Eesti Elu
IT applications will help Estonian language to survive (3)
Archived Articles 27 Mar 2009 EL (Estonian Life)Eesti Elu
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Linguist Martin Ehala has observed that the best guarantor for Estonian language survival is its usage in new IT innovations.

Ehala remarks that “having Estonian spread throughout new infotechnological applications, including the internet and software, no matter what the source, would be the primary way of ensuring the staying power of the language.”

Ehala, a professor of Estonian didactics and applied linguistics, stressed that a danger to the language’s survival would be its isolation from new IT developments.

The creation of a new Estonian computer vocabulary should be enthusiastically welcomed. “The introduction of new words, previously unused, might seem initially strange,” he said. This might be the reason why there was a reluctance to create new Estonian language software. “We have to get over this and start using Estonian language software.”

In a Vikerradio broadcast Ehala commented on a different aspect of linguistics: “People involved in public speaking or addressing formal gatherings must adhere to correct language usage.” But, Ehala added, “This does not mean that one has to be obsessed with correctness, just as a person does not need to wear formal attire at every occasion.”

“It would be terrible if language police were to intimidate people so that, metaphorically speaking, they were forced to wear formal wear on all occasions and while sleeping. This would be the impoverishment of the Estonian language.”

Language control would inhibit people from using expressing themselves in a robust, free and unconstrained way, he noted.

How to handle obscenities? “I suggest not to read obscene books,” he offered.

Ehala claimed that language education got stuck 20 years ago when printed text was the basic mode of information exchange. “Now things have greatly advanced and Estonian language education must catch up with the times, Ehala concluded.
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