy to hear from you! 

In the beginning of April, the European Council of Education, Youth, Culture and Sports published the results of its discussions on several subjects in response to the war in Ukraine. These include their conclusions on reinforcing intercultural exchanges through the mobility of artists and cultural and creative professionals, and through multilingualism in the digital era. The document calls for the further development of language technologies and mentions ELG in synergy with the encouragement of developing, using and monitoring automated translation services, underlining the importance of Language Technology for cultural exchange.
Selected new tools and resources on the
European Language Grid
Coreference in Universal Dependencies 1.0 (CorefUD 1.0) – CorefUD is a collection of previously existing datasets annotated with coreference, which were converted into a common annotation scheme. In total, CorefUD in its current version 1.0 consists of 17 datasets for 11 languages. The datasets are enriched with automatic morphological and syntactic annotations that are fully compliant with the standards of the Universal Dependencies project. All the datasets are stored in the CoNLL-U format, with coreference- and bridging-specific information captured by attribute-value pairs located in the MISC column. The collection is divided into a public edition and a non-public (ÚFAL-internal) edition. The publicly available edition is distributed via LINDAT-CLARIAH-CZ and contains 13 datasets for 10 languages, excluding the test data. The corpus was added by the Charles University on 6 April 2022.
General news

It’s the final round: On 30 April, we will close our survey on the digital support for European languages. Until Saturday, you still have the chance to make your voice heard and let us know what language technologies you want to see developed for your languages. Since the last newsletter, thousands of additional participants have responded to the survey, but there is still room for more. Please share the survey with your friends and colleagues and support our cause for Digital Language Equality through fair funding that reaches all European languages.

Of course this also includes sign languages: Even though the survey does not collect data on European signed languages, the final recommendations made by the ELE project will take into account the needs for further support of sign language through technologies such as image recognition. Our colleagues from ChaLearn, a cooperation between several Spanish and French universities, are developing such technologies and have just started a Challenge on Sign Spotting in continuous Spanish sign language at this year’s European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV 2022), taking place online from 23 to 28 August. The challenge is part of the Open Challenges in Continuous Sign Language Recognition Workshop and uses roughly ten hours of video data from the health domain for participants to submit predictions on. All details can be found on the ChaLearn website.
Last chance: Participate in our 3-minute survey on the digital support of European languages until 30 April 2022 and make your voice heard for Digital Language Equality by 2030!
Upcoming events
The ELE consortium Partner presentation
European Language Equality Network

The European Language Equality Network (ELEN) is the international civil society organization for the protection, promotion and well-being of European territorial, minoritized or endangered languages. Today, ELEN represents 50 language communities, most of which are defined as endangered, with 174 member organisations in 25 countries. It works closely with the EU, UNESCO, is an UN ECOSOC member, and has participatory status with the Council of Europe. Through its membership ELEN aims to represent the 10% of the EU population who speak one of these languages.

ELEN’s work is divided between advocacy and campaign work for our languages at the local, national and international level, and language project work with our members and other partners on topics designed to improve language well-being and recovery.

ELEN was one of the organisations that worked towards the realization of the ELE pilot project: from the STOA Report in the European Parliament, helping to draft the subsequent “Language Equality in the Digital Age” Report (Rapporteur Jill Evans MEP), campaigning for its success, and lobbying for the pilot project that resulted from that report. ELEN particularly welcomed the Commission’s backing for the pilot project and its outspoken support for digital language equality for all European languages.

The work of the Digital Language Diversity Project and the Meta-Net White Papers highlighted the danger of digital exclusion of lesser-used languages as something that could accelerate the process of language endangerment as well as undermining language rights. From ELEN’s viewpoint the work done by ELE project is vital as we work with Europe’s ground-breaking language technology experts to address that exclusion with the next step being to ensure that the LT needs of all European languages are reported and acted upon.

ELEN Secretary-General Davyth Hicks, said:

“The ELE Project will be vital for the digital future of our languages. We particularly welcome the opportunity to work with Europe’s leading language technology experts to achieve the goal of full digital language equality for all European languages, and the Commission’s support for that goal.

“One of ELEN’s roles in the project is to provide the input from the endangered and minoritised language communities on their LT needs as we work towards digital language equality. We aim to ensure that each language, whether its EU official or not, gets the same amount of resources, financial or otherwise, put into LT research and development and that that research is acted upon by the EU and the LT industry. It is vital that we work together to ensure that none of our languages are left behind.”
Next edition

The next ELT newsletter will be sent out on 10 May 2022. Until then, follow our ELT social media accounts (as linked below) for the latest news! 

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Why did I get this email?
The European Language Grid is an initiative funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement № 825627 (ELG).
The European Language Equality Project has received funding from the European Union under the grant agreement № LC-01641480 – 101018166 (ELE)
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