study-abroadWill European languages survive the digital age?

Computers and their various features are no longer exclusively used by professionals. They have become part of everyday life; computers and information networks are present in fields including production, culture, social relations. Many web pages are now available in various languages from across the world, no longer just in English. As the World Wide Web spreads, so does its cultural influence, but a new study has warned that some less-common languages are in danger of disappearing from the Internet altogether.

Scientists from The University of Manchester were part of a European team of researchers who concluded that digital assistance for 21 of the 30 languages investigated is ‘non-existent’ or ‘weak’ at best.

META-NET, a European network of excellence that consists of 60 research centres in 34 countries, including the University of Manchester’s National Centre for Text Mining, found that languages spoken by a small number of people could be at risk because they do not have technological support.

The network aims to make at least 30 of the 80 spoken in Europe “future-proof” and has designated Sept. 26 as The European Day of Languages.

Most European languages face digital extinction as very few of them are supported by technological means. English was assessed as having “good support”, followed by languages as Spanish, Dutch, French, German and Italian with “moderate support”.

Other languages such as Basque, Bulgarian, Catalan, Greek, Hungarian and Polish show “fragmentary support”, also placing them among the high-risk languages.

Can they survive the digital age? Which ones do you think can and which cannot? How can we prevent the extinction of languages that have been spoken for so long?

It seems impossible to imagine that they could just disappear from the internet, particularly when the internet plays such a big role in today’s society.

For more information on the languages we work with, European and otherwise, please visit our languages page.