New Technology a Problem for Icelandic Language

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New Technology a Problem for Icelandic Language

The Icelandic language was given a poor ranking in a report on the position of languages towards new information technology in 30 European countries. The results were sorted into several categories and in most cases Icelandic was assigned the lowest mark.

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Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson.

“Icelandic is poorly prepared for progress in information technology. The use of language in information technology is increasing,” commented Icelandic Language Professor Eiríkur Rögnvaldsson at the University of Iceland to Morgunblaðið.

“More and more computers that one can talk with and give orders to are being produced. Such communication will take place in English in the future if we won’t succeed in improving the position of the Icelandic language in this regard,” he predicted.

Among the aspects considered in the report is the availability of word and text collections, software used for processing language (speech synthesizers and speech analyzers), translations, analysis and correction of grammar.

Eiríkur said it is a reverse development that Icelandic is lagging behind countries which are leading in adapting new technology to their languages.

Icelanders have long prided themselves on being quick to come up with Icelandic words for new technology.

“The risk is at hand that if we fail to make Icelandic score higher, English will take over more and more fields and in the end we cannot use Icelandic when we communicate with computers and other technology, except to a limited extent,” Eiríkur stated.

“It is usually the main issue for the survivability of languages that they can be used in all fields. If we cannot use the language in as important a field in the life of the public as this, then it may not have a bright future,” he concluded.

ESA