[Wikipedia-l] Re: Languages

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Wed Aug 27 19:36:26 UTC 2003

Anthere wrote:

>Merritt L. Perkins wrote:
>>What languages? All languages! Do you mean that you
>want to include
>>Encyclopedia articles on all languages. There are so
>many obscure
>>languages that you cannot expect to include them all.
>Yes, ideally, all languages
>I read a great reduction of spoken languages was
>expected over the next decennies.
>If Wikipedia can help make some of them stay alive, so
>much the best.
In Canada a genocidal policy that forced more than a generation of first 
nations children into residential schools where they were forbidden to 
use their own language has put many of these languages in desparate 
situations.  There may not be a critical mass of population for keeping 
some of these languages and cultures alive.  We can provide space for a 
Kootenayan language Wikipedia, but what good is that if there is no-one 
around with the ability to write in that language?  The elders may be 
the only ones with a functional knowlege of the language, but these 
elders are no different from the elders of other societies who are 
overwhelmed by anything having to do with computers.

PS: the English for "decennie" is "decade"

> What languages should the Encyclopedia be translated
>into? I think that
>>you should choose languages that would have many
>readers. High German,
>>French and Spanish for example. There is a difference
>between this French
>>spoken in France and in Canada, in the Spanish spoken in Spain and in Mexico.
>The Encyclopedia is not translated and will not be
>translated in other languages. Each language is free
>'''in''' its own creativity. Articles from one language can
>influence another language. But they are not copies.
I changed "of" to "in" in your comment, Anthere.  "Of" would suggest 
that a language is somehow liberated from its own creativity.

Your message contains a very important subtlety.  If I could translate 
this text into Cree the result would not be in Cree; it would be in 
English with Cree words.  There exists a pervasively naïve and 
simplistic view about translations that it is just a matter of changing 
words that have a one to one correspondence.  Some topics, notably 
technical ones, can survive that transition very well, but topics that 
are closely linked to culture fare rather badly.


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