A mid-term report by the International Telecommunication Union revealed that Indian, Chinese and Russian domain names have dominated Internet growth during 2005-09, indicating a surge in Internet usage in these countries and more so amongst non-English speaking users. According to the report, more than half of the 1.7 billion people who use the Internet today speak languages with non-Latin scripts.
The report observed that while the Internet content was still dominated by English and a few other languages. Only about 15 per cent of the population understand English. Meanwhile the proportion of English-speaking Internet users is declining, falling from 80 per cent in 1996 to around 30 per cent in 2007, reflecting the fact that non-English speakers are increasingly going online. Another indication of the diversification of content on the Internet is the growing number of Web sites that are registered under country domain names, the report said.
Until recently, the presence of world languages on the internet had been held back by a number of technical details with regard to the representation of different languages on the Internet, as well as the idea that English can act as an Internet lingua franca. However, efforts are increasingly being made not only to overcome technical barriers but also to encourage the production of local content, in local languages. Producing more content in local languages is key to bringing more people online, the report added.
In order to let content in local languages flourish online the ITC has suggested promoting diversity of cultural expression and indigenous knowledge and traditions through the creation of varied information content and the nurture local capacity for the creation and distribution of software and hardware in local languages.