Automatic translation of ARGIA into English, Catalan and Galician

ARGIA is a Basque media publication and we work in Basque. In February it will be possible to read our articles in English, Catalan and Galician, automatically translated thanks to the neural translator Elia developed by the Orai artificial intelligence centre of Elhuyar.

It is not the first time that ARGIA is involved in translation projects from Basque into other languages. An example is our ARGIA English Channel, in which since 2013 we have translated reports and articles about topics related to the Basque Country. Moreover, in 2017 we wrote an article on Korrika, one of the most important initiatives in the Basque Country, and thanks to our community we translated and published it into 33 languages, to spread it internationally. However, we do not have the human or economic resources to continue translating our articles.

The project Itzulinguru, promoted by the Basque Sociolinguistics Cluster and the research group Innoklab of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), has the participation of 26 social players. The aim of the experiment is to improve neural translation and use it in support of the Basque language, in order to explore ways of improving it and drawing practical lessons when applying it.

At ARGIA we are aware that addressing the internationalization of information is important. Today, almost 100% of the international information about the Basque Country comes from journalists working for international media and news agencies and who live in Madrid or Paris.

And why into English, Catalan and Galician, but not into Spanish or French?

When we had the chance to participate in the project, our team discussed it and we decided to pilot it with English, Catalan and Galician translations. And why not with Spanish or French translations? A good question given that Elia also offers the possibility of translating into these languages.

At ARGIA we do independent journalism, but at the same time, we are fully aware that we are working to revitalize the Basque language, and that is why we do not want to strengthen Spanish and French as a result of our choice. More specifically, we want to discourage people who speak Basque but who read more easily in Spanish or French, and who have so far been reading ARGIA in Basque, from switching to Spanish or French via this application. ARGIA ants to continue to be an open door to anyone wishing to approach the Basque Country and our language.

We consider it important to inform in English, since there are hardly any media doing so in this globalized language. At the same time, informing in Galician and Catalan is a gesture of proximity and affinity towards the speakers of these languages.

This will be an experiment and we are aware that automatic translators are technologies that are still being developed, so there will be errors in the translations. ARGIA does not have the means to monitor and correct all the content we publish, nor to translate it, so a news item will be posted just as it is.

ARGIA will be documenting all the errors we find to make them available to Elhuyar, so the neural translator Elia can be improved; and we will be continuing to use these technologies in support of our language.

For any queries or comments, please contact