Skip to main content
4–7 September, 2019

Thursday, 5 September | | Miraikan Hall

Talk | Presented in English

Invisible Letters, Invisible Languages

If we can’t see a language, does it exist? Of course it does, but in an increasingly computerized world, many languages remain invisible. Some languages appear to have no writing system at all. Others are not necessarily accessible in the digital realm. What are the implications for these languages in light of today’s technologies? Computing in general is grounded in the assumption that spoken language can be transcribed and manipulated. But whom does this leave behind, and why should we care? The benefits of digital representation aren’t limited to the locale of a particular language, script, or culture. The possibilities range from linguistic analysis to all forms of cross-referencing across disciplines like linguistics, history, archaeology, literature, sociology, economics, anthropology, and more. This presentation will look at a number of historic and minority writing systems and consider what can be gained by digitizing them and making them accessible to the world.