"If your God is so mighty, why doesn't He speak my language?"
A Cakchiquel (Guatemala) man to SIL founder William Cameron Townsend
New technologies can contribute to the development of even the smaller languages of Cameroon. At the same time it is a challenge to all of us. Currently the internet is overwhelmingly geared towards the majority languages of the world. Many languages in the world are completely absent. This is a growing problem, since what is not on the net, is increasingly invisible. If nothing is done, this will result in the exclusion of many minority peoples from the new global village. As a result they will be left behind in their development.
However, there is hope. Modern communication and information technologies are also opening doors. It is now possible like never before to share languages and cultures with the wider world. Where it used to be too expensive to publish in the local languages, we can now put them freely on the web. SIL Cameroon has put hundreds of grammars, dictionaries, primers and other books in the languages of Cameroon on the Web, for everyone to download freely. Some of the dictionaries are even interactive. We have also put on the web the fonts that make it possible to write complicated symbols with ease and SIL International is working with UNESCO and the major software companies to make it easy to write any language, with any writing system.
Language is the vehicle of communication, the carrier of the culture and the expression of identity. Today, like never before, there are opportunities to express the unique identities of language and culture and to make them available to everyone. The challenge is to use this opportunity. If we do that we will increase the self confidence of people and we will preserve the unique treasure of the many cultures of Cameroon.