vijayjohn wrote:I'm willing to take your word on Estonian, but I think even languages with a lot more speakers than Estonian are worse off on the Internet in some ways.
Well, definitely. That's the point I was trying to make about Estonian being the one that's an outlier in that area. It's not really a fair comparison because Estonia's internet presence is disproportionately high given the number of speakers the language has.
vijayjohn wrote:You can't even access eBay in Switzerland in French or Italian, only German, even though all three are both official in Switzerland and widely spoken in several countries (not that that has implications on whether French or Italian are endangered, though). Apparently, Amazon used to have the same problem.
Are those even good examples of a language's internet presence, though? I mean, both eBay and Amazon are multinational, but they are American companies. They probably weren't developed by people who had any understanding of the idea that a country would have multiple official languages and at first didn't envision (or understand) the need to have that capability. That may not be a good excuse, but it's also not a symptom of a language not having a good internet presence; it's more a symptom of a foreign company not adapting itself well to a country's internal needs.
There's also the fact that on a site like eBay, even if parts of the site are translated into other languages, the item descriptions are still going to be written by individual sellers who speak one language or another and are probably not translated, no matter what the company's overall intentions are.
Honestly, I don't know if you can access eBay or Amazon in Estonian in Estonia either. But I know there are similar Estonian companies whose sites are entirely in Estonian, just not necessarily those two American companies. In Estonia they are more popular than either eBay or Amazon. That's the kind of thing I was thinking of: sites made by speakers of the language themselves, not necessarily American sites translated into the language.
Saim wrote:If you honestly think Icelandic is endangered you’ve been reading too much generalistic press instead of actual research on language endangerment.
Actually I haven't read either.
I did once see an Icelander worry that the death of Icelandic was imminent, though. I don't really think it is, and he also admitted that Icelanders are alarmist so he was surely exaggerating, but I don't think his worries are completely unfounded, either, and he explained why he was worried. So no, I don't think it's endangered per se.
Linguaphile wrote:I suspect that my mental map of languages has more classifications than Vijay's does; mine is much like the EGIDS scale that I posted above.
That could be. I'm not very good at telling how close to death a language is (if that makes sense), but I agree with you. Mostly I'm just sick of other people failing to understand that languages can be badly off even if they're not literally on their last legs.
(EDIT:) I get that, but to me my reaction to it is more the other way around... if we were to categorize a language like Icelandic and a language such as Votic in the same category, it gives people the impression that the situation with a truly endangered language like Votic (or any
other critically endangered language) is stronger than actually it is. I mean, people who don't even know much about languages may have seen that the local bookstore has Teach Yourself Icelandic books on its shelves and crime novels by Arnaldur Indriðason translated from Icelandic, and they know Icelandic is the national language of Iceland, and that it has words like Eyjafjallajökull, and so on. So it has a presence, albeit a very small one, even in decidedly non-Icelandic-speaking areas like the one I live in. That situation is worlds away form being in the same category as Votic, which has about 20 native speakers. Categorizing them together can actually reinforce that lack of understanding about languages that you mentioned, making people think "well, if Icelandic is threatened and this language I've never heard of is in the same situation, it's probably not really so bad for that language either, because I know [insert random facts here] about Icelandic and that doesn't seem so bad. I wonder how many books the local bookstore has translated from [critically endangered language]...."