Optimism for Icelandic Language in the Digital Age Skip to content

Optimism for Icelandic Language in the Digital Age

By Erik Pomrenke

microsoft icelandic
Photo: From previous meetings with Microsoft. From left: Almannarómur board director Stefanía G. Halldórsdóttir, President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, Minister of Culture and Trade Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir, Executive VP of Microsoft Cloud and AI Group Scott Guthrie, and Jóhanna Vigdís Guðmundsdóttir, CEO of Almannarómur.

The integration of the Icelandic language into digital services and devices has improved rapidly over the last few months, with large leaps in speech recognition.

Nana Bule, a representative for Microsoft, stated to RÚV: “We’ve been fortunate enough to have really high quality data sets on the Icelandic language, which means that we’ve in very short time improved language recognition for Icelandic by 32%. Which may sound small, but is actually a very big improvement that would normally have taken 5 to 10 years.”

Read more: Icelandic Language on Devices to Improve

Earlier this May, an Icelandic delegation including President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Minister of Culture and Trade Lilja D. Alfreðsdóttir met with American tech companies to discuss the further integration of the Icelandic language into digital services and devices.

Following the May meetings, representatives from Microsoft have been visiting Iceland this week to report on progress made.

Now, the meetings seem to be bearing fruit, with surprisingly fast improvements for the integration of Icelandic into digital services. Mrs. Bule stated that Icelanders will soon be able to speak Icelandic to their devices without a problem.

Bule also stated with regard to speech recognition: “We can already do that today, but my hope is that in the future, we will be able to do it much more fluently. In the future, an interview could be you asking me questions in Icelandic, me answering in English, but listeners could hear it in Icelandic hopefully because we’ll be able to translate it in real time.”

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson said with regard to the innovations that it will be essential for the future of the Icelandic language to have a place in the digital sphere as well.

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