[Foundation-l] Language Review Committee

Mark Williamson node.ue at gmail.com
Wed Apr 4 22:58:44 UTC 2007

> 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.

They *are* the ones doing this. The discussion here is about
restrictions being placed on these people. Nobody is trying to run the
Latgalian Wiki or decide who will or won't be a contributor (however,
the Foundation does seem to have an idea that anyone who contributes
in good faith and is not disruptive should be allowed to contribute,
and I would think that any exceptions to that need to be addressed
individually - I do realise that there may be cultural reasons for
changing rules or allowing exceptions, but I also feel that
fundamental differences from the rules that have until now been
applied to all Wikis need to be documented and discussed).

What we *are* discussing is whether or not these people should be
burdened with translating LanguageBat-ltg.php before they even get
their own Wikipedia. Nothing more, nothing less. The people wanting to
create these Wikis do not seem to want to

> 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.

If they wish to work on the Navajo Wikipedia, I would see no problem
with finding a suitable sysop who is a native speaker of that
language, and if they wish I would be willing to leave right away.
There is no need to deal with non-speakers or non fluent speakers or

> 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'm not sure what your point is here. I have realised several times in
the past in dealing with certain groups that promote specific American
languages that while they may be willing to share their language with
outsiders, it is often on a limited basis or only with people they are
comfortable with on a person-to-person level. Certain groups are
unwilling to have public resources in their languages.

I learned this a couple of years back when studying (in a group that
was made up, besides myself, of only native people) the O'odham
language at the O'odham Piipaash Language Center at the SRPMIC. After
the classes concluded, I asked the people at the Language Center if
there was any interest in offering the Tribe's website in O'odham and
Piipaash versions. They responded that yes, it would be a possibility,
but only if they could limit access to tribal members and others at
their own discretion. (This attitude however is not universal; for
example at the start of the trail for the petroglyphs at Picture Rocks
there is a sign that gives information about the history of the area
and the petroglyphs in English, Spanish, and O'odham and this is
certainly not "password-protected").

I was later reminded of that situation when I heard about the interest
in creating an extracurricular class in the Hopi language at Tuba City
HS. The Hopi parents were very interested in the idea of their
children getting Hopi classes at school, but were dismayed when they
found out that Arizona law required that the class be offered to all
interested students, which would have included non-Hopi students
(mostly Navajo students). At that point they decided not to pursue the
option further. (It should be noted though that the Hopis are one of
the more extreme groups in regard to cultural isolationism; when
Hopiikwa Lavaytutuveni was published, the publishers were sued by a
group of Hopi although the dictionary was endorsed by the tribe and
several Hopi were involved with its publication; this is largely due
to the unique religious beliefs of the Hopi).

Although it was discussed earlier about a hypothetical Hopi Wikipedia
(a Wikipedia for a very small community of speakers and how the
dynamics would be very different there), I doubt that will happen
anytime soon for the reasons we have both outlined.

Although some Navajo (and that *is* the term overwhelmingly used in
English - see www.navajo.org or google "i am dine" and then google "i
am navajo") may want to keep their language guarded or secret, it is
too late for this. It's difficult to keep secret such a widely-spoken

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

I agree, but I do think you exaggerate things a bit.


Refije dirije lanmè yo paske nou posede pwòp bato.

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