Language Digitization Initiative
Language is the primary method of communicating information and knowledge, which in turn are the crucial factors in economic, educational and social well-being. Everyone speaks one, two or more languages and to communicate, learn and work in one’s own language is a human right. Our everyday life is increasingly dependent on technology and our digital lives are dependent on our languages. The intersection of language and technology is not well understood and we are creating a roadmap, workflows and resources to help all languages have equal digital footprint.
We seek a world where speakers of all languages will have equal digital opportunities and share knowledge. Our mission is to provide a roadmap and create resources for a digital ecosystem where all languages are equal and speakers can pursue educational, cultural and economic opportunities.
Each language in the world has a different digital footprint. Even some of the top 20 languages are not fully represented in the entire digital roadmap shown below. It is a complex and multi-stakeholder journey for any language to be fully developed digitally. Without fonts and input methods, thousands of indigenous languages cannot even start such a journey. Without educational material, there will be limited content and, without datasets, most languages will not have fully-functional automation support in applications. Without properly trained linguists, knowledge will not be shared and cultural treasures will be lost.
With many international agencies and companies working towards 100% connectivity, we ask: In what language will the next billion people use the internet? Bringing connectivity to emerging countries will solve many problems and create great opportunities. BUT connectivity alone will not allow people to be online unless their language is digitally supported. To partake fully in the benefits of online connectivity, people will need to be able to type, speak and read the online material in their own language.
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. Our Strategic Plan for the next 12 years is in accordance with the newly announced International Decade of Indigenous Languages and are already working on it. Our network of volunteers comes from all language specializations, our educational network of universities and schools is rapidly expanding and our platform offers free training and practice for new linguists, putting Translation Commons in a unique position to be the Language Technology partner among the team of Partner Organizations striving for 100% global connectivity and addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our social-civil society partnership 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 Global 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.
How you can help
Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our community. Their passion for language and their expertise in technology are the cornerstones of all our initiatives. Their selfless commitment and clear vision of the roadmap that our industry needs to follow are a testament to the merit of a united global language community.
Our Programs are solutions-oriented and we focus on actionable deliverables. We set achievable and realistic goals and we have a track record of providing solutions and delivering as planned. During 2020 and 2021 we are working on creating multiple free resources, guidelines, workshops and courses to populate the Language Technology Roadmap.
Here are some projects our volunteers have been working on:
- Mentoring Guidelines, more material on the Mentoring Group page
- eCoLo, Resources (for training on tools), Training kits (to learn content localization) and Media (to learn new skills)
- Interoperability Project
- “Indigenous Languages: Zero to Digital”, guidelines to help indigenous communities create their own digital infrastructure
Translation Commons is a nonprofit and it belongs to the community.
You can support the community by making a one-off or regular donation of any amount.
Your donation will help us develop the community and put even more resources for everyone to use.
You personal dashboard
Below are some things you can do on the TC platform
Contribute a resource
Sharing information and knowledge is at the heart of the TC community. Every time you share a link to a free resource or you upload any type of resource, you help the rest of the community to learn something new. All your uploads are listed at the drop-down menu “my contributions” in your dashboard. It is very important to let us know where to place your uploaded material.
Here are some examples:
- Link to a free resource goes to the Resources Hub
- Link to a free tool or a free trial of a tool goes to Translate
- Material to be used for translation goes to Translate/Material for Translation
- Tutorials and Articles go to the Learning Center
- Video tutorials if they general information go to the Learning Center, if they are tool specific go to the Resources Hub/Training
- Let us know of any news you have to share in our news section, you may add photos or video links too.
- Write a post for the Translation Commons blog and upload in a word document.
If you unsure where a resource or link should go, ask Krista to decide.
You can also create new material using the tools and then upload them to TC:
Please make sure to give enough information so we upload it correctly.
Translation Commons is a Social-Civil society partner to IYIL2019. Under the guidance of UNESCO, our volunteers have undertaken two projects:
- The creation of a step-by-step guide for indigenous languages to start digitizing and become able to use their language online, Indigenous Languages: Zero to Digital.
- University Events to promote awareness amongst students and put the foundations for future research.
We presented all the work done so far at IMUG at the LinkedIn HQ on October 17th and again at the Unicode conference on October 18th.
Next we are presenting at the ATA conference on October 26th and LocWorld conference on November 6th
Translation Commons aims to deliver a solid member experience by being responsive to your needs and wishes. Our development team is working hard to accommodate all the new features that will enhance functionality and collaboration. Take a look at what our wonderful volunteers and engineers are working on.
Universities that joined TC
These are just some of the many universities that both Professors and students have become members and are active in the various volunteer groups.