Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Babel Babble

On Tuesday in Paris, YouTube announced that it would be creating web portals in seven additional languages. That's good news to those who enjoy their virtual media tourism. As The New York Times reports in "YouTube to Be Available in 7 Additional Languages," the tongues offered will include "French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, Polish and Dutch."

Je parle fran├žais. Ich spreche Deutsch. watashi wa nihongo o hanashimas (which I could write in Kanji and Hiragana if I only had the fonts).

Certainly English shouldn't have the hegemonic power that it still does on the Web, but I worry about the ultimate effects of this trend toward linguistic segmentation on YouTube. I love seeing exciting German soccer plays or weird Japanese game shows among the "most watched" listings, and I worry that it necessarily impoverishes the American media landscape.

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