[Foundation-l] A dangerous precedent

Dan Rosenthal swatjester at gmail.com
Thu Dec 27 03:33:08 UTC 2007

We've been over this a million times in the past year or so on this  
list. While preserving small languages is a positive externality of  
the Wikimedia projects, it is NOT the stated goal of the project. It  
is simply a useful side effect.  It is not, and cannot be, our main  

On Dec 26, 2007, at 10:26 PM, Nathan wrote:

> I think that preserving a language is a good goal, but it is one that
> Wikipedia is not well suited for and is not intended to fulfill.
> Creating an automatically translated article on every city and town in
> the US is not a way to 'preserve' a constructed or dead language. If
> the point is to aggregate knowledge in a way that is accessible to as
> many people as possible, how does a Wikipedia in a constructed
> language (a code, really) serve that point? Additionally, someone
> mentioned that there are present native speakers of Latin. I'd be
> interested to find out who these folks are.
> On Dec 26, 2007 10:17 PM, Andrew Whitworth <wknight8111 at gmail.com>  
> wrote:
>>> 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.
>> This, i think, is one of the most important points to be made:
>> Wikipedia could really serve not just as an encyclopedia, but as a
>> record of a language. for small and endangered languages, the
>> Wikipedia for that language may be one of the only written records of
>> that language.
>> Preservation of small conlangs is not nearly so important as the
>> preservation of small natural languages. Of course, this all ignores
>> the question of whether the WMF should be in the business of language
>> preservation. Although, I think that if it were a goal that we set  
>> out
>> to perform, we could probably get some funding for that purpose
>> specifically.
>> --Andrew Whitworth
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