SXSW Interactive 2013

Social Media: A New Hope for Minority Languages?


There are approximately 6,000 languages spoken in the world; of these UNESCO believes that over half will disappear by the end of this century. Two thirds of the world’s languages are spoken by less than 20,000 people. Minority Languages are spoken all over the world, and the internet is becoming increasingly multilingual.

But do speakers of such minority languages actually use them on social media? What are the ways in which social media can benefit these languages? Can memes indicate language health? How do minority languages compete when scale and global reach is so much of a factor in social media's appeal? And why use a minority language online when it’s just easier to communicate in English, Spanish or Mandarin?

This panel will try to unpick the relationship between social media and languages, from the perspective of developers, content producers and language technologists, and question whether online technologies are a boon or a disaster for minority languages.

Related Media

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How are minority language speakers using social media in their languages?
  2. What are the different challenges facing minority languages in their use of social media in different parts of the world?
  3. What do minority language speakers need from their social media? Translated interfaces or content in their language?
  4. Can social media be used as a testbed for language vitality?
  5. In a globalised attention economy, how do minority languages hold their own online?



Rhodri ap Dyfrig, PhD Candidate, Aberystwyth University

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Community and Activism
  • Track 2
  • Level: Advanced

Add Comments

comments powered by Disqus

SXSW reserves the right to restrict access to or availability of comments related to PanelPicker proposals that it considers objectionable.