DLDP Press Release 21/07/2017

DLDP Press Release

New survey shows demand for urgent digital development for regional or minority languages

The Digital Language Diversity Project has published the results from its survey on what speakers of four lesser-used languages want to see in terms of digital development for their language.

The overarching message is that in every aspect of their life lesser-used language speakers want to be able to live their lives in their language.

The EU sponsored project has conducted a survey on four languages: Basque, Breton, Sardinian and Karelian. It had a huge response and clearly illustrates that speakers of these languages realise how important digital development will be for the future of their language and want to see their language’s digital presence developed urgently.

The survey asked speakers about their current use of their language in the digital domain, including their use of social media, what they can access online in their language, and what they are unable to access.

Key results

  • Regional and minority language speakers have a strong desire to use their languages digitally, in all the sociolinguistic domains and for all the purposes where major languages are used.
  • Social media has a huge potential as a domain that drives language revitalisation, but this sociolinguistic space is still restricted.
  • There is a clear demand for increased regional language usage in the public domain.
  • Minoritised language speakers need to be supported and encouraged regarding their ability to use their languages digitally and for their importance as digital content creators.
  • The lack of structural support for these languages is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The digital development of these languages is not sustainable when it has to rely on the work of a handful of activists and volunteers.

The survey results will give governments, civil society, the language technology industry, and academia, a detailed view into what grass-roots organisations and the actual language communities themselves are thinking about in terms of how they want to develop provision for their languages in the digital sphere.

In addition, the survey will feed into a Road Map for Digital Language Diversity which will guide policymakers and stakeholders on the way forward in how language organisations and governments can effectively develop digital tools which help the revitalisation of lesser-used and endangered languages. It is envisaged that the current research will act as a pilot project for a more extensive project that will cover all European lesser-used languages.

DLDP, supported by the EU Erasmus+ Programme, is led by Dr Claudia Soria of the Institute for Computational Linguistics (ILC) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR), based in Pisa.

The DLDP partnership comprises the European Language Equality Network (ELEN), the department Sprachen Nordeuropas und des Baltikums (SNEB) of the Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz (JGU), the Basque organisation Elhuyar Fundazioa (ELH) and the Finnish association Karjalan Kielen Seura (KKS).

Speaking to the press, Dr Soria said that:

“Everyone on the team has been fascinated by the survey results and we’re very pleased with the huge response that we’ve had. After analysing the data we are convinced that it will have an important impact on how we plan for digital development for lesser-used languages. For the first time ever we have a real insight into what the actual language community needs in terms of digital development and existing provision.”

DLDP Press Release