Submissions/Challenges encountered when working on Wikimedia projects for endangered languages

From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

Presentation Media

Review no.


Title of the submission
Challenges encountered when working on Wikimedia projects for endangered languages (tentative title)
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Carlos Manuel Colina
E-mail address or username (if username, please confirm email address in Special:Preferences)
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Wikimedia Venezuela
Personal homepage or blog,
Abstract (please use no less than 300 words to describe your proposal)
Wikimedia projects have expanded to many languages around the world, posing many challenges as the Wikimedia projects expand, especially in the case of endangered languages. Among the challenges faced by the collaborators are:
  • Native speakers of the language can be few in numbers and/or elderly;
  • The language is neither regulated nor standardized;
  • Some languages has have become outlawed, or its speakers are harassed/persecuted
  • An endangered language uses more than one writing systems;
  • Language speakers are scattered throughout many countries;
  • Few of the language speakers are fully literate in their own language;
  • Its speakers belong to a low/marginal socio-economic class;
  • There is limited printed/online media on the language;
  • Speakers belong to an aboriginal group, and its speakers have been "immersed" into by a surrounding, dominant language, which may be very similar.

This presentation will give an overview, using two endangered languages: Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish) – not to be confused with Ladin – and Wayuunaiki (the language spoken by the Wayúu people) exploring how Wikimedia projects in these two languages are progressing, challenges included. Ladino and Wayuunaiki face very different challenges, having an effect on the development and growth of entries their relative Wikipedias. For instance, the first article on the Ladino Wikipedia was created on September 2005. To date there are 2,366 articles in Production as of December 2010. In contrast, the Wayuunaiki Wikipedia has been in the Wikimedia Incubator since August 2008, with 93 articles authored as of December 2010. These two languages are not regulated or standardized by any governing board such as in the case of Hindi, Persian, German or Hebrew; complicating any such attempt in Ladino is the fact that the language is written using both the Hebrew and Latin alphabets, in different variants according to the region the speaker is from. For speakers of Wayuunaiki, there is a low literacy rate in the written language whereas there is a higher literacy rate in the language which is culturally and politically dominant, Spanish.

These two languages are not regulated; but the Autoridad Nasionala del Ladino and the Centro Etnoeducativo Kamusuchiwo’u promote the Sephardic and Wayúu languages and respective cultures, albeit none holds an authority as a language regulator per se. The impact of these two institutions and some NGOs aimed at protecting their respective cultures is causing a slow but steady growth in the presence in the media and global usage of these two languages.

Track (People and Community/Knowledge and Collaboration/Infrastructure)
People and Community
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  1. --80686 11:52, 7 January 2011 (UTC) this clearly fits to als:wp as well![reply]
  2. CasteloBrancomsg 17:16, 19 January 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Phoebe 20:31, 22 January 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Slashme 08:26, 24 January 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Gomà 20:45, 31 January 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Hindustanilanguage 07:19, 24 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  7. DrorK 05:00, 3 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Universal Life 07:31, 8 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Tinucherian 23:45, 26 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Millosh 14:23, 20 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  11. Blahma 12:55, 1 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Vibhijain 12:44, 4 May 2011 (UTC) It can help Sanskrit Wikipedia[reply]
  13. Ivanmartinez 17:52, 5 May 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Amir E. Aharoni
  15. Jon Harald Søby 14:10, 13 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  16. Aleposta 14:38, 26 June 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  17. Viatcheslav Ivanov
  18. Amnon s 09:59, 3 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]