New Report on Language Technology for Danish

2019-05-10

New Report on Language Technology for Danish

 

A report on language technology and an overview of language resources for Danish has been published by the Danish Language Council.

At the beginning of 2018, the Danish Minister of Culture established a language technology committee led by the Danish Language Council. During 2018, the Committee has involved more than 120 public and private institutions and businesses in a series of workshops and seminars to identify the need for language technology for Danish and to explore the possibilities for supporting the use of Danish in artificial intelligence applications. The results are now presented in a report.

The message from the committee is very clear: The development of chat robots, speech assistants, text analysis systems, automatic translation etc. with high language quality for Danish is a huge challenge for global and local AI companies. The investments required are too high, and this discourages the development of new AI products for Danish in a healthy and competitive market.  

Public investments in open language resources and better tools for Danish language understanding (voice and text) are needed in order for the Danish society to benefit from the new technologies. At the same time, it is necessary to invest more in education and research on Danish language technology.

Over the years, a number of language resources and tools for Danish have been created based on public and private initiatives, but the linguistic resources for Danish are still scattered and not coordinated. In particular, insufficient attention has been paid to the fact that these resources, which often cost millions to produce, should be made freely available. This means that many data sets are limited or not available at all.

The committee therefore proposes:

1. The creation of an organisation that coordinates the actions for Danish language technology;
2. The creation of a Danish language repository that supports the development and maintenance of Danish products based on language technology and artificial intelligence by making Danish language resources and language tools freely available. This includes a Danish terminology bank.
3. Better education in Danish language technology.
4. More research on Danish language technology.


The Committee also suggests that public institutions should have more focus on making linguistic data available to ensure the use of Danish in all areas of society, and for instance, to make translated texts available to improve machine translation technologies.
 
As part of the report, the committee has published an overview of the Danish language resources and data sets which could be identified in the context of the committee’s work and might serve as the basis for a language repository for Danish.

The Danish Minister of Culture, Mette Bock, acknowledges the work that has been put into the report, and continues: "It is quite clear from the report that technologies containing linguistic components play an increasingly important role. It is vital that the Danish language is able to follow this development at a time where language technology gradually becomes part of more and more areas of our lives”.

Chairman of the language technology committee, Sabine Kirchmeier, international advisor of the Danish Language Council, adds:

”The importance of language for the development of artificial intelligence has gone unnoticed for far too long. Many people believe that data are only numbers, ignoring the fact, that there is an enormous pool of knowledge about our people and our society hidden in Danish texts and recordings of spoken Danish. But you need to crack the language code to understand the content – and in order to do this we need better language technology for Danish and free access to more language data.  

It has been a hard, but also gratifying work to create an overview of the situation of the Danish language with regard to language technology. The topic is complex and we have made an effort to explain it thoroughly hoping that the report may also be read as an introduction to language technology by the Danish public. There is strong support for the 4 recommendations which are put forward by a unanimous committee”.

The report and the list of Danish language resources are available for download from the website of the Danish Language Council:

Language technology report
 
Overview of Danish resources