ELRA is happy to convey
the Press Release below on the creation of the new Resource Management Agency (RMA).
On November 28, 2012, the RMA was officially launched in Pretoria, South Africa.
Khalid Choukri, Secretary General of the European Language Resources Association, attended this event as an invited speaker. During his speech, after giving an extensive view on ELRA’s activities, he elaborated on the potential cooperation and support-services for a fruitful cooperation with RMA, bringing ELRA’s endorsement to this new initiative.
Giant technological leap for official South African languages
South Africa now boasts its very own Resource Management Agency (RMA) for the management and distribution of reusable digital text and speech resources for all of the country’s official languages. These resources are crucial for research and development in the domain of human language technologies (HLT) for application to local languages.
Examples of HLT applications are:
- automated telephone information systems,
- GPS systems,
- spelling and grammar checkers,
- machine translation systems that function in various South African languages, etc.
These types of applications are increasingly being used on mobile devices, giving South Africans unprecedented access to information and services in local languages.
The Department of Arts and Culture’s National Centre for Human Language Technologies is funding this exciting initiative, which is in line with similar global initiatives. The Centre for Text Technology (CTexT®) of the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) has been appointed to establish the RMA, and to distribute reusable text and speech resources from this one central point.
Prof Justus Roux of the North-West University offers the following regarding the RMA: “South Africa and India are the only countries in the world that have a specific strategy for developing language technologies intended to facilitate communication between language groups in their respective societies. The founding of the RMA is the realisation of a long-awaited ideal of academics, language practitioners and developers alike to empower local languages for use in modern communication systems.”
According to Ms Ulrike Janke, Director of Human Language Technologies at the department, “The Department of Arts and Culture has invested significantly in HLT over the last decade in an effort to stimulate activity and promote advances that may benefit our marginalised languages. Were it not for our implementation agencies, however, the return on investment would not have been so impressive. They are passionate about HLT and its potential and therefore continue to do their best to help us succeed in our strategy. We are thankful for productive partnerships such as this one with the North-West University.”
Broad categories of data relevant to the RMA include text, speech, language-related video, multimodal resources (such as sign language), as well as pathological and forensic language data. Visit www.rma.nwu.ac.za for more information.
Contact details: Centre for Text Technology (CTexT®) North-West University www.rma.nwu.ac.za +27 18 299 1541