Language access to the internet

Breakfast Debate

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There is international consensus on the need to promote linguistic diversity, in cyberspace as well as offline. This is reflected in the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action line and UNESCO’s Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace.

Since 2011, EURid, in partnership with UNESCO, Verisign and Oxil, has been exploring the status of multilingual content online, and noted the gap between the rich diversity of languages spoken in the offline world, and the languages of cyberspace – English is the language of more than half of web content.

The IDN World Report, produced by EURid with the aforementioned partners, has noted the gap between the drive for increased linguistic diversity in popular web applications, and the continuing challenge of ensuring universal acceptance of internationalised domain names. Facebook supports more than 70 languages, Google Translate more than 100 languages, Twitter supports 34 languages. The world’s most popular apps are also increasing the number of supported languages: Whatsapp is available in more than 20 languages, Instagram in 33 languages.

Nevertheless, where IDNs are in use, the language of web content is more diverse than it is with traditional ASCII domains. While there is a long way to go before we see the same linguistic diversity online as there is offline, IDNs seem to help redress the balance, at least as far as the most-spoken languages are concerned.

The EIF event will serve to highlight once more:

  • The importance of linguistic diversity in the cyberspace;
  • The need for more structured and coordinated work to ensure the universal acceptance of IDNs;
  • The great role played by IDNs to enhance linguistic diversity in cyberspace, especially in emerging economies.

programme - 10/01/2018

Welcome and introduction:

Viviane Reding MEP and EIF Member

Speakers:

Emily Taylor, main author of the EURid-UNESCO IDN World Report

Peter Van Roste, General Manager, CENTR

Iris Orriss, Director for Internationalization, Facebook

Algirdas Saudargas MEP and EIF Member - tbc

Exchange of views with participants

(under the Chatham House rule)

Download programme

Speakers

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