[Foundation-l] A dangerous precedent

Stephen Bain stephen.bain at gmail.com
Thu Dec 27 02:10:25 UTC 2007

On Dec 27, 2007 10:53 AM, Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com> wrote:
> At least one good criteria for deciding whether a particular Wikipedia
> is justified would be the existence of a community of native speakers
> (community interpreted expansively). Dead language 'pedias don't seem
> to serve the purpose of preservation of knowledge and access to it. Is
> there a Latin or Aramaic Wikipedia? We should treat tiny languages
> with no native speakers in the same manner.

The number of native speakers is a useful criterion. I would think
that things like historical prevalence, longevity, and the amount of
primary material available in that language might also be relevant
(with due account for languages without a significant written

Aramaic and Latin both have present speaking populations, the former
more so than the latter. Both have been widely spoken historically,
and have been in existence for substantial lengths of time (multiple
millenia each). There are mountains of writings available in each

On small languages, it should be remembered that the Wikimedia
projects have the potential to save some small languages. There are
hundreds of languages under threat right around the globe (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_languages) many of
which will soon be lost as the last remaining native speakers die out.
I think the seriousness of this situation drives a good slice of the
prejudice against wikis for conlangs with a dozen or two speakers that
are stuffed full of bot translations.

Stephen Bain
stephen.bain at gmail.com

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