[Foundation-l] Chinese languages (was: Changes in Language committee practice: ancient and constructed languages)

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Mon Mar 8 12:42:04 UTC 2010

On Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 5:18 AM, Aphaia <aphaia at gmail.com> wrote:
> I find here a wrong assupmtion.
> First wrong assumption is "Written Chinese is not very different for
> millenniums", they aren't same, and consequently Edo period Japanese
> who were taught Classical Chinese already found difficulty to
> understand the contemporary which was similar to the modern one.
> Second wrong assumption is "person who knows Classical Chinese has to
> know modern Chinese." In East Asia, Classical Chinese had been lingua
> franca of the literate for millenniums, and there are many written
> sources, the earliest of them are dated at mid 19th C. And it is still
> taught in some countries including Japan. I, as a highly educated
> Japanese, read Classical Chinese to some extent, but I don't
> understand modern Chinese beyond the tourist level. I know many people
> who can enjoy zh-classical-Wikipedia but cannot (modern) zhwiki.
> So I object your statement and it wouldn't be just a fork of ZhWS but
> preferable to be a multilingual project.

Yes, we have problems with Chinese languages and it is not just about
Classical Chinese. And if you have some good sinologist around, please
connect me with him or her.

The logic behind rejecting Classical Chinese Wikisource is:

1) Wikisource can have sources in various languages. It is useful not
to duplicate efforts with living languages (and put Japanese text on
French Wikisource), but, for example, the logical place for texts in
Slavenoserbian [1] is Serbian Wikisource. Relation between Anglo-Saxon
and English is similar. According to this premise, Classical Chinese
should go to Chinese Wikisource.

2) Just those ancient languages which are significantly different
structurally in *written form* (as Wikimedia projects are still about
written language) should be considered for having a separate
Wikisource. According to this, Slavenoserbian and Anglo-Saxon would
get projects, while it will be problematic for Classical Chinese: it
looks to me that native Chinese speakers treat Classical Chinese as
not so different, while other East Asians treat it so.

3) Just those ancient languages which don't have modern language which
speakers consist approximately a superset of those who know that
classical language -- should be considered for having a separate
project. Every single person who knows Slavoserbian knows Serbian,
which is true for Anglo-Saxon, too. But, it is not true for Classical

4) Just those ancient languages which had significant productions
should be considered to have separate Wikisource. Anglo-Saxon had
significant production, Slavoserbian had, and, of course, Classical
Chinese had, too.

5) We need [default] interface in a living language. The most logical
choice for Classical Chinese is modern Chinese written in Traditional
Hanji. In conjunction with (1) and (2), it would create a subset-fork
of Chinese Wikisource.

BTW, we are in a wiki world. Everything is changeable, but we need
good reasons for changes. I would like to hear answers/confirmations
on the next questions/claims:

a) For Chinese speakers: Do you consider Classical Chinese as a
language different from your native one or you are fully able to read
Classical Chinese texts? Probably, it is somewhere in the middle, but,
please, explain it.

b) I suppose that it is not so hard to make a link from Japanese
Wikipedia to some text on Chinese Wikisource. Actually, it would be
similar if it would be about a separate Classical Chinese Wikisource.

c) Are Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean etc. Wikimedian are able to
contribute to Chinese Wikisource. If not, what is the problem?

Other thoughs are welcome, as well.

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavoserbian

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