Language technology is often called human language technology (HLT) or natural language processing (NLP) and consists of computational linguistics (or CL) and speech technology as its core but includes also many application oriented aspects of them. Language technology is closely connected to computer science and general linguistics.
It makes it easier for people to interact with machines. This can benefit a wide range of people – from illiterate farmers in remote villages who want to obtain relevant medical information over a cellphone, to scientists in state-of-the-art laboratories who want to focus on problem-solving with computers.
The overall objective of HLT is to support e-business in a global context and to promote a human centred infostructure ensuring equal access and usage opportunities for all. This is to be achieved by developing multilingual technologies and demonstrating exemplary applications providing features and functions that are critical for the realisation of a truly user friendly Information Society. Projects address generic and applied RTD from a multi- and cross-lingual perspective, and undertake to demonstrate how language specific solutions can be transferred to and adapted for other languages.
HLTCentral is a dedicated server providing a gateway to speech and language technology opportunities on the Web. HLTCentral web site is an online information resource of human language technologies and related topics of interest to the HLT community at large. It covers news, R&D, technological and business developments in the field of speech, language, multilinguality, automatic translation, localisation and related areas. Its coverage of HLT news and developments is worldwide – with a unique European perspective.
The HLT Research Group studies how this technology can be applied, adapted and developed to benefit the people from southern Africa.
The HLT research group investigates how HLT can be adapted and applied to benefit a developing country and pursues basic and directed research relevant to the local context. This goal is considered from two perspectives:
- HLT as an enabling technology that can play a crucial role in addressing the need for information empowerment. An example is telephone-based systems using HLT that can provide much useful information.
- HLT as a support for language diversity in an affordable and equitable fashion. HLT can assist industry and government to make services and documents available in the 11 official languages and has a role to play in rectifying the historical discrimination against specific languages.