as I first heard about the discussion of the establishment of an
egyptian arabic wikipedia I find the situation is quite similar to the
discussion two years ago, as the first minor chinase language wikipedia
was about to start. So I think maybe the experience we had in the
chinese language wikipedias can help you a little. Though, this is my
personnal impression, it is not representative and if surely do not
match the standards of an academic research (indeed I would find such a
research helpful and interesting).
Before the first minor chinese language wikipedia was started there was
a long during (I believe at least one year or more) discussion inside
the by that time chinese community. The arguments exchanged by that time
(for or against) are very similar to the arguments that are now put up
in the arabic community. I personnaly took at that time a skeptic view
against a new chinese wikipedia. My concern at that time was mainly of
the division of the community.
Now, after more than two and a half years, we have seven chinese
language wikipedias, these are zh (the standard chinese, mandarin),
zh-yue (cantonese the first minor chinese language wikipedia established
in march 2006), wuu, cdo (min-dong-language), gan, hak (hak-ka language)
and the zh-classic (the classic language). Except the zh-classic all
other languages have native speakers, some have established writing
system, some not.
For me personally, after two and half a year of experience, the most
important conclusion is that my original faer of a splitting of the
community proved to be wrong. Especially the yue-language wikipedia
developped well. It is a small (far more smaller than zh) community, but
it is a vivid and sustainable community, with a lot of interchanges
between zh and zh-yue communities. I find this interchange very
fruitful. We have articles originally in zh-wp transfered to zh-yue-wp
and vice versa. I think the creation of this language version very
Not so well do the wuu and gan wp develop. Both languages suffer from
being endangered, their native speakers diminishing rapidly and they
have no really established writing system. Also after the lifting of the
ban on mainland-china these two versions remain crankly.
Personnally I am especially disappointed by the hak-ka version wp. I
think it should do better as it is now. But naturally, the number of
Hak-ka native speakers are less than yue, wuu and gan.
So, I think that a writing system, especially a used writing system is
also important. Yue has such a system and the system is very popularly
used in BBSes, blogs and chatrooms in Hongkong. I think this is a vital
point for the success of the yue-wk.
My friend Theodoranian said while the discussion two or three years ago,
the big community should not be afraid that the minor community would
splitt it. Contrary, the big community should help the minor
communities. I am very happy that the time proved him right.