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Time to talk Icelandic to Embla

11.11.2020 - 13:32
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 Mynd: Vilhjálmur Þór Guðmundsson - RÚV
Embla, a new Icelandic app, will soon start answering people’s spoken questions, in Icelandic. One of the app’s designers says people want to be able to talk with their smart technology in Icelandic.

Not only does Embla speak Icelandic, she also knows a great deal. “She knows, for example, the opening times of shops, the bus timetables, she knows people and phenomena, and she can calculate simple sums."

Can Embla answer any question? “No, actually not. The other apps can’t do that either. Siri Googles, but Embla can look things up in Wikipedia,” says Miðeind software’s Katla Ásgeirsdóttir.

Embla has been in development for a year and a half and will finally hit Google Play and the App Store in the coming few days. 

The company Miðeind has developed the language technology software Greyni as part of the authorities’ wider project to ensure the future of Icelandic in the digital age. Embla works on the same technology. 

Making Icelandic compatible with all aspects of the latest technology as it develops is considered important for the language’s development, and even its survival, according to some experts.

“There is a demand for this. People are talking a lot more to their devices and want to be able to talk to their devices. Children do it a great deal, talking to their phones and computers," Katla says. "Then people are speaking English or other languages because it has not been on offer to use Icelandic. Such technology on the general market is important for us—not to mention that it's about time!”

The launch of the Embla app is described as "imminent". In the meantime, she has a very helpful Icelandic only, of course.

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