Thursday, January 19, 2006

In all the Wikimedia Foundation project there is one big bias. It is not a bias that we want, but it is there nonetheless. The WMF projects are Anglo centric. In many ways it is a good thing, English is effectively the lingua Franca of these times. In Uganda for instance much of the university education if not all is given in English; English is the official language of Uganda !!

In the WiktionaryZ project we want to have all words of all languages. This is a great idea and it comes with many challenges. In this blog entry I want to focus on Africa.

When WiktionaryZ is to be relevant to Africa, the content of WiktionaryZ has to be relevant. Relevancy can be achieved in many ways; it can be because there is nothing else, it can be because we include glossaries and thesauri for specific topics and it can be because we have a complete dictionary for a language.

The fun thing is that with much content in African languages, we get translations in a Western language, typically English. The consequence is that the African languages are likely to have perpetually less content than many of the Western languages.

One problem with terminological projects is funding.. Many projects do not happen or are abandoned before completion because of lack of funding. The reason for this is obvious; it is very expensive to create quality terminological or lexicological or thesaurus information. One benefit that we hope to bring into the equation is the community and consortium effort we hope and expect that this will bring the cost down.

There will also be a difference in aproach; often people do not publish content because it is incomplete. This is against the Wiki idea; here you publish what you have and together you improve the content. When people learn that WiktionaryZ is there, that it has some relevant content, they will want more relevant content. There are plenty of people in Afica that CAN help.

Thanks,
GerardM

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that English will be the language with the most entries in Wiktionary for a long time to come. It is a very wordy language with many different words for the same thing. Maybe German can catch up, with its unlimited ability to glue words together in order to create new words.

With African languages the problem is also that unfortunately only relatively few native speakers have Internet access. But I think that there are many people in other parts of the world who care about African languages and want to contribute content.

10:39 pm  
Blogger GerardM said...

It may be that there are not as many African people inclined to work on WiktionaryZ. However, there are large bodies of work in universities and other institutes of knowlege.

It is for us to cooperate so that we can become relevant in as many African languages as possible. Companies, NGO┬┤s there are so many organisations that have exciting collections of relevant works.

When we have relevant content in some subjects, it will be much easier to get more relevant content..

If wishes were coins, I would be rich.

Thanks,
GerardM

11:44 pm  

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