[Wikipedia-l] Re: Gothic Wikipedia

Mark Williamson node.ue at gmail.com
Sun Sep 19 16:36:11 UTC 2004

On Sun, 19 Sep 2004 06:01:09 -0700, Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales
<jwales at wikia.com> wrote:
> Mark Williamson wrote:
> > The reasons you work on the project can't justify helping to build an
> > encyclopedic resource for a fledgling community of native speakers who
> > will start growing into such a resource in the next couple of years?
> > Just curious, but what exactly are the reasons you work on this
> > project, and what requirements must a language meet to be justifiable
> > in terms of them?
> It's important for all of us to all remember that we are all
> volunteers, and "I don't feel like it" is always a valid reason for
> not doing anything at all.

Sure, but Tim didn't simply say he didn't feel like it but simply that
helping such languages in Wikipedia cannot be supported by his reasons
for working on the project, I asked him about his reasons, I didn't
say anything like "Well, you suck and should do it anyhow!" because
that is not how I feel.
> I share Tim's concerns about small wikis, and some more besides.  For
> example, we don't have a big problem with wiki spam on large busy
> wikis, but it is a problem that is only going to grow worse, and small
> wikis without active communities will be ripe targets.
What I still wonder about is why we have so many Wikis that have not
been created per se but have working subdomains, ie bo:, oj:, etc. If
there are people willing to create a Gothic or an Anglo-Saxon wiki,
yet we know of nobody willing to create a Tibetan or Ojibwe wiki, then
why is it the former exist and the latter don't?

> There was a time when we tended to say yes (accidentally or otherwise)
> to just about every proposed language.  But the simple fact of the
> matter is that we've already done all the easy cases of general
> interest, and the languages that we don't have are all going to need
> some scrutiny.

Would that include all the languages we don't have, or just those with
under 1 million speakers (at present, not in the past)?
> I express no opinion on Gothic; I simply don't know enough to know.
> But I do make these observations... (1) while there appear to be
> somewhere between several hundred and several thousand speakers, to my
> knowledge *none* of those speakers use Gothic as their primary
> language or would have difficulty finding encyclopedia information in
> a language that they do understand (2) therefore, this is more of a
> linguistic research matter, so I wonder if perhaps what is really
> wanted is a wikibook type of place where speakers can share texts in
> the language, write texts in the language, write textbooks to help
> others learn the language, etc.

As I said before, there is a movement to "revive" Gothic by teaching
it to kids as a native language. If I recall correctly, this started
in the 80s so these kids should be about the right age for
encyclopedia usage now, and if not they presumably will be in a couple
of years. I think so far this movement has produced about 400 native
speakers (spread out across the world), and presumably more to come.
> The same argument could be given for other dead languages, but it's
> important to remember that we don't have to be consistent, when there
> are historical factors (historical to our project) involved.  Reading
> about the moon landings in Latin is a fun curiosity, not a necessity
> for our project, and presumably the Latin wikipedia might have such a
> thing.

The difference here is that Latin, whilst being a "language of high
prestige" among much of the scientific community, does not (to the
best of my knowledge) have any native speakers whatsoever, whereas
Gothic does. The same goes for Sanskrit which now has a Wikipedia
(ahem - but look at the articles........), the language has been a
liturgical language and a language of scholarship with no native
speakers for centuries, however quite recently a movement started to
teach it to children as a native language and now there are upwards of
4000 native speakers.


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