Global communications is becoming a matter of data and technology. Data in this context are collections of text and speech corpora. Technology is translation automation technology. Organizations – both business and government – that do not have access to data and technology are at risk to be left out from global communications. The future of English, or of any other language, as a lingua franca is most uncertain. Linguistic diversity on the internet keeps rising.
Around the world some 7,000 languages are being spoken, four hundred of which have more than one million speakers. The vast majority of businesses and public institutions in the world ‘speak’ only one or two languages. Businesses – large and small – need to communicate in the languages of their customers. The translation services industry is struggling to keep up with the demand for capacity and speed. Translation in ten or more languages is a luxury that only the largest enterprises and rich NGOs can afford.
TAUS calls for the Human Language Project. The Human Language Project is intended to be a global collaboration between business, government, academia and individuals with the goal of making language data and technology accessible to all stakeholders in the world. The Human Language Project will be instrumental and crucial for:
- Economic growth of nations and communities with ‘smaller’ languages
- Preserving cultural heritage of lesser resourced language communities
- International trade and growth of the world economy
- Supporting many UN and NGO programs and institutions in securing and protecting health, peace and welfare around the world
- Growing the global translation industry
TAUS is only one of many language and translation industry organizations in the world that is concerned about the future of the translation profession and industry. We invite other industry organizations, governments, NGOs and private business and enterprises to join in this ambitious plan to form a global organization. We envision the creation of the Global Language Organization (GLO) as a not for profit organization that unites the interests of all stakeholders.
GLO will undertake all necessary activities to stimulate access, creation and sharing of language and technology as shared commons. These activities will include among others:
- Guidance on language policies for public and private sectors
- Interoperability of language data and technology
- Copyright and legal guidance on language data
GLO will have a global span through a network of ‘ambassadors’ in most language communities and countries.
We invite all interested parties to join a brainstorming discussion about this Call for the Human Language Project at the TAUS Annual Conference on October 27-28 in Vancouver, where a timeline and an initial plan of action will be plotted.