One World Language

Facebook’s “One World”

Let me explain how my FB friends divide out linguistically:

I have three groups of friends: one that is Slovak-only (this group consists primarily of my extended family, distant “cousins” and their circle of friends—middle aged and older), and one the is English-only (consisting primarily of former UWW students, family and extended family in the US, and American friends), and one that is native Slovak with high competency in English (these are my younger Slovak relatives, students from the university where I taught in Slovakia, and some colleagues from that school.)

I would like to be able to communicate with my Slovak-only speakers in Slovak, and my English-only speakers in English. I would like to communicate with my multi-lingual Slovak friends primarily in Slovak, while making English interactions available to them as well.

I would estimate that about 60% of my FB friends have higher competency in Slovak than in English, but, since many of my Slovak friends are competent in English but few of my American friends are similarly bilingual, the closest thing to a lingua franca among my friends is English. As more than 75% of my friends can communicate in English, I use that as my base information language for filing out my profile. For my Slovak speakers, I create a group, enroll all of my friends competent in Slovak, and then limit the Slovak only speakers exclusively to this group. The Slovak multi-linguals will have access to two strands of interactions, my base (English) wall and my group wall. Slovak only speakers will have access to my Slovak wall, on which I will write exclusively in Slovak, while English only speakers will have access only to my English wall.

Accessing my FB page, English only group will naturally be using an English platform, Slovak bilinguals either Slovak or English, interacting with postings in both languages, and Slovak only people using a Slovak interface.

While English-only friends will have an all-English flow of information, Slovak-only friends will nevertheless confront English for all of my basic field information. FB’s “One World”—a world where English makes further encroachments as the global medium of exchange.

Carving up FB’s one world into different language communities, as the circles indicate below, turns out to be impossible, as information cannot be entirely demarcated according to language.