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Digital Language Divide in the European High North: The Level of Online Presence of Minority Languages from Northern Finland, Norway and Sweden

In: The Yearbook of Polar Law Online
Author: Marcin Dymet
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One of the inequalities generated by the introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is the digital language divide, that is, differences in the online presence of languages and unequal access to information due to the lack of understanding of the available content. The digital language divide is particularly visible in the case of small languages with a low number of speakers. There is a large group of languages with non-existent or irrelevant online presence. This is often the case of the endangered minority languages. The number of language speakers or the level of knowledge of a given language is not sufficient to generate a vital online community.

This article presents the current language situation in the European High North with a focus on minority languages: Sámi and Meänkieli languages in Sweden, Sámi and Kven languages in Norway, and Sámi languages in Finland. It also introduces the phenomenon of digital language divide. The article explores the current situation of the minority languages in the European High North in light of their online presence. It responds to the following questions: Is there online presence of the studied minority languages? Is there a need amongst the minorities’ members for more extensive presence? To conclude, the article discusses the possible effects of a language’s underrepresentation.

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