[Foundation-l] Changes in Language committee practice: ancient and constructed languages

Dovi Jacobs dovijacobs at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 8 09:32:07 UTC 2010

This announcement is a very positive step forward! The members of the language committee deserve great
credit for their willingness to re-think these proposals. I am truly grateful, and I'm sure many others who put
great effort into trying to improve the language proposal policy last year are grateful as well.

To my mind, the most important thing by far in the announcement has to do with Latin (alongside Esperanto).
Here the rules themselves were never really the issue, but rather the ability to make a reasonable evaluation of
"special" languages on a case-by-case basis. Latin is "special" because on the one hand it has a popular
reputation as the ultimate "dead" language in Western culture. But on the other hand in reality it is very much
alive in literature and culture (both academic and popular), in the discourse of living religious communities (the
Catholic Church), and even to a degree in science (e.g. medicine, zoology). The decision to reconsider Latin as
a living language, thus finally giving it full legitimacy among the Wikimedia projects, is of crucial importance!
Thank you.

Given this evaluation of Latin, a re-evaluation of classical Greek might also be in order. While not as popular as
Latin, nevertheless like Latin it too is still very much alive in literature and culture (both academic and popular)
and in the discourse of living religious communities (the Orthodox Church), though far less so in science.

Also important and positive is the official decision to allow Wikisources for ancient languages, and sometimes
Wikiquotes, based on case-by-case evaluations. I'm not fully convinced that the default interface should always
be English as a requirement (since those studying a rich literature should be able to create and handle an
appropriate native interface), but ultimately I don't think the question of default interface language is a very
important one. Rather, what is truly important and positive is the willingness to consider such languages on a
case-by-case basis and arrive at a reasonable conclusion regarding each one. From this perspective, the
conclusions reached about Wikisources/Wikiquotes in Coptic, classical Greek, and classical Chinese all seem
eminently reasonable.



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