New technologies and the fostering of minority languages
Last week I read an article in The Age that describes how a software program being developed by the State Library of Victoria is helping minority language groups to preserve and maintain their language and culture. Developing this type of technology can contribute to arrest the decline of many languages spoken by small ethnic groups.
By being able to use technological progress to aid the preservation of minority languages, humanity may be able to care for the treasure found in the rich linguistic and cultural contents of every language spoken in the world especially when a language is in danger of extinction. Preserving written forms of traditional oral stories are worth any amount of effort. These oral traditions are unique; they are able to explain views on life and reality unknown to most people.
The software being developed by the State Library of Victoria – according to the article mentioned above – is also providing the tools to write a language that has not yet had a written form. This aspect of technology, namely to serve the linguistic and cultural needs of minority languages, is even more important when we consider that every language through their particular grammatical structures convey a special form of codifying meaning.
Another welcoming feature derived from having useful technologies helping the preservation of languages with small number of users, is that such languages can be disseminated using the internet and by doing so have the potential to reach many of their users or be readily available for people interested in language studies or that are learning about particular features of not very well known languages.
Living in a global village and having with us the help of new technologies, I think is a great way of helping minority languages not only to be preserved, but also of helping them to flourish, spread, and be studied. Every human being will in the long term benefit by this process.