Language Digitization Initiative

We believe in the power of language!

Imagine a world where no one speaks your language and you do not understand the languages spoken around you.  You cannot communicate your lack of understanding, your needs or values, and cannot contribute your knowledge or suggestions.  You fall behind others who are able to learn from knowledge being disseminated in other languages and you become increasingly dependent on the good will of others. The isolation and limited learning keep you in poverty and prevent you from climbing out of it. Without being able to share your values and cultural heritage, you feel they are being lost.This scenario is the experience of many speakers of indigenous languages.

The freedom to communicate, learn and work in one’s own language is a human right.

It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few. Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression.  They also use it to construct their future.

Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development.

The world increasingly relies on computers for communications; whether it is producing and publishing paper documents, or hosting online Web pages or social media that can be viewed by millions, or delivering one on one text messages. People that only speak languages that are not supported by digital systems are left out. Left out of education, important news, and surrounding society.

We seek a world where speakers of all languages will have equal digital opportunities and share knowledge.

Our vision is for all languages to be supported by digital systems. This will bring equality and representation to speakers of indigenous languages.To implement our vision, we looked at the requirements for enabling a language to be supported by digital systems; ie to digitize a language. We also looked at the history of digitizing existing languages. These requirements are captured in our roadmap and language technology workflow, which prescribes the steps that should be taken to digitize a language. We are now forming coalitions with linguists and technologists and gathering sponsors and partners to use the roadmap to create more detailed plans this year. Then over the next decade we intend to execute those plans and bring the indigenous languages into the digital future.

No-one is more qualified to undertake this mega-project than language professionals.

Translation Commons, a nonprofit public charity, aims to provide a reliable and scalable method of digitally rendering a language. We seek to solve the problem that unrepresented languages have in participating in a global communications network. We present a methodology that can easily be utilized by non-technical users to meet the particular needs of their language. Translation Commons is a social-civil society partner with International Year of Indigenous Languages and working with UNESCO has solidified our commitment to the next 12 years Action Plan for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032).

Our Language Digitization Initiative is working over the next decade with many other organizations to: provide solutions and bring all the world’s languages online, create standard educational settings for them and provide equal economic opportunities by creating resources according to the Language Technology Workflow.




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