Reviving Võro-language Facebook group

Sulev Iva

Daily Võro-language memes strengthen the language community

In early 2018, Sulev Iva — a linguist and speaker of Võro language — was asked to administer the Facebook group Võro kiil (‘Võro language’) which was rather passive at the time, with a modest number of 450 followers. At first Sulev redesigned the header, began posting news about Võro language and covered topics of interest to Võro speakers. However this had still little impact — few likes and new followers.

Bringing humour to a Facebook group about an indigenous language can multiply the number of followers and re-energize the online language community.

The situation changed suddenly in January 2019 when Sulev — just for fun — translated a few humorous Internet memes into Võro and posted them in the Facebook group. These memes got more likes and shares than any previous posts in the group. In just a week, more than hundred new followers joined and the next week, several hundred. As of May 2019, the group has grown to 3,000 followers and multiple posts are published in Võro language on a daily basis.

Funny memes bring attention to serious topics, too

The original Facebook group Võro kiil was created by a team of Võro youth in 2012. Sulev Iva took over the administration in early 2018. By May 2019 the group has grown from 450 to 3,000 followers.

The Facebook group operates at zero budget.

Humorous Võro-language memes help to promote more substantive topics about the Võro language as well. For example, the post announcing a new Võro-language course for beginners was shared 40 times — a lot in the Võro context. Spots for students were filled in just a few days, which is partly thanks to the Facebook group.

Reviving Võro-language Facebook group

A group of active followers posting and commenting on others’ posts has emerged. For some reason, the most active publishers of Võro-language posts tend to be older or late middle-aged, while there are more young and early middle-aged people among those liking and sharing posts.

Facebook group Võro kiil has raised the visibility of Võro language in the followers’ lives and in the Estonia’s social media landscape as a whole.

Sulev Iva, project author