[Foundation-l] What to do with moribund languages?

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Sun Jan 4 11:48:15 UTC 2009

I wasn't precise while describing my intention, so I'll try to do it
now with responses to the previous emails.

* About moribund languages: It is not a precise term, but it is
possible to make some description and to realize where are the borders
of the term. For example, a language with ~15.000 speakers would be a
very alive language if it is spoken at some Pacific island. However,
if it is spoken inside of much stronger culture with a different
dominant language (the case of Lower Sorbian) or the population is too
disperse inside of some area (let's say, dialects of Ladino at
Balkans), such language is at the edge. The good side of that position
is a possibility for the revival of that language (like in the case of
Welsh). But, any kind of our positioning is related to the
contemporary linguistic situation, not to a future one.

* Policy: Just to say that I am not talking about new policies, but
about preferences of LangCom members. As it was mentioned, in the most
of the cases such language wouldn't get a new project. In the mean
time we did nothing. Even there is really one person who is a native
speaker, such person would loose the initial enthusiasm after a couple
of months of waiting for the project.

* Intention: So, i think that in such cases we should think about what
is more important to a particular endangered or moribund language. For
example, having an article about the Earth in Lower Sorbian is fully
redundant. All of the speakers of Lower Sorbian are able to read much
better article in German. Similar situations are with the most of
endangered and moribund languages.

Those languages are usually not endangered or moribund because of
physical extinction of the population (except in Paupa New Guinea and
some other similar places in the world, but it is not so hard to
predict that we won't get any native speaker of those [endangered or
moribund] languages soon), but because of dominance of surrounding
culture(s) and language(s).

If we want to help to such linguistic group, we shouldn't force them
to pass our standard procedure. One-person project may work just if it
is a life dedication of that person. In almost 100% of the cases, we
won't get MediaWiki localized, we won't get more than ~50-100 articles
at Incubator and so on.

So, our response should be: Don't waste time with making your own
Wikipedia (by passing our measures made because of completely
different reasons), but try do something important for your language.
Writing oral literature, writing dictionaries and similar are much
more useful task than trying to write the article about the Earth.

We have enough resources (particularly, Wikisource and Incubator) to
help to the speakers of endangered and moribund languages. My
intention was not to forbid such projects, not to make some new
policy, but to make some more efficient procedure for such cases. The
other option is to wait for years in the process of "discussion" about
some proposal. And such languages are in the position to loose 1% of
speakers every month.

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