Welsh speakers across the world are being asked to play their part in helping to safeguard the digital future of the Welsh language by recording their voices using Common Voice, an initiative run by software company Mozilla, in a bid to bolster digital services in the Welsh language.
The aim is to help technologies including phones, computers and other electronic systems to understand how people speak Welsh and to make voice recognition open and accessible to everyone.
If enough people commit to recording their voices, satellite navigation and systems for those with disabilities and visual impairments are some of the programs that will eventually be able to recognise and provide Welsh language services. The Welsh Government has a long-term strategy to achieve the target of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
[aoa id=”1″]Common Voice launched in 2017 in the United States and the data is used to train algorithms to power the voice interfaces of the future. Having started with only the English language, Welsh was added in 2018 after Mozilla consulted with Bangor University on the benefits of offering Welsh as one of the language choices.[/aoa]
In a film launched today by the Welsh Government’s Minister for the Welsh Language, Eluned Morgan AM, Welsh speakers are asked to dedicate two minutes of their time every day to record their voices. The Minister has recorded her own voice for the project.
Eluned Morgan AM said: “With more and more of us using voice recognition software every day, we need to make sure the Welsh language has a place in its future. To make this possible, we need thousands of voices from all parts of Wales and further afield. So, to reach this goal, we are asking people to give two minutes of their time every day to help build the most comprehensive database of Welsh voices as possible. I want to encourage as many Welsh speakers to take part in this very important and exciting project!”
You can download Common Voice as an app or access it online and you can contribute from anywhere in the world, at any time, making the programme accessible to everyone. People are asked to read five sentences in Welsh or to validate other peoples’ voices. All you need to do is record yourself reading five short sentences. If you’re shy, you can listen to and validate other people’s recordings.
George Roter, Director of Open Innovation Programmes at Mozilla said:
“Welsh is among the first languages that we have launched and our aim is to encourage inclusion, embracing culture and enabling everyone to participate in technological advancements. Common Voice is built through global collaborations with the time and efforts of highly engaged volunteers, researchers, developers and startups. By working in collaboration with our partners in Wales, we hope to democratise speech data and lower the barrier for global innovation.”
Delyth Prys, Head of the Language Technologies Unit at Bangor University said: “After working closely with the creators of Common Voice, we ensured that Welsh would be one of the first languages featured on the app. We need thousands of people to record their voices to ensure that voice recognition can understand the Welsh language and we’ve already seen an improvement since more people have been taking part. We look forward to seeing more coming in over the next few months.”