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identify those areas of research that need to be
accelerated and help to ease the transition of current
knowledge and technologies across linguistic borders
to prevent duplication of effort. HLT has increasing-
ly refocused on engineering solutions to HLT prob-
lems, therefore a central agency would enable
technical solutions to be expanded, maximise the
effect of contributions from the investment commu-
nity, ease the process of transferring HLT to the
marketplace, and allow these solutions to encourage
new theoretical research.
It is hoped that an EU-wide marketplace for
HLT research and development may encourage the
identification of `best practice', transferable technical
solutions, models and architectures that can be
applied to any national language. Only with a robust
infrastructure such as this can the research and
development already performed be fully exploited
to eliminate barriers to communication across
Europe.
HUMAN LANGUAGE TECHNOLOGY CENTRAL
HLTCentral (http://www.hltcentral.org/) is a
dedicated server providing a gateway to speech and
language technology opportunities and related top-
ics of interest to the HLT community.The Website
includes breaking news, new developments in
research, technology and business in the field of
speech, language, multilinguality, automatic transla-
tion, localisation and related areas. Its coverage of
HLT news and developments is worldwide - with
a unique European perspective.
on a country-by-country basis.The study identified
European HLT `leaders' and suggested how other
countries could develop in the future. Key to the
report's conclusions was the relationship between
the European Research Area and investment in HLT
and the developments made.
Recommendations included the transition from
(currently) somewhat geography-specific, inward-
facing studies into a pan-European technology level
of language equality, and the creation of a Language
Technology Agency to moderate the funding and
provision of language resources.
The report found that it is increasingly common
to find a multi-language focus in European HLT
research and that, as this community becomes more
integrated, individual language expertise can be
shared across the EU, encouraging multinational
ownership without severing ties with national lan-
guage communities.Those nations who have benefit-
ed from consistent long-term funding (from public
bodies, higher education institutes or national research
organisations) have become leading innovators in
HLT with approaches often mirroring local priorities.
However, to create a truly multilingual HLT policy
across the EU, there must be significant further public
investment in bringing HLT for all languages to a
similar level market forces alone are unlikely to pro-
vide the necessary resources to achieve this relative
equality of development.
The Language Technology Agency (LTA) would
HLT IN EUROPE: THE EUROMAP
LANGUAGE TECHNOLOGIES PROJECT
The applications of HLT to an advanced eco-
nomic yet linguistically diverse area such as Europe
are obvious.There are already eleven official lan-
guages in the EU
1
not counting regional lan-
guages (e.g. Catalan), non-official national languages
(e.g.Welsh) and immigrant languages (e.g. Urdu in
Britain,Turkish in Germany) and with thirteen
more `applicant' countries, this number will continue
to grow. Multilingualism has become almost a
necessity, particularly for international business.
European countries, while generally willing to
integrate into a multinational Europe, are neverthe-
less keen to preserve cultural and linguistic diversity,
to maintain their own languages alongside commu-
nication at an international level.The transparency
of language is therefore vital to enable all citizens to
access information provided at a continental level.
Developing HLT for the many different
European languages is an extremely complex task;
however, this difficulty itself encourages research
and development of one of the most important and
influential communication technologies of the
future. Several European projects have begun
research programmes that will improve HLT,
including the recently completed EUROPMAP
project. (For many more projects dealing with HLT
issues and technologies, please visit DigiCULT's
page of natural language processing links:
http://www.digicult.info/pages/links. php?t=16).
EUROMAP
EUROMAP (http://www.hltcentral.org/page-
56.shtml) investigated the take-up and use of state-
of-the-art HLT in European countries. As part of
this work it compared current research and take-up
EUROMAP came to an end in April 2003 and
the final report is now available online from:
http://www.hltcentral.org/page-243.0.shtml
(you can obtain a free printed copy of the
report by contacting the National Focal Point
of your country details from http://www.hlt
central.org/page- 59.shtml).
The DigiCULT Forum will consider
issues relating to the use of Human
Language Technologies in future
publications.
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C
O N TAC T T H E
P
E O P L E
B
E H I N D
DigiCULT F
O R U M
Salzburg Research
Forschungsgesellschaft m.b.H
DigiCULT Project Manager
John Pereira, john.pereira@salzburgresearch.at
DigiCULT Thematic Issue Scientific Editor
Guntram Geser, guntram.geser@salzburgresearch.at
DigiCULT Network Co-ordinator
Birgit Retsch, birgit.retsch@salzburgresearch.at
HATII Humanities Advanced Technology and
Information Institute
Director, HATII & ERPANET
Seamus Ross, s.ross@hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk
DigiCULT Forum Technology Assessor
Martin Donnelly, m.donnelly@hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk
DigiCULT.Info Content & Managing Editor
Daisy Abbott, d.abbott@hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk
DigiCULT Web Developer
Brian Aitken, b.aitken@hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk
1 Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek,
Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.