Language Contact Online

As I noted in my earliest research on CMC, the Internet is a theater of language contact on a scale larger than any previously observed (Paolillo 1996). It is commonplace for people to discuss the Internet in terms of its global reach, bringing countries and cultures together into contact. It is less common for people to note that this contact also means contact among people with different language backgrounds, and less common still for people to recognize that language contact on Internet scale has unprecedented consequences for the nature, vitality, and diversity of the world's languages. In any language contact situation, the status of languages and their speakers is negotiated, most often through overt conflict. Societal majorities, whether in a local or global sense, have a decided advantage in these negotiations. Hence, language contact often exacts a cost over one or more generations from minority languages and their speakers. Language contact on the Internet offers many opportunities to observe and better understand these social dynamics and their consequences. In addition, Internet language contact involves technical considertations, such as the encoding of scripts, multilingual text, etc., that do not occur in other language contact situations.

Language and Technology

Language Endangerment


Categories: Multilingualism, Technology