The lopsided presence of English in cyberspace must end,
and Spanish must take its natural place online, declared a group of Spanish
intellectuals this week.
“The vast majority of content on the Internet is in English, and
that is something we should correct,” said Antonio Muñoz Molina, renowned
author and member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE).
The Western world’s second most-used language, Spanish is fifth in
cyberspace, trailing behind English, French, German and Japanese.
Spanish-language content constitutes only 1.5 percent of the Net.
than 350 million Spanish speakers, roughly 10 million are Netizens. While
Latin America’s 8.5 million users dominate, 1.8 million “habitual users”
are Spanish (2.5 million are considered occasional users).
“We’re in a race really,” said Jose Antonio Millan, philologist
and writer on new media issues. Just as Swiss and Dutch printers dominated
the Spanish book market in the 16th century, English-language software
companies and digital content providers currently dominate Spanish online
In addition to content,
Millan called for the creation of Spanish technologies, explaining that while most technology is transferable,
not all English-language applications and utilities are necessarily
compatible with the requirements of Spanish.
Tying the future of Spanish to cyberspace, the almost 300-year-old
RAE is realizing its own an ambitious plan: to get all of its documents,
dictionaries and latest rulings into a constantly evolving online database.
Anyone with a Java-based navigator will be able to use either of the
Academy’s two access plans.
Despite the online challenge, attendees at the
“The Information Society for Everyone” symposium did get votes of confidence from
visiting American digerati.
“There’s an openness to change here [in the Spanish entrepreneurial
sector] that will be very useful,” said Esther Tyson, interim chairman of
the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
“You’re not behind. The Internet is changing so rapidly. Each year
we must reinvent,” said Vinton Cerf, Internet creator and chairman of the
board of the Internet Society. “You’re not behind, but the time to get
going is now.”
The Jose Maria Aznar government is very vocal about making
the Internet a development priority.