Thursday, April 01, 2010

Battle of the sexes on the Luxembourgian #Wikipedia

Recently I was approached by several ladies of the Luxembourgian Wikipedia in my capacity as a member of the Wikimedia Foundation's language committee. Their spokesperson, Benotzer:FabienneWeitz informed me about one of the peculiarities of the Luxembourgish language. There is a distinct difference in being addressed by a man or a woman.

In a mail she writes: "So far our Wikipedia has been dominated by men. We have formed a group of lady Wikipedians and started to write using the gentle form. This has led to bitter disputes and several of us have been blocked. What to do?"

Fabienne (m) and her Wikipedia friends
After verifying the linguistic aspects we asked Ziko van Dijk to help us reach a compromise in this battle of the sexes. Ziko researched the Germanic Wikipedias in his 2008 book and considered the lb.wikipedia the best of the small Germanic Wikipedias. Ziko is a respected member of both the German and Dutch chapter. Sadly we were not able to find a compromise.

Given the precedent of the Belarus Wikipedia, it was split on a matter of orthography and given that we could not overcome the differences in the male and female form, we have asked the board of the WMF to allow for the Luxembourgian Wikipedia to be split in two.


pfctdayelise said...

Wow, that's a very interesting problem. Could you (or Fabienne) give an example of how a sentence would differ if it was written by a man or a woman?

The English Wikipedia article could use some detail on this language feature...

Спас Колев said...

Now this sounds even more stupid then the Belarusian case. :)

Did you look for the possibility to make it configurable via user css?

Fenevad said...

Might this have something to do with the historical shift from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and how this was received in the region?

Skud said...

Presumably this would also apply to Japanese?

Anonymous said...

I don't think there would be a problem in Japanese. While men and women have different styles of spoken Japanese, Academic writing in that language is done in a single, gender-neutral style.

Cedric said...

I am a speaker of Luxembourgish myself and I have never heard of this issue before.

Could you elaborate your notion of gender-specific writing in Luxembourgish? And what are gentle forms in an online encyclopaedia article?

An example would help. Merci :)

GerardM said...

Sometimes the date is rather relevant ....