Multilingualism in Cyberspace
Language constitutes the foundation of communication and is fundamental to cultural and historical heritage.
Increasingly, information and knowledge are key determinants of wealth creation, social transformation and human development. Language is the primary vector for communicating knowledge and traditions; thus the opportunity to use one’s language on global information networks such as the Internet will determine the extent to which one can participate in emerging knowledge societies.
However, thousands of languages worldwide are absent from Internet content and there are no tools for creating or translating information into these excluded tongues. The way how one accesses Internet sites through domain names is also principally limited to the use of Latin script.
Huge sections of the world’s population are thus constrained in enjoying the full benefi ts of technological advances and obtaining information essential to their wellbeing and development. Unchecked, this will contribute to a loss of cultural diversity on information networks and a widening of existing socio-economic inequalities.
By supporting the development of multilingual cyberspace, UNESCO promotes wider and more equitable access to information networks and at the same time offers possibilities through ICT* for the preservation of endangered languages.
http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=16539&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html. Access Aug., 2010.
* ICT = Information Communications Technology
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