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

Dovi Jacobs dovijacobs at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 8 16:16:39 UTC 2010

Thanks for your reply.

It seems to me that in past debate there were two separate issues:
1. Do creation of a wiki require that there be *native* speakers for
the language to be considered "living"?
2. Opposition to neologisms in classical languages, most forcefully
and staunchly stated by Gerard.

1. With the full acceptance of Latin/Esperanto into the Wikimedia, it
seems that the first question has been put to rest ("no"), despite the
current text of the language policy.

2. Regarding the second issue, there seems to be an inner contradiction:

>A general test for having interface in MediaWiki in some language is:
>Would the translation of the word "file" [computer meaning] be
>understandable for native speakers or for those who are/were using
>that language as a medium for communication? (I didn't want to say
>"would it be a neologism" as all new words in all languages are
>neologisms, but, in fact, this is about neologisms. They are
>acceptable in a living language, but they are not in a dead language.)
>This is true for Latin, but not for Ancient Greek. At least, in this
>moment of time.

>A general test for having Wikipedia (and thus the full set of
>Wikimedia projects) in some language is: Would you able to write an
>article about thermodynamics in that language without using
>neologisms? Or about train? Again, this is true for Latin, but not for
>Ancient Greek nor Coptic.

But if neologisms are acceptable in living languages that don't have a
word for "file" then they should also be acceptable in a living classical
language that doesn't have a word for "file"!

That being as it may, please realize that very opposition to neologisms
in classical languages is unfortunately a Language Committee dogma
that is not accepted by much of the community. This includes, by the
way, some of the most highly educated and linguistically talented
contributors within the Wikimedia community, and denies them an
appropriate place to work within our framework.

While all of us respect the linguistic expertise of Gerard and other
members of the Committee (in particular, I have great admiration
for his tireless work promoting smaller languages), their opinions
on this issue are subject to debate by others within opinions no less
informed, and the Committee should not be making decisions about
such a basic principle unilaterally.



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