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5.1.14. Ireland

FLaReNet Summary

The Irish funding agency is the SFI (Science Foundation Ireland). The biggest single speech research project in Ireland is the Dublin CNGL (Centre for Next Generation Localisation) work on localization, funded by SFI at about 24 M€ for 5 years (€16.8M to the project by SFI, and the industry partners are contributing €13.6M in materials, research services and additional funding). SFI also supports the Fastnet projects (Focus on Actions in Social Talk; Network-Enabling Technology) at 1.2 M€ over 5 years.

The second funding source is Foras na Gaelige, which supports Irish language research. There is a speech synthesis project funded by Foras na Gaelige, as well as the development of Language processing tools and dictionary research. Speech-related research tends to be more speech-therapy based, and here Universities of Galway and Cork are very active.

The Irish Gaelic language is now an official EU language. Various social, educational and political factors in Ireland have created a strong demand for ICT which caters for the growing demand for digital information in Irish, while the effort has rather been directed towards a significant concentration of language localization expertise and research which has fuelled a strong industry around LT in the translation and localization fields, while the state of the art Language Technologies developed in Ireland are slow in being applied to national interests and the Irish language itself, such as the availability of Computer Aided Language Learning, or CALL, tools in the classroom.

Contact Point Input

National/Regional contact: Joseph Von Genabith, Dublin City University.
National/Regional contact: Nick Campbell, Trinity College Dublin.

Programs

The Irish funding agency is the SFI (Science Foundation Ireland).

The biggest single speech research project in Ireland is the Dublin CNGL (Centre for Next Generation Localisation) work on localization, funded by SFI at about 24 M€ for 5 years (€16.8M to the project by SFI, and the industry partners are contributing €13.6M in materials, research services and additional funding)

SFI also supports the Fastnet projects (Focus on Actions in Social Talk; Network-Enabling Technology) at 1.2 M€ over 5 years.

The second funding source is Foras na Gaelige, which supports Irish language research. There is a speech synthesis project funded by Foras na Gaelige, as well as the development of Language processing tools and dictionary research.

Speech-related research tends to be more speech-therapy based, and here Universities of Galway and Cork are very active.

Regarding the Irish Gaelic language, which is now an official EU language, diverse state of the art language technologies have been employed successfully as a means of improving existing language skills, aiding in the teaching/learning process and as a support to users of ICT in that language, through their use within Computer Aided Language Learning, or CALL, tools. However, State of the art core language technologies are needed to support state of the art CALL applications as a means to improve language skills, and the absence of a wide array of mature technologies for the Irish language is certainly a factor in the absence of modern CALL applications for Irish in the classroom.

The issue of technology transfer is a key factor in securing a place for the Irish language in the modern information society. Various social, educational and political factors in Ireland have created a strong demand for ICT which caters for the growing demand for digital information in Irish. However, the lack of fluency in Irish among the general population and the lack of technology transfer from state of the art LT research in Ireland into applications which could support greater fluency and/or improve information access through Irish appear to be hindering taking the next step forward for Irish.

Ireland has chosen to focus its resources on building a powerful IT service industry rather than on developing a national language research base. As a result it hosts a significant concentration of language localization expertise and research which has fuelled a strong industry around LT in the translation and localization fields, while the state of the art Language Technologies developed in Ireland are slow in being applied to national interests and the Irish language itself.

The current situation where there is a clear and growing demand for technologies which both support and enable the Irish language represents a unique opportunity for LT research and development in Ireland. National and European initiatives and directives are creating a growing demand for translation and localization of information, documents and services into Irish. At the same time the demand for confident and competent speakers, translators and linguists in Irish is growing. This has created a demand, and an opportunity, for the creation of state of the art core LT resources for Irish, as well as the need to bridge the gap between research and the public at large by providing new and innovative tools which can support students of the language and those eager to partake in the information society through Irish.

Leveraging existing LTs, developed in Ireland for other languages, for Irish and combining that with improved LT technology transfer to market can provide Ireland with a strong platform from which to stake its claim as a contender in the next generation of ICT industries, as well as providing a means to ensure a place for the Irish language in the information society.