[Foundation-l] Projects in simple languages

Milos Rancic millosh at gmail.com
Mon Jun 20 18:23:33 UTC 2011

On 06/20/2011 07:25 PM, MZMcBride wrote:
> Milos Rancic wrote:
>> After a month of on-list talk -- sometimes very heated, sometimes very
>> quiet -- Language committee has agreed about the next wording of the
>> part of the new policy [1] related to the simple languages:
>> * Can there be wikis in "simple" languages?
>> *: Yes, in principle. But two special criteria would need to be met: the
>> language should be a "world language" with many L2 users, and there must
>> be a reliable, published specification of the controlled language to be
>> used. Examples are [[w:en:Basic English|Basic English]] and
>> [[w:fr:Français fondamental|Français fondamental]]. (In reality it does
>> not appear that there ''are'' many controlled languages other then
>> English and French.)
> I thought nearly everyone, except a few people who edit the Simple projects,
> agreed that their creation was a horrible mistake and that they only
> continue to exist as a byproduct of history. Half of the Simple English
> projects (Wikibooks and Wikiquote) have been closed (Simple English
> Wikiquote was a legendary horror); only Simple English Wikipedia and Simple
> English Wiktionary remain. Given this, it seems rather "out of left field"
> for the Language Committee to try to suddenly declare that it's acceptable
> to have new simple forms. Has anything changed outside of the Committee that
> triggered this?

The change has happened, actually, inside of the committee. As you could
see as a LangCom observer, the dominant emotion toward projects in
simple languages is antagonistic among LangCom members. My personal
position is not the exception.

However, during the meeting in Berlin two members of LangCom, Michael
and Anthony, both of them linguists, have convinced other of us that
there *is* scientific basis of Simple English.

Speaking for myself, if there is a scientific basis, I have no problem
to allow such project. (Of course, if other requirements would be

The logical line of my thoughts was to allow *any* project in simple (or
equivalent) language if there is a scientific basis. Mostly because
there could be created valid communities around non-world-languages with
large number of speakers (German and Japanese are examples).

However, dominant position of the rest of the committee is that it
should be allowed just for world languages. So, it's the agreed
LangCom's position toward the new policy.

>> In practice, it means that:
>> * It is likely that just Wikipedia in simple French would be approved.
>> If there are reliable and published specifications of other world
>> languages (Russian, Spanish, Arabic etc.), group interested in creating
>> project in simple language has to present it to the LangCom.
> This has come up a few times before and as I recall, the French in
> particular considered a simple version of their language to be an
> abomination. What's the process for a "new language" project? Would current
> French Wikipedia contributors have an opportunity to object to a new simple
> French Wikipedia or a new simple French Wiktionary?

First of all, as it is not about usual request, proposers for Simple
French Wikipedia, which is the only one with good chances to pass, would
have to convince us that their intention is genuine and that they are
not trolls who want to create a fork of French Wikipedia.

As usual, discussion would be held on Meta. If there are serious
arguments against creation of Simple French Wikipedia, we would consider
them, of course. However, "arguments" like "I don't like simple
projects" won't be counted.

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