With all due respect to all the work Gerard has done, my issue with him is
simple (should be apparent by now), he approved EA based on a mail exchange
he had with only one committee member, painted that in a public email as a
unanimous decision, and it turned out that 4 of his committee members were
inactive at the time and at least one (I have not heard from the others yet)
had at least some issues with the decision. I will be completely satisfied
with a simple acknowledgment that the process was faulty, and that he is
willing to work to rectify it for the future, as of now, I only see that he
sees absolutely nothing wrong with what happened. I just want to see a
clear path for that not to happen again in LangCom, I have been encouraged
by Jesse's comments, but they still remain pretty much in contrast with the
position Gerard maintains.
On Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 9:45 PM, Milos Rancic <millosh(a)gmail.com> wrote:
On Sun, Jan 11, 2009 at 3:27 AM, Marcus Buck
elisabeth bauer hett schreven:
> 2009/1/11 Marcus Buck <me(a)marcusbuck.org>rg>:
>> In the Arabic world there's a prevalent POV, that Arabs form one nation
>> united by the use of the Arabic language. But in reality Standard
>> is something like Latin. With the
difference, that Latin fell out of
>> to make place for the Romance languages.
So Egyptian Arabic vs.
Arabic is like French vs. Latin. And the Egyptian VIP
is like a 13th
century monk. "Writing in the language of the people. How stupid...
Latin is a godly language."
So, tell me...
Which language do the egyptian newspapers use?
In which language are the egyptian books written?
Which language does Naguib Mahfus use in his books?
Which language do the children learn at school?
Which language do you use in a letter when you apply for a job?
The answer to all of this is: Standard Arabic. That's exactly what I
pointing at. There's a strong non-conscious POV forcing the people to
use a language for writing, that is very different from their native
language. What language do most Mari use, when writing to other Mari?
Russian. Aymara will most likely use Spanish when writing to other
Aymara. Does that mean, that Mari is a dialect of Russian and Aymara a
dialect of Spanish? Of course not. But it's a symptom of a very deeply
internalized feeling of inferiority. A feeling spurred by Russian and
Spanish speakers feeling superiority over those uneducated non Spanish
speakers and non Russian speakers.
A 13th century monk would have argued:
Which language do the Royal chronicles use?
In which language is the Vulgata written?
Which language does Francis of Assisi use in his books?
Which language do the novices learn at monastery school?
Which language do you use in a letter when you petition to the
The use of Latin restricted knowledge to those who were educated in the
monasteries. The dismissal of Latin was an act of emancipation for the
speakers of the vernaculars. I do not know enough about Arabic to judge
whether pushing the vernaculars would be an act of intellectual
emancipation or an act of divide et impera.
If the idea of writing in the vernacular would be obviously ridiculous,
nobody would do it. There are people who want to work on arz, so they
must see some use in it. Maybe they are still wrong. We can only figure
it out, if we allow them to try.
By the way: You mention schools. When schools became mandatory in the
course of the 18th, 19th century, many people had humanistic and
educational goals. But from the very beginning it was also a tool for
the country's rulers to manipulate the brains of young people. To induce
attachment to the king and to prepare boys to be good soldiers. To make
the children loyal citizens. That's still valid today. Language is one
measure of bending the pupils' mind (of bending all people's minds). By
teaching the national language, that in many cases is different from the
native language, you estalish a direct channel to the mind. This channel
is in the sole occupancy of the authorities and there's no need to share
it with other information transmitters, cause the native environment
uses another language (at least that was true in the time, when schools
became mandatory. Today there are more diverse information channels).
Language is a tool of power. That's the reason, why VIPs are no good
source for opinions about languages not supported by the powers in
force. Somebody who is Very Important has to stay in touch with the
powers in force to keep being important. Touching the balance of power
by supporting languages other than the language of power is dangerous if
you have to keep a status.
The mission of the foundation is an educational one. So it would be
better to ask the uneducated masses of Egypt, whether they feel a gain
from a Wikipedia in their language or whether they stick with the
First of all, I may sign every Marcus' word in this and previous email.
There is one more issue which I mentioned in the previous iteration
related to EA [Sports]. Having education in the native language is a
very important cultural achievement. Instead between 1/4 and 1/5 of
inhabitants who don't know to read and write you [Egyptians etc.] will
have much better ratio. Besides examples which I gave the last time,
here are two more: one of the poorest countries in Europe, Albania,
with relative majority of Muslim inhabitants, has 98.7% of literate
people; not so rich Azerbaijan (yes, it could be much richer) with
90%+ Muslim majority has 98.8% of literate people. This is something
less than 1/100 of inhabitants who don't know to read and write. In
both of countries Arabic is a language for religious purposes, while
native languages are educational. More educated persons means more
intellectual power, which gives more political influence. Power of
European countries before the Renaissance was silly in comparison with
China (which solved educational problems at other way, not applicable
to phonographic writing systems) and civilizations under Chinese
influence (like Mongols, Tatars and Turks were). Instead of opposing
EA and similar projects, educated Egyptians (and other educated Arabs)
should learn from European history (but, please, avoid the first half
of 20th century!).
And about life and work of Gerard Meijssen... Along with Jesse, Gerard
is the most responsible person for the fact that Language subcommittee
is working. Before asking to remove him from the subcommittee, I would
like to see a proposal for a member which would have comparably
* A high level of enthusiasm for Wikimedian projects and involvement in
* At least one significant project (cf. OmegaWiki).
* At least 6 months of active work in Language subcommittee.
Otherwise, we may close the shop.
To be more precise, here are things which none of others would do:
* Implementing transparency by archiving emails at the public place.
Along with other technical issues which make LangCom to look like the
most regulated (sub)committee, this is done by Jesse and I can't
imagine someone else who would do that. While I think that
transparency and look and feel are important, for that kind of job I
would have to be payed (actually, I wouldn't accept such job, even it
* Raising attention around boring issues around languages by using
variety of methods (blogging, writing projects, talking with a lot of
people...). This is done by Gerard and I really can't imagine someone
else at that position. Even I am 10 years or so younger than Gerard, I
have a very small part of his energy. And he is interested in
Both of them are doing those jobs for years. It is not about temporary
At the other side, of course, I am one of not so big number of persons
who has the honor to know very well how hard is to work with Gerard.
But, his willingness to change some positions (slowly but surely) is
good enough in conjunction with his other qualities. In other words, I
would like to be able to fly, but I am not. I would like to see
perfect persons at the right positions, but it is far from reality.
Out of the issue related to Gerard personally, I want to say that this
objection (and the previous one) to Language subcommittee's work is
the most articulated one. Because of that I think that we may have
some benefits from it. For example, I would like to hear a generic
solution for cases like EA is (here, at the list, or at Meta).
Personally, I would like to see more articulated community's opinion
toward issues related to languages.
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