[Foundation-l] Preservation of cultural diversity and minority languages

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at gmail.com
Sat Feb 9 18:05:59 UTC 2008

On Feb 9, 2008 2:08 AM, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> It is more vital because the Bengali Wikipedia is the
> only resource that is encyclopaedic in nature; it has no peer while in
> English there is the Encyclopaedia Britannica among several others. There
> are "only" 170.million people that speak Bengali.

First, I would hardly say that Bengali is a "small" language like what
we have been discussing, so it's not on the chopping block anyway. I'm
mostly talking about conlangs, ancient languages, and languages where
speakers are measured in the dozens, not in the millions. Second,
English doesn't have a comparable free resource either. I certainly
can't afford to buy a copy of Brittanica. To measure true return on
investment here, we have to ask there are english-speaking people who
wouldn't have easy access to this kind of information for free in any
other way. Remember that not all english-speaking people are
upper-middle class suburban americans.

> When you think that our new projects will fail, you must have missed that
> the bar to entry has been raised considerably. The bar has been raised to
> make it easier for people to *use *a project in a language. It is this
> raising of the bar that prevents the request for a Turkish and Japanese
> Wikiversity to be approved at this time.

Raising the bar is good because it prevents failure. I suggest that we
raise it even higher. One dedicated translator, translating about 5
messages every day for a year could produce a full localization of
MediaWiki. However, one such translator hardly represents a viable
community in that language. We should demand not only localizations,
but a viable reading community that would not access the information
in any other way, and also a viable editing community able to create
content. Just because some people want to contribute in a particular
language doesnt mean that anybody wants to read the information in
that language.

Maybe I want to contribute in klingon, binary, whale song, bee dance,
public key cryptography, pig Latin, semaphore, Egyptian heiroglyphs or
Morse code. Maybe I want to contribute in English, but I demand to
write everything backwards. Maybe I can find 100 friends who want to
do the same. That doesn't make us a viable community, and the WMF
doesnt need to respect us or welcome us or give us all a project, even
if we make a complete localization and get an ISO code.

Saying that Japanese or Turkish cannot get more projects because they
have an incomplete localization, but that eastern wambosi should get a
project because it does is foolish. You can't measure the size or the
efficacy of a community based on the progress of their localization.
Japanese and Turkish are "large" languages, with a stable native
speaker population a modern vocabulary, and better-then-incidental
internet access. All a localization effort does is measure the size
and motivation of the population that speaks both Japanese/Turkish AND
English, which is not really an important metric for starting a new

--Andrew Whitworth

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