“LLODREAM 2022” Conference Keynote Speakers about Linguistic Linked Data and Reduction of Language Barriers
On 21-22 September, 2022, Faculty of Human and Social Studies of Mykolas Romeris University organized an international scientific conference “LLOD Approaches for Language Data Research and Management (LLODREAM 2022)” supported by the COST Action NexusLinguarum. During the Conference, keynote presentations were delivered by Ass. Prof. Dr. Dagmar Gromann (University of Vienna, Centre for Translation Studies) and senior researcher Dr. Jorge Gracia (Zaragoza University, Department of Computer Science).
The main research areas of Dr. Dagmar Gromann and Dr. Jorge Gracia are development and application of Linguistic Linked Open Data (LLOD). The conference keynote speakers discussed questions related to the concept and importance of LLOD.
-Why have you selected such research object? Why is it important and how is it useful?
Dr. Gromann: I chose this research object because I wanted to connect these two fields, that at first glance appear different – linguistics and informatics. In order to present the existing language resources in such a way that they could be read not only by a person, but also by a machine, it is useful to take advantage of linguistic linked data.
Dr. Gracia: Being in close contact with linguists, I understand that this field is not only very interesting, but also connected with Web technologies. However, one of the main reasons I selected this field for conducting research was the aim of reducing the language barriers in Europe and all over the world.
–Could you explain the concept of linguistic linked data?
Dr. Gromann: It is difficult to define the concept of linguistic linked data in few words. The idea is oriented towards language data presentation in such a format which would be understood by machines. Presenting language data in an appropriate format provides a possibility to research it in new ways and obtain new knowledge. In other words, we have an endless amount of language data on the Internet and elsewhere (files, archives, webpages, etc.), but it is not interconnected. In order to get meaningful results, it is very important to have this data in some sort of common format. By linking data in this format, it is possible to obtain a lot of information in a shorter period of time than, for example, using the Google search engine.
Dr. Gracia: In order to understand this concept, it is necessary to look at everything in a more simple way. Imagine paths that are connected with lines. By collecting and sorting data, we can obtain several varieties of information, but due to using linguistic linked data, all the information becomes linked.
Researchers provided a vivid example. If we are searching for information about a person, for example the Lithuanian painter and composer M.K. Čiurlionis, we simply use Google or another Internet search engine. Next, we get a bunch of pages, which contain a lot of information about his life, works of art, etc. This is not a convenient method to obtain information, because we have to press on each link and only then we can see if the information is useful. However, if all the necessary data was directly linked, it would be possible to find all this information in one graph. That is a huge advantage. However, currently the Web operates on a different principle.
-What influence does linguistic linked data have on education and other sectors?
Dr. Gromann: Linguistic linked data technologies are useful in the education sector because they can systematize information about a specific object and present it in a clear way. Let’s say you are studying Psychology and want to find out the main fields that this area encompasses. I can look at the graph which was created by using linguistic linked data and I will know the answer. As I mentioned earlier, this helps to acquire new knowledge. Even when you are interested in a completely new field, expanding your knowledge becomes much easier.
Dr. Gracia: I would like to add to my colleague’s answer by providing some examples. In Italy researchers working with the project “LiLa” (Linking Latin), which studies the Latin Language, come across existing differences in information: part of the information is presented in dictionaries and grammar books, while some – in translations and notes. Project researchers systematize the existing information and convert it to an electronic format. All this is done so that those individuals who study Latin would have the possibility to get all the necessary information in the same format within a short period of time. Other sectors have also begun to apply linguistic linked data. The fields of labour law, pharmaceuticals, trade, etc. also aim to present systematized information.
-How does linguistic linked data influence our decisions regarding vacation destinations, selecting an educational institution, etc.?
-Dr. Gromann and Dr. Gracia: Linguistic linked data technologies influence our decisions by presenting information in a particular manner. Because the presented pieces of information are clearly systematized, it is somewhat simpler to compare them and it doesn’t take a lot of time.
-What qualities are necessary for today’s young people who intend to study and work in the field of language technologies (including linguistic linked data)?
Dr. D. Gromann: In my opinion, one should be interested not only in languages, but also in the operating principles. For today’s young person, who intends to study and work in the field of language technology, it is important to be interested in technology, because it is inseparable now.
Dr. J. Gracia: I would say that such a young person should be willing to work with such resources and be open to new information. When working in this field, you have to consider both technological and linguistic aspects. Therefore, it is very important to understand that there is a lot of new information in this field.
-Can linguistic linked data be used in creating your image or promoting your activities?
Dr. Gromann: It is important for every organization to systematize its publicly available information. Let’s say I’m an IKEA employee. As we know, every product has a specific name. If I don’t have clearly structured information, it will be extremely difficult to work. The same is true from the user’s point of view. If the information provided by an organization is misleading, it is likely that the consumer will choose another organization that provides clearer information.
Dr. Gracia: If we were to talk about application of linguistic linked data technologies in creating one’s image or advertising activities, I would say that this type of data is too specific for these spheres. It is important to understand that linguistic linked data is expressed verbally, which is usually not enough for businesses. Such data can help when advertising your activity or image, but we must not forget that it is also very important to have visual data here. This is true especially when we are talking about a business that offers relevant products. To make it easier to understand, I will provide an example. Imagine a website of any company. We can find semantic information there as well as links to other websites, etc. Search engines recognize some semantically annotated data on a website and can provide a more complete result. So, when you go abroad and stay in a hotel, remember that you found the price of the room on the Internet browser because this information was semantically annotated on the hotel’s website. This is an example of added value. As I said, it’s not linguistic linked data, it’s broader linked data technologies. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t apply certain things for ourselves or for our business.
Finally, the researchers emphasize that this field, like any other, has certain trends. The application of linguistic linked data technologies in various fields is particularly relevant for languages that do not have sufficient digital resources. Lithuanian is an example of such a language.
Both conference keynote speakers agree that the most important aim of this process is to reduce language barriers among the world population. The application of linguistic linked data is developing very rapidly. We may not even notice when the Smart Assistant Alexa starts speaking Lithuanian.
The interview was translated into Lithuanian and published on:
The website of Mykolas Romeris University: https://www.mruni.eu/news/mru-konferencijoje-llodream-2022-dalyvave-pranesejai-papasakojo-apie-kalbos-barjeru-minimalizavimo-ypatumus/?fbclid=IwAR0hMWUEiVayU6gO8FBMPQBsJwEoA23ZyOIKLQ6P-KpIe1LtyqfFP2EXdLo
The portal “Elektronika.lt”: http://www.elektronika.lt/straipsniai/kompiuterija/84841/mru-konferencijoje-llodream-2022-dalyvave-pranesejai-papasakojo-apie-kalbos-barjeru-minimalizavimo-ypatumus/
The portal “Mano kraštas”: https://www.manokrastas.lt/kalbos-barjerus-pades-mazinti-ir-lingvistiniu-susietuju-duomenu-technologijos/?fbclid