Icelandic needs a presence in the digital arena to survive

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the president of Iceland, went to California in the United States with a delegation to meet with Tech companies to underline the importance of incorporating Icelandic in developing new language technology solutions. Icelanders want to be able to speak Icelandic to the gadgets that are being developed, similar to Siri and Alexa.

"It was great to finally be able to speak Icelandic," the president said jokingly and adds that the meetings had gone really well with companies such as Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Amazon among others.

With big platforms comes social responsibility

Jóhannesson is optimistic for the future of the Icelandic language in a world that is getting more digital every day. "The meetings have been going really well," he says. "The spokespeople for these companies agreed with us that this idea was good. They are aware of the social responsibility that comes with having a huge influential social media platform."

Top notch delegation

Jóhannesson says the delegation was absolutely top notch, with the Minister of Culture and Business and top people from the Business Association and the Tech sector in Iceland. He adds that bringing a big Icelandic language database was most certainly helpful. "When we told them of this huge database which could be of use and that we could be working with them towards good language solutions, they were impressed."

Already have a big database

The president points out that this database has been in development since 2019 and now there are over three million sentences already in the database. He says he is very grateful to everybody who has been involved in the project and all their good work, but over 30 thousand people have in some way or another been involved.

Guðni stresses the importance of protecting the Icelandic language in our digital world. "Our young ones are already used to talking to their gadgets in English." He says that it is very important for our language to have a presence in the digital arena to survive.




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