ok Mark, you asked for it. Here is my opinion. (Meinung, nicht Deinung,
Wirung oder Unserung, if you understand this German pun.)
The Belarusan language is spoken by 9,081,102 people worldwide
according to the Ethnologue; in Belarus it is spoken by 6,715,000, or
65% of the population (most of the rest are native speakers of
Russian, Trasianka, Yiddish, Polish, or Ukrainian).
9 Mio is quite a lot.
In Belarusan schools, the Belarusan language is a cumpulsory subject
for all students who wish to graduate, totalling on average between
75,000 and 100,000 per year (graduates).
The Belarusan language used in schools and by the government and by
the vast majority of the Belarusan people is called Narkamauka,
codified in the 1960s.
Ah, this means that there is an official standard. That is
fine. That makes
things a lot easier.
However, some Belarusan nationalists favour a return to the older
Belarusan codified in the 1920s, called Tarashkievitsa. Some of the
more radical nationalists also favour a switch to the Latin alphabet,
Wikipedia should use an official standard, if there is one. Here
we do have
one, so use it.
Currently there is a fight on Meta between proponents
of the official
Belarusan and proponents of the alternative Belarusan.
By sheer chance, the proponents of the alternative style were the
first to arrive at be.wikipedia, and all of the administrators there
write in the alternative style, and the entire interface is written in
That is unfortunate.
New articles are supposedly allowed to be written in
however the vast majority of existing articles are written in the
alternative style. According to proponents of the official
orthography, this makes it intimidating to newcomers, and they give
that as the reason why the Belarusan Wikipedia is so small still.
It does not make
much sense to mix. We have been very unhappy with mixed
dialects in the Low Saxon wikipedia. After a lot of discussion and a lot of
struggle agains a lone crusader (node_ue :) )we finally managed to have
. Now the western folks are happy
and we are happy and both wikipedias are flowrishing.
The main question is whether or not these two Belorussian groups can get
along with each other. If the differences are so big that they cannot
cooperate, then they should get two wikipedias. (This seems to be the case)
BUT the main wikipedia (the one with the official ISO-code) should be the
one using the official language that is taught in the schools.
So the real question is: should the alternative people get their alternative
wikipedia. My answer is: yes. Development of underdeveloped languages is an
important task and if the Wikipedia can help, that is fine. If they really
think that they can give an important cultural input into the further
development of the Belorussion language, then I see no reason to put
stumbling blocks on their road. Time will show, whether or not they make
progress. Give both teams a chance, leave them alone, let them do their
work. Revisit in a year and see what happens.
In this case I think it is appropriate for the
community to get involved. Clearly a neutral third party is needed to
evaluate the claims of both sides and make things right.
It is always better to
provide opportunities instead of taking opportunities
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