A Django site.
March 3, 2010
» BBC Strategic Review

I have always considered the BBC’s online Welsh language news service and material for people learning the language to be significant landmarks on the Welsh language virtual linguistic landscape. Therefore the potential impact of the recent Strategic Review on this provision has been a point of concern for me; is this provision under threat?

Having read through the Strategic Review, I am not really 100% certain one way or the other.

On the negative side the Review talks of spending 25% less on the BBC’s website by 2013, and closing “lower performing” sites (lower performing in what sense?).

On a positive note, the Review confirms the BBC’s commitment to “services that both reflect parts of the UK to the whole and serve specific areas with content that meets their needs and interests” and the long term strategy to achieve this includes “Continued support for the UK’s indigenous minority languages including through a renewed strategic partnership with S4C, and through Ulster Scots provision and BBC Alba.”

I imagine that leaving a clear space for commercial providers of local services has less relevance to Welsh language services than other local services, and if they had been planning to axe either of both of the online services I mentioned that the Review would have mentioned this. However, perhaps irrationally, I just can’t shake a slight sense of unease.

January 17, 2008
» Isuma.tv

Imagine YouTube but for indigenous film and tv makers – actually don’t bother imagining it, just go to Isuma.tv and see it for yourself.

November 26, 2007
» Internet bad for Gaelic?

A brief but interesting article Global computer links ‘are putting Gaelic culture at risk’ from the Scotsman. It runs through some of the traditional “internet is a great opportunity for small community languages and cultures” vs “the internet is a force for globalisation and Anglicisation” arguments – but it is followed by an amusing series of increasing personal and antagonistic comments, currently culminating in the following…

“Tim, please step aside when in the middle of an intellectual conversation. You really are not ready for this type of cognition and may harm yourself.”

and the response:

“And EXACTLY how many doctorates do YOU have – I have two?

One in linguistics from the University of Toronto and one from Cambridge in Victorian Novelists (Dickens, Trollope, etc.).”

I can’t help feeling that they have strayed somewhat from the point of the debate.

November 7, 2007
» 2008 International Year of Languages

UNESCO has proclaimed 2008 as International Year of Languages with February 21 2008 having particular significance as it is also International Mother Language Day. The UNESCO announcement is interesting for a number of reasons.

Arguments presented in support of the crucial role of languages include: “Languages are indeed essential to the identity of groups and individuals and to their peaceful coexistence. They constitute a strategic factor of progress towards sustainable development and a harmonious relationship between the global and the local context.” Their role in eliminating extreme poverty, combating AIDS/HIV and other diseases, and safeguarding of local and indigenous knowledge and know-how with a view to ensuring environmental sustainability is also highlighted.

While some of these arguments apply to to own interest in the Welsh language, it is always nice to be reminded of the wider contexts and the significance of language in those contexts. It also causes me to pause for reflection on the term “indigenous language” which tends to be used to only to describe certain types of indigenous language (and would typically not be used to describe Welsh, or indeed English). Of course finding an appropriate term to cover a whole variety of contexts is difficult, 'minority', 'lesser-used', 'disadvantaged’, 'threatened', 'endangered', 'indigenous', 'heritage', 'local’, 'non-state', ‘regional’ and so on.

The significance of the internet is also strongly stated in the announcement: ”...within the space of a few generations, more than 50% of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world may disappear. Less than a quarter of those languages are currently used in schools and in cyberspace, and most are used only sporadically…Our common goal is to ensure that the importance of linguistic diversity and multilingualism in educational, administrative and legal systems, cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade, is recognized at the national, regional and international levels.”

My impression is that television used to be the holy grail of minority languages, is the internet perhaps rivaling it for significance – and if so is it significant only as a symbol or as a real tool of use by speakers?