Lack of Technology Support Driving Most European Languages into Digital Extinction

According to a team of European researchers, including scientists from the University of Manchester’s National Centre for Text Mining (NaCTeM), an astounding 21 European languages are facing digital extinction due to insufficient language technology software support.

In today’s high tech environment, language technology software is everything; it includes machine translation systems, web search engines, spelling and grammar checkers, speech processing, and smartphone personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri. The problem is these technologies are not available in most European languages.

The study evaluated language technology support (excellent, good, moderate, fragmentary and weak/no support) for each European language across four areas: automatic translation, speech interaction, text analysis and availability of language resources.

Receiving the lowest scores in all areas (weak/no support), Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian and Maltese were at the highest risk for extinction. Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Greek, Hungarian and Polish showed fragmentary support and are therefore also at risk. Languages receiving moderate support included Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. View the complete results of the study here.

What do these results reveal? To the researchers it is clear: unless language technology support is available for these languages, they may soon disappear altogether from our digital world.

Sources:

Science Daily

META-NET

Press Release: Marketers Losing Trillions in Lost Sales Due to Website Translation

  • ‘Black hole’ of sales that are lost in translation as high as $30 trillion
  • Eleven languages can reach 85 per cent of the world’s population
  • Translation technology allows marketers to localise website content without ‘on-the-ground teams’

A $30 trillion internet sales black hole is being lost in translation because marketers are not localising their websites for different countries, according to online translation technology company Dakwak.

In the past two years the economic potential of making money online has grown from $36.5 to $44.6 trillion. However, just one third of that figure is available if websites are only available

in English. And, according to Dakwak, that figure is even less with websites solely in languages not as widely used as English – for example Portuguese, Russian or Japanese. This leaves $30 trillion in potential untapped sales which businesses could be cashing in on.*

According to Waheed Barghouthi, CEO at Dakwak, language is a key factor in online purchasing behaviour – however some businesses are missing out on potentially large sums of money by failing to adapt their sites for the global marketplace.

Just eleven languages gain access to 85 per cent of the world’s online wallet, according to Dakwak.

Waheed said: “Research has shown that 85 per cent of consumers are more inclined to buy a product when confronted with information in their own language, and 54 per cent say this is more important than the actual price.

“This tells us that comfort and confidence in reading a website that has been translated into your language is a huge factor in the purchasing decision, but many businesses are failing to do this, as they see website translation and localisation as a costly exercise involving big budgets and teams of people.”

Launched today [November 21], Dakwak, a cloud-based software, helps companies of varying sizes and budgets that are looking to take their business further into international markets.

It completely removes the entire process of putting up a translated version of a website such as any technical involvement and employing localised teams in several countries and is the only software which gives marketers total control over their translated websites, as they are able to put up, take down and edit any translated content themselves.

And Dakwak’s unique multi-layered system, allows marketers the flexibility to choose between crowd, machine and professional translation options.

Waheed added: “The potential for businesses to maximise sales by creating localised content, without having to hire teams of translators and developers, or even visit the country you want to sell to, is enormous. The internet has broken

down borders for global trade, and removing language barriers

by using online translation software can help change a business’s fortunes.”

Ends

For more information contact greg.aris@smarts.co.uk or visit dakwak.com

Figures quoted from CSA Research report 2012 ‘In the past two years, the addressable economic potential using online communication has risen from US$36.5 trillion to $44.6 trillion. Only a third of that total is addressable

in English as a native tongue.’

Microsoft Developing Instant Speech Translator

Can you imagine traveling to China and speaking to people in fluent Mandarin with no prior knowledge of the language? According to software giant Microsoft, this could soon be a reality.

The Microsoft research team is currently developing and refining speech translation software that is capable of translating speech instantly. The technology imitates the intonation and cadence of

the speaker, delivering more real and natural-sounding translations.

In a recent video presentation, Microsoft’s Chief Research Officer, Rick Rashid, demonstrated how their translation technology converts spoken English into Mandarin – in real time and in the speaker’s own voice. Watch the demo here.

Although today there are a number of translation technologies that deal with human speech recognition, Microsoft wants to go a step further and perfect past breakthroughs.

Working with scientists from the University of Toronto, Microsoft has been able to slash translation errors

from 20-25% down to 15% thanks to a technique called Deep Neural Networks. With this technique, which is modeled on how the human brain works, the researchers were “able to train more discriminative and better speech recognizers than previous methods.”

While the technology is still not perfect, Rashid calls the improvement a “dramatic change” and believes that “in a few years we will have systems that can completely break down language barriers…we may not have to wait until the 22nd century for a usable equivalent of Star Trek’s universal translator.”

Sources:

Microsoft

BBC

Celebrities Invest in Recession-Proof Language Services Industry

Since 2008, only a handful of industries have escaped the economic pitfalls of the global recession and even fewer can say they experienced growth. The language services industry is one of them. According to Common Sense Advisory, the language services industry has experienced a rapid and steady growth even in the face of a harsh economic climate; in 2008 the market totaled US$14.25 billion and today it is worth US$33.5 billion. It is indeed a buzzing market and is projected to keep growing at an annual rate of 12.17%.

What makes the language services industry virtually immune to the recession? Primarily globalization driven by the help of the internet. More and more companies are realizing the importance of international selling and are focusing their efforts on breaking cultural and language barriers, and reaching global audiences through language services providers.

The language services market holds such great potential for financial opportunity and increasing international brand awareness that even celebrities are investing in language technology.

Actor Ashton Kutcher, also an avid tech investor, and best-selling author Tim Ferriss, both backed the startup DuoLingo, a language-learning website and crowd-sourced translation platform. In 2011, member of rock back KISS, Gene Simmons, became business partner and spokesperson for Ortsbo, a machine translation technology that supports major social media platforms.

Entrepreneur and CEO of Salesforce.com, Marc Benioff, is yet another well-known personality who invested in Cloudwords, a cloud-based translation platform. Who is the latest celebrity to inject funds into a language technology company? That would be business tycoon and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, who recently financed LinguaSys, an international provider of human language technologies including the machine translation software, Carabao.

No doubt, language and global business go hand in hand; more accurately, global trade could not exist without the technology to bridge the gap between language boundaries. It should come as no surprise then that translation tools/software is one of the fastest growing and most in-demand service today.

Source: Common Sense Advisory

Speak My Language

Former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt once said: “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying from you, dann Müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen,” (“then you have to speak German”).

For any business aiming to successfully penetrate foreign markets, these wise and relevant words cannot be overlooked. With 72.1% of international consumers spending most or all of

their time on sites in their native language and 85% requiring information in their own language before making an online purchase, a monolingual website is just not going to get you the exposure and benefits you seek.

Translating your website is definitely the way you want to go, but it shouldn’t stop there. Simply translating your website will not maximize your company’s reach, nor will it effectively deliver information to your target audience. Localization will.

While translation (whether machine, professional or crowd-sourced) will convert your website text into another language, localization will ensure your entire website “speaks” the language of your target market and is adapted to their culture as well as satisfy any technical and legal aspects.

Let’s take a closer look at what localization takes into consideration and offers, which translation alone does not:

  • Text that is more accurate and recognizes local sensitivities.
  • Graphics

    and multimedia assets that can be fully adapted and localized so they are culturally appropriate and acceptable to the target audience.

  • Adopting the correct local currencies, units of measurements, date and number formats, addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Choice of colors – colors have different associations in different cultures.
  • Customizing style sheets to suit particular language requirements. For example, accommodating for text expansion for languages that tend to have longer translations such as German and Spanish; accommodating for languages that use double-byte characters such as Japanese; accommodating for toggling between two languages and fonts and languages that read from right to left such as Arabic.
  • Search engine visibility so a

    translated website is found by users searching in their native language.If you are interested in translating and localizing your website, try dakwak’s 14-day free trial. dakwak offers multi-layered translation and a publishing workflow system that enables you to pick and choose your translation mechanisms. The interactive and customizable platform allows you to manage and personalize all your website content easily and effectively for each target language.