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Aims and Themes

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We list below the workshop aims, the themes we plan to address, and possible ways in which the workshop may decide to respond.

Aims

  • To map the current state of multilingualism in digital theory and practice through, and across, languages and cultures
  • To identify areas of linguistic (especially Anglophone) bias and ‘language indifference’ in digital methodologies and infrastructure
  • To discuss the value and role of languages in digital theory and practice and their implications for language study and professions
  • To bring together experts in languages-driven digital study and practice to discuss priorities for future action and potential collaboration
  • To explore emerging models for linguistic diversity and languages-aware digital practice in academia, education and private/third sectors and to document best practice

General theme: Multilingualism in digital theory and practice

Challenges

  • How well do current digital media ecologies respond to multilingualism? How do digital research practices reflect/enact linguistic and geocultural diversity?
  • What constitutes ‘language indifference’ in digital practice, and how can it be overcome?
  • Which critical perspectives, models and best practices might be most effective in enabling multilingual responses?

Theme 1: (Linguistic and geocultural diversity in digital knowledge infrastructures)

Challenges

  • In what ways do digital knowledge infrastructures embed multilingual or language-focused practice at present, in social and technical terms?
  • How do digital infrastructures reinforce or redistribute linguistic and cultural influence or authority?
  • What multilingual and localisation responses from industry, academia or the third sector have been most effective so far?

Theme 2 (Working with multilingual data)

Challenges

  • What possibilities exist for ‘data-driven’ methods in languages-based research? What triggers and blocks influence their use?
  • How well do digital data practices or research reflect linguistic and cultural difference? How does the growing datafication of culture and society affect the balance of world languages, and what steps can be taken to foster greater diversity and language awareness?
  • What new forms of digital, linguistic and cultural criticism are needed to interpret data-driven approaches to languages and multilingualism?

Theme 3 (Transcultural approaches to digital study)

Challenges

  • What new possibilities do digital media offer for studying translingual and transcultural dynamics? For example, how can we effectively study intercultural, plurilingual or transborder perspectives using digital tools?
  • What is the role of digital practitioners (in research or industry) and language experts (such as translators, linguists and modern languages researchers) in studying these interactions?

Theme 4 (Artificial intelligence, machine learning and NLP in language worlds)

Challenges

  • What challenges do AI, machine learning and Natural Language Processing pose for language research fields and professions?
  • What implications are there for translation and for studying or researching modern languages and their cultures?
  • What opportunities does AI provide to foster linguistic diversity or intercultural communication?

Responses

How can we best imagine and create language-sensitive digital tools, methods and infrastructure in the future? What are the implications for digital policy and strategy, and what critical frameworks and toolkits are required? What existing models and research can we draw on?

We propose two kinds of response at the workshop to the challenges listed above. One will focus on the digital policies and conceptual frameworks required to foster multilingual practices. The other will focus on a practical outcome of digital language frameworks and toolkits.

We propose possible outcomes from these two strands, but ultimately the outcomes will be defined by participants on the second day.

Response strand 1 (Digital policies and multilingualism)

Possible outcome

  • A collaborative document outlining a conceptual framework for multilingualism and geocultural diversity in digital research created during (and possibly after) the event

Response strand 2 (Digital language framework and toolkits)

Possible outcome

  • Publication of frameworks and toolkits demonstrated at the workshop
  • New collaborations, prototypes or toolkits