chapter  5
14 Pages

A multilingual Internet

The Internet may as yet have had only a limited role in fostering language change, but it has already played a major role in fostering language presence. This has been the most notable development within the medium since the 1990s, and one which seems set to continue. The Internet offers a home to all languages – as soon as their communities have an electricity supply and a functioning computer technology. Its increasingly multilingual character has been the most notable change since its beginnings as a totally English medium. There is a story told from that decade by the former US vice-president Al Gore. He was reporting the remark of the 8-year-old son of Kyrgyzstan’s President Akayev, who told his father that he had to learn English. When asked why, the child apparently replied: ‘Because the computer speaks English.’