Four pillars of Multilingualism

22 October 2013 - A Workshop on Access in Bali, Indonesia

Internet Governance Forum 2013

Workshop # 302 Report

Four pillars of Multilingualism

Organizer Name 

Chantal Lebrument

Organizer Entity 


Workshop Theme 

The Internet as an Engine for Growth and Advancement

Consise description 


Following the Secretary recommendations in last May session in Geneva we will organize the workshop differently to make it interesting and dynamic.

At the Bali IGF session, we will have only four cluster presentations - live or remote – as a joint work on multilingualism. This theme is often discussed but the idea is to try and bring up a complete coverage.

Instead of listing individual speakers, we set up four clusters, each one dedicated to one subject related to multilingualism. Each cluster is under the responsibility of one person who knows the subject, and who will present at the workshop a report produced by the cluster. This same person may very well cooperate in preparing other clusters reports if she is knowledgeable in the subjects.

 Selected clusters are

-       Education & usages

o   Relevant person: Didier Van de Meeren

o   Organization: Semantis

o   Subject: Networks and digital services have to facilitate and support the efforts supplied by communities in a constant effort to improve their living conditions and populations development. Access to information, research, development require compliance with local languages and scripts.

-       Translation & usages

o   Relevant person : Olga Cavalli

o   Organization : ISOC Argentina

o   Subject : Languages spoken by several million people but with a content that does not reflect the number of users the language has, as the Spanish language. It may include cases of rare languages and the size of the speakers population, especially in Latin America and the U.S.

-       Cultural and Linguistic Diversity & usages

o   Relevant person: Adama Samassekou

o   Organization: MAAYA

o   Subject: This cluster will analyze a few cases brought up by the audience, and summarize the major obstacles encountered by populations living in diverse cultures and languages. Such information may be useful to local institutions, governments, international organizations, and specially volunteers who are willing to set up language training, mediating with locals and authorities, internet access, etc. 

-       Naming & usages

o   Relevant person: Louis Pouzin

o   Organization: EUROLINC

o   Subject: The internet fast development in our society raises questions about the respect of civil, political, economic and social rights in a monolingual universe where most of the populations do not master the script and the language used on networks. They are de facto excluded from internet benefits, in their individual and collective dimensions. Speaker show all the possibilities of the Internet system, allowing all cultures and languages ​​to express themselves easily in networks.


The internet fast development in our society raises questions about the respect of civil, political, economic and social rights in a monolingual universe where most of the populations do not master the script and the language used on networks. They are de facto excluded from internet benefits, in their individual and collective dimensions    

This is where the internet mythology hits its limits. Of course it is an extraordinary communications tool, if it is available, and if people know how to use it. Ignoring the human factor in internet governance is doomed to failure.

These four clusters will provide a new multilinguistic  approach with experimentation case studies.







Adrian Carballo - Adama Samassekou

Remote Moderator 

Chantal Lebrument - Olga Cavalli

Have you organized workshops at previous IGFs?


Workshop format 

Open Discussion

Workshop Transcript 


Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions 


The topic of the whole workshop was multilingualism explained 

through practical applications





We started with EUROLINC and Louis Pouzin's presentation who explained the principle of naming system in the internet that has not changed since its inception in the 80s.


He explained the existence of alternative roots since 1996 while icann only existed last 1998. He also recalled that in 2000 the dot BIZ was hijacked by icann from an open roots operator which created and used it since 1996. Both TLDs have coexisted on the internet for several years.

Louis Pouzin recalls that roots alternatives exist in internet and are documented as in the Wikipedia website. Then, there was a presentation of examples of websites that do not exist in an icann internet and can use all existing world scripts, NSA unsupervised. 

The Open-Root economic model explained by Louis is based on TLDs sale, not rent, this allows cybersphere naming system opening for a lot of people and their multiple scripts. Saling TLDs is a new economic model that creates a quick and inexpensive system, suitable for people in developing countries and small companies.




Secondly, it was the Belgian association Semantis about Cultural Diversity and Multilingualism ont the internet.



Semantis aims to develop the access and use of information and communication technologies in order to promote formal and popular education, training, creativity, cultural diversity and multilingualism in the digital space. It proposes to initiate or support – including at an international level -  any event or project aiming at this objective, including by ways of telecommunication services and networks.

Semantis encourage the French language learning and the exchange of good pedagogical practices between teachers, the Semantis project is dedicated to French language classes from colleges of Eastern and Central Europe. Through digital arts, native language or French tales, Semantis ails to develop exchanges based on linguistic, thematic and intercultural aspects. An online portfolio with various pedagogical worksheets will be compiled from these learnings methodologies in order to report on acquired skills in the form of a « knowledge tree ». The use of computer is leading to a co-construction of knowledge and practices between students and teachers.

Semantis is a European project which receives funding from the European Community.




In the third part we had a presentation by Ms Olga Cavalli, ISOC Argentina, on the problems of translation and content in Latin American.




In Latin America there are several native american languages that are still present and spoken in Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay and in some areas of the rest of the countries in the region. There Internet is an opportunity for preserving these languages.
Aymara and Quechua, are the official languages for two countries, Bolivia and Peru.  
The users of the Internet are concentrated just in 12 languages and English.  Internet continues its growth with the English as main language and Latin alphabet languages are approx. 84% present in the Internet when the population of the world that uses Latin script is only 39%.  
One of the challenges of the developing countries is to create local relevant content in order to keep the traficl locally in the countri or the region.
75% of the Internet traffic of Latin America is routed today through the USA, and part of this is because the content is located in other regions where the users of the Internet are located.


As a conclusion, the creation of local relevant content is very important to have a better balanced Internet traffic with less international connectivity, which makes it less expensive for distant countries.




It was planned four parts in the workshop, but unfortunately the connection with Africa could not be due to poor connectivity. It took a long time to prepare for the African workshop, they had to wake up at 03: 00 hours ... for nothing. Jetlag does not allow the use of local university facilities.




This is very unfortunate because the Boite A Innovations presentation was on the contribution of ICT illiterate, with a demonstration of an application in six indigenous African languages ​​that already exists in three countries (Benin, Gabon and Senegal).

Bring ICT illiterate: local languages ​​and effective practices of digital literacy.

Other problem, the room was blocked until UN people arrived, we could’t open the session and waited




Conclusions drawn from the workshop and further comments 


We had to wait until someone comes to the UNOG to log in Webex, which took more than 20 minutes. The technical staff in the room did not know how to handle microphones and video could not be visible in Webex ...

All these technical problems were significant barriers.

Plus, several people in the room were not fluent in English and were not involved in the discussion.





Reported by 

Chantal Lebrument

Estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session 

About half of the participants were women

To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment? 

It was not seen as related to the session theme and was not raised

Discussion affecting gender equality and women's empowerment 

Semantis project would have to connect students from several classes split between France, Belgium and Eastern Europe. But the workshop took place on October 22 at 11:00 am, in europe it was 3:00 am and it was a school holiday period. Moving the workshop late afternoon might be allowed to have the participation of young people. Same for Africans people who would then have the ability to connect from university facilities.

Workshops Staticals 
Number of FEMALE participantsNumber of MALE participantsNumber of Young participantsNumber of Developing Countries ParticipantsNumber of Developed Countries ParticipantsNumber of LDCs participantsNumber of TOTAL Participants
3 6 1 0 17 0 9