TIMOCOM: Maintaining language diversity despite digitalisation

European Day of Languages on 26 September 2019

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26.09.2019

Erkrath, Germany, 2019-09-26 – The European Day of Languages is celebrated again on 26 September. With its initiative, the Council of Europe wishes to contribute to the preservation of linguistic diversity in Europe, to make people aware of the advantages of language skills, to promote individual multilingualism and to motivate Europeans towards lifelong language learning. The action day was launched in 2001, the European Year of Languages. A lot has changed since then, especially digitally.

The Internet has become increasingly important and influential over the past 18 years and has strongly influenced our use of language. This is not only noticeable from new words, for example the verb "googling" was included in the leading German language dictionary, Duden in 2004, but also from an increasing change in written and spoken language.
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The Internet has become increasingly important and influential over the past 18 years and has strongly influenced our use of language. This is not only noticeable from new words, for example the verb "googling" was included in the leading German language dictionary, Duden in 2004, but also from an increasing change in written and spoken language. Not least, the widespread use of smartphones and speech recognition software exert an influence here. The wide-ranging study "Europe's Languages in the Digital Age" has also revealed that many European languages are under threat because they lack digital backing. This means there are no automatic translations, search engines, automatic dialogue systems or other digital services available for these languages. According to the study, these include Icelandic, Lithuanian and Maltese.

 

A system enabling business customers to communicate in 26 languages

 

The example of the Erkrath-based company TIMOCOM demonstrates there is another way. With its Smart Logistics System, the IT service provider connects over 43,000 customers in Europe across language, system and national borders. Companies can use the system, among other things, to process transport orders with business partners digitally end-to-end. "All requests, quotations, orders and transport-relevant information are automatically translated into 26 languages. We have both Latin and Cyrillic fonts in our program", explains TIMOCOM Marketing Director Pélagie Mepin. "Employees from over 30 nations work in our company and ensure that from the customer enquiry through to the update in the Smart Logistics System, communication is conducted in the local language close to our international customers", says Mepin. Erkrath, with its proximity to Düsseldorf and its pronounced international character, offers the best conditions for such an offering.

 

In addition to preserving language diversity, the system also helps overcome language barriers and promote communication between business partners from different European countries. Because, despite the international character of logistics, the English language skills of many employees in this particular industry still leave room for improvement according to the international comparative study EF EPI 2018.

 

Promoting linguistic diversity

 

TIMOCOM also has representative offices in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary and not only contributes to the diversity of languages, but also directly promotes its employees' English and German language skills. "As a result of the internationality of our workforce, we speak a lot of English. In addition, we encourage participation in German and English courses and offer our employees the opportunity to improve their language skills in language courses".

 

"Our example illustrates very well that digitisation in general does not have to pose a threat to languages, but can actually contribute to their preservation", says Mepin. The growing international presence at the German locations offers the best prerequisites for this. "What we do in Erkrath would also be possible in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt without problems. This not only benefits Europe's cultural heritage to which its various languages belong. Multilingualism also brings significant competitive advantages in many industries".

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