Disputatio Usoris:Robin Patterson

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Bah, so far as I can tell neither Cook nor Tazman wrote anything in latin, nor did their biographers. Still working on it though. --Iustinus 05:44 mai 6, 2004 (UTC)

Maori and other "minority" languages[fontem recensere]

Here's a copy of an essay just written by our friend Diderot and my para that inspired it:

Bonjour! WHEN YOUR EXAMS ARE OVER, M. Diderot, you may be interested in hearing that I'm impressed with your idea of tossing a whole Chinese dictionary into Wiktionary. (Would you believe I tried a Random page just for fun and got one that was linked only from one of your pages, which was also linked only from one of your pages?! - so I discovered your current project.) On the same theme, I guess I can increase the Maori language content of Wiktionary by copying from an 1894 grammar book I have OR by persuading some serious Maori students to use Wiktionary for practice! Any tips will be welcome. Kind regards Robin Patterson 05:53, 24 May 2004 (UTC)

Robin - Actually, I have some grandiose ideas that I haven't got to time to try to raise. I'm afraid I've decided to forgo a vacation for another five weeks in order to take another class that I really need (I need to learn Dutch ASAP) and to work on my research project, for which I have a grant and will need to finish by October. I wasn't trying to put a whole Chinese dictionary into Wiktionary - just the first volume of a Chinese second language curriculum. I think that that kind of resource would be very helpful in Wiktionary because Wikimedia has become such an important educational resource. I'm sort of a professional lexicographer, so I am very interested and I have some ideas, but I don't know much about Polynesian languages, so I can't help very much directly.

Really, I think Wiktionary could use a major rethink. If I had the time, I might start raising an appropriate fuss for it. I might anyway. But, let me bounce what I have in mind off of you (and, of course, everyone else who has put my Talk page on their watchlist).

I think Wiktionary as it exists is too unstructured to be useful. I think it has been started without any clear conception of how people are going to use it, and I think that's a mistake. This is a real problem with dictionary design in the print world too - one that is only now changing. The most popular dictionaries in the US, for example, are these big, thick "collegiate dictionaries" like the Merriam-Webster and the Random House Collegiate dictionary. People get them as graduation presents when they start university.

They are also useless as dictionaries, suited best as doorstops. They are nowadays updated haphazardly by contract staff and they advertise the sheer quantity of headwords they define without actually containing the word you're looking for.

What I think ought to happen is that the English Wiktionary should be thought of as several separate but somewhat overlapping projects:

  1. A real monolingual English dictionary, based on and extending the GCIDE. The entry form should restrict editors so that they input data in a structured way, and words should be accompanied by useful examples. There should also be conjugation tables and other structured linguistic information. Definitions should be single sentences. Entries should fit a very restricted structure based on modern lexicographic practice.
  2. A number of bilingual dictionaries, structured in the same way as the English dictionary, but with foreign headwords and English definitions. The kinds of structures each language needs will vary somewhat. For example: English nouns don't need a field for gender, French ones do. Once again, good lexicographic practices should be implemented here.
  3. A collection of domain-specific multilingual glossaries. Examples may not be necessary; grammatical and lexical category information is probably unnecessary in most cases. Definitions may be longer, but they should not be encyclopedia entries. This should follow modern terminological practice, based on the new TBX standard, for example. We will need an ontology of domains and a way for users to edit domains.
  4. Wikabulary (a working title) - a database of specialised terms and usages found in Wikipedia and other Wiki resources and acting as a support document for Wikipedia. This means covering words and usages found not only in Wikipedia but also in Wikibooks. We might, for example, have glossaries for Shakespeare's plays, which are hard for native English speakers to read because the language is dated. This also might mean devising a linking mechanism for novel, difficult, or special words instead of just interwiki links.
  5. An encyclopedic dictionary. This is a common resource in French, but fairly rare in English. It lies somewhere between a dictionary and an encyclopedia. The idea is that it contains only the very briefest and most essential information about the entities it describes. For people, date and place of birth and death, nationality, what they're famous for. For places, general location, size, what - if anything - has happened there of any importance. It means different kinds of information for different things, but the idea is brevity - just enough information to prevent cluelessness, but not enough to be engrossing. It should aspire to the same level of comprehensiveness as Wikipedia, but with brevity and minimalism as its stylistic requirements.

Now, for a language like Maori, you should think about who is going to be using a Maori Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Most if not all native Maori speakers are bilingual. Few people outside NZ learn Maori. You have little chance of publishing a comprehensive, 200,000-article Wikipedia in Maori.

Instead, I would think about the following user communities:

  1. Maori-speakers looking for the right way to say or write something in Maori that they already know how to say in English.
  2. Students learning Maori as a second language.
  3. Maori-bilingual scholars of Polynesian and NZ culture and life.

The Latin Wikipedia is looking at a similar kind of problem. It's not quite the same, since Latin is dead, but it is similar. No one knows Latin as their sole language, and the Latin community will never build an encyclopedia able to compete with English, French, German, etc. So, they are discussing building the Latin Wikipedia as a document about the Latin world: the Catholic Church, Medieval Europe, the Roman Empire. Very little space is to be devoted to modern topics. The Latin Wikipedia is to be about the Latin world seen through Latin eyes.

You might consider the same sort of path, although not quite the same. Think of the Maori Wiktionary as resource for the student of Maori. First, the student of Maori as a second language will want to see the words from his textbooks in the Wiktionary - both Maori words defined in English in the English dictionary, and defined in Maori in the Maori dictionary. Second, they will want to find the words for the things they want to say - everyday things like computers and hamburgers.

Then, native Maori speakers will end up using Wiktionary and Wikipedia to figure out how to say things in Maori that they know how to say in English. This means things like government ministries and offices, placenames, things from local affairs, maybe a few big international things like country names. By concentrating on New Zealandish things - and things from the rest of the world from a NZ standpoint - you provide coverage both for foreign scholars and Maori speakers looking for language help. It is particularly useful both to Maori and to outsiders if both Pakeha and Maori cultures are described in Maori. This tells them that theirs is a living language, a language suited for discussing the modern world, the real world, the things they really deal with in real life; while at the same time it keeps them connected to the past and to a sense of continuity.

Make sure that every entry in the Maori Wikipedia is linked correctly to the English version. You are trying to say, whenever a Maori uses Wikipedia, you could say this in Maori just as well as in English.

In short, rather than seeking a decultured kind of neutrality, bend the NPOV policy slightly and make Maori language resources Maori-centric. English is a big international language with hundreds of millions of speakers. Avoiding Anglocentrism has proven impossible in the English Wikipedia, but the effort is worthwhile if nothing else because it educates Anglos. The same could be said for French, German, Japanese, and other national and international languages with large monolingual communities. But, Maori and other less widely spoken languages are different. They have few monolinguals, and it would be better for Wikis in those languages to serve their user community in a more personal and more explicit sort of way.

I think this sort of approach is the right way for the smaller languages on Wikipedia to operate. French, German, and Japanese can compete with English for topical coverage. Maori can't. Instead of settling for less, it should aim for better targetted. Where it is impossible to compete in quantity, the smaller languages can compete in quality.

Anyway, that's my opinion anyway. I'm afraid I'm only fluent in a handful of languages, all of which have more than 10 million speakers.


Number Articles[fontem recensere]

If you would like to put some effort into improving the articles here on numbers (2000 for example) I'm sure it would be appreciated. The Person who created them (Pumpie) seems to have made a mess of which years fall into which decades, etc. I just cleaned up a whole load of articles he created which were just two letter abbreviation articles, with no real content. What a pain in the arse that was to fix! Also, if you know of any good online sources I can try to learn Maori from I'd sure appreciate it. I have this fad at the moment where I am trying to learn as many languages as possible (currently doing about 25 at last count). Nicolus 20:00 dec 27, 2004 (UTC)

Tiberis[fontem recensere]

Robin, I can translate that Italian Tiber quote if you'd like, but it might be helpful to include some context or explanation. -Iustinus 22:06 feb 16, 2005 (UTC)

I just wanted to say thanks..[fontem recensere]

for your work on the guide to writing in Latin! We really need one if this wikipedia is to take off, and I salute you for your efforts. Sadly, I read Latin a lot better than I write it, and I don't read it that well. Still, I hope to contribute some. I'm Zantastik on the English and French Wikipediae ; English page.

De Vicipaedia Latina[fontem recensere]

Salve Robin,

Scribere volo relationem de Vicipaedia latina (pro commentario periodico nomine "vox latina"). Mihi gaudio est, si alias quaestiones respondere vis:

  • 1) Quid est Vicipaedia?
  • 2) Quomodo Vicipaedia differt ab lexicis aliis?
  • 3) Quomodo Vicipaedia latina differt ab Vicipaediis aliarum linguarum?
  • 4) a) Quomodo lemmata cum argumento falso vel ficto scripta prohiberi possunt? b) Quomodo lemmata in falsa lingua latina scripta prohiberi possunt?
  • 5) Quam utilitatem Vicipaedia mihi dat?
  • 6) Quas alias paginas latinas in interrete commendare potes?
  • 7) Ullam quaestionem desideras? Aliquas annotationes facere vis?

Gratias tibi ago pro labore tuo, --Lupambulus 16:53, 15 Septembris 2006 (UTC)