AI has the potential to revolutionise the use of minority languages

AI or artificial intelligence is set to change every aspect of our daily life in the next five to ten years –
even the way in which we use language.

Ensuring that minority languages are not overlooked is both vital and possible as the use of AI surges
forward. Its use could in fact revolutionise the use of minority languages, helping them to survive
and thrive in the digital age, according to Dr Cynog Prys of Bangor University.
Experts from across Europe in fields ranging from AI and digital technology to linguistics and
sociology are to meet to discuss how the current, and forthcoming, revolution in language
technologies will impact language use at an event being organised by Dr Cynog Prys at Bangor
University on 9 September.

Key among the speakers at Technology and language rights: a look to the future is Miriam Gerken,
author of a report commissioned by the Council of Europe’s Secretariat of the European Charter for
Regional or Minority Languages on how AI will affect the Council’s commitment to support minority

“Language Technologies and AI could provide a real impetus to protect and promote regional and
minority languages,”
explains Miriam.

“Enabling people to use minority languages digitally, whether in an official capacity, as a consumer
or to connect with others, will help lesser used languages to remain current and vital parts of the
country’s cultural identity. AI can contribute by ensuring that language technologies such as machine
translation, chatbots, speech synthesis and even automatic subtitling, needed to make online videos conform to accessibility standards, are available in people’s chosen language.

“All of these language technologies rely on training data that is processed through natural language
processing (NLP). The goal of NLP is to develop programmes that can read, process, analyse and
ultimately understand natural languages in all their complexity. NLP technologies offer countless
new possibilities for using regional or minority languages in the digital world, which is why they need
to be a part of language protection today.”

Cynog says,

“In many ways, the Welsh language is in a strong position, especially when compared to other
minority languages. Welsh language technologies enable us to use the Welsh language in the digital
sphere, but the challenge remains while the digital offer becomes increasingly sophisticated.”

“The fact that the private sector is not included under the current Welsh legislation means that a
significant percentage of the digital world, used daily by Welsh speakers, continues to be available in
English only. Finding technological solutions to this problem is the central challenge for Welsh
language technologists and policy-makers alike.”

Technology and language rights: a look to the future Roadshow and Language Rights working group’
is organised by Language in the Human-Machine Era, a pan-European network of experts. The
activities form part of COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) which is funded by
the European Union.

The free to attend event also includes a roadshow including talks from leading language
technologists including Hillary Juma, Community Manager of Common Voice, an international
project to create a publicly available voice dataset, powered by the voices of volunteer contributors
around the world. The dataset can be used to build voice applications to train machine learning

The Roadshow also has demonstrations of some of the latest technologies. These include LinguaSkin,
which enables web applications to be offered in multiple languages, the Welsh language voice
assistant, Macsen, and applications currently used by Bangor University’s Canolfan Bedwyr and
under development at the University’s Language Technologies Unit.

People can book to attend the free event at:

You are also invited to attend the roadshow in-person.

Here’s the programme:

You can chat to experts and sample some of the technologies which enable minority
languages to be used in the digital world.

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