Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig! I've started this blog as a companion to my new web site IndigenousTweets.com. Please check out that site, and I hope you'll also subscribe to this blog if you are a speaker of, or are interested in, an indigenous language. I am planning on discussing best practices for developing basic language technologies like keyboards, spell checkers, etc. and I'll also be interviewing people from around the world who are using technology as part of language revitalization efforts.
Speakers of indigenous and minority languages around the world are struggling to keep their languages and cultures alive. More and more language groups are turning to the web as a tool for language revitalization, and as a result there are now thousands of people blogging and using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in their native language. These sites have allowed sometimes-scattered communities to connect and use their languages online in a natural way. Social media have also been important in engaging young people, who are the most important demographic in language revitalization efforts. Together we're breaking down the idea that only global languages like English and French have a place online!
How to use IndigenousTweets.com
The primary aim of IndigenousTweets.com is to help build online language communities through Twitter. We hope that the site makes it easier for speakers of indigenous and minority languages to find each other in the vast sea of English, French, Spanish, and other global languages that dominate Twitter.
The main page lists all of our supported languages (35 as of the launch). Find your language in the table, click on the row, and you will be directed to a new page that lists (up to) the top 500 Twitter users in your language. For instance, here's the page for Ojibwe/Anishinaabemowin. This is meant to be a kind of "menu" of people who tweet in your language whom you might want to follow on Twitter. If you click on someone in the table, it will open a new window or tab with their Twitter profile, so you can see some of their recent tweets and decide if you want to follow them or not. The tables are sortable by any of the columns; this is useful for example if you (like me) only want to follow people who tweet primarily in your language - just sort by the % column. Or you might be interested in the most popular tweeters in your language - in that case, sort by the "Followers" column.
Another feature that I hope people will enjoy is the "Trending Topics" computed by language. Twitter computes their trends based on geography, and so it is unlikely that there would ever be enough tweets in Irish to impact the trends in Ireland, or for Basque tweets to appear in the Spanish trends, and so on. Our Trending Topics are listed on each language page in the right-hand column. If you click a trending topic on IndigenousTweets.com, it will open a search page for that term on Twitter's site.
Finally, if you notice anyone missing from the tables, just enter their Twitter username in the input box on the language page, and they will eventually be added to the table.
Even speakers of languages like Basque and Welsh with vibrant online communities have been surprised to find just how many people there are tweeting in their language. This is the other goal of IndigenousTweets.com: it's a message to the world that says "We are here and we're proud of our languages". For languages with just a few users, I hope it inspires some people to start - make your voice heard!
I've gotten help and feedback from a number of people over the past several weeks as this project has taken shape. I'm especially grateful to Jean Came Poulard, Michael Bauer, Keola Donaghy, Boukary Konaté, Adrian Cain, Chris Sheard, and Wim Benes for providing translations of the site into Haitian Creole, Scottish Gaelic, Hawaiian, Bambara, Manx Gaelic, and Frisian. Thanks also to Michael Schade, Edmond Kachale, and Neskie Manuel who provided much-appreciated technical advice and constructive crticism.
IndigenousTweets.com is not affiliated in any way with Twitter, and it was created entirely as a free service to benefit indigenous language communities. Enjoy!