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Submissions/Supporting languages, all of them

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission

Supporting languages; all of them

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Gerard Meijssen
E-mail address
gmeijssen@wikimedia.org / gerard.meijssen@gmail.com
gmeijssen and GerardM
Country of origin
the Netherlands
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
work for the Wikimedia Foundation - chairman of Stichting Open Progress
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Supporting languages, all of them

MediaWiki actively supports over 300 languages. They are the languages that have a Wikipedia and the languages that are preparing for a new Wiki in the Incubator. These languages represent all continents and almost all countries. The MediaWiki software is localised at translatewiki.net and the software used for the localisation supports different directions of text, support for grammatical gender and plural. The software we use is properly generalised and as a rule we are well positioned to support additional languages.

The aim of the support for a language is that it should be as easy to use our functionality in a language as it is in English. The job we are doing for MediaWiki is quite good. MediaWiki is however only one tool in a whole set of tools and MediaWiki itself relies on tools like JavaScript or PHP. Many of these tools now include the framework to provide internationalisation and others do not. This means that we can localise messages in a way that conforms to the requirements imposed by the rules governing a language.

Given the existence of 6000+ languages, we need to know basic information about these languages before we can properly support them. We need to know basic things like:

  • what script(s) is used to write the language
  • does the language have specific grammatical rules we need to implement
  • what date format is used
  • what date system is used
  • how are numbers represented including fractions

The problem we face is that this information is not readily available. Wikipedia supports more languages than the relevant standard, the CLDR. As a result the languages that are not properly supported face a problem with many applications and it is not really possible to publish specifically in these languages on the Internet.

As there is no substitute for having good information in a standard, we are looking for ways that bring this information into the CLDR. This allows word processors to be used specifically for that language. The result will be that the meta data of documents will be correct and practically that issues with instance spell checkers will be specific for a language.

Acquiring this information is something that we pursue on many levels. We are asking for volunteers to become part of “language support teams”. These people are asked to answer questions about their language and to append and amend the information in their language in the CLDR standard. We need people for all languages including English. We are also seeking collaboration with organisations like Mozilla and the Document Foundation. This will make sure that once data is provided for a language the benefits will become available for the people who communicate in that language.

The presentation will inform about the “state of the languages” at the time of the conference and update the road map for improved support. It will ask people to collaborate in language support teams and inform them how they can help and it will seek existing issues with the language support that we provide.

Track (Wikis and the Public Sector; GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums); WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education; Technology and Infrastructure)
Technology and Infrastructure
Length of presentation/talk (if other than 25 minutes, specify how long)
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special request as to time of presentations (for example - can not present on Saturday)

Interested attendees

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  1. Gmeijssen (talk) 09:53, 28 February 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Nataev (talk) 08:10, 1 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. CT Cooper · talk 21:29, 2 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Yaron Koren (talk) 14:26, 4 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Amir E. Aharoni (talk)
  6. Daniel Mietchen - WiR/OS (talk) 23:15, 18 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. RajeshPandey (talk) 07:13, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Léna (talk) 16:38, 19 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Logicwiki (talk) 08:35, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Dmitri Lytov (talk) 15:36, 6 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Pginer (talk) 18:13, 7 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  12. A12n (talk) 11:49, 12 July 2012 (UTC) (very interested but scheduled to be at a parallel session at this time)[reply]
  13. Add your username here