Hello to all,
It is good to see activity on this list ! I appreciate initiatives like
this one that may help to redact wikipedia editions in indigenous languages.
With some editors from the quechua wikipedia, I had began a project for
a wikipedia in kichwa (
which is the northern variant of the quechua language, spoken by
indigenous populations in northern Peru, Ecuador, and southern Colombia.
This language is characterized by many ISO 639-3 language tags (see the
wikipedia page), which have a large degree of interunderstandability
(forgive my English which is not so good). The Ecuadorian government has
proposed a unified orthography for this language, which is taught in the
concerned regions of the country.
The incubator is here :
The colombian version of this language is Inga kichwa. Maybe you would
be interested in checking with some native speakers in Colombia if they
are interested in collaborating to this project. there are already about
a thousand articles I think. I spent many hours developing this project,
I also told my kichwa-speaking family members about it, analyzed their
reactions, and based on this I developed some reflexions that I would
like to share here.
- In the case of the kichwa, the interest came more from foreigners
knowing the language (not perfectly of course) than from native speakers
: Me (French) and two German editors of the quechua wikipedia
- The interest of wikipedia in kichwa can NOT be to bring knowledge to
people who cannot have access to knowledge in, e.g., spanish. The
mololinguous speakers of kichwa are in their vast majority (totality ?)
iliterate. The literacy rate in their own language might be of the order
of 1% as mentioned in another message. So, the people who can read can
read spanish, and therefore can have access to the Spanish wikipedia
which is of course much more complete (and will be in any foreseeable
Wikimedia encourages to have the basic articles translated into these
languages (History, Physics, Chemistry, etc.). I think this is a mistake
- Kichwa (for example) lacks a word for physics, for chemistry, for
particle, atom, communism, romanticism, satellite, etc. etc., or they
are written using words invented by a literate minority ("academia de la
lengua kichwa" in the case of Ecuador). For example, words have been
invented for the days of the week, to tell internet, computer, etc., but
the native speaker do not understand. They say "Internet", "Compu"
- To take an example, one can write an article about quantum physics in
kichwa, but only the person writing it will be able to understand it. On
top of that, it will be typically be "original research" because nobody
so far has written about quantum physics in kichwa (or wayuu) so that
wikipedia would actually **prescribe** the way to write about it (the
words) which is not its role. People (like the "academia de la lengua
kichwa") do invent some words (atom, particle etc.), but they do not
invent all the necessary words : the wikipedia editor would be in the
position of having to invent himself the words that are not yet invented
(wavefunction, derivative, interference, etc. etc.). It would be, I
think, useless, because it is too far from the culture that is
associated to the language, and to the universe of things that can be
expressed in this language.
- In any case, if we are realistic, these articles (internet, quantum
physics, helicopter etc.) will be a pale version of the ones existing
for example in spanish. So people who can have access to Internet and
read will in any case prefer the articles in spanish.
Based on books, on conversations with native speakers etc., one would be
able to build an encyclopedy of the local knowledge formulated on the
words that are used locally with (but not restricted to) articles on the
animal and plant species, traditional celebrations, on poetry. An
article about "sky" would be more useful than one about astronomy
because it would be easily formulated in kichwa (or, I guess, wayuu)
etc. If this is done, that may awaken the interest of the bilinguous
people who have an internet connection. Because it would be a way to
build a "repository" of the language and the knowledge that goes along
with this language.
Maybe I would be clearer if I say that I think all the articles on this
wikipedia shall pass a "rubber duck" test : if I read them to a native
speaker (in my case, that would be my stepfather), will he undersand ?
The result of the rubber duck test would be "yes" for an article about
"andean edible plants", about the sky, or about the cow, "no" for the
article on quantum physics or on the helicopter. Because I lack the
words for this article, he lacks the words as well, for the simple
reason that no appropriate words exist.
To sum up what I'm trying to say :
- I think wikipedia in indigenous languages are NOT useful as a
substitute of major wikipedia edition for monolingual people, because
these people are massively illiterate (and have no access to internet)
- It is NOT useful either as a substitute of major wikipedia editions
for bilingual people who have internet, because they will obtain a
better information in spanish
- It can be very useful in my opinion if it is used to collect the
knowledge that is traditionally formulated in the indigenous language so
that wikipedia does not invent this knowledge. In my opinion, these
language editions should not be seen as encyclopedies, because they will
never be able to compete with other language editions on this ground.
They should be thought of as **repositories** of the language and
NOT substitutes of wikipedia editions in major languages, but
collaborative repositories for the language and culture.
I hope these few reflexions can be useful, and I also hope that at some
point there is an interest to recuperate what has been done for the
kichwa wikipedia incubator, working with peoples in Ecuador or Colombia.
Le 03/06/2015 12:05, Milos Rancic a écrit :
That's quite interesting approach! Maybe we should
try engage more
translation companies willing to volunteer...
On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 4:46 AM, James Heilman <jmh649(a)gmail.com
We are working with volunteers from a translation company to produce
some medical content in Guarani, Haitan Creole, K'ichi, and Quechua.
Example include this https://qu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaphilaksiya
On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 4:27 PM, Milos Rancic <millosh(a)gmail.com
Unfortunately, the analysis was pretty quick. The
number of the
Colombia with more than 10,000 speakers is
limited to few of
them and the
only language with good potential is Wayuu
. It's spoken
Colombia, which is pretty far from Bogota.
However, I suppose
that you'd be
able to find some Wayuu speakers in Bogota, as
well as Wikimedia
could help you.
The only other maybe reachable (and definitely closer to than
Catío . This one is on the Pacific coast,
as the craw flies.
All other languages are either spoken in jungle, or the number
is very low, or it's about languages which
country is one of
the Colombia neighboring ones (it could be that
the number of
Colombia is significant, but there are no schools
rate is significantly lower -- which means below
1% -- and
standard has been
already developed in Brazil, Peru, Venezuela or
So, besides possibility to find Wayuu speakers (although the
population live in Venezuela, more than 100,000
of them live in
would suggest you to find any group of speakers
of any language
Spanish, of course :) ) and try to work with
them. Obviously, if
you find a
group of five literate enthusiasts who speak a
it could be the game changer for their language.
Having a group
speakers of various languages but willing to
also a good idea.
Useful information is also that literacy rate among those people
native language is at the best 1-2%. Usually,
they are better in
and it could be 5-25%. By the standards of the
Old World, this
low literacy rate anyway.
Positive side is that it's likely that they have writing system
and it's 100% Latin. Thus, if they are
literate, they wouldn't
significant issues in writing their language by
On the cultural side, keep in mind that it's very likely that
have significant issues with Colombian
government, as well as
have issues with the Catholic Church (though much
that they would have aversion toward anything
which comes from the
government, including the writing system (though, unlike neighboring
countries, Colombia didn't do much here). So, it's fairly
those who are literate are willing to use their
likely not documented at all, but likely based on
words, an anthropologist would be a good
companion in your tour,
of the Wikimedian part of the work.
As we don't have (yet) a body which deals with the situations
is, feel free to contact me for any kind of
logistic support. As a member of Language
committee, I will for
what they should do to create Wikipedia in their
well as help
as much as I am able to do that.
I will check the languages again tomorrow to see if I missed
> Hey, Eddie! It's great to hear this! My team will compile the
> major languages of Colombia (especially in
Bogota region) with
> recommendations and send it here. I think we could do that
> to the end of the week for sure.
> On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 11:04 PM, eddie avila
>> Hello all -
>> I’m new here, but really interested in the topic. My name is
>> and I’m the Director of Rising Voices, an
initiative of Global
>> work to support new, diverse, and
underrepresented voices as
>> participatory digital media to tell their
own stories on their
>> A special interest of ours centers on how the Internet is helping
>> communities create new digital content in their native
>> through blogs, digital video, social
media, or audio podcasts,
we are seeing
>> inspiring work by people committed
towards preserving and
>> native languages.
>> Starting with an activity last year in Mexico we brought together
>> indigenous language “digital activists” to share their
>> teach and learn from one another.
>> Here, we partnered with our friends from Wikimedia Mexico to help
>> organize the sessions around creating new or translating
>> into Wikipedia in native languages. We
felt that Wikimedia
>> mission of supporting communities to be
able to share their
>> in their own languages.
>> Now, we are continuing this process with a workshop in Bogotá
>> of weeks. Again, we are partnering with
>> Wikimedia Venezuela to showcase the
possibilities of creating
>> Wikipedia in native languages and
building a more mutually
>> We are eager to explore how Rising Voices can help support the
>> work of communities around the world, but
>> America, that are interested in
contributing or creating their
>> of this important resource. Our
partnerships with your
communities have been
>> incredibly rewarding.
>> Looking forward to seeing how we can continue to work together.
>> Eddie Avila
>> @barrioflores @risingvoices
>> Languages mailing list
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