Language robots will need to 'get' Danish nuance: regulator

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Language robots will need to 'get' Danish nuance: regulator
File photo: AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File/Ritzau Scanpix

Google launches a Danish version of Google Assistant on Tuesday to the excitement of technology enthusiasts and grammar nerds alike.


The launch of the artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant, which can engage in two-way conversations, will be good for the Danish tongue, said Sabine Kirchmeier, director of Dansk Sprognævn, the official regulator for the national language at the Ministry of Culture.

“This is going to be very significant. This is the kind of thing we are hoping for – that we have access to the some of the technology that uses voice recognition, voice synthesis and artificial intelligence in Danish,” Kirchmeier told Ritzau.

The lack of Danish recognition skills on voice-controlled software such as Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri in the past has been regrettable, the language regulator said.

“It seems strange in Danish society, where so many things are done in Danish, not to be able use these technologies or that Danes, if they want to use them, have to use them in English or German,” she said.

Kirchmeier also stressed the importance of voice recognition being able to understand cultural contexts as it develops and is introduced in new languages,

“It’s one thing to launch these technologies in Danish, but they’re still quite primitive,” she said.

“Even though they use Danish speech recognition, there is a system behind it that must interpret and understand it,” she continued.

That reflects a common complaint made by Danes against Siri, which has been available in Danish for a number of years but often struggles to correctly understand linguistic nuance and accent in the Scandinavian language.

“It’s important for language to be able to speak to these systems as naturally as possible, and not to be forced to speak another language,” Kirchmeier said.

“I don’t see the fact that they are being released in Danish as any kind of threat. But it can cause language to change,” she said, noting that the advent of social media had also had an effect on the way language is used.

READ ALSO: New strategy aims to get Danes speaking more languages


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