News: The EU is Using Translation to Achieve European Digital Single Market

September 15, 2016 Fotini Limes

One of the European Union's (EU) objectives is to achieve a European Digital Single Market free of barriers, including language barriers, by 2020. However, with 24 official languages in the EU and only three adequately supported by machine translation technologies, the remaining non-supported languages are becoming an obstacle to the free flow of people, information and trade in the market.

gpi-eu single digial-home

According to a news release from Saarland University in Germany, QT21, a consortium of fourteen leading research institutions for machine translation in Europe and Hong Kong, many of the languages not supported by their current technologies are complex with diverse word order and there are often not enough training resources and/or processing tools available to translate them.

Professor of Translation-oriented Language Technologies at Saarland University and a Scientific Director at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Josef van Genabith says, "Teaching a computer to understand all these grammatical nuances and to translate them correctly into another language is exceptionally difficult."

To overcome these linguistic complexities Professor Genabith and his colleagues are taking a different approach to teaching machines complex languages such as Finnish, Latvian and Czech. Instead of feeding computers grammar rules and linguistic details, they are taught to recognize patterns in huge text repositories and to learn from them. This is what's referred to as 'deep learning' and has already been adopted by Google and Facebook.

DFKI, with the assistance of the European Language Resources Coordination (ELCR), is currently collecting language data sets from areas of finance, economics, interior affairs and foreign affairs, to help the European Commission train the translation software and to adjust it to meet the requirements of public administrators and European citizens.

Improved translation software will also benefit trade within among EU members. But, says Genabith, that doesn't mean that translators are going to run out of work. On the contrary, he believes that while machines can translate huge quantities of text faster than humans can, these won't be perfect and translators will still be needed to edit the texts.


Further Resources from GPI

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has developed a suite of globalization tools to achieve internationalization and many of the goals listed in this blog. You can explore them under the Tools sections of our Translation Services. GPI also offers internationalization and globalization consulting services and can evaluate your application. Partnering with GPI before you localize or translate your application will ensure that you avoid many mistakes and will also save you considerable time and money on your localization projects.

For more information about mobile application translation and localization, please check our services page:

Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our translation services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in future blogs. You may also request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.

About the Author

Fotini Limes

Fluent in German, Greek, French and Italian (as well as English), Fotini has over 15 years of localization industry experience serving in a multitude of operational and sales roles. She has extensive experience in document, software, website and multimedia localization and day-to-day global production for GPI's project management and translation teams. She has lived and worked in Germany, Greece, France and the USA.

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