Today, September 26, 2012 is being recognized by META-NET as the European Day of Languages. There is a fascinating article on Mashable from TechNewsDaily that baldly states that most European languages are unlike to survive online. According to the article:
Tongues including Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian and Maltese simply have too few speakers to gain a foothold, and too few examples online to power translation engines. While they are among those with the highest risk for digital extinction, no language — other than English — is safe. Even Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish were shown to have no better than “moderate support,” when it came to resources to fuel increasingly sophisticated technology such as speech-to-text and voice-controlled devices.
This corroborates much of modern language theory about languages becoming extinct. Many modern languages are considered in crisis already. Read The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language or any other books by John McWhorter for a eye-opening and fascinating look at languages.
For decades, English has been considered the language of science, so its prominence in the online world is not surprising. But as we consume more and more content digitally and as ebooks begin to outpace print books, the danger to those less-common languages becomes quite clear.