[Wikipedia-l] Norwegian and Chinese

Bjarte Sorensen bjarte at pingpingping.com
Sun Sep 12 02:55:26 UTC 2004

In Wikipedia-l Digest, Vol 14, Issue 13, Mark/Jin Junshu wrote:

> Not to muck up the ongoing discussion regarding Nynorsk/Bokmål, on
> which I have read a bit, but I'd like to point out something relevant
> to the Chinese discussion.
> Nynorsk and Bokmål are for the most part mutually intelligible. They
> use basically exactly the same writing system.
> Yet Nynorsk has recently been awarded its own Wikipedia which has
> around 60 articles (vs the over 700 "legitimate" articles in the
> database of zh-tw:); not that I disagree with that but that for
> various reasons, no: who had previously believed they could cooperate
> are now splitting. Very accurate computer conversion between the two
> is possible and exists although it is not 100% accurate. Nynorsk and
> Bokmål are close enough together that they wouldn't nessecarily even
> need separate articles like Trad. and Simp. do ATM (pending the
> implementation of the "solution" proposed by some of the Simplified
> users) but could in most cases be in the same article, following a
> similar policy to that of en: regarding US vs International English.
> This is clearly a very sticky subject as is the other issue, but
> ultimately it should be up to those raised using Nynorsk who use it in
> their everyday lives who get to make the decision, not those who use
> Bokmål.

First of all, thanks for your support in nn.wikipedia.org. I would just like to
point out that there are even more profound reasons for having nynorsk and
bokmål wikipedias separate for the time being.

As Olve also recently said, Nynorsk (Neo-Norwegian) and Bokmål (Dano-Norwegian)
differ not only orthographically, but also very often morphologically,
syntactically and semantically. As even users of Bokmål often point out, Bokmål
and Danish are linguistically closer than Bokmål and Nynorsk, even though the
former pair are normally distuingished as different languages (for historical
reasons) and the latter as two official written forms of Norwegian.

> Very accurate computer conversion between the two
> is possible and exists although it is not 100% accurate.

The computer conversions I have seen are far from accurate, and usually don't
take into account much of the syntactic and semantic aspects of translation.
Also, all current methods AFAIK are copyrighted. To merely take a Bokmål article
and translate word by word into Nynorsk does not make good Nynorsk.

As it stands today, I think many nynorskusers (of which there are an estimated
400,000-800,000 compared to 3,000,000-4,000,000 bokmålusers) will be
discouraged from participating in the mainly Bokmål environment of the
Norwegian wiki and probably turn away at its main page, both because of its
Bokmål UI and because of fears of discrimination and discouraging comments
(something nynorskusers are all too used to).

When all this is said, we are all looking forward to the day when we have a
unified (possibly Scandinavian languages, possibly international) wiki, where,
through improvement of MediaWiki, the language of the UI can be chosen by the
user, as well as language _preference_ for articles (not to mention the ability
to see the same article in multiple languages on the same page).

I think this is a point Mark is making in regards to a Chinese wiki,
too, and until such a day comes I think both Chinese and Norwegian wikis are
best served with their forks in order to encourage maximum total proliferation
(while encouraging concomitant activity in both forks for all that are able of
course), and hopefully the products can be joined in the future for the benefit
of all.

Cheers, Bjarte Sorensen (User BjarteSorensen on :en, :nn and :no)

PS: This is another appeal for the granting of "official" status to
nn.wikipedia.org, and to give SysOp status to some of its users (so that e.g.
the already completed (by Olve) LangageNn.php file can be uploaded). Thanks :)

PPS: This is also an appeal to all that are able (programmers etc) to keep
working towards a unified wiki, where UI-language is customizable at
client-level (not to mention a common photo-library).

PPPS: For some informative, relatively non-biased (English) articles on the
language-situation of Norway, look at http://www.sprakrad.no/engelsk.htm (The
Norwegian Language Council).

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