Insight: Multilingual Digital Single Market at Riga Summit 2015

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The Riga Summit took place in Riga, Latvia from April 27-29, 2015, and gathered more than 350 participants from all parts of the world, representatives of various fields – businesses, the European parliament, Latvian parliament, technology providers, linguists and researchers.

Ready to begin

Ready to begin

The central theme of the Summit was Multilingual Digital Single Market and its multilingual challenge.

In European Union are spoken 24 official languages, and many more dialects and minority languages (for instance Russian language not being official EU language is spoken by more than 5 million people residing in EU as native language and by many more as second language, which makes it the 7th in the list of the most widely spoken languages in EU). Therefore, Digital Single Market has tremendous potential if you think that the European Digital Single Market would account for approximately 25% of global economic potential. At this moment, European market still consists of many local markets with language barriers. Only addressing the official regional languages of Europe would open access to more than 50% of the world’s online potential and over 70% of the world online market in economic terms. (Benjamin B. Sargent, Common Sense Advisory (2013): “The 116 Most Economically Active Languages On-Line“)

Translation remains too expensive for many European SMEs (source: http://www.rigasummit2015.eu/sites/rigasummit2015.eu/files/Strategic-Agenda-for-Multilingual-DSM%20.pdf)

Translation remains too expensive for many European SMEs (source: http://www.rigasummit2015.eu/sites/rigasummit2015.eu/files/Strategic-Agenda-for-Multilingual-DSM%20.pdf)

Translation is one of the highest budget items in European Commission. In order to reduce the cost and to make it assessable to SMEs, the European Language Community discussed establishing technologies that are able to process and to translate spoken and written language in an accurate, reliable, fast and high-quality way. And as a surveys show that less than 30% of current automatic translation is useful and reliable. Still, the volume that is being translated by human translators in a year is being translated by Google Translate per day. So, this pushes the European Community to investigate the innovative translation solutions for the Digital Single Market.

Agro-Know participated to the summit, as well as the Multilingual Web Workshop to get close to the updates regarding multilinguality in the EU (building on its previous experience through the Organic.Lingua ICT-PSP project), as well as to identify requirements that will allow Agro-Know to better meet the multilinguality needs of the FREME-powered Agro-Know Stem users. The FREME e-services are expected to enhance Agro-Know Stem, enabling (among others) multilingual features, thus expanding the targeted market by supporting non-English speaking researchers. An example of the application of the FREME services can be found in the newly launched FAO AGRIS customer service and UNESCO’s Global Water Pathogen Project.

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During the social event at Small Guild Hall we had an opportunity to follow an outstanding performance of Balsis, one of the best Latvian choirs, which was experimenting with their mobile devices simultaneously translating Latvian folk songs in the languages requested by people from the audience.

I would like to congratulate local organizers Tilde with the great success and flowless coordination of the event. Also, let me thank organizers for the huge job and tremendous support and enthusiasm shown throughout the whole summit.

You can find some photos from the event on our Flickr photostream.

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