Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Do You Say “LOL” in Hungarian?

Interesting article — The Internet, where languages go to die.

For years, there's been the occasional news story about little-spoken indigenous languages slowly dying out; or when a language literally disappears when the last person who spoke that language has just died.  And the Internet may be speeding up this process.  It's a double edged sword.

In some ways the Internet is helping by enabling endangered languages to be used online.  There are blogs written in Basque, iPad apps in Navajo and Cherokee, a Faroese Wikipedia, people texting in Tlingit (all examples from the linked article).

But as the article also says:

...the online world is very nearly a monoculture, an echo chamber where the planet’s few dominant cultures talk among themselves. English, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and just a handful of other languages dominate digital communication. Thanks to their sheer size and to the powerful official and commercial forces behind them, the populations that speak and write these languages can plug in, develop the necessary tools and assume that their languages will follow them into an ever-expanding range of virtual realms. Meanwhile, despite heroic and ongoing efforts, 95 percent of all languages languish almost entirely offline.

And:

The real problem is a digital architecture that forces people to operate on the terms of another culture, unable to continue the development of their own...the digital realm was supposed to be...a horizontal platform, a great equalizer that would allow everyone to communicate seamlessly with one another. What went wrong?

Interesting dilemma.  I guess we'll see what happens.


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4 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Charleston said...

I've heard the internet described as the ultimate killer of knowledge because it's gotten to the point that all you see is what you've seen before and what you want to see and so this wonderful world-wide bibliotech becomes a mono-tone force feeder of only sites in which you have show an interest. Much like Fox News.

March 19, 2014 at 4:22 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mr. C: Very good points. It seems we can't even do an objective web search because the search engines "know," based on your previous searches and postings, what you want to see and that's what they give you. It's a giant hall of mirrors, even when we're trying to step back and be more objective.

March 19, 2014 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Screamin' Mimi said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we've gained a lot, technologically speaking, but we've sure lost a lot too.

Pretty soon there won't be any more "hard copies" of anything -- no books, no newspapers, no files. I can't imagine this new world, but it's on its way.

March 20, 2014 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SM: Yup, things are changing, for better or worse. Someday you won't be able to take a book to the beach or the park; it'll have to be a Kindle.

March 21, 2014 at 11:14 AM  

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