A three-day W3C Multilingual Web Workshop yesterday finished up at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in which web experts from corporations, the European Commission and research institutions from around the globe met to discuss the development of standard means to simplify the creation and translation of web content.
Dublin City University’s Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) hosted the three-day workshop at TCD, which was attended by representatives from the European Commission, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe Systems, as well as research institutions from around the world.
The purpose of the workshop was to share ideas about advancing best practices and standards to support the adaptation and translation of web content to local needs, from its creation through to its delivery to end users.
Trading on the web
The eventual aim is to help to remove language barriers to international trade and facilitate the free flow of information across language borders.
The workshop was organised by the MultilingualWeb-LT (language technology) Working Group, which comprises international producers of content, language technology experts, language service providers, tool makers and end users.
The group itself is co-chaired by CNGL researchers Dr David Lewis of TCD and Dr David Filip of University of Limerick, together with Dr Felix Sasaki of the DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence) in Berlin.
Pointing to how the web is growing ever more diverse linguistically, Lewis said that currently less than one-third of internet users speak English as their native language.
“That proportion will continue to decrease as the web expands, leading to greater demand for translation or ‘localisation’ of web content for users in different countries," he said.
The Science Foundation Ireland-funded CNGL referred to how the barriers to distributing content in more than one language mean lost business.
For instance, it pointed studies that show that while 30pc of EU citizens have purchased goods online, only 7pc have purchased from a retailer in another EU member state.
"The fragmentation of established standards or guidelines for the creation of multilingual web content adds significantly to the difficulty, time and cost associated with adapting the content for foreign markets," said Lewis.
He added that the Multilingual Web-LT Group is aiming to creating broadly-accepted standards that will enable web technologies such as content management systems and machine translation tools to work together seamlessly.
This will be in order to reduce the overheads associated with reaching international audiences in their own language, added Lewis.
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