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Submissions/What place for the “small languages” on Wikimedia projects?

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

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no. 91
Title of the submission
What place for the “small languages” on Wikimedia projects?
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Adrienne Alix
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Wikimédia France (director of programs)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Wikipedia exists in over 280 languages. According to analysts, this is the richest and most adapted system for languages on the Internet.

Wikipedia is a revolution for the languages scarcely present and written on the Internet: leaving users free to disseminate knowledge in their language, their writing, their culture, the Wikimedia projects have created a revolution of knowledge constantly quoted and taken as reference for anyone interested in the development of resourced languages.

But 280 languages is very little compared to the +5000 languages spoken in the world, and as matter of fact the largest part of the languages spoken by people with traditionally poor access to information have no presence on our projects.

Wikimedia France has been solicited for over a year by the French Ministry of Culture and especially by the General Delegation for French Languages and Languages of France, a department dedicated to promote and nurture all the languages spoken in the French territory (about 50 different languages). This department first called us to make an analysis of the place of the French language on the Wikimedia projects, and after that associated us in their work to promote multilingualism with digital tools.

This collaboration leads us to devise strategies of development for these languages using/on the Wikimedia projects, but it is not simple and each project must be approached with a particular complexity :

  • How to create a Wikipedia or a Wiktionary in a language non-written or without fixed written?
  • What is the minimal size of a language-community to think about creating a Wikimedia project in their language?
  • How should we proceed: first on the language; or on the culture; or on articles in the “major” languages (French, English, Spanish) about their culture?
  • Is it a good idea to work with translations ? For example with students or translators
  • How to sustain when the distance is very important ? The local languages in France are mostly in the overseas territory (Caraïb islands, South America, Pacific Area).
  • How to deal with potential political use of the Wikimedia projects ? How to work with an administration regarding these questions ?

The speakers of these language wish us to help them. As a chapter we are very interested in sustaining the effort but we have no experience.

This talk will quickly recap the story of the action of Wikimedia France on this subject. After that, I will open with some reflections about our projects and will invite the audience to share their experience and thoughts, so we can together move forward on this subject which is in active development in many areas (South America, Indian sub-continent etc...)

  • WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education

Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
  • Reports about languages on Wikimedia Projects made by Wikimedia France : [1]
Special request as to time of presentations

Interested attendees

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  1. Edhral (talk) 22:02, 20 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. CT Cooper · talk 19:56, 22 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  3. C.R.Selvakumar (talk) 01:26, 23 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Daniel Mietchen - WiR/OS (talk) 23:30, 16 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  5. SPQRobin (talk) 18:44, 17 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Djembayz (talk) 13:05, 19 April 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Kels.bran (talk) 17:11, 22 June 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Nataev (talk) 19:24, 13 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]