Saturday, December 15, 2007

Language and Cyberspace

A striking aspect of internet usage in Korea is that the vast majority of Koreans prefer to surf the web in their own language, 한국말. While you might think that this should come as no surprise, the strong preference for Korean is often overlooked by companies or organizations seeking to do business or conduct affairs in Korea. Some of them mistakenly assume that the near-universal passion for learning English in Korea means that people here will gravitate to English-language materials on the web. The available empirical evidence points instead to a strong preference for Korean language on the web. Data from the early 1990s to the present shows that the number of internet users in South Korea did not significantly increase until there was an increase in the number of .kr domain names on the web. The web site of the National Internet Development Agency is the best official source of such data, and it has an English-Korean toggle. The continued dominance of NAVER as the internet search engine most frequently used by South Koreans has a lot to do with the fact that it is a Korean-language engine that returns largely Korean-language results. While on the subject of language, I suggest that Koreans who want to read my posts in Korean use Google Language tools. While this automated translation service is far from perfect, I think it is the best currently available. The steps are easy.

  1. Go to the language tools site
  2. Scroll down to "Translate a Web Page" and enter Then on the scroll-down menu, set your preference to translate "English to Korean."
  3. Click on the "Translate" button and you will quickly have a rough translation of this site into Korean.

Look to this blog for further musings about the role of language in creating the boundaries of cyberspace.

No comments:

Post a Comment