Beginning on Tuesday, August 6, a rotating roster of language activists from across Asia will become guest hosts of the @AsiaLangsOnline Twitter account. Coordinated by Rising Voices, the Digital Empowerment Foundation and the O Foundation, this social media campaign is taking place within the context of the International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 and will provide a space for diverse voices from across the region to tell stories of their experiences with language revitalization and how the internet is playing a role.
Throughout the rest of 2019, different activists will take weekly turns at @AsiaLangsOnline sharing their perspectives on what their language means to them and their communities. These activists are all working to promoting the use of their languages in new domains like the internet, which presents many opportunities and challenges. But there is also an important offline component to their activism related to long-standing histories and contemporary contexts that affect the vitality of Asian languages.
Similar initiatives using Twitter as a collaborative medium are underway in Latin America (@ActLenguas) and in Africa (@DigiAfricanLang), in Canada and the United States (@NativeLangsTech), but this project will focus on languages across Asia.
Response to calls for participation has been extremely positive, as the roster for the first several weeks has already been filled. We are also conducting outreach to invite others to take part. If you have a suggestion for someone that would make a good guest host, please contact us.
Some participants will share their own personal stories related to their work with language revitalization with a special focus on the role that the internet and technology is playing in this important work. While others are representing their organizations, collectives, or individual efforts that help to ensure that their language continues for future generations. Some of their revitalization strategies include the adoption and adaptation of digital technologies to meet their needs.
All are eager to share these stories with a wider audience of people who may know very little about the degree of linguistic diversity across Asia, as well as with other communities and activists who will see how these stories echo their own experiences.
Participants who have signed on to manage the account include:
- Subhashish Panigrahi (Odia language)
- Sanjib Chaudhary (Eastern Tharu language)
- Pasang Yangjee Sherpa (Sherpa language)
- Janak Raj Bhatta (Doteli language)
- Ramjit Tudu (Santali language)
- Mangu Purty (Ho language)
- Benson KC Fang (Taivoan language)
- Mulihay Talus (Sakizaya language)
- Luh Ayu Manik Mas (Balinese language)
- Abhinash Das (Assamese language)
This is just a sampling of some of people at the center of this campaign to share stories of critical language-related work happening across Asia. Visit the campaign page to see the current schedule, and stay tuned for short Q&A blog posts with profiles of each host.
This social media project was inspired by initiatives such as @IndigenousX in Australia, whose founder, Luke Pearson, provided important guidance in the planning stages. Global Voices’ own Instagram account is also managed by a rotating roster of community members and has been an excellent way to gain insights our diverse membership and the places where they live.
You can support this campaign by following the @AsiaLangsOnline account throughout 2019, and by retweeting messages you find inspiring of interesting. Hosts are also eager for feedback and will do their best to respond.