This chapter zooms in on languages that are commonly recognized as “minority languages” and the extent to which they are present on the internet. In Chapter 2, I briefly discussed the problem of minority languages being underrepresented on the web, such as the limited coverage of isiXhosa on Wikipedia. At the same time, the internet has provided unprecedented opportunities for speakers to make minority languages more visible to the world (Cunliffe and Herring, 2005; Danet and Herring, 2007). In addition to exploring classic examples of minority languages, this chapter is particularly interested in those spoken varieties that have no standard writing systems, such as Luxembourgish and Egyptian Arabic. On the internet, these spoken forms are written in creative ways, enabling users to assert their local identities (see Chapter 4). Linguistic varieties to be discussed in this chapter include Catalan, Welsh, Irish, and Chinese dialects. Some of these are considered successfully represented online, while others are under threat with
the rise of the internet. Examples to be discussed in this chapter illustrate how speakers of these languages represent their local languages in their digital writing. Before I move on to consider particular languages, some fundamental questions need to be addressed. What does it mean to be a minority language? How “minor” are they? And how has the concept been used in the context of computermediated communication? This chapter then examines both the opportunities and challenges that digital media present to minority languages. As it becomes clearer in my discussion in the rest of the chapter, the internet can present both opportunities and challenges to minority languages, depending on a complex combination of factors.