Top UN Official Stresses Need for Internet Multilingualism

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Nearly 70% of all websites on the Internet are readable in English only; just 35% of all Internet users are native English speakers. These statistics are key to understanding the UN’s promotion of multilingualism, says Kiyo Akasaka, the organization’s Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. At a recent linguistic diversity conference, Akasaka noted that “Creating content in local languages is, and will be, as important as enabling connectivity.” He referred to the essential role the media plays in reporting on local and global events in multiple languages, as well as with the educational services on their websites. “Clearly, the media, through multilingual content and technology, must continue to expand and encourage the exchange of ideas, knowledge and culture—as it always has,” he stated. Akasaka cited the UN’s efforts in generating and circulating multimedia news products and services in various languages, including webcasts and radio programs. A network of 63 UN Information Centers maintains websites in more than 30 languages. Akasaka stressed that “governments … need to help raise awareness of the importance of generating information in local languages to encourage greater multilingual content and use. They also can play a key role in passing laws to promote and protect languages.”

From “Top UN Official Stresses Need for Internet Multilingualism to Bridge Digital Divide”
UN News Service (NY) (12/14/09)

Courtesy of ATA Newsbriefs

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