Thursday, August 07, 2008

Minority Report

A meeting with an Irish speaking colleague today got us thinking about how internet TV can help minority languages. Both Welsh and Irish are making a comeback after centuries of decline, but they are doing so in a world dominated by Anglo-Saxon media.

Languages are disappearing faster than endangered animals. About 7,000 languages exist in the world today, but 80% of the world's population speak just 83 languages, and only 0.2% speak the rarest 3,500 languages.

A major reason for this linguistic confluence is the domination of English language media (as well as, to a smaller extent, languages such as Arabic and Russian).

The low cost of entry offered by internet TV enables any linguistic community of culture to be able to consider self-broadcasting. I am working on a project that will specifically do this in Wales. The additional problem, however, is that the speakers of many of these languages have never seen a computer, let alone have access to broadband.

But, in places like the US, Australia and Europe, there finally exists an opportunity to turn back this sad tide and preserve the little languages. Many will argue that they are not needed, or deserve to exist. Well, you could say the same about the Giant Panda, or opera. The world would be a less rich place without them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Iolo,
Interesting thoughts as usual on your blog. Only a couple of days later I was reading about the long overdue attempts to get a TLD for Wales (maybe .cym) ....

http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/when-it-meets-politics/2008/08/will-xxxcym-be-more-trusted-th.html

Best regards, Tim