Arjan van Hessen
Researcher, Utrecht University • Researcher, University of Twente
After my studies in Geophysics, Italian Language & Culture and a PhD in Phonetics, I started working for three years at two universities in Germany (Düsseldorf and Ulm). Thereafter. I moved for three years to a commercial enterprise in Brussels: the illustrious TST company Lernout & Hauspie.
By doing so, I entered the world of Language and Speech Technology (TST). A fascinating environment where "technology" is combined with "humanity" in the broadest sense of the word. In my Brussels period, it became clear that I did not want to work in a "purely" commercial environment and that the combination of research and business seemed ideal.
Once back in the Netherlands (1998), this could be achieved because two outstanding applications (University of Twente and ComSys) were both assessed positively within a few days. Since then, I have divided my working life between academia and business. Something else was added in 2009: CLARIN.NL, the Infrastructure for the Humanities Programme. The aim of CLARIN, CLARIAH and since 2019, CLARIAH-PLUS is to standardize both textual sources and tools that can do something with them.
An example is speech recognition: few researchers can simply install a speech recognition expert with an appropriate language model on the computers at work. Also, most text corpora that do not exist without technical help can be converted into a format that is suitable for the recognizer. Clarin aims to create an infrastructure that will enable researchers to make use of the available data and tools without too much technical know-how.