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Together with other cultural, research and educational establishments, libraries, museums and archives can launch multimedia projects pertaining to the founders of ethnic cultures, folklore collectors, writers, artists, composers and performing musicians. Texts, photographs, digital copies of paintings and sketches, sound and video recordings can be recorded on discs for broad circulation, and their online versions be posted on the websites of cultural, research and educational institutions.

Mass Media Federal, regional and municipal media outlets can become purveyors of cultural and linguistic diversity. The contemporary mass media should focus on :

Evgeny Kuzmin • preserving and developing periodicals in minority languages and sections in those languages in other periodicals ;

• organising television and radio broadcasting in minority languages, especially the release of programmes entirely or partly conducted in those languages, and topical to the original ethnic culture of their speakers ;

• organising internet broadcasting in minority languages ; and • establishing information portals.

Book publishing and circulation Book publishers and traders can make a tremendous contribution to the support of minority languages and development of multilingualism : a language without access to the book industry is a language excluded from intellectual community life. Unesco stresses the importance of translation in strengthening multilingualism, especially in book publishing, which promotes both the industry and the free circulation of ideas.

Publishers can promote minority languages through :

• effecting research, popular science and fiction books, periodicals and translations in a minority language ;

• promoting literary work in a minority language and its emerging authors ;

• assuring that libraries of educational institutions include books in minority languages ; and • helping minority language speakers to acquire books, especially in remote areas that are historically densely populated by the given ethnie.

PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS Non-governmental language promotion activities include :

• establishing weekend schools, clubs and ethno-cultural associations to provide supplemental linguistic and literary education ;

Evgeny Kuzmin • organising competitions, festivals and creative events to promote cultural and linguistic traditions ;

• participating in language and culture days in and outside the traditional settlement areas of a given ethnie ;

• participating in folk festivals ; and • communicating with and supporting a language’s expatriate population.

PRIVATE INITIATIVES Language should gain support not only from the state, its institutions or non-governmental organizations. Individuals and groups of individuals can also participate in language preservation and promotion by :

• establishing and supporting Wikipedia in minority languages ;

• establishing and supporting websites, blogs, Twitter and other social networks 13.

THE ICT INDUSTRY The ict industry is a key agent in promoting multilingualism, and a crucial participant in supporting and enhancing a language’s status. The ict industry can channel its energy into the following areas :

• articulating and promoting technical standards, taking into account ethnic minorities’ demands 14 ;

• creating complete computer fonts for minority languages ;

• participating in the establishment of international Unicode standards and the implementation of the unified keyboard layout ;

• localising software and creating free software to support local languages ;

13 See in this book : Vassili Rivron, The Use of Facebook by the Eton of Cameroon.

14 See in this book : Stphane Bortzmeyer, Multilingualism and the Internet’s Standardisation.

Evgeny Kuzmin • elaborating computer language models and machine translation systems 15 ;

• supporting minority languages in e-mail, chat and other messaging utilities ;

• uploading electronic study books and dictionaries in minority languages ;

• establishing multilingual domains and e-mail addresses 16 ;

• creating software for multilingual internet domain names and content ;

• establishing localised, minority language retrieval systems ;

• creating information and other websites and portals in bilingual versions ;

• making information resources available electronically ; and • developing the non-textual sphere of the internet (such as voice over ip, data streaming, and video on demand) 17.

The above measures can bring about their desired results only when the entire ethnos – not only its cultural, intellectual and ruling elite – makes major intellectual and emotional efforts, and displays goodwill, desire and interest in the survival and development of its unique culture and linguistic identity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY [KUZMIN, EVGENY (ED). 2008] “Report by the Russian Federation to Unesco General Conference on Measures Taken to Implement the Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace”, In :

Preservation of Linguistic Diversity : Russian Experience. Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre), pp.


[KUZMIN, EVGENY AND PARSHAKOVA, ANASTASIA. (EDS). 2011] Развитие многоязычия в киберпространстве : пособие для библиотек (Promoting Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace : A Handbook for Libraries). Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre).

15 See in this book : Joseph Mariani, How Language Technologies Support Multilingualism.

16 See in this book : Stphane Bortzmeyer, Multilingualism and Internet Governance.

17 See in this book : Tunde Adegbola, Multimedia and Signed, Written or Oral Languages.

Evgeny Kuzmin [KUZMIN, EVGENY AND PLYS, EKATERINA (EDS). 2007] Языковое разнообразие в киберпространстве : российский и зарубежный опыт (Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace : Russian and International Experience). Collection of analitical works.

Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre).

[——— 2008] “Development of Multilingualism on the Internet as a New Field of Activity of the Russian Committee of the Unesco Information for All Programme and the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre”, In : Preservation of Linguistic Diversity :

Russian Experience. Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre), pp. 65-85.

[——— 2008] Представление языков России и стран СНГ в российском сегменте Интернета (Presentation of Languages of Russia and other CIS Countries in the Russian Segment of the Internet). Collection of reports. Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre).

[——— 2008] Preservation of Linguistic Diversity : Russian Experience. Moscow :

Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre).

[——— 2010] Языковое и культурное разнообразие в киберпространстве (Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace). Proceedings of the international conference held in Yakutsk, Russian Federation, 2-4 July, 2008. Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre).

[——— 2011] Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace. Proceedings of the International Conference held in Yakutsk, Russian Federation, 2-4 July, 2008.

Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre).


2008] Многоязычие в России : региональные аспекты (Multiligualism in Russia :

Regional Aspects). Moscow : Межрегиональный центр библиотечного сотрудничества (Interregional Library Cooperation Centre).

Evgeny Kuzmin Evgeny Kuzmin TUNDE ADEGBOLA MULTIMEDIA AND SIGNED, WRITTEN OR ORAL LANGUAGES Writing systems were not developed for all languages at the same time, giving written languages a great advantage. As we move deeper into the information age, how can we ensure that the inequalities of the agrarian and industrial ages are not amplified in our information age If literacy is a priority as a fundamental value of the modern world, how can we use the Internet to allow speakers of unwritten languages the expression, memory and expansion of their fields of knowledge Original article in English.

TUNDE ADEGBOLA is a researcher, consultant and cultural activist with long experience in the field of information and communication media. As Director General of the African Languages Technology Initiative, he leads a team of researchers in adapting human language technologies for use in African languages.

he invention of writing was a very important milestone of human development as it facilitated the accurate and detailed documentaTtion of human experiences and ideas outside the confines of the human brain. This development enhanced the mobility of experiences and ideas, freeing them from temporal and spatial constraints, and thereby making possible their sharing within and between various cultures of the world. However, because writing systems were not developed for all human languages at the same time, writing put written languages at an advantage, creating a relative limitation on the pace and extent of the sharing of experiences and ideas coded in unwritten languages. Recent developments in digital technology have now made it a lot easier to document information and knowledge without writing. Multimedia in modern information communication technology has emerged as one of the salient characteristics of the information age as it facilitates easy and enhanced communication in oral, written and signed languages 1. This holds a promise of making cyberspace a truly inclusive communication space.

As we proceed further into the information age, there is a need to ensure that the forms and levels of inequity that characterised the agrarian and industrial ages do not become entrenched in the information age. Whilst on the one hand we continue to quest for increased levels of literacy as a fundamental value of the modern world, there is on the other hand a need to ensure that the offerings of digital technology are not applied to the advantage of users of written languages alone. We need to consciously develop multimedia-based techniques that apply the advantages of modern 1 See in this book : Annelies Brafort & Patrice Dalle, Accessibility in Cyberspace : Sign Languages.

Tunde Adegbola digital technology to making languages without writing systems available and useful in cyberspace and also give access to users of signed languages.

ORAL, SIGNED AND WRITTEN LANGUAGES Language is a semiotic system in which rules relate symbols to meaning.

As a system for communication it features the arrangement of a finite set of auditory or visual symbols according to a finite set of rules resulting in the possibility of the production of an infinite set of statements.

This capacity to produce an infinite set of statements from a finite set of symbols and rules provides the basis for language to refer to a large set of simple objects, describe convoluted notions and express complex concepts.

In speech, language is activated by the use of auditory symbols. Sound is a consequence of the compression and rarefaction of air in time and so there is a strict temporal dimension to the traditional use of auditory signals to realise language. When speech is used to realise language, the auditory activities that are produced decay and become imperceptible within a very short time. Yet the information conveyed by these auditory activities, more often than not, remain valid for a long time, much beyond the extremely short lifespan of the auditory activities that were produced to represent them. This temporal limitation had consequences on the capacity for the documentation and reuse of the information and knowledge expressed in speech.

In writing, language is activated by the use of visual markings on some appropriate media. These markings may be codes that represent the concepts to be communicated directly or by the indirect representation of the sounds expressed in speech statements that describe such concepts directly. The lifespan of such visual markings is usually far in excess of the lifespan of the sounds produced in speech and this temporal advantage of the written word over the spoken word is an important motivation for the development of writing.

In sign languages however, visual symbols are produced in time to make up for the auditory deficiencies of the deaf and hearing impaired. Because the visual symbols of sign language are produced in time, they are also subject to temporal limitations similar to those of speech.

Tunde Adegbola Apart from the temporal dimensions of the distinction between oral, written and signed languages, there are a number of other salient characteristics that distinguish these ways of communicating. From a spatial point of view, the portability of the media on which information is written makes it possible for written ideas and information to travel far away from the sources from which they originate. In contrast, exclusively oral languages depend mainly on the processes of memorisation and recitation which restrict their use mainly to the performance mode of presentation.

Many of the world’s languages have developed writing systems while even more have remained mainly spoken. The cultures that use these written languages have taken due advantage of the temporal and spatial features of writing. They share information and knowledge by writing and reading texts and this frees such information and knowledge to travel as far as the medium of writing can reach. Within the cultures that still use unwritten languages however, people continue to learn merely by memorisation and recitation. Hence, the extent to which knowledge coded in such languages can spread is determined by the capacity for the spread of word of mouth.

Furthermore, due to the limitations of the human memory for accurate recall, information and knowledge coded in unwritten languages are bound to suffer from the limitations of human memory.

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