Assuming you're speaking about complex script rendering, part of this
is dependent on software -- There is nothing that will make Internet
Explorer properly render traditional Mohawk hieroglyphic narrative
script, for instance, unless it is represented as an image. Even if a
font existed, the rendering is simply so complex that it would really
need some programmers to concentrate on it, and there is really no
economic motivation for this.
Hebrew is generally well-supported nowadays in software. Arabic,
Farsi, Hindi, etc. are a little bit farther behind.
But I think in many of these cases, it's not our issue so much as it
is the issue of developers of browers and operating systems. Granted,
we do have problems with BiDi, which Gangleri is always working on.
But even with that, only a tiny fraction of the problems with BiDi
have ever been on our end, many of them simply aren't fixable by us.
That aside, none of the languages of South America that I know of, a
minority of the languages of Africa, and really mostly only the
languages of South and Southeast Asia (ie, excluding languages of
Central Asia, North Asia) are written in complex scripts. This means
that population-wise, if we concentrate on complex scripts, we are
more specifically concentrating on Indic languages, Southeast Asian
languages (Thai, Lao, Khmer, Burmese), minority languages in China
(Tibetan, Mongolian), and Arabic-script languages (Arabic, Farsi,
Urdu, Uyghur, Balochi, S. Azeri). Certainly these are very
population-heavy languages. But I think the root of the issue is
internet access. With many of these languages, it seems that people
are trying to resolve script problems before access is really
widespread, which is certainly lamentable, but at the same time makes
it clear that problems with rendering are certainly not one of the
major reasons for current numbers for most of these languages.
On 05/04/06, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen(a)gmail.com> wrote:
I have read the thread as it was published so far and I am amazed that
nobody mentioned one simple reason why people do not edit or add content
to the Arab, the Farsi, the Hebrew and Assamese projects .. It is too
bloody hard. When you say "everybody can edit", it is as if it is the
same effort is involved. I read somewhere where an African president
said; "we do not have scripts yet for all of our indigenous languages.
When the yi.wikipedia celebrated its 1000th article Gangleri was thanked
for his hard work to make this technically possible. When I created some
Farsi training material on Wikibooks, I needed two browsers to complete
certain tasks; both Internet Explorer and Firefox were not up to the task.
Gangleri does a great job, he is imho one of the most valuable
Wikimedians because he tries to make it possible to have information in
all languages. To take things to the next level, we need more
developers; people of all the language families and make sure with them
that MediaWiki is up to the task. So far we have been self
congratulatory about how well we do. We profess that we want to do
better in Africa Asia and South America. We can if we make it a priority.
For me improving these issues /is/ a priority. http://WiktionaryZ.org
requires good support for all languages. I am happy that we initiated
the "Multilingual Mediawiki" project as it will further improve the
multilingual capabilities of MediaWiki. It will still not do all the
things that are necessary to make MediaWiki as easy to edit as it is for
us. For that I need people that speak Hindi Assamese Twi Farsi Arab
Hebrew and help us define what /their /problem with our software is and
when we are lucky help us fix these issues.
Mark Williamson wrote:
While it's sort of obvious, given the digital divide, that the number
of articles in Wikipedias is not proportional to the number of
speakers, for example Hindi has a much smaller number of articles
compared to speakers than most active Wikipedias; German has more.
However, something that people may not notice as much is the
incongruency between popularity of a particular language version and
the number of articles in that version.
The most visited Wikipedias, in order, are:
1 English (65%)
2 German (10%)
3 Japanese (6%)
4 Spanish (3%)
5 French (2%)
6 Polish (2%)
7 Chinese (2%)
8 Arabic (2%)
9 Italian (1%)
10 Hebrew (1%)
11 Turkish (1%)
12 Dutch (1%)
13 Portuguese (1%)
(all others combined total 1% of visits)
On the other hand, the list of Wikipedias ranked by number of articles is:
1 English (1048.7K)
2 German (376.9K)
3 French (261.1K)
4 Polish (223.8K)
5 Japanese (196.3K)
6 Dutch (156.9K)
8 Italian (146.8K)
9 Portuguese (123.8K)
10 Spanish (105.0K)
12 Chinese (61.48K)
17 Hebrew (34.35K)
29 Turkish (19.94K)
37 Arabic (12.03K)
What this says to me is that these Wikipedias are not attracting new
pages proportional to views when compared with other Wikipedias. This
may be because people don't want to write new pages, but it seems to
me more likely that people simply don't know they can.
How can this be fixed? Perhaps a site notice inviting people to write
quality pages or register, or a drive to recruit new Wikipedians from
the academic community.
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"Take away their language, destroy their souls." -- Joseph Stalin