Roughly 7,000 languages are spoken in the world today. About half of these languages are considered endangered and expected to become extinct by the end of the century. In a bid to keep their traditions alive, activists speaking at-risk, Indigenous languages are now turning to the streaming site Twitch.
Boasting a huge audience and allowing creators to combine hobbies like video gaming and language promotion, it’s clear why young minority language speakers are turning to this popular site to keep their respective cultures alive for the next generation.
Many of them, however, lack an official language tag for their streams, and these creators see their content buried under the miscellany of the “other” tag, making it difficult for viewers to find, connect with, and enjoy gaming in their own language.
Aware of this problem, the platform decided to add 350 new stream tags, including different ethnic groups and underrepresented communities. With that said, some Indigenous languages are still being overlooked on the platform, among those are Basque and Galician.
“It is very important that Basque has a presence online and therefore on social networks,” Iruñe, a streamer who helped found a campaign to get the Basque language recognized by Twitch, told The Verge. “Nowadays, if you’re not on the internet, you don’t exist. The same will happen very soon with languages.”
Without a tag to attract and grow a Basque community, Iruñe fellow activists on the platform miss out on the opportunity for visibility. However, their efforts to get their languages recognized by Twitch are here to stay:
“We are going to continue creating varied content in Basque, quality content that we want to use to reach more people as we are still a small community,” Iruñe said. “Likewise, we want to create channels of dialogue with Twitch, and for this, we want to work together with the Basque government as well as get Basque streamers who have lots of followers to help us achieve this.”