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Oxford’s New Global Languages Initiative: Introduction

Oxford University Press is renowned worldwide
for our excellence in dictionary publishing. Now we are proud to announce a new global
languages programme. Today, increasing digitisation and globalisation are driving the need and
the potential to communicate across a broad range of languages. Globalisation is fuelling
the growth of major languages other than English, including Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. These
are the languages that underpin communication in our digital lives. But many other languages,
vital and living as they may be, are not making the digital leap. Lexical information for
smaller languages is often out of date, pre-digital, or nearly absent, so these languages struggle
to gain a foothold and benefit from recent advances in technology. They’re not available
in our operating systems, or as look-up on our digital devices. They are not part of
the research that is fuelling the future of communication. The Oxford Global Languages
initiative is a major new programme at OUP which will enable users across the globe to
find answers to everyday language questions, and to communicate more clearly and effectively
in any language. For the first time, large quantities of quality lexical information
for 100 of the world’s languages will be systematically collected, linked, and made freely available
to users. It’s important for us that users are part of this initiative, and communities
will play an important part in Oxford’s Global Languages programme. This means that each
language will have its own dedicated, online community, where members will be able to participate
actively in the creation of language resources, by adding, reviewing, sharing or just discussing
language content in their own language. Oxford Dictionaries has got a long tradition of working
with communities to gather evidence, to gather content, so right back in the 19th century
we were asking readers to send in their contributions of how the English language was used, and
really if you fast forward to the modern day and you think about everybody in the world
who knows their own language and is an expert in their own language, harnessing that energy,
that community, to be able to tell us what is real and what is actually used in the language
is something that is very special, and its also something that communities, individuals
identify with and they want to be able to tell others about their language. Oxford’s
new Global Languages initiative will combine and harness the knowledge and proficiency
of native speakers, with OUP’s expertise in lexicography and languages technology. The
new language content we develop will be incorporated into digital resources, made freely available
around the world, as well as for licensing into the technology products and applications
that we use everyday. The Oxford Global Languages initiative not only helps to further the press’
education mission, by enabling digital language use and communication worldwide, it is an
investment that will contribute significantly to a broader and richer language landscape,
reflecting the diversity of our global community. To find out more about Oxford’s Global Languages
initiative, visit

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