I’m currently reading Minority Languages on the Internet: Promoting the regional languages of Spain by Peter Gerrand. It’s one of the only books that focuses primarily on the minority language on the internet from a language planning perspective rather than a more descriptive linguistic approach. His main focus is the policies implemented by the Basque, Catalan and Galician autonomous communities to promote and sustain their languages on the internet.
I just wanted to quote a thought provoking paragraph from the conclusion of his chapter outlining the role of minority language in an Internet dominated by English:
On the internet, the challenges for minority languages are the same as for the lesser-used national languages such as Dutch, Czech and Norwegian: how to enhance their prestige, and avoid domain loss. Language prestige cannot be achieved without language visibility. And so it is in the interests of linguistic survival to ensure a growing amount of communication in that language on the Internet, and to ensure that the language’s online resources are not ignored by the Internet’s search tools and addressing scheme. (Gerrand, 2007:45)
What this suggests to me and my current work, and this is something that I’ve been thinking about already especially in relation to French and their relationship with English on the internet, is that comparisons of Welsh and Norwegian, Danish or Dutch could provide many interesting insights in terms of approaches to language issues and planning on the internet, particularly from the perspective of media and participation. After all, Norwegian and Dutch internauts have the same ‘internet diglossia’ problem as Welsh speakers have. You could argue that we are all diglossic with English on the internet, even though the internet now has become much more multilingual. Some would say that there are parallel internets and that the walls between the languages are too high to be able to use the diglossia analogy. Whatever the description, the Norwegians and the Dutch alike are having to think about how their language can have an even playing field in a globalised media environment.