[Foundation-l] Language Review Committee

Jeff V. Merkey jmerkey at wolfmountaingroup.com
Wed Apr 4 22:17:46 UTC 2007

Mark Williamson wrote:

>Arbeo, myself, and David Gerard do not (at least I'm pretty sure none
>of us do) know a single word of Latgalian, but we have seen that this
>Wikipedia has several native contributors lined up and that they have
>been waiting for a very long time now. These people would certainly be
>capable of translating a message file, but what is being questioned is
>the utility of having it before the actual Wikipedia is allowed to
>begin especially since this requirement was created several months
>after their request was intially "approved".
Then the native speakers who are from the culture that concerns the language
should be the ones setting up the wiki, running the wiki, and deciding 
who will or will
not be contributors.  It should not be done by folks who do not speak 
the language or do not know the culture.    

By way of example, there's a lot of Dine folks who are interested in working
on Wikipedia projects,  but in my discussions with them, they have 
little interest in
getting involved with non-natives with their language, and a lot of it 
deals with control issues
and the lack of desire to interact with people outside of their culture.  

There are a number of reasons for this, and I will not address all of 
the, here.   Suffice to say its an
issue of having sufficient "will" to be interested in dealing with non 
speakers, and the balancing the peer pressure
many native groups deal with in self-reinforcing constraints imposed by 
their beliefs and society.   I live inside such a
world the dine live in (though not as closed), and I feel the pressure 
from my peers, but our culture is more open than
many other native cultures to outsiders and always has been. 

To the dine, you and I are outsiders and always will be (though being 
native, my interactions with the Dine are less stressful
and more open than a non-native person would probably experience).   The 
"rules" and attitudes of the English Wikipedia culture which
permeate other projects are not the same views other cultures have.   
Without those views from inside the culture, you simply have no basis
to understand or comprehend the needs of a culture with such a project 
or opportunity as wikipedia, or even how to respond to it.

I think the same applies to any non-english, non-european culture who 
has to interact with the English speaking world. 


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