Thursday, 22 July 2010

Euroblogs: Languages and interaction

We see a continuing lively debate on Euroblogs and Twitter (for instance #euroblog #EU #bkaeb #bbs10) regarding blogging about the European Union. has grown to aggregate the posts of 630 EU oriented blogs, and it already forms a community of sorts.

My impression from a long time of blog reading is that there is a deep linguistic divide between the English language and French (Italian, Spanish) blogospheres on Europe.

If the politics of European integration, and the policies and law of the European Union are common European themes, why are there so few readers over the linguistic borders and why is there so little interaction between bloggers?

One concrete example: Grahnlaw has more readers from the United States, where people are not directly concerned by the EU, than from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain combined, long-standing members of the European Union.

Bloggers are usually educated persons, and especially Eurobloggers tend to have at least some foreign language skills.

If European integration is about lowering barriers and erasing borders, why not try to make it easier to interact?

Many of us read a foreign language without being able to write it correctly.

There has never been any requirement that comments on Grahnlaw have to be in English, but I have decided to make the policy explicit, by inviting comments in a number of languages:

Even if the Grahnlaw blog and my replies are in English, feel free to comment in Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish.

I suggest that other Euroblogs announce similar open policies in order to increase interaction in the Euroblogosphere.

Machine translation advances rapidly, but the results are still often so crude that meaningful and nuanced discussion is impossible. Therefore, I have decided to experiment with a limited selection of languages I am able to read (Dutch and Portuguese only with a dictionary).

Ralf Grahn