It is estimated that there are about 600o spoken languages in the world. Of these, about 50% can be reasonably classified as “moribund”, 40% as endangered, and the remaining 10% is safe. The World Wide Web offers minority languages the opportunity to reach a wide audience at a relatively low cost compared with traditional media. The presence of minority languages in this new medium is as important as the presence in traditional media.
Nowadays, it is clear that English lead the Internet. But, would this be forever? According to Bobby Johnson “the traditional grip that the English language has had on the web is sliding away, as China increasingly begins to assert itself on the internet.” This means that day by day, other languages are taking place to English. Statistics show us most important languages: as said, first position is occupied by English with the 30’1%, secondly we find Chinese growing by day with around a 14’1%, third Spanish representing the 9’0%, then Japanese, French, German… With these numbers we can deduce that the most important languages are the ones that are more spoken in the world. But while Spanish, French or German hold their place, Chinese increased.
Minority languages such as Basque, which has a reduced number of speakers are now increasing its presence on different sites, which helps to preserve it in a way. Those which are in danger of extinction have in the Web a good way to make the language more important, try to reach the most people possible and make aware them that it is still alive. Here are also important webs that are developed in a bilingual mode, Spanish-Basque, Spanish-Catalan, etc.
- Bobbie Johnson. English grip on internet being eroded, http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/archives/2005/08/16/english_grip_on_internet_being_eroded.html
- Daniel Cunliffe. Promoting minority laguage use on bilingual Web sites http://www.aber.ac.uk/mercator/images/cunliffefinal.pdf