New online computing tools could help French regain a foothold in science.
At this week’s annual conference of the venerable ACFAS (French Canadian Association for the Advancement of Science), founded by Marie-Victorin 100 years ago, it is worth mentioning this possibility. A game changer could be brewing.
What tools are we talking about? Almost everyone is familiar with the giant Google’s translation tool. We put a sentence on a page in any language. On the other hand, the translation will appear in the desired language.
As in the beginning we get less and less “Made in Turkey/Fabricated in Turkey” type results.
Especially when we turn to other refined algorithms like Deepl.com. Advances in artificial intelligence now make it possible to simultaneously obtain generally acceptable translations. Fascinating and controversial ChatGPT makes impressive. In other words, all of these tools reduce the number of hours spent editing and revising the first draft of a machine-generated translation.
In Quebec and Canada, this new reality occurs at a time when French is declining in science. Researchers are also forced to spend more time preparing grant applications and scientific papers directly in English.
“According to the Science and Technology Laboratory, the proportion of scientific articles published in French in Quebec has fallen from 4.0% in 2000 to 0.6% in 2021,” wrote Bloc Québécois MP Maxime Blanchette-Joncas. In February.
Even in the social sciences, in 1980, 50% of articles were published in Moliere; Today 70% is in English.
According to the results of a recently published Radio-Canada survey, there is even a form of systematic discrimination against the French in Canada. Between 2001 and 2016, “of all applications submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 39% of applications in English were accepted, compared to only 29% in French”.
The report exposed the position of the Associate Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, Martine Lagacé, according to which Ottawa must quickly define a Canadian strategy to support research in French, otherwise French-speaking researchers will leave altogether. ”.
We can only approve this request. Especially if the strategy in question uses a new IT contract. It facilitates communications at the Tower of Babel. But promote scientific production in French directly to the world’s 320 million people. Why bother publishing directly in English, or only in English, when you can have your text effectively translated in seconds?
This will promote the cultural diversity needed in science. Precisely, science has long taught us that language is more than a simple communication tool, it is a world, a universe, the possibility of developing unique perspectives.