W3C Launches Work to Simplify Creation of Content in World's Languages

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Standards Will Support Translation, Adaptation of Content on the Web


http://www.w3.org/ —7 March 2012— Many of the largest and most successful enterprises use the Web to reach customers around the world. Providing information in local languages is pivotal to their business. Today W3C announced new work to make it easier for people to create Web content in the world's languages. The new MultilingualWeb–LT (Language Technology) Working Group will develop standard ways to support the (automatic and manual) translation and adaptation of Web content to local needs, from its creation to its delivery to end users.

Translation: A Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry, and Growing

Market analyses show that commercial translation currently represents an annual market of $21–26 billion, which enables hundreds of billions of dollars of cross-border business around the world. Multinational companies may need to translate Web content into dozens of languages simultaneously, and public bodies from Europe and India typically must communicate with citizens in many languages.

The lack of standards for exchanging information about translations is estimated to cost the industry as much as 20% more in translation costs, amounting to billions of dollars. In addition, barriers to distributing content in more than one language mean lost business. For instance, one study indicates that 51% of European retailers sell via the Internet, but only 21% support cross-border transactions. While 30% of European citizens have purchased online, only 7% have purchased from a retailer in another EU Member State. According to the same study, even multilingual Internet users avoid buying from a site that is in a language other than their own language.

As the Web becomes more diverse linguistically — Chinese, Russian, and Arabic have grown the most over the past decade — translation demands will increase as well. Fewer than one third of current Web users speak English as their native language and that proportion will continue to decrease as the Web expands. Many people already use online translation engines to support on-demand translation, making it even more important for content creators to consider these downstream uses of their content.

Community Brings Diverse Experience to the W3C Table

To support these trends, the emerging Open Web Platform (with HTML5 as the foundation) must support the distribution of content in multiple languages and make it easier for people to create and maintain translations.

Ten organizations have become W3C Members specifically to gather requirements and to work on new standards for translation and adaptation of Web content to local needs. They represent geographic diversity as well as professional translation services and vendors of machine translation technology, both of which are key to delivering standards-based solutions. By having at the table producers of content, localization companies, language technology experts, browser vendors, tool makers and users, the Working Group will identify broadly supported solutions for fast, high-quality translation on the Web. Doing this work within W3C will assure the integration of solutions with the Open Web Platform and with multilingual linked data efforts, enabling both small translation agencies and large Language Service Providers.

The Working Group will liaise with other organizations actively involved in multilingual issues, including the Unicode Consortium, ETSI, ISO, and OASIS.

The newly created Working Group is supported by a new project MultiLingualWeb-LT, which builds on the earlier MultilingualWeb project led by W3C. Both the MultilingualWeb and MultilingualWeb-LT projects receive support from the European Union. One EU focus is creating a digital single market on the Web. Studies reveal that bridging language barriers is key to this endeavor.

About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 340 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/


Ian Jacobs, <w3t-pr@w3.org>, +1.718 260 9447

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