Multilingualism on the Internet – Pre 09 2022

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20 June 2022 | 11:15 - 12:45 CEST | SISSA Main Auditorium | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2022 overview / Day 0

Proposals: #6 #28 (#57)

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Session description

At the start of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032, the question of multilingualism online, especially from the perspective of internet governance, rings louder. While the internet was conceived to be a great equalizer providing unfettered access to information for people worldwide, much of the information available online are in dominant languages, creating gaps in access for indigenous peoples and other minority language users to embrace the full potential of the internet. The session on Multilingualism on the Internet will explore the role of the internet in promoting linguistic diversity. The session will also delve into the issue of multilingualism in the infrastructure of the internet, as well as other barriers that impede a truly multilingual internet. To achieve an equitable Internet, efforts have focused on the language of Domain Name Systems and other hierarchical structures that piece the internet together. But while there is a critical need to address the multilingualism of the internet protocol suite and resolve the problem of the lack of linguistic diversity at its core, what about the other barriers that hinder meaning access to the internet for users of such languages? A truly multilingual Internet is about giving a voice to people in their own languages, which provides them with all the possibilities of participating online, producing knowledge and occupying spaces. The session will thus inquire into the challenges that limit the meaningful participating of non-dominant language users in the internet, while looking look at the role of Europe in facilitating solutions that can bring forth a truly global Internet.


The session will be composed of a brief introduction by speakers after which questions and answers will follow.

Further reading

During the session, the audience was be asked some questions via MentiMeter. See the answers following:

Menti Pre09 results-1.png  Menti Pre09 results-2.png  Menti Pre09 results-3.png


  • The lack of sociocultural representation for indigenous peoples online
  • Vulnerabilities, including safety among user groups whose languages are not dominant online
  • Technical roadblocks to multilingualism
  • Improved access, usages, production and diffusion of local content
  • Challenges and opportunities to assure the presence and use of Indigenous Languages online


Focal Point

  • Jaco Du Toit, Chief of Universal Access to Information Section, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO

Organising Team (Org Team)

The Org Team is a group of people shaping the session. Org Teams are open and every interested individual can become a member by subscribing to the mailing list.

  • Roberto Gaetano
  • C.A.Afonso
  • Nicolas Fiumarelli
  • Alève Mine
  • Narine Khachatryan
  • Nigel Hickson
  • Fotjon Kosta
  • Alberto Masini
  • Eddie Avila
  • Richard Delmas
  • Rebecca Ryakitimbo

Key Participants

  • Video presentation of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032
  • Nigel Hickson (Adviser on Data Protection, Potters Bar, United Kingdom): Technical roadblocks to multilingualism
  • Richard Delmas (Cofounder of Semantis-Le Monde des Possibles, ONG based in Liege, Belgium, former Official at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg and at the European Commission, Luxembourg and Brussels): Improved access, usages, production and diffusion of local content
  • Amrit Sufi (Researcher and Wikimedia volunteer): Challenges and opportunities to assure the presence and use of Indigenous Languages online
  • Bonface Witaba (Swahili Localization Expert, Centre for Youth Empowerment and Leadership (CYEL) / Digital Agenda for Tanzania Initiative (DA4TI)): Challenges and opportunities to assure the presence and use of Indigenous Languages online


  • Rebecca Ryakitimbo

Remote Moderator

Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.

Video record


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This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you very much. That was the first session!

It was a hot start!

Not a cold start!

In this room we’ll continue with Multilingualism on the Internet we have two panelists on site, we have the remote – we have the moderator of the session online as well as two other speakers. Again, for all online speaker, please take your full name when you want to ask a question or raise a hand. We’ll unmute you.

When speaking, it is important that you switch on the video and, of course, do not share the Zoom links with others.

The moderator is Rebecca Ryakitimbo – that was probably totally wrong – Rebecca, I think you’re already online and cohost. You could actually speak up and I would like to see her on screen.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Hello, everyone.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Good morning, Rebecca. Just a minute and we’ll have you on the screen. You’re moderating the panel.

We have another speaker – I have to stop sharing. Okay.


Now we will see Rebecca soon.

>> RICHARD DELMAS: I’m online in Brussels.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: The floor is yours and I’ll help you manage the room.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Thank you to the session on Multilingualism on the Internet. My name is Rebecca Ryakitimbo. I’m joining in from Tanzania. I’m a Common Voice Fellow. Welcome to today’s session.

This session we’ll explore Multilingualism on the Internet and we’ll look at some of the key things such as barriers that impede truly multilingual internet and look at how to best be able to use languages to ensure that we push for diversity and that will help us to be able to get inclusivity we’re looking for on the internet.

This session, it will explore the role of the internet in promoting linguistic diversity. Thank you, everyone, for joining us from wherever you are, online and virtually and physically!

We’ll kickoff with a video that will be shared. This is a video from the decade of indigenous language.

You have the video?

>> (Video playing with captions).

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: We have over 7,000 languages spoken across the globe and we’re learning that part of the indigenous languages are slowly disappearing in the presentation of different platforms, including the online space which we’re discussing in this session today.

So to kick off the session, making sure that we’re not leaving anyone behind, we welcome you to participate in a small question that you can field in the chat or put a share about it, you can tweet about it, share about it on the chat, it is just a simple question that asks what is your mother tongue. We’ll give you one minute to be able to fill in that question and just say what is your mother tongue and we’ll know what languages are presented today and we can understand how far the reach is. The question is, what is your mother tongue.

One minute to answer to that. Put it in the chat.

The screen, you can go to and use the code 34915265 and respond to this question, what is your mother tongue, feel free to go there as well. If you cannot go there, you can fill in on the chat and we’ll read what you have filled in.

While you keep on filling, I’ll read the ones mentioned, so there is Spanish, F INN Finnish, Dutch, Bosnia, Portuguese, Armenian, many are filling in different mother tongues that they come from. Fill in to fill in the menti and the link that I shared. We have Bulgarian, Polish, Armenian, Dutch, Italian, so many mother tongues. I’ll add in my own. I also speak a local language spoken in Tanzania, I do speak Swahili but my mother tongue, it is Aiizo. Thank you. Portugal, Spanish, Pidgin, Dutch, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Armenia, Finnish.

Thank you, everyone. Please continue to fill in the menti and then we’ll come back again and see what responses have been given.

So now we’re moving on to our first speaker. Our first speaker is Nigel Hickson, an advisor on data protection supported by the user-centric that will speak on the technical roadblocks to multilingualism.

Welcome, Nigel.

>> NIGEL HICKSON: Thank you very much, Rebecca. Good morning to all or good afternoon, good evening. I hope, you know, we’ll have some people on Zoom from lots of different countries.

It is a pleasure to be able to speak in this session. This is a true hybrid session, some of us here, some of us not here. So I’m glad it is working in that respect.

Thank you also to UNESCO for that inspiring video. That’s what this panel is all about. It is about multilingualism. I’ll talk about universal acceptance, an aspect of multilingualism. At the end of the day, it is multilingualism which is the overriding objective, if you like, for this session, which is so important.

I think we have seen that on the poll that Rebecca just did in so many different languages spoken, so many different scripts in the world, but the internet cannot exist as it is at the moment without tilting – not more than tilting, without moving towards a greater multilingualism. That’s – you know, I think that’s so important.

We talked about the Katowice messages earlier. One of the messages was inclusivity. One of the messages was meaningful connectivity, meaningful access. For that, multilingualism has to play a key role.

I’ll talk briefly about universal acceptance. How many people here know what universal acceptance is?

That’s good stuff!

I’m glad, Roberto!

Roberto is an expert here. He knows more than most about these things. It is very interesting, you know, we talk about various aspects of the internet. Universal acceptance is one of those issues which, you know, to many people doesn’t really mean much.

I think it is because the words are fairly generic perhaps. Universal acceptance, it has a generic feel to it and we probably – let me give you three definitions which is very important. The first, is the names, all mail addresses are working in all software applications. All the names and all email addresses, they work in all software applications.

You may think it is blind to the obvious, if you send an email, to a website, if you send an email to Expedia, you access Expedia through your network, you expect Expedia to respond to you. If you access Spotify, YouTube, you expect the applications, the services to be able to respond to you. You don’t – you take it for granted, we take it for granted if we use normal Latin script that someone is going to come back, that there is a response coming back, that there is an inquiry that will not disappear.

As we’ll explain in a minute, this is not always the case.

The second, it is that universal acceptance is the foundational requirement for a truly multi-lingual internet. One in which users around the world navigate entirely in local languages. It is also a key to unlocking the potential of new generic top level domain, GTLD, to foster competition, consumer choice and innovation in the domain name industry.

That’s what we’re talking here, we’re talking about the ability for people to use their own language, to use their own scripts, the ability for people to use Arabic scripts, other scripts, a variety of different scripts that are Latin based. To be able to take part in the internet on the same basis as we in London, we in New York, whatever, Rome, Paris, the people of all languages, of all types of scripts are involved in the internet.

The third, if you like, the de scripter, to achieve universal acceptance, internet applications and systems must treat all TLDs in a consistent manner, including new TLDs and international TLDs. Specifically they must accept, validate, stall, process, display all domain names.

These definitions are important, these de scripter, they’re important.

We want an internet where if you have an international domain name, using an international domain name, ICANN has introduced, facilitated the introduction of more than 150 international domain names, if we’re going to use those names then is only makes sense that you can do so.

The stark reality of this, that roughly only 6% of applications, services, they will accept emails in all types of different scripts, only 6%.

It is not just scripts that are not accepted. We know that if you use – if you’re using the domain name, the applications, there is a .com, a .net, whatever, you know, a traditional domain name, those names are accepted for service, applications. Like I said, what is less known, if you take advantage, this is not multilingualism, this is just basic, you know, use of different types of domain names, if you take advantage of one of the new domain names that’s slightly long, a slightly longer domain, so not a .com, but a vehicle, something else, you know, a longer extension, those names are not accepted either on services and application. There is a real issue if you like at the moment in terms of what is happening.

Why is this important, I think this is obvious why it is important, we can’t have a truly multilingual internet until these basic problems are fixed. This is not rocket science. These are not – sorry, yeah. I’m – yeah. I’m verging away from the microphone – these are not problems that need to go to the UN, these are not problems that are going to be discussed at the ITU Plenipotentiary, these are not problems that, you know, beset politicians, these are problems that can be fixed by businesses, by stakeholders, by those interacting with businesses and by governments ensuring that public procurement and services that they provide as governments, they also will respect all types of scripts.

This is something that is so obvious that it needs to happen, that you may say why hasn’t it happened before.

It takes effort to do this. As I said, at the moment, we have a situation where only 6% of services and applications will truly take inquiries from emails, et cetera, based on different scripts and different names.

We really do have a problem.

What’s being done on this and what more can be done?

ICANN recognizes this as a problem earlier on in terms of their introduction of international domain names which they deserve a lot of credit for because that has, if you like, fostered a more multilingual internet that we have had before.

Universal acceptance to be able to truly use these international domain names, you need universal acceptance, ICANN established a universal acceptance Working Group which is – sorry, a steering group, which is being worked on, but for now a number of years to try to solve some of these problems. These problems can be solved, they can be solved by businesses, looking at their applications, they can be solved by developer, they can be solved by software engineers.

It is not – if you like, it is not rocket science. It is something that can be done but it takes effort, application, resources, it takes education, it takes awareness, and the universal awareness steering group are working very hard in a multistakeholder fashion to enhance awareness, proposing that we have an awareness day for universal acceptance that day a year is given to promote the need for enhanced universal acceptance across platforms and different services.

So I’m going to finish there because what I have hopefully done is given you the important work that needs to be done. It is something that’s technical in some respects and also something that we need to be able to take forward if we’re having a truly multilingual internet. Thank you.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Thank you so much, Nigel, for sharing those points, the key points.

Something interesting that I got from the presentation (echoing) only 6% of applications are currently accepted in different scripts and we’re pushing for the multilingual internet, which means we have to start from the very basic and that involves the universal acceptance, talking the DNS, domain name, all of this, making sure that we have that inclusivity being a part of it.

So the next opportunity to display on the screen, to answer, what languages do you use the most online, the web and social media, what languages do you use the most online.

You can respond as usual on the chat, and through the link that we shared, we hope we can bring it up again on the screen.

You can use that link to respond there.

The question is, what languages do you use the most online on work and in social media, go to and use the code 34915265 to answer the question. We have polish, English, Yoruba, French, mandarin, some of the lanes – some of the languages used most online.

I think English comes up the most.

We have Spanish now as well. Italian. Dutch. Finnish, polish.

Our next speaker is Richard Delmas, cofounder of Semantis-Le Monde des Possibles, ONG based in Liege, Belgium former official at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg and at the European Commission. He will talk on improved access, usages and production and diffusion of local content.

>> RICHARD DELMAS: Good morning from Brussels.

Welcome euro EuroDIG, thank you, colleague, to invite me to speak about a concrete action that we have now.

We are working with nature, with construction, and we are faced with refugees living in our cities and this is very important to have concrete action with this population to learn ICT or to learn French or Finnish, English, et cetera.

We’re dealing with the internet, it is – it is a long story basically.

Remember, a very long time ago, when I was in Luxembourg, I was managing a language technology project.

We have a big project for automatic translation and it was at that time identifying very difficult code and to translate all languages.

At this level, there are different systems that continue, that keep on, that are quite effective, but also there are still special industry for pharmacy, for else wrinkles it is two different tracts that continue. Then there was the beginning of ICANN where I was involved also for the commission and the idea and process and all of the discussions at the start we remember with some colleagues at EuroDIG at present. It was very intense discussion and then the idea and then continuing the track, it is still active.

I’m not following that any more. It is very important as Nigel has clearly described.

Then we follow a different track, if I can say with UNESCO, et cetera, we have produced a book on a different issue of multilingualism, it is a bit old, 10 years old, regularly updated and it is available in English and French on the internet and we try to follow UNESCO approach and to understand and to promote and to act with what we can do at this level.

Very concretely, it is an institute and we speak 70 language, there is 70 language, many languages, Belgium, French, Finnish, Dutch, and also many African languages. Very rare languages. We have identified 20 languages, coming in schools, courses, many African languages, rare language from Europe also and all over the world, including very recently Kazak, others. We are faced with a problem, we have people that come to Brussels, they don’t speak French, English, Dutch, we have to train them and to train also for access to the internet. It is basic for them to learn, to understand what we are going to help them to integrate in the country.

Concretely, we have three main – we have ran 10, 12E.U. projects and our Belgium project, but I’m more concerned with three main projects by nature, the first, to set up a multilingual library and an open space, an open, online space, both here and online, Liege, with as much language books, grammar for adults and also for youth to be accessible for free.

Our main model, it is in Switzerland where they have the open space for more than ten years now. It is very active.

We try to add this open space with books and we’re faced with a problem, it is cataloging all of the library, all of the books, and images, it is further coded, this is difficult, you cannot accept all of the scripts and it was mentioned and we’re still a lot of work going on and we work with the University to identify the prom and what can be done. It is a question of equity simply, you cannot say simply to a person that comes from Kazakhstan or others, that we cannot deal with these books or grammar. We have to have a catalog to offer the possibility to have access to these books, to many populates and also online.

That’s not a simple thing but we try to map what are the difficulties and to make progress with some partners in universities and also the libraries existing.

That is a project that has just started.

The second main project, it is more substantial and important. It is available – it is funded still by the European Union through different schemes and it is to set up service for automatic translation and manual translation and personal translation on a social basis, for example, hospital, for administrative purpose and also for police justice.

We have trained migrant women, Welcoming from rare language, indigenous language to be able to translate and in a social environment difficult environment, administratively, hospital, in case of urgency. We have a call centre.

Again, that raised difficulty for the internet, we have to digitalize paper, we have to digitalize documents, people are coming with documents, with letters that are in rare language and we’re first to translate and then possibility to digital digitalize, to get the adequate paper, the papers which are not easy for refugee by the way. Not at all.

It work, we have now a call centre with about 30 language, rare language among them that can be accessible on urgency if somebody goes to the hospital, what can be done very rapidly, we don’t understand we recollects don’t read the papers for administrative purpose and also it is a very successful project with the E.U. prize and there is still difficulty with the rare language.

A third example, which also is important, it is about the accreditations of content coming from the community, refugees, and just for now.

It could be accessible on the web with the content. All of the create content. All of the good interfaces with the local community in Africa, for example, and not, you know, translating what is the substance of the text of the message.

It is a question of semantics also, not only on the script, but there are difficulties for scripts that have been mentioned earlier, and that’s for some – this is not on all of the scripts, in particular for some kinds of the Asian language, even Arabic is difficult for certain beliefs, for how to write exactly, and it could give confusion.

This is important.

All of this population, they want to interface, to interact, and to keep their memories, you know, memories of the culture, memories of what has been done in their country, sometimes it is difficult, we have also a project that’s out to ICANN Skype our rural language in Bena for example, and for women, and how to – we look at the institutes in Paris to be able to, you know, to make gross.

It is a question of, you know, not only adding access through the catalog, a library, but also to create their own content.

It was – we made some very good experiments through web radio, through creation of the books, again, we sometimes, it is difficult, we are faced with this difficulty to put all of the content on the web.

For example, very good example, we have produced a physical book in about 16 languages of the world, written script.

This book, it is physical because we can make an image of the book and we want to interact, people want to interact with what are our own language that’s written from left to right, right to left. But sometimes, it is very aesthetic and also very meaningful, if you change, you know – if you change a curve, a point on the script, it doesn’t mean anything, it means the contrary.

So, we are faced with this physical book online. It is not an easy job. We discuss that very recently in the language area with lots of creators of rare language that there is also a main difficulty.

There is a step.

You know, you can create content, but then we are – you have to put it on the web and then you will have to defuse.

That will be my last but not least message going back to the theme of universal access.

I don’t have the recent figure, but others have also produced, we still have one third of the world that’s not connected to the internet very easily.

Due to the pandemic, there was an increase in accessing the internet in the internet, and still, among all of the populations that are remote, not on the web, many of them are speaking rare indigenous language.

What can we do?

In fact, increasing access but also that was discussed, there are problems of – you know, of connection network, of price of the connection, price of the interconnection, that is something that you know very well, for creators of content in Africa, it is not so easy to have that capacity to defuse the content.

And also, there is this situation of physically energy to have the script board, for example, in India, they have this problem of script boards because they have to use the Latin transcription of English, Latin, you know. To expression themselves. It is ongoing work.

Important for administrative, equity, agency reasons in Belgium.

We try to find partners. There is an Action Plan, there is some European Union, European Commission projects that we follow and we try to make some progress and we are open to partners and questions. Thank you.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Thank you, Rich, for sharing those important points and especially for mentioning all of the very important groups. Refugees and women and how that relates to creating content that can really help to push multilingualism on the. Thank you for that.

Participants, as you continue to follow the session, we will now move to the next phase of the session. Before we do that we’ll have another mentimeter, a question to answer using the same format below as we did before.

As we’re asking this time around, what barriers do you experience when using an indigenous language online?

We’ll use the same procedures as before, you will go on the link and be able to fill in our responses. You can fill in the responses on the chat if you don’t have access to the link.

We will take a minute or so to answer that, what barriers do you experience when using an indigenous language online. You can go to and use the code 34915625 to be able to answer the question what, barrier DOS you experience when using an indigenous language. You already have a response that says wrong translation. That’s a barrier. Incorrect translation, wrong translation, no clear translations, incorrect punctuation.

No clear translation, barriers you experience when using an indigenous language online. Skip the non-content. Don’t accept scripts.

Lack of content. Cultural differences, a lot of barriers hinder people when using an indigenous language online, lack of understanding, few references, scripts, software not ready, incorrect pronunciation, cultural differences, domains, lack of readiness, no clear translation, skip the non-content, language mistake, cultural differences.

Lack of readiness. Character sets. Lack of understanding. Script. You can continue to fill in that mentimeter talking about what barriers do you experience when using an indigenous language online. Feel free to continue to fill it.

We’ll go on to the next speak, our next speaker is Amrit Sufi, a researcher and Wikimedia volunteer talking the challenges and opportunities to assure the presence and use of indigenous languages online. Welcome.

>> AMRIT SUFI: Thank you. Yeah. Thank you for the opportunities, we’ll talk about the presence of various languages online, especially indigenous languages.

I’ll share my screen and presentation.

Is it visible?

Is Google drive, is it visible to everyone?


>> AMRIT SUFI: How about now?


>> AMRIT SUFI: Maybe I’ll just continue to – with not speaking and just referring to the slide on my own.


There are a lot of things to say when it comes to languages. I’ll talk about my experiences while doing a few projects.

While I was doing a project for digital security and digital security needs of indigenous languages, so while doing the observations of the social media, of the participants, I saw that how the speaker, the people – this is my mother tongue, it is an indigenous language of India. That’s my mother tongue, participants that also speak this, over the internet, how they use languages, for example, a speaker would use the women script to reply to a comment and the reply, it would be in Anglica or another language or there may be – they may have a post on Instagram with another local song, a song in Anglica or another language and it is an English caption, the caption, the sentence in English.

So, yeah, the internet, it is a place where we see multilingualism in action, you know, and there is obviously a lot of dynamics going on there, domination of language, the emergence of indigenous languages and the challenges of them. A project I have done, I have created a toolkit, Oracle Transcription Toolkit, a project that was funded by the media foundation. This toolkit that I created, you know, I will tell you about it in late stages, so it is – you divide it in three parts, the first one, it guides the onlooker – sorry.

I think my presentation is still on or something.


Okay. Yeah.

So the audiovisual part, it is to ensure good quality of content. The second part, it tells about how to interview, how to interview the Indigenous People, indigenous language speakers and interview them about their life, it can be about anything, it can be about historical evidence for example, while testing the toolkit, one of the trainees, they talked to a grandfather who told about the 1947 partition of India, the partition between India and Pakistan, that’s oral history, every other person has another story to tell, they have the oral history which can be documented. It can be that, it can be folk songs, it can be (poor audio quality).

I’m losing my internet. There may be disturbances.

The third part of the toolkit, it is using Wiki platforms as repositories for oral history and culture and languages, of course.

Before I tell about the Wiki platforms, that we have talked about in the toolkit, we have guided people to use in the toolkit, we talk about one of the Wiki projects that is Wikipedia, the most famous one that’s used, so there is an item by language speakers in general, they want the language to be on digital platforms, they want the Wikipedia in their language.

So there is a Wikipedia incubator, it is the initial stage, before it is approved to become Wikipedia of its own.

Wikipedia incubator of Anglica as well. And the requirements for the incubator to be a Wikipedia, it is not hefty. They just have to have three editors working for at least three months and making more than ten edits per month. That is a minimum requirement. Surprisingly, this incubator has been there since 2011 and there are struggle was it. Editors may not be consistent or they may be less than enough editors. Right now, one of the challenges that we face, it is that there are enough editor, enough edits and every month and consistent but right now the last stage, it is the verification, where there is the language, the content is uploaded, edited, being made available, that it is the language or not, if it is Anglica or not, that’s where it is stuck.

Yeah. That is the most popular one among the language enthusiasts or activists or, you know, a generalization but talking in general, it is the most popular one.

What I like, what me and my colleague who created this project, we suggested that other Wiki platforms, tools and media comments, that these are wiki source, I’ll tell about it, it is a Digital Library of text, so the text, it is a form of – you know, a written text can be uploaded over there and there are more than 70 texts, texts of more than 70 languages uploaded. Then Wikipedia comments, it is an automated industry, the Wikipedia depository, so as I was talking before, there may be recorded interviews of people of oral history, folk song, you know, a recording of their lives, yeah.

They can be uploaded with the week peed I can’t comments, the file can be uploaded for comments and then be transcribed, the words, the sentences, the content, we scran describe that and that can be uploaded to the wiki source, so there is a simultaneous creation of content over platforms and there it is visible, the language has been digitized and it is visible over two platforms.

Yeah. That’s about oral culture and history or the oral culture transcription toolkit. I will share a link over here for the toolkit so for any of you that are interested can go through it.

Just give me a minute.

I need less than a minute in fact.

Sorry about the interruption. Yeah.

I think for context, what I’m talking about, having something to look at – (no audio).

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: You are muted, Amrit.

You’re muted.

(Speaker muted).

>> AMRIT SUFI: So we have the toolkit, as I said, (poor audio quality).

Is it available to everyone?

Every language?

There are several languages, there are several context, there are several needs according to the varying context. In order to improve the toolkit and in order to understand the needs and the documentation of languages, yeah, we plan to interview people, to interview the stakeholder, the actual speakers of the languages and to understand what are their attitudes what, are their needs or what are the gaps that need to have been filled in order for languages to be present online.

Talking about challenges in general.

There are some with less content, I will go, for example, my mother tongue, a lot of content, educational content is not available online, there is text, of course, efforts towards making it – not bringing more countries online but it is not enough.

For example, if I’m – my classroom, if I tell my professor, my mother tongue, it gives me an assignment, there is a dominant language of the content available online, it is easier for them. That gap, the lack of equity, as my copanelist was talking about, it is very visible, it changes people’s attitude in general to their language.


Less content available and, of course, dominant languages benefit because of the lack of – because of the reasons of economy and for example, I purchase my phone and several of you talked about the outcomes to using your native language online, there are a lot of challenge, for example, when I purchased my phone, so, yeah, there would be – it is initially in English, if I try to use in Hindi, it may be available in Hindi and other dominant language but not as good maybe as English as developed as the English was. Right. There are a lot of challenges and a lot of gaps. There is a need to analyze what the particular language and culture may need. There are a lot of opportunities as well.

Agriculture, every language has a lot of content, it doesn’t only have to be in that textual format, it doesn’t have to be, you know, it is – there are several languages in India for whom a lot of textual content may not be available online, but there is, of course, a lot of in my experience, in the oral content available, whether it is folk songs or history, oral history, for a language to be respected, it doesn’t always have to have a lot of text in that.

I see an opportunity there. It can be brought online in different mediums, not only textual, visual in order to have the forms.


Then, challenges to multilingualism. Yeah. I think most of us, we are aware of how the digital platforms, how they – it was initially thought that there was a lot of – that they would – it was a new word over there, where one – it was sort of seen in the language, the tribe, the platform, that is not always the case. In fact, while talking to a few of my other Anglica speaker, I talked to them, you know, how do you use the phone?

Which kind of media do you consume the most?

What are the challenges that you face in operating your phones? Several of them had challenges with regards to the digital safety. Many had faced hacking, scam, telephone scamming. And the reason is, they don’t understand, they don’t understand the dominant language and they have difficulty with it, they are not fluent with it. Their opinion, it is that instead of – they don’t think that – this is a general flow that it was – that if we are able to learn the dominant language, that we’re able to learn English, everything would be solved.

The attitude, it is also there, that English, of course, means more job opportunities, better – you know, it is climbing the social ladder.

That is, these are some of the challenges and, yeah, there is also – I think there is hope as well. For example, it is not – it is not that people are – it is not a political reason that dominates when it comes to multilingualism, that how people operate, for example as I said, there is less text available in the Anglica language, also less entertainment, art, entertainment content over the internet that’s available, that does not mean that people are not – do not want to consume content in their home language.

As I said, people that I was talking to, the speakers, they said that they cannot find much content in Anglica online but the language that they prefer, it is another language from my state, it is very popular, a lot of – a lot of content is available on it. Yeah. I see – what I see, people want content to be available in a language that they’re familiar with, a language which is their culture, right. Yeah. I think the internet is an excellent medium for – to propagate that and we just have to be ready for that. Yeah.

That’s it from my side. Thank you.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Thank you so much for talking about some of the challenges that people face when using devices and the fact that they usually preset to English when you buy them already, they’re already in English and then you have to think about how to access your local language. If you don’t speak already the language that’s already a barrier for you to be able to use a device, to be able to use a different way.

We’ll open up the floor for any comments, question, anything that you think they need to suggest, any suggestions on how to push for multilingual internet.

You can type in the chat if you have any questions and we’ll respond to it. I’m sure physically you can ask your question and then we’ll address the questions as they come.

Yes, we have a question from Roberto, please welcome.

>> ROBERTO GAETANO: Yes. Thank you.

I have a question for Nigel about universal acceptance. We know this is a fairly old problem. It came before – even before IDN in the 2000 round, there was a new one,, we discovered that there was some sites that were not accepting them because they were thinking that – they were assuming that it was a maximum of three characters long. So 22 years have gone, and I understand that the technical community has done what they could in order to solve the technical problems.

So now my question is, with the other stakeholders, like the governments, the Civil Society, generally the internet users were the ones that were suffering more. If there is something that different stakeholders can do to improve the situation so that then to push, to have an effort that is not only on the shoulder of the technical community.

>> NIGEL HICKSON: Thank you, Roberto.

Yeah. Yeah. I’ll be very brief. Thank you, Roberto for that question.

You’re right. I should have made the point before. I did allude this is not just a multilingual issue, universal acceptance, it is also an issue for, as you said, for domain name extensions which are longer than traditional ones. This really is an issue that has to be fixed both from the multilingual side and also on the top-level domains. We had an extension to the availability of the generic top-level domains in 2012 where the amount of domains, increased from around 20 to over 1500. You know, some of those face real problems.

You know, an example .berlin, the names are applied for in good faith and the right process and the users find that having the quality of the domains, that some of the services that they wish to access, they’re no longer available. What do we do as a community about this?

You know, as I mentioned, we have the universal acceptance steering group, it is promoting awareness, promoting understanding of the issues. As you say, something further needs to be done.

I’m not trying to incite a revolution here, a Civil Society rebellion, anything like that. Clearly, you know, we do have an unacceptable situation here, where we have the tools to have a multilingual internet, but we don’t have all of the tools. And governments that are here, we need to do more in the government community and the government advisory Committee and ICANN, in other fora, if you would like to ensure our own governments are walking the talk so to speak.

That they have in terms of their procurement, in terms of their service, in terms of their applications, whether it is applied for a pension, a driving license, whatever, that these services can be accessed by the scripts and by all types of domain names.

We need to ensure that the business community stands up more to this requirement and that they also put pressure, that some of platforms, the other businesses put pressure on some of the applications and services to make sure that they accept scripts.

At the end of the day, you would think it is, you know, you would think it is an obvious really, that if you run a service, an application, you want maximum usage of that service and application. If you are cutting off, if you are denying a section of the population to be able to access those services and applications just because they use multilingual scripts and international domain names and surely that is something that is, you know, a bit of a – you know, it is counter intelligent if you see what I mean.

I’ll stop there.

Thank you.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Thank you, Nigel.

We also have a question on the chat, a question to all speakers that says with the growing popularity of internationalized domain names and email addresses, the threat of homo graphic text is more urgent, what do you think?

How should we resist that type of attacks in this environment of growing multilingualism of internet identify caters.

And then we have of a question, how do you think that the decade of indigenous languages will help with these issues and also let me invite all of you to connect with the UNESCO information for all programs and our Working Group on multilingualism. I can be reached at, we’re very dedicated to mobilizing language communities and how to give them tools to put their languages online.

We’ll talk about the domain names and the email addresses, the threat of homoglyph and m – and homograph attacks has become more urgent. What do you think, how should we resist that type of attacks in the environment of growing multilingualism of internet identificators.

There are two question, you can pick up any of the questions. Any of the speaker, feel free to answer or to respond to the two questions.

Nigel, can you help us with the first, the threat of the homoglyph and homograph attacks, what do you think? How should we resist that type of attack in the environment of growing multilingualism of internet identificators?

>> NIGEL HICKSON: I think that probably others are in better space to respond to this.

I welcome the discussion about why – why having international domain names, names in different languages and scripts increase the likelihood of the attack, I’m in the suggesting this is not the case. I don’t quite understand why having different languages in the scripts make a difference. That would be a good sort of counter point.

Others will have better understanding perhaps.

Thank you.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Thank you, Nigel.

We have a person who is queuing on the floor to speak.

Please, we’ll hand over to the person who has a question on the floor.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: It is a comment rather than a question. I don’t know if I’m drifting away too much from the main topic.

I would like to bring something to your attention out of my experience. When working on the DSA, the digital services act, it was put forward that social media platforms should respond to any complaints from the users in the rural language, if providing service in a specific country, they should respond in the same language to the user. We’re campaigning on that, and that was – well, it didn’t catch attention among the Member States, it didn’t – garner attention from the media operator, that’s too burdensome to them.

I think there is no easy technical way of going about this.

That’s too much of a burden for the media to respond in the same language.

If you talk about multilingualism, I think it should be a recurrent topic on events like that.

Any Best Practice, experience should be shared on how to help social media platforms to be able to exchange the same language, a complaint was filed.

With that, we can’t really make a meaning – make it meaningful for – for a user, so many complaints have not been filed because people simply don’t speak English and it is posted in English, terms and conditions are written in English, they say provide terms and conditions in the language of the users, but still, there is work to be done on the complaints.

I would like to see more discussion on that during IGF events, on the topic.

Thank you very much.


>> I’m with the polish government.


We’ll get a comment, on the decade of the indigenous languages, if you can clarify on that, from UNESCO.

If he comes up, I will share some comments that are noted in the chat, one is from Carlos, who says I understand there are several aspects of universalization of access related to the 7,000 plus languages in existence. Of course, trying to deal with all of them is unsurmountable, but we can narrow down to the most spoken in each region.

There is a comment from the same Carlos, who speaks that according – that the 8 most spoken languages are spoken in his region, he has interesting statistics of languages that are spoken there, so let me unmute you, about sharing about the international decade of indigenous languages. Welcome.

>> JACO DU TOIT: Thank you to all of the speakers that have been helping us to understand some of the issues at stake in terms of multilingualism on the internet.

Dorothy Gordon, the Chairperson of the information for all programme asked how we could use the international decade of indigenous languages in order to address some of the issues that have been highlighted here.

I think there are two important elements that I could put forward. On the one hand, the international decade actually does include a chapter on the digital empowerment. In the framing of national actions, in order to take forward within the scope of the international decade, it is very important that the different partners, Civil Society organizations, but also governments, academia, that they actually include in the national plan of action the question of digital empowerment. It is also important that specific attention is given to involve also the private sector that can also definitely be an important stakeholder in order to take some of the initiatives forward that are included in digital empowerment as was seen within the international decade.

Secondly, I think exactly through such intergovernmental programme, as information for all, we can also advocate more for the issues to be included when policy discussions actually do take place so that some of the openness and inclusion of the indigenous languages can also be taken into account.

I hope those give some ideas in terms of moving forward. I also just want to mention the last speaker that talked about the importance of filing access to information requests in indigenous languages, it is indeed a very interesting element and I would invite the speaker also to follow the international day of universal access of information that is the 28th of September that would look at some of the issues.

Thank you very much.

>> REBECCA RYAKITIMBO: Thank you so much.

There is just a few comments on the chat as we windup, one is from Maria, would it be possible to make a survey by UNESCO to investigate and form a language on the internet index, an example to see what languages are the most popular and used, what kind ever online use that it is, what internet users are doing online in mother tongues and what area of internet usage we have multilingualism in terms of content, domains e-mail, user interface, et cetera, what languages are represented and how is it changing in dynamic. The most interesting thing, how people use their language in their countries, what are the varieties in this field. There is also a comment from Roberto talking about even in terms and conditions that are translated in other languages, there is often the mention that what counts legally is the English version. This is some of the comments that have come up from the chat. We have someone saying hello, there is a Chair from the affordable internet access SIG, Internet Society.

I think we can leave this session with a lot of questions, how to drive to get solutions and push for a multilingual internet, something we have to address and especially as we’re already within the international decade of indigenous languages, how do we make sure that these languages are – how do we push for inclusivity, make sure we have that representation and inclusivity of different languages that are spoken across the globe to ensure that everyone has a space and has a place for the internet, they have a space in the digital space.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you to the organizers of the sessions and to EuroDIG and every one of you that attended this session. Please keep engaging with the session as different asks, you can reach out to the speakers, organizers if you have questions or concerns. Thank you so much for joining us today.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: Thank you very much, Rebecca, for this session.

You see how it basically works. The online moderator, the panelists being in the room. The next session of today, it is about internet indicators and we have 15 minutes to change the room or if you want to commute to the workshop rooms where other workshops are going on. Take your time, go there.

From 1:00 there will also be lunch served outside in case you are interested in having some lunch.

Please come to the stage and we will change.