[Foundation-l] The sad story of training material to learn Farsi

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue Feb 21 01:06:01 UTC 2006

GerardM wrote:

>From Ray's response it is clear that I must have expressed myself
>poorly. I have the feeling that he does not get what I tried to say..
>So let me try again.
>On 2/20/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
>>GerardM wrote:
>>>The material was created at http://wikibooks.org/wiki/Farsi. It was in
>>>the days when everything was still there. The original material had
>>>one basic flaw; it was written left to right while Farsi is written
>>>from left to right.  While working on this material, it struck me that
>>>it is really sad that you have to create teaching material that is as
>>>basic as this for every language.
>>I don't see anything sad about it at all.  It seems perfectly normal
>>that newbies to Farsi or any other subject would begin at this very
>>basic level.
>It is indeed perfectly normal that people new to Farsi need to learn
>their characters, need to learn the sounds of the language, need to
>learn to read from right to left. What is sad is that we have to work
>hard to create such material for all languages.. remember there are
>over 10.000 languages out there.
Why should hard work be so sad?  I agree that 10,000 languages implies 
100,000,000 language pairs, but most of those pairs are highly 
unrealistic.  Once the fundamentals of a language have been grasped only 
then can you go on to extensive vocabulary building.  Lessons need to 
explain the most elementary concepts like why an English adjective 
usually precedes the noun while a French one normally comes after. 

Hard work should not be circumvented by the belief that there is some 
software magic pill that will do it all for you.

>>>As we were creating the concepts for what was called "Ultimate
>>>Wiktionary" but what is currently known as WiktionaryZ, it came to me
>>>that we should not have the Dutch words there as the translation for
>>>the Farsi content, but that we should have the translation of the
>>>Farsi words in the language of the student. This would mean that
>>>everybody can use the material.
>>This is not a Wiktionary issue; it is a grammar issue.  It is about
>>deciding where the to put the line between vocabulary and how it is put
>>together to form a language.  These lessons should be in the Wikibook
>>for the student's own language, where the particularities of the target
>>language will be explained in a way that he understands.  As long as a
>>lesson is a mere word list nobody will be able to learn from it.
>What I discuss is the idea to have what is called for WiktionaryZ a
>"DefinedMeaning"; a word is associated with a particular definition.
>This combination of a word in a language and its defintion is
>translated in as many languages as possible. When the word in Farsi is
>partnered with a reference to a DefinedMeaning, we can based on things
>like the language settings of the user show a word like "mother" in
>the user's language for me it would be "moeder" wiht مادَر.
>When you look at the Farsi lessons; you might have noticed that in
>every lesson a few more sounds and characters are introduced. That is
>the objective of these lessons.
Yes, I looked at the first "lesson", and I did see the first four lines 
as referring to four letters of the Farsi alphabet.  Tying this to 
Wiktionary2 doesn't help anybody.  Word lists are not lessons.  
Languages are learned in a meningful context, not by having students 
memorize a random list of translated words.  There are many elementary 
concepts in the syntax of a language that absolutely need to be 
explained from the beginning.  When the language has a different script 
many language teachers believe that introducing the script at the very 
beginning is not important, but that the student should learn the 
fundamental structures of the spoken language first.  That can be done 
with romanized script.

It is the spoken not the written form that contains the fundamentals of 
the language.

>>>Today I was asked by someone where the Farsi lessons were, somebody
>>>actually wants to use it.. This means that all this effort had people
>>>use it... It meant that all the pronunciations were going to be
>>>listened to... The material is not there anymore .. it is not useful
>>>anymore ..
>>The material is still there but most of the pages appear to have been
>>orphaned.  See [[Talk:Farsi]] for links when someone was asking about
>>what to do with the orphaned pages.  It was User
>>who copied all this material to the fa:wikibooks, and re-linked to it to
>>create all the orphans.  His effort was incomplete as he did not do this
>>with the later lessons.  He has not been seen since March of last year.
>The material in the Farsi wikibooks is there because that is the way
>to get right to left orientation for these lessons. They are called
>from the [[wikibooks:Farsi]] page. They are therefore not orphaned
>even though your wiki experience might suggest it is.
I did not say that the pages on the fa:Wikibooks were orphaned, but that 
your original on the en:Wikibooks were orphaned when User: 
copied them into the fa:Wikibooks, and changed the links from the Table 
of Contents.  Those original pages are still there on en::Wikibooks.

>>>The timing could have been worse; Brion is busy with the integration
>>>of the namespace manager. It is therefore possible to have pages in
>>>the fa.wikibooks that are specific for the Dutch language and pages
>>>specific for the English language. Alternatively we could have a
>>>namespace for Farsi content in the nl.wikibooks. This would mean
>>>however that we should be able to have a namespace that is oriented in
>>>a different direction from the other namespaces in a database. I do
>>>not know if we can do this already, I am sure however that we will
>>>want something like this for the right to left languages like Farsi in
>>The lesson pages should likely have a mixed orientation, but primarily
>>in the orientation of the student's own language since that is where the
>>instructions will go.
>>>Now there is one practical question remaining; what will we do with
>>>the Farsi lessons in the fa.wikibooks that were originally intended to
>>>teach Dutch people Farsi.
>>Assuming that the situation in nl:wikibooks is similar to the English
>>one, the situation should be explained to the fa:community.  They then
>>should feel free to delete them based on their own rules.
>Last time I read some Dutch, it was indeed left to right. :)
Nobody was saying that Dutch and English had different orientations.  
Only that Dutch and English speakers will face very similar problems 
when trying to learn Farsi.

More information about the foundation-l mailing list