Of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken around the world, only a small fraction are found on the Internet. On the platform Twitter, 85% of the tweets are written in one of just eight languages, according to one study – not exactly an accurate reflection of the planet's cultural and linguistic diversity.
Even though more and more communities are beginning to discover the possibilities of sharing their language online, much more can be done to raise awareness and highlight these efforts. For International Mother Language Day on February 21, Rising Voices, along with our organizing partners the Living Tongues Institute, Endangered Languages Project, and Indigenous Tweets, as well as a wide range of participating partners, are coming together to launch the campaign “Tweet in Your #MotherLanguage.”
Through this online campaign, we want to recognize and encourage Internet users who are sharing their language on Twitter with a special focus on indigenous, endangered and minority languages, all of which may not be as well represented online.
It's easy to get involved:
Step 1 – Tweet in Your Mother Language
- Tweet using your mother language throughout the day
- Share “Why is it important to use your language on the Internet?”
- Tweet greetings or your favorite words/phrases in your language
- Tweet a translation to encourage speakers of other indigenous and minority language communities
Step 2 – Add Hashtags
- Add the hashtag #MotherLanguage
- Add the hashtag of the language (i.e. #Lakota, #Yoruba)
Step 3 – Join the Conversation!
- Find others using the #MotherLanguage hashtag and retweet them
- Search for the hashtag of your mother language and follow others tweeting in it
- Connect with other people celebrating language diversity
For more details on how to take part, take a look at the campaign website.
Why Tweet in Your #MotherLanguage?
Despite the increase in the number of languages being used online, many communities still face ongoing challenges when trying to communicate through social media. Some languages lack a keyboard that allows users to write in their language, and many parts of the world still lack adequate connectivity, excluding them from the online conversation.
However, Internet communication has proven to be an important part of language preservation and revitalization. Easy-to-use digital tools allow for more people to create content in their language, and the Internet for speakers of these languages to connect, regardless of geographic distances.
This campaign will highlight the work of many individuals and groups committed to using their languages on the Internet, many of whom may be considered “language digital activists” for their role in bridging this divide and encouraging a new generation of speakers. We are fortunate to count the participation of “ambassadors” such as Rodrigo Pérez (@ISF_MX) from Mexico, who regularly tweets in the Zapotec language and Ignacio Tomichá Chuve (@MonkoxBesiro) from Bolivia, who regularly tweets in the Bésiro (Chiquitano) language, who created these videos extending an invitation to participate in the campaign. More ambassador videos are on their way and will be added to the playlist:
Thanks to help of many people around the world, the campaign website has already been translated in more than 25 languages, including Odia, Sena, and Lezgian. Many of these translations came from members of the Global Voices’ Lingua Project, a community of volunteer translators.
With your help, we can pave the way for a more multilingual Internet where different languages are celebrated, not excluded. All it takes is a tweet or retweet!