Coding for Language Communities Devroom at FOSDEM 2020

Saturday, February 1st, 2020, Brussels, Belgium

There are currently around 7.000 languages spoken all over the world, but in many communities there has been a strong tendency to learn and use only major languages such as English, German, French, etc., especially in electronic communication. This is partly caused by the lack of hardware (e.g. keyboards) and software (for transliteration, text completion, etc.) for under-resourced languages, which constrain the natural usage of people’s own language in many tasks. The grassroots initiative “Coding for Language Communities” involves ongoing research and development to turn that process in exactly the other direction: every successful technology can be used to teach, revitalize and therefore boost the use of regional languages. This technology should also assist the renewal of local languages and cultures by allowing people to actively teach, learn, extend, and spread their language in their community. Our aim is to give people the ability to use their mother tongue in everyday electronic communication, no matter where they are or what language they speak.

The initiative “Coding for Language Communites” aims to bring together three groups:

1) Speakers of languages that are currently not supported by language technologies and that want to use their language on electronic devices;
2) Students of linguistics and language-related disciplines interested in learning about software development;
3) Software developers and students of computational sciences that are interested in supporting under-resourced languages by technological means.

We think that free software is a requirement for free communication in any language. Our goal is to empower communities to build their own language processing tools based on free software projects. Therefore, we welcome proposals for talks about, but not limited to, the following topics:

* Free software and open source projects that develop NLP tools
* Open speech interfaces for computers and mobile devices
* Open AI projects that process natural language
* Applications of deep learning to under-resourced languages
* Multi-lingual input methods
* Translation of free software and open source projects
* Development of technical terminology for under-resourced languages
* Open Data, data collection and multi-lingual corpora
* Language diversity in free software and open source

Talks should be 20-45 minutes in length, plus 5-10 minutes time for Q&A. Paper submission is handled via the Pentabarf tool at the FOSDEM website [1], please re-use any account that you might have from previous years.

The deadline for proposals is December 1st, 2019. Make sure to include the following in your proposal:

* title of your talk
* abstract
* your full name
* your short bio
* a picture of yourself (optional)
* duration of your talk
* links to code / slides / material for the talk (optional)

The devroom will take place on Saturday of February 1st, 2020 at ​ULB Solbosch Campus in Brussels, Belgium [2]. Presenting at FOSDEM implies giving permission to be recorded. The recordings will be published under the same licence as all FOSDEM content (CC-BY).

Any question or doubts? Please use our mailing list [3].


FOSDEM is a two-day event organised by volunteers to promote the widespread use of free and open source software. Taking place in the beautiful city of Brussels (Belgium), FOSDEM is widely recognised as the best such conference in Europe. No registration necessary. We follow FOSDEM’s CoC [4].

Important dates:

2019-10-14 CfP
2019-12-01 CfP deadline
2019-12-15 Devroom schedule published, speakers notified
2020-02-01 Coding for Language Communities devroom takes place



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