The New Economy of Language

Discover how Spanish is becoming an economic engine and is at the heart of institutions' innovation plans.

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Technology is advancing in leaps and bounds and is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives. People adapt to these changes almost as quickly as they happen: communication through email or social media, remote working, digital banking... 

In recent years, the need to consolidate the implementation of technology in all areas has become clear, in order to be able to meet the needs of people in the midst of a lockdown and its subsequent restrictions.

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The pandemic has caused economic and social damage around the world, and has exposed the need to undertake management projects in a sustainable way in line with the current social reality.

The European Union (EU) agreed on a recovery plan to lead the way out of the global crisis caused by COVID-19, with an approach that allows for total modernization and ensures sustainability in Europe.

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The EU, together with NextGenerationEU (a temporary instrument for the promotion of European recovery), has approved the largest aid package this international organization has ever financed.

A total of €1.8 billion will be spent on rebuilding and upgrading Europe. More than 50% of this budget will be dedicated to the modernization, innovation, and digital transition of organizations and institutions.

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How is this reflected in Spain?

Following on from this, on March 1, 2022, the Spanish Government approved the PERTE (Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation) dedicated to the "New Economy of Language." 

With this, the idea is to take advantage of the value of language as a factor of economic growth and international competitiveness. €1.1 billion of public funds and €1 billion of private investment have been allocated to this.

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Language as the epicenter of growth

This will focus on areas such as AI, translation, learning, cultural outreach, audiovisual production, research, and science.

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How are co-official languages reflected in the plan?

Spain is a multilingual country with a majority speaking more than one language, which translates into an incomparable cultural wealth. Languages play a fundamental role in the country's cultural production and are the key to modernization in many areas, such as AI

The languages of Spain have their own academies and are reflected in the instruments of international cultural promotion, through the Cervantes Institute.

This standardization favors the creation of digital economy projects among these co-official languages: the Aina project in Catalan, the Gaitu project in Basque, and the Nós project in Galician.

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So what is the intention behind PERTE?

PERTE aims to bring Spain's languages to a state of technological maturity from which they can develop cutting-edge digital economies and lead industries, on a global scale, in services, products, and applications based on language technology (LT) as added value.

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The role of PERTE is necessary but not sufficient

The role PERTE plays is necessary, but not enough. It takes strategic collaboration and technology investment to make a real impact.

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This is an unprecedented, unique opportunity to ensure the digital deployment of Spain's languages and cultures, revolutionizing how we understand modern technology. 

Fotografía de la estatua de Cervantes en la Comunidad de Madrid (2023)Fundación Antonio de Nebrija

Are institutions equally agile?

Until recently, the slowness of some sectors in modernizing their systems was nothing more than a nuisance for their users. 

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Why is language becoming an economic engine?

The advent of language technology (LT) has changed the rules of the game. Language is at the epicenter of computer programming codes, creating systems that have a global understanding of language as a cultural representation of a region.

Credits: Story

This article takes as its sources the official website of the Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia of the Spanish Government, as well as the study La tecnología del lenguaje: la inteligencia artificial centrada en el lenguaje.

Other sources: Alonso, J. A., Jiménez, J. C. y García Delgado, J. L. (2023). Los futuros del español. Alianza Editorial.
Content curation and script: Aina Arbona
Graphic Editor: Carmen García
Consulting and review: Lola Pons (Universidad de Sevilla)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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