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Digital Inequality and Language Diversity: An Ethiopic Case Study

  • Isabelle A. ZauggEmail author
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Part of the Global Transformations in Media and Communication Research - A Palgrave and IAMCR Series book series (GTMCR)

Abstract

While digital supports for language diversity are expanding, supports for African languages and scripts lag behind. These gaps incentivize Africans to use colonial languages or the Latin script when using devices, and create barriers for Africans who lack these skills. This chapter expands the term “digital inequality” to encompass how technologies exacerbate offline inequality, such as rapid minority and Indigenous language and script extinction. It addresses these concerns through an investigation of the digital vitality of Ethiopian and Eritrean languages. The analysis demonstrates how gaps in digital support for the Ethiopic script drive the transliteration of Ethiopian languages into Latin characters, which saps these languages of their tri-level meaning. It concludes with policy and advocacy recommendations to make digital tools accessible to linguistically diverse users.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Data Science Institute, Institute for Comparative Literature and SocietyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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