Language revitalization through digital means: The case of modern Greek dialects in social media and websites


Authors: Maria Vrachionidou (Academy of Athens, Research Center of Modern Greek Dialects, Greece)
Speakers: Maria Vrachionidou
Topic: Critical Linguistic Anthropology
COMELA 2021 General Session


Abstract
During the last century, as it is well known, most of the minority languages and dialects worldwide faced the risks of decline, attrition by the dominant languages and, ultimately, extinction. In a globalized world the preservation of local languages, as well as local cultures, seems more and more difficult. Recently, however, voices of resistance have risen in various parts of the world against linguistic homogenization. Contrary to popular belief, the web and social media sites can facilitate and support minority languages preservation and revitalization. They provide dialectal and minority language speakers with a tool that they can use to re-invent their own ancestral language and enhance the bonds with other members of their linguistic and cultural community, notwithstanding physical distance (see i.e. Ben Slimane 2016 about Welsh, Deschene 2019 about Coptic Language in Egypt, Stern 2017 about local languages in Bali, etc.). The paper focuses on examples relating to the use of Modern Greek dialects and idioms (especially the most rare and endagered ones, like Tsakonian, Cappadocian etc.) in websites and the social media; these examples indicate that the dialectal linguistic choice of an internet user is always intentional, is used to convey informality, humour, solidarity and functions as an identity marker. Sometimes, a dialect is even used as a ‘secret language’. Therefore, the choise of expressing oneself in dialect in the web and social media is, at times, an expression of language digital activism.

Keywords: Modern Greek Dialects, language preservation, language revitalization, minority languages in social media, language digital activism