Technology is a double-edged sword for many minority languages. On the one hand, it can be instrumental in preserving these languages, teaching them to others and connecting fellow speakers. On the other hand, English is one of the dominant languages on the web, and people who speak both English and a minority language are often content to visit websites and social networking in sites in English.
This is one of the challenges that the Welsh language will face in the years to come. In a speech at the National Eisteddfod, Rhodri Talfan Davies, the director of BBC Cymru Wales, discussed how the news organization was preparing to meet that challenge. Despite the obstacles involved, BBC Cymru Wales plans to more than double the number of people who view the Welsh-language content on the website in just three short years.
That’s an ambitious goal. Here’s how Davies says the BBC plans to make it happen:
“We have to recognise that most, younger, Welsh speakers live their lives largely through the medium of English – and few will turn to Welsh-language interactive services out of any sense of duty. They’ll only come if the quality is there and we’re offering something they can’t get anywhere else. That’s the challenge for all of us…We don’t have all the answers – we never did – and we know that there are many people outside the doors of the BBC who have exciting ideas with the potential to transform our services. We need to open our doors to these people – and their ideas.”
That’s the challenge with any website, really, no matter what language it’s in: offering enough added value to entice users to choose your site over the competition.
What do you think BBC Cymru Wales can do to add value for Welsh speakers?