Tarry for the Nonce

November 2, 2006

Capturing the “Cultural Heritage”

Filed under: News — lmwalker @ 6:11 pm

The United Nations, that august body that always concerns itself with Very Important Things, has decided that there is far too much of the English language on the Internet.

Experts at a UN forum on internet governance warned that the predominant use of English on the worldwide web needs to be checked before it crowds out other languages . . .

“Some 90 per cent of 6000 languages (at use today) are not represented on the internet,” said Yoshinori Imai of NHK, Japan’s Broadcasting Corporation.

If I read the article correctly, one of the reasons for this grotesque oversight is that some countries rely heavily on “oral tradition,” which I interpret to mean that they . . . don’t . . . really . . . keep . . . written . . . records.

Perhaps the U.N. should start small and consider deciphering their own language on the world wide web. Or perhaps we should all start communicating in Obenglobish.

(Best of the Web found this little gem.)



  1. If we could vote, which we can’t, mine would be for Esperanto! :p)

    Comment by Andrew P. — November 3, 2006 @ 12:18 am

  2. UN forum on internet governance

    Wow. I can think of no other combination of words that I find quite as distasteful.

    Comment by Toly — November 3, 2006 @ 7:56 am

  3. Oh, good grief, have our look at our would-be internet governors:

    You’d think that of all places that should have speedy and reliable Internet access, a United Nations summit on the Internet would be high on the list.

    Not quite. The organizers of the summit, held at a luxury resort hotel on the Athenian Riveria not far from the city center, couldn’t even provide a working Internet connection.

    Comment by Toly — November 3, 2006 @ 8:08 am

  4. “crowds out other languages….”

    That is just ridiculous! How can that even happen in the first place??? I mean the internet is not static in it’s size- nor is it limited in it’s size! It’s always expanding!
    That’s what so great about the internet, and capitalism, and free markets, and freedom in general (something the U.N. doesn’t really understand because of it’s mostly socialistic ways!)…if you don’t want to use the English language on the internet- you don’t have too! You want something out there on the internet in some remote Mongolian dialect then…just do it! Get together with some like minded people (or not) and put together your own web page! No one is stopping you! Unless you are in some communistic, or socialistic country, or under some kind of dictatorship that won’t let you, but if that’s the case- than that isn’t the fault of the large number of English based web pages, is it now?!

    Comment by Dave R. — November 3, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

  5. This is good stuff here, no, really it is… The oral tradition stuff, yup, good times. If I understand correctly, those societies relying on oral tradition likely don’t have a written form, as mentioned by Laura? Well then, they aren’t using the internet seeing as how they can’t READ! Funny how that works, no? And therefore, the folks who are lamenting that these traditions aren’t on-line need to go to these societies and cultures and start studying them. Simple. How do I know this? The brother of one of my best friends, Josh – an American, has been living in Leipzig, Germany for several years teaching English. But he’s also a linguist, having received a research grant to go to, hmmmmm, it was either Mongolia or Nepal, and study a dying language. And, he’s currently in NW Russia studying Lapp for another project. Interesting stuff to some – but, the findings of the studies won’t be of much interest if they’re in say, Lapp, or Nepalese, or some very uncommon language. Hence the use of English for widespread communication. Funny how that works…

    Comment by Mueller — November 6, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

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