[Foundation-l] African Languages Wikipedia Bashing on Slashdot

Jeff V. Merkey jmerkey at wolfmountaingroup.com
Mon Aug 28 17:39:14 UTC 2006

Martin Benjamin wrote:

>Regarding Jeffrey Merkey's earlier post, with all respect, the issue of 
>machine translation is not one that can be addressed in a few weeks with 
>a couple of native speakers.  This isn't the forum to discuss the 
>nitty-gritty of machine translation issues, however, other than to say 
>that the quality of Wikipedia entries is much more important than the 
>quantity, and the only real path to quality Wikipedia entries in African 
>languages is through real human labor.
I completely agree that human beings need to review most of it. I 
disagree you will get there
anytime soon without doing it. There's a lot of "save the children" 
programs for Africa and most
of them are thin vaneer scams to dupe the ignorant American public into 
giving funds which
only a small percentage end up in the hands of the needy for the actual 
program. Any program
done here needs to steer clear of being viewed or labeled as such.

I am personally involved in dealing with exactly these issues here in 
our own American backyard
so I apologize in advance for not blindly accepting everything you say 
here at face value. I deal with
these issues every day with our own people most of whom speak our native 
languages at an 8th grade level
since they were force fed english in public schools most of their lives 
and our native languages were relegated
to being used in ceremonies at at home (and even that very limited).

People use machine assisted translation every day on Wikipedia -- they 
use COMPUTERS to edit articles and
daemons run all the time for internlanguage links, link disambiguation, 
and artificial linking. The whole concept
of Wikipedia is a machine assisted collaboration project. If only human 
efforts were used, we would be using
pencil and paper and the mail system to collaborate, so machine 
translation or machine assisted translation
is the next logical step.

I can see where folks who are intereted in harnessing a large group of 
people would be adverse to using it,
but the fact is, you can do both and leverage a machine assisted 
translation to form a large base of materials
which would require a lot less work.


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