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The mother tongue is not only important for individuals, but also for linguistic communities. Language is a powerful identity marker for human communities, regardless of the type of social organization : clans, tribes, 1 It is fundamental to remember that "the term barbarian was applied by Greeks in ancient history to anyone who didnt speak their language http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbare In 1912, Carl Meinhof published Die Sprachen Der Hamiten (The Languages of the Hamites.) He used the term Hamitic. Meinhof's system of classification of the Hamitic languages was based on a belief that speakers of Hamitic became largely coterminous with cattle herding peoples with essentially Caucasian origins, intrinsically different from and superior to the Negroes of Africa. However, in the case of the so-called Nilo-Hamitic languages (a concept he introduced), it was based on the typological feature of gender and a fallacious theory of language mixture. Meinhof did this in spite of earlier work by scholars such as Lepsius and Johnston. http://en.wikipedia/Carl_Meinhof. See Meinhof, Carl. 1906. Grundzge einer vergleichenden Grammatik der Bantusprachen. Berlin : Reimer.

2 Quote attributed to Ogotemmli in an interview with French anthropologist Marcel Griaule (Dieu deau, entretien avec Ogotemmli, 1948).

Marcel Diki-Kidiri ethnic groups, or nations. Language is a primary instrument of integration of newcomers in a society, whether for migrants or simply a new generation. Language is an element of social cohesion that expresses and carries culture, knowledge, aspirations, and the values of an entire community. It is via education in the mother tongue that these values are transmitted to future generations, allowing the continuity of a community.

It is because every human communitys mother tongue has inalienable identity value that every effort must be made to enable all to carry out life in their mother tongue and to enable their language to live, including in the realm of cyberspace.

Access to information and knowledge is a fundamental right that must be guaranteed to all language communities to ensure equitable knowledge sharing The mass of information and knowledge in the world is huge, and the information contained in cyberspace is growing exponentially. It is rather illusory to try to make each element of knowledge and information contained in all 7000 world languages available online, and this is not being advocated here. Rather, the vision contained within these principles is far more pragmatic and realistic. In cyberspace, all the peoples of the world are neighbours, because neither time nor geographical distance can impose boundaries. Everything shared freely is accessible to anyone who finds it of interest. Free knowledge pooling, as with Wikipedia and other online databases, has long been, and remains broadly, what characterizes and distinguishes the global network. As electronic commerce grows, the issue of copyright for culture producers (musicians, filmmakers, designers, writers, etc.) is becoming crucial and is not adapting well to the free download of cultural and intellectual products. Hence the need for regulation of both free and paid downloads, to simultaneously protect the legitimate rights of authors and artists, while at the same time allowing for the free market that characterizes cyberspace. But if we are not careful, its a slippery slope from regulation to reduction in free space, thus depriving the poor of the means to participate in the life of the information society. One thing is certain : to use a computer, it is no longer necessary to understand English or have a computer science degree.

Not only is English no longer required for computer use, there is no truly Marcel Diki-Kidiri required language, but only the computer users personal language. Since access to information and knowledge is a fundamental right that must be guaranteed to all language communities to ensure equitable knowledge sharing, it is vital that with respect to intellectual property, each linguistic community have the right to tap into as much of this knowledge as they need and consider necessary to render in their own language.

Technical solutions that facilitate multilingualism should be favoured at all levels of intervention into all means of communication that involve language The information society is characterized by the massive and global use of icts. The structure of these technologies must evolve to enable any language to be used as a medium of communication, in both oral and written forms. In addition, it is of great importance that international standards be established to facilitate the use of languages on icts 3. The recently developed Unicode coding system is the best example of this.

If the 8-bits ascii system could code up to 256 characters, Unicode can encode over 110,000 unique graphic characters. It is thus theoretically capable of handling all the worlds computerized writing systems. Another significant example is that of language coding (ISO 639-n), where n is a number from 1 to 6 that signifies different versions of a standard. This coding system language names and groups is in strong competition with the world languages referencing system LS 640, developed by David Dalby of the Linguasphre observatory and compatible with ISO 11179. Finally, ISO 15924 allows the referencing of all the worlds writing systems along with their diachronic variants. All these standards of global reach constitute a foundation for the inclusion of all world languages in the process of ict development. Technical problems are, of course, always complex, but the ethical principle that should prevail here is that at all levels of intervention, we must focus on technical solutions that provide greater flexibility and openness to multilingual applications. As Jean-Louis Garon has said :

The instruments are now more or less in place. They are not yet perfect, but we can henceforth surf the Web using Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and many other languages that do not use the western alphabet. As 3 See in this book : Stphane Bortzmeyer, Multilingualism and the Internets Standardisation.

Marcel Diki-Kidiri the internet extends to parts of the world where English is rarely used, for example China, it is natural that Chinese and not English be used.

The majority of internet users in China have no other choice than their mother tongue 4 (p. 85).

The development of communications infrastructure in the poorest communities is an obligation of solidarity and equity Among the fundamental issues, inadequate or nonexistent communications infrastructure is a key factor making it impossible for underserved language communities to use icts. In industrialized countries, the gap between city and country in communications infrastructure is generally quite significant. This disparity is even more dramatic in developing countries, because it is combined with other equally serious gaps in public services.

The deployment of heavy infrastructure (particularly optic fibre) in developing countries and rural areas of developed countries is an obligation of solidarity allowing the most disadvantaged communities to access communication, and thus information and knowledge sharing. Thanks to such solidarity, language communities can develop the tools they need to use their language(s) in the information societys communication space. Solidarity with disadvantaged communities, on both national and international levels, is one of the necessary ethical principles ensuring the continued presence of mother tongues in the information society.

Nationally, it is the responsibility of government and legislature to guarantee that national solidarity weighs in on the choice to develop communications infrastructure not only in urban centres but in rural areas.

In a multilingual country, such infrastructure takes on added importance because it is a basic condition for regional languages to be locally accessible in cyberspace.

Internationally, the very fact that industrialized countries, international organizations and foreign entrepreneurs invest in or advocate investments in developing countries to help build their national communications 4 Jean-Louis Garon, Ntic & thiques Quelle valeur possde linformation en ligne Masters thesis in Multilingual Engineering (Paris : Centre de Recherche en Ingnierie Multilingue, INALCO, 2005).

Marcel Diki-Kidiri infrastructure contributes to the principle of solidarity, as long as the conditions of these investments take into account the real interests of developing countries. It must be stressed very clearly that all such cases require a significant economic investment and thus cannot be envisaged solely as humanitarian acts without economic counterparts. Indeed, such operations remain highly economic and thus profitable to investors. And that is why the ethical principles of solidarity and equity must be kept clearly in mind, so that the logic of economic profit does not predominate political decision-making with regards to the development of communications infrastructure. It must also be clear that a communication network cannot be built across a country or continent without extensive training of technicians, managers, and networks, as well as of the consumers who will use these new modes of communication.

Training and capacity building in local communities Capacity building in language communities requires significant investment and long-term programming. As a network expands or is planned across a country, new staff must be trained. Facilitating access to terminals for computers, televisions, and mobile phones can encourage the evolution of network users communication habits. Without this market, the use of networks is not high enough to make them profitable. The empowerment of experts and users alike is a condition for success, in terms of both economic necessity and human rights. Therefore it is vital that this be strongly if not fully supported by vigorous government action.

Businesses have an interest in developing internet cafes, which are good places to access the internet when one has no computer at home. The more people are able to access and use the communication terminals, the more conditions will be favourable to the use of local languages in icts.

We must therefore constantly solicit and seek out the commitment of governments to a language policy that favours multilingualism, so that every language spoken in their territory is valued, and more specifically, used in communication networks.

Marcel Diki-Kidiri Governmental authorities must play a vital role in promoting multilingualism, involving local languages and ICTs On January 11, 1993, then Vice President of the United States Al Gore launched the global project of the information superhighway. The internet was first developed in North America and Europe, and then spread across all industrialized countries. Only after that did the internet slowly reach the southern hemispheres developing countries. Without government involvement, this network of networks would probably have never developed.

The installation and deployment of a communications and information networks across a country or continent opens limitless opportunities to enhance economic and cultural activity and to accelerate social change.

Appetites sharpen. Large investors, both private and public, usually based in industrialized countries, dont shy away from attempts to supplant the governments of developing countries from controlling the investments that they accept to make to install communication networks in their countries. Where investors succeed, they dictate prices without taking into account the purchasing power of the local population, their sole concern being a quick return on investment. This creates additional social inequalities between those who can afford to access icts and those who cant. Such monopolies obviously raise serious ethical concerns.

Only governments can make policy decisions regarding how to integrate icts into national plans for economic, cultural, educational, and social development, because only governments carry the ultimate responsibility for the fate of their country. Only governments can intervene to regulate prices to sustainably ensure the purchasing power of consumers. Only governmental policy choices can effectively guide economic, educational, cultural, social, and communicative actions in a way that promotes user-friendly multilingualism, to ensure the flourishing of all language communities in their countries. Indeed, a well-designed policy that gives a fair place to every language spoken in a given country is a policy that will ensure sustainable linguistic peace, which contributes to permanent social peace.

The fact remains that all forces acting as power centres, namely, national and international organizations, international governing organizations, Marcel Diki-Kidiri and cultural and linguistic ngos have a moral duty to bear their share of commitment by mobilizing wherever necessary to promote an inclusive multilingualism, the development of relevant technologies, and the capacity building of local language speakers.

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