Irish language Siri being made for people of Connemara

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A US academic plans to develop an Irish language personal assistant app like Siri or Alexa during a six month stay in the Gaeltacht.

Prof. Kevin Scannell will be spending six months in Carna under a Fulbright Scholarship next year, where he plans to create software with keyboard inputs, spelling and grammar checkers, and voice tools like Siri specifically for Irish speakers.

The Irish Times reports that the academic from St Louis University in Missouri will be working with NUI Galway’s Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge to create computer resources for Irish speakers during his stay.

Prof. Scannell said that he is doing this so Irish speakers will be able to use more everyday tools without having to constantly switch to English.

He has worked with people around the world in the past to build digital tools that make use of their native language.

This project has gotten a running start as Prof. Scannell has already created an Irish spellchecker, dictionary and thesaurus and translation engines for Irish, Scottish and Manx Gaelic.

According to him this Siri like tool will make use of ‘transfer learning’ to easily allow resources created for one language to be applied to another.

The Fulbright Scholarship has been giving students and academics from Ireland and America the chance to cross that Atlantic and study at another university.

The Gaeltacht specific award gives US applicants that chance to come and learn Irish in the gaeltacht for six months.