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.”
“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.