So is the internet language’s new hope Probably, because cyberspace allows doors to open for forms of expression that don’t interest the traditional publishing circuits. Scientific publications in languages other than English can find a place, for example, albeit modest, thanks to the ease and low cost of online publishing ; whereas academic journals published by traditional print publishers concern a minimal number of readers, a risk that few publishers are willing to take.
Without a doubt, the internet has permitted minorities absent from traditional publishing to speak, but let us not think that the game is over.
The relationship between the internet and global linguistic diversity is inversely proportionate, as we demonstrated in 2008 21 ; and the linguistic divide follows the digital divide.
To our knowledge, no comprehensive study provides real insight into the place of languages worldwide on the web, social networks, messaging, chat, and other online services. However, we can gather from information fragmented across various studies that the production of social networks is in straightforward acceleration compared to the production of traditional web pages, even if content is often ephemeral 22. Studies conducted by Semiocast 23 on Twitter in 2010, for example, showed that Malay and 21 Daniel Prado, “Languages and Cyberspace : Analysis of the General Context and the Importance of Multilingualism in Cyberspace”, In : Proceedings of the International Conference Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace, (Yakutsk, Russian Federation, 2-4 July 2008).
http://www.ifapcom.ru/files/Documents/multiling_eng.pdf 22 The observatory site Portalingua http://www.portalingua.info, created by the Union Latine, attempts to address this problem by compiling and paralleling existing studies and statistics on language presence in various spheres of the Knowledge Society.
23 http://semiocast.com/static/downloads/Semiocast_Half_of_messages_on_Twitter_ are_not_in_English_20100224.pdf Daniel Prado & Daniel Pimienta Portuguese were used much more than Spanish, German, Russian and Italian – languages with much more presence on the traditional web, with traditional translation policies and a more solid book digitization. This study has not been repeated since, but languages spoken in Indonesia, for example, might be even more prevalent today because their country has the planet’s third largest “Generation 140” 24. We are seeing similar phenomena on Facebook. A study from the advertising industry (to be taken with a grain of salt for this type of census) described an increase of 175 % in Arabic speakers on the social network, compared to a stagnating growth of Anglophones (45 % increase in 2011) 25. Which is not without social, political and generational consequences in the relevant parts of the world 26.
That is why it is important to emphasize the aspects of infrastructure, technology ownership and content production (both text and multimedia). The promotion of language use in the relevant national or regional entities should occur at all levels : educational, administrative, scientific, technical and recreational. But it must be undertaken at the foundation, at the level of access to technology by a given language, and on the basis of reliable data.
However, documented studies and systematic observation of languages on the web are rare. We can’t really identify any, apart from the initiative of the Union Latine and Funredes, conducted from 1998 to 2007 27, and the Language Observatory Project 28. Yet we are faced with various new factors ; specifically, the internet’s extreme size and search engines’ latest developments that have lost their seriousness about information retrieval and the possibility of covering a large proportion of content, and that can no longer obtain reliable and universal statistics. Social uses (Twitter, 24 The name bestowed on the Twitter-using generation, since Twitter doesn’t allow posting messages with over 140 characters.
25 Mathieu Olivier, “Facebook : Arabic Will Soon Overtake English” (“Facebook : l’arabe supplantera bientt l’anglais”), Jeune Afrique, 22 July 2011. http://www.jeuneafrique.
com/Article/ARTJAWEB20110722101339/algerie-liban-internet-facebookfacebook-l-arabesupplantera-bientot-l-anglais.html Carrington Malin, Rising Facebook Arabic, 8 June 2011.
http://www.spotonpr.com/facebook-arabic-uprising/ 26 See in this book : Adel El Zaim, Cyberactivism and Regional Languages in the 2011 Arab Spring.
27 See the study online at : http://dtil.unilat.org/LI/2007/fr/resultados_fr.htm 28 See in this book : Yoshiki Mikami & Shigeaki Kodama, Measuring Linguistic Diversity on the Web.
Daniel Prado & Daniel Pimienta Facebook, voice and video Instant Messaging) and multimedia sites often escape web-focused analysis. This deficiency in the crucial domain of online language presence indicators has pushed the network Maaya to propose the creation of an international consortium that would conduct an ambitious “language cybermetric” in a project called Dilinet.
The project involves developing a set of methods to produce sustainable indicators of online linguistic diversity that account for the web’s diversity, to provide a basis for public policy in all areas related to the information society at national and international levels.
This project takes an exploratory approach to research, taking into account existing methods by adding innovative approaches, including measurement systems reflecting user behaviour. To overcome the limitations created by the web’s size, the project uses optimal indexing methods based on mathematical approaches that are neither sequential nor random, while opening new avenues like voice identification techniques or automatic content characterization.
Dilinet is transversal, at once a field of research (with researchers from both public and private sectors) and tool for defining public policy. It begins with the motivation of a group of international agencies including Unesco, the International Telecommunication Union, the Organization Internationale de La Francophonie and the Union Latine, and draws on the experience of the aforementioned Funredes and the Language Observatory Project.
By providing verified and valid results for a set of indicators of linguistic diversity in cyberspace, Dilinet will be able to pick up on trends and gauge the results of implemented policies.
Effectively measuring linguistic diversity in the digital world will contribute to a paradigm shift in how we envision the digital divide, by substituting material measurement (networks and terminals) with the perspective of access to content. Indirectly, Dilinet will also open promising new perspectives for the production of impact indicators on the information society, and will create opportunities for languages to be considered important parameters of the digital economy.
Daniel Prado & Daniel Pimienta BIBLIOGRAPHY [PIMIENTA 2009] D. Pimienta, D. Prado,. Blanco, Douze annes de mesure de la diversit linguistique sur l’Internet : bilan et perspectives, Unesco, 2009. http://unesdoc.
[UIT 2009] UIT, Measuring the Information Society : the ICT Development Index, ISBN 92-61-12831-9, 2009.
[PAOLILLO, PIMIENTA, PRADO ET AL. 2005] J. Paolillo, D. Pimienta, D. Prado, et al. (2005), Mesurer la diversit linguistique sur Internet, Unesco, 12/2005. http://unesdoc.
[SUZUKI, MIKAMI ET AL. 2002] Suzuki I., Mikami Y., et al. (2002), “A Language and Character Set Determination Method Based on N-gram Statistics”, dans ACM Transactions on Asian Language Information Processing, Vol.1, no3.
[PRADO 2010] Prado, D. (2010) « Languages and Cyberspace : Analysis of the General Context and the Importance of Multilingualism in Cyberspace » In : Proceedings of the International Conference Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace, (Yakutsk, Russian Federation, 2-4 July, 2008). http://www.ifapcom.ru/files/Documents/multiling_eng.pdf Daniel Prado & Daniel Pimienta Daniel Prado & Daniel Pimienta THE FUTURE SPEAKS, READS AND WRITES IN ALL LANGUAGES CONCLUSION ADAMA SAMASSKOU, President of Maaya.
anguage is the vehicle through which we express our thoughts and communicate. It allows us to share our cultural experience. Our Llinguistic repertoire and choice of expressions determine who we are in a given moment’s place and circumstances. Languages are thus the living expressions of individual and collective cultural identities.
Hampate Ba said that of all the elements that characterise the individual, from physique to clothing, language remains the most salient and obvious.
Because it transcends the individual in favour of the community, language belongs to us as much as it belongs to our culture. Through language, we acquire and transmit our knowledge and expertise, which enables us to exert a certain amount of control over our environment. Both the essence and the barometer of our development, language is identity’s most fundamental component.
WELLSPRINGS OF CREATIVITY At once the cradle of culture and matrix of creativity, language is the preferential tool for building knowledge and know-how. In this respect, it is undeniably one of the foremost expressions of a people’s creative genius. Language is culture’s receptacle and vehicle. It is the vector par excellence for the cosmic visions of human societies.
Evoking this crucial issue, Professor Joseph Ki-Zerbo, in his book Quand l’Afrique (“When Will Africa”), underscores, “The language issue is Adama Samasskou fundamental because it affects the identity of peoples. And identity is necessary for development and for democracy. Languages also affect culture, the nations’ problems, the capacity to imagine and creativity. When we repeat in a language which is not originally our own, there is a mechanical and mimetic expression of ourselves, with some exceptions. (But do we govern for exceptions) We are only imitating. Whereas when we express ourselves in our language, our imagination is released” 1.
For his part, Raymond Fox, in his essay, Une thique pour la francophonie.
Questions de politique linguistique (“Ethics for the Francophonie. Linguistic Policy Issues”), stresses the importance of safeguarding linguistic diversity : “There is a reason, as fundamental as the identity’s foundation, for wanting to safeguard linguistic diversity : it is through their own language that individuals view the world and interpret its meaning in their own way, which ensures their access to universal. All languages are involved in the interpretation of the universal, because every culture produces meanings of universal value. And as has been well demonstrated by Alain Touraine or Stephen Wurm, no language or culture can claim to represent the universal, but each provides its own contribution ; it is through cultural and linguistic dialogue that we approach one another” 2.
LINGUISTIC AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY Linguistic and cultural dialogue is advocated by Unesco in “The Universal Declaration of Unesco on Cultural Diversity” 3 – a founding text if there ever was one – which considers culture to be the whole of a society’s or a social group’s distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features. Defined as such, culture remains at the heart of all debates about identity, social cohesion, and the development of any economy based on knowledge and know-how. That’s why it is a common heritage of mankind.
Because every society and social group is called upon to live its culture, to preserve as much as possible its ancient cultural values, cultural and linguistic diversity is a reality at individual, community, national and 1 Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Quand l’Afrique ditions de l’Aube, 2003, pp. 81-82.
2 Raymond RENARD, Une thique pour la francophonie. Questions de politique linguistique, Paris, Didier Erudition, Edition du CIPA, 2006.
3 Adopted by the 31st session of the Unesco General Conference on 2 November 2001.
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001271/127160m.pdf Adama Samasskou global levels. Accepting this reality endows every individual, community, and society with fundamental human rights, as stipulated in the Unesco Declaration, including :
– The right to express oneself, to create and disseminate one’s work in the language of one’s choice, especially in one’s native language ;
– The right to education and quality training that fully respect one’s cultural identity ;
– The right to participate in the cultural life of one’s choice ;
– The right to practice one’s own cultural practices within the limits imposed by respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Preserving and promoting diversity and cultural and linguistic pluralism in all areas remains, in this view, an absolute necessity.
Rooting each social group or language in its own cultural values, far from being a source of division, actually reinforces the mobilisation of social forces. As the ancients said, there is no better knowledge than selfknowledge ; to understand the other, one must first know oneself. Mutual understanding, beginning within one’s society, leads to social cohesion.
This type of learning, which is acquired in one’s original environment, also allows for a universal construct.
In Africa, this attitude towards coexistence remains common, due to the conservation of basic educational and social values that promote understanding, respect and mutual consideration between individuals.
These community values, which include solidarity, sharing, moderation, consensus, mutual aid, welcoming the Other, and hospitality, allow for the integration of behaviours and concepts that can prevent and manage conflict.
The question of cultural and linguistic diversity, a philosophical and political choice firmly rooted in the African world view, is well summarised by the Malian, and more largely the African, writer and philosopher Hampate Ba, in this quote : “The beauty of a carpet lies in the variety of its colours. If it is only white, it would be a white cloth, if it is black, it would be a mourning loincloth. The entire Universe is our homeland. Everyone is a page in the Nature register. In the vast human community launched to find a new equilibrium, each people must bring the note of his own genius, Adama Samasskou so that the whole can be enriched. Everyone must be open to others while remaining himself” 4.