The Slovenia Times

New language tech tools developed for Slovenian

EconomyScience & EducationScience & Technology

New language technology tools that can be used for anything from interfaces for cars to phone apps have been developed as part of a project designed to equip the Slovenian language for the digital age.

A translator for Slovenian into English and vice versa, speech recognition, a tool that recognises which parts of a text are persons or organisations, and a tool that summarises longer text into more concise formats are just some of the results of the Development of Slovenian in a Digital Environment, known by its Slovenian acronym RSDO.

The tools, developed in a €4 million project that has involved 120 researchers, will be available for test use in the coming months.

The entire source code and databases will be publicly available under an open source license, and all apps will be available on the public portal of the project.

"This means anyone can take out solutions and implement them in their products. Whether it be a car that has to understand your commands, a fridge, or any other product that must speak or understand Slovenian," says project leader Simon Krek, who works at the Centre for Language Resources and Technology at the University of Ljubljana and the Jožef Stefan Institute.

The tools are long overdue. According to Krek, only the Latvian, Lithuanian, Croatian, Slovak, Irish and Maltese languages rank lower than Slovenian in terms of how developed language technologies for the specific language are.

Shortage of financing is one reason. Another is the relatively small number of language technology companies. To add to the problems, there was no study programme in this field until this year, when a digital linguistics programme was introduced.

And funding will remain a challenge going forward. Just like any information technology, these solutions need constant maintenance. Krek believes the project should be transformed into a programme so as to ensure continuous financing.


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