Sunday, August 09, 2009

What are chapters there for

Suppose you live in a wonderful country and everyone wants to live there... So over the last hundred years there has been a big influx of people. These people had children and at home they speak a different language, a more exotic language. Some of these people are second or third generation people. I could call them native and they are under the law but they still speak the language of their mother, the language where their family originated from.

Suppose this wonderful country has a thriving Wiki community so much so that it has a chapter and let us also suppose that this country has one dominant language and several languages that are quite historic but are no longer spoken in the shops, the factories, the schools.

The question is what does this mean for the chapter; when as many or more people speak an immigrant language, should they support it to the same extend as a native language ?? Should they welcome the people who speak these other languages as readily ??


Pharos said...

Well of course chapters should support immigrant languages. At Wikimedia New York City, we've certainly been trying to do this, and personally I am very happy whenever I meet in person an editor of a non-English Wikimedia project, because they need our help more. So far we have done extensive ourteach with the local Yiddish-speaking community, as well as some with Russian and Chinese, and Spanish and Haitian Creole should also be highly relevant to us in future.

I would be surprised and disappointed if all chapters did not believe in such outreach.

pavlosh said...

Well, it's two different things:
* To believe in such outreach;
* To 'embody' that belief on practice in all details.

We're jealous to your NY-situation in comparison to our here in Ukraine where we're thriving enough to have (brand new) chapter.

1. Our native Wikipedia is Ukrainian (uk); Majority of country population speaks Ukrainian, state language is Ukrainian, so everything is smooth.

2. Tiny Crimean Tatar Wikipedia (crh) is also very dear for us. These Tatars (there is another Tatars - in Russia) are far not immigrants In Ukraine (one may call them repatriates)/ No problem either.

3. What is tough that's Russian -speaking part of population: there are a lot of them (millions) and they are not immigrants either. Relationship with them is pretty tough subject to influence of political situation.

Purodha Blissenbach said...

While of course very much symathizing with the most peaceful approach of Pharos, there may be many reasons why this maybe cannot be had in specific situations and environments, at least not quickly. See also my more detailed remarks towards the end of this section on Wikimedia Foundations meta wiki.

Anonymous said...

Yes and no. The UK has a significant minority of Welsh, Irish and Gaelic speakers, with significant public funding behind them. Supporting those languages is certainly something worth encouraging.

We also have large numbers of French, German, Dutch and Chinese speakers (for instance). Supporting those languages makes no sense when we have active chapters in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Hong Kong.

Where it gets difficult is when you start talking about languages like Somali, Punjabi and Gujarati. Until recently there was significant political support in the UK for translation into these minority languages; now the mood is very different - immigrants are encouraged to learn English instead. Funding has dried up completely.

We recently had a very interesting proposal come forward supporting Somali language projects. I enthusiasticly support this one knowing that there is no planned Somalian chapter, the Somali projects are small and there is a significant Somali speaking population in England.

On the otherhand, I would be very reticent to support a proposal about the Gujarati projects, knowing that there is an Indian chapter at the planning stage - I would prefer them to take the lead on this with us in a supporting role.

GerardM said...

You are ignoring the existing communities in Great Britain. You are also ignoring that a chapter is to support WMF projects in a country, not particular languages.

You make it seem that you only support those languages that make you money.,,,