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Back to the mother tongue

Thirty years ago, linguists, anthropologists and many scholars from different disciplines were anxiously discussing ways to slow down the rhythm in which many languages are vanishing. English language had invaded since decades many parts of the world as the language of education, business and communication.

At the beginning of the Information Technology (IT) boom, the technical limitations related to most of world languages have helped enormously in spreading English as the language of excellence. Until early 90s, putting an accent on a Latin language character was a technical challenge; dealing with Asian, Slavic or Semitic languages was a nightmare that should be avoided. Many countries have built their computer systems around English; most of their first sites were in English. The fear of language activists became greater as the pace of IT expansion was showing no mercy.

But in less than one decade of "war" between machine languages and natural languages, IT changed sides - from a language foe to a friend; it started providing solutions for other languages. Arabic Operating Systems, Chinese input methods, and many other innovations have shown that the language barrier doesn't exist anymore; almost anything you can do using English language can be done nowadays using any language. The dependence on English is being seen less and less. This has encouraged many people to go back to their mother languages; to write emails and send SMS, to build sites and blogs, to enjoy expressing themselves in the language they know best.


IT has revived many endangered languages and gave hope to language protectionists. Thousands of sites in Euskera, Hausa, Bavarian, Assyrian, Tamazight, etc. have found their place on the internet. Even severely endangered languages have now the chance to recover, spread and be shared.

English language presence on the internet is currently around 25% (Internet World Stats). This figure will drop in the coming few years and will be overtaken by  that of Chinese, which is growing at a spectacular speed!


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