AI-powered language technology helping to shape EUROPE’S MULTILINGUAL FUTURE


An excellent example of how EU Council Presidency staff members and public administration translators can utilize AI-powered neural machine translation to facilitate and speed up multilingual communication is demonstrated by Finland. During its 2019 Presidency of the EU Council, Finland set a record for the EU Presidency Translator usage: more than 740 thousand translations containing over 12.7 million words. The EU Presidency Translator enables delegates, journalists, translators, and visitors to cross language barriers and access multilingual information by using machine translation to automatically translate texts, full documents, and local websites. Even though Finland has concluded its Presidency, the Prime Minister’s Office of Finland is still actively using the customized machine translation tool in its daily work. More than 5 million words have already been translated in the first two months of 2020 between Finnish-Swedish-Finnish and English-Finnish-English language combinations.

According to Kaisamari Kuhmonen, Head of the Language Services Unit for the Prime Minister’s Office of Finland: “Working in a busy translation and terminology unit serving all ministries in Finland, we handle large workloads and have to maintain very high standards. Even after we concluded our Presidency, both our translators and other public administration employees are still using the Presidency Translator. The translators use the neural machine translation which is integrated into their translation memory software, on a daily basis. It speeds up the translation process and lightens the translators’ workload. Other employees use it via the EU Council Presidency Translator website whenever they need help in drafting or understanding foreign language texts.”

Until quite recently, machine translation yielded rather poor results for the Finnish language. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning have enabled the language technology company Tilde, acting in close partnership with the European Commission’s CEF eTranslation team to develop customized neural machine translation systems that produce viable results for even small, structurally challenging languages such as Finnish. When translating, Neural MT systems examine the full context of a sentence, producing highly readable translations that are almost human-like in style.

The idea for The EU Presidency Translator Project was born in 2015 when Latvia hosted the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, during which time it hosted more than 1,680 events. Tilde recognised the urgent need to help the Presidency’s members to deal with massive amounts of multilingual information and suggested using machine translation as a solution. This proved to be so successful and useful that it pioneered the future EU Presidency Translator. Since then Tilde, together with the European Commission’s CEF eTranslation team, has developed full customized neural machine translation solutions for Estonia, Bulgaria, Austria, Romania, Finland and is currently supporting Croatia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Since 2017, the EU Presidency Translator has processed more than 2.3 million translation requests translating almost 60 million words! A corresponding interview with Tilde’s CEO Andrejs Vasiljevs and Head of the Language Services Unit for the Prime Minister’s Office of Finland Kaisamari Kuhmonen is available here.