Language Trade Group Teams With EU on Translation Tech

A global language industry association has partnered with the European Union to promote several new programs aiming to help overcome challenges posed by the continent's two dozen languages. Supporters say the efforts will help boost European economic success.

Parlez-vous français? Me neither. But if I lived in Europe I might—and, if a new effort by the world’s largest language industry trade association is successful, I might be able to understand a few other tongues, too.

Building on the goals of the Horizon 2020 Initiative, a continent-wide effort to improve economic prospects and resolve societal inequities across Europe, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) is teaming up with the European Union to fund the creation of better translation technologies and language education programs.

Economic officials say that with more than two dozen languages spoken across the EU’s 28 countries, communication remains a key impediment to the European economic success.

“With 24 official languages in the EU and countless regional languages and dialects to consider, we commend the EU for its efforts to promote multilingual access and equality,” said GALA CEO Hans Fenstermacher in a statement about the partnership.

One of GALA’s other initiatives, QTLaunchPad, seeks “to improve translation technology through industry collaboration with European research institutes.” Specifically, the program’s focus is better translation technologies for business and industry.

While evolving online translation tools from the likes of Google, Microsoft, and others continue to make strides, QTLaunchPad program administrators state on its website that funding and research and development in language programs is sorely lacking when “compared to budgets of other research fields with similar economic potential.”

In an online survey of translation professionals used by QTLaunchPad developers to map industry trends, 77 percent of respondents who use machine translation (MT) said they received increasing requests from clients for high-quality MT.

GALA is involved in other initiatives as well. Through META-NET, a self-described “network of excellence forging the Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance,” the trade association is committed to helping develop a range of translation tools that accommodate different European languages. This includes language-based interfaces for technology spanning “household electronics, machinery, vehicles, computers, robots, and more,” according to the META-NET site.

Beyond its technical focus, GALA is partnering with colleges and universities to promote the acquisition of master’s degrees in translation. The goal: to enhance the skills of European job seekers in the global economy.

Associations looking to expand globally have a lot to gain from localization efforts like GALA’s, as Associations Now‘s Ernie Smith reported earlier this year. How are you making connections abroad and meeting the language challenge? Share your story in the comments.


Corey Murray

By Corey Murray

Corey Murray is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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