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Submissions/Wikimedia Projects and Endangered Languages: Past, Present and Future

From Wikimania 2013 • Hong Kong

This is a withdrawn submission for Wikimania 2013.

Submission no.
Subject no.
Title of the submission
Wikimedia Projects and Endangered Languages:Past, Present and Future (tentative title)
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Can Evrensel
Country of origin
Wikimedia Israel
E-mail address
Universal Life

This presentation has the topic of endangered languages and Wikimedia projects. Several examples of endangered languages will be mentioned in the presentation, however Judaeo-Spanish language will be the main example. The topic can be elaborated by the subjects or questions below:

  • Endangered languages (definition and elaboration, real-life examples and situations, degrees of endangerment)
  • Judaeo-Spanish (definition and elaboration)
  • What are the challenges encountered in Wikimedia projects while working with endangered languages?
  • What are the impacts of Wikimedia projects on language preservation, documentation and standardisation when working with endangered languages?
  • Can Wikimedia projects have an impact on language revival as well?
  • Wikimedia projects and Judaeo-Spanish; Past, Present and Future: Existing projects, New projects being tested and Future possibilities.
Detailed proposal

Language is the way humans express and communicate their ideas, feelings and emotions through sounds, gestures or written symbols. There are approximately 6,000 to 7,000 languages in the world today. It is estimated that 50% to 90% of those languages will be extinct by the end of this century.

A language is endangered when it's on a path towards extinction. The speakers of the language cease to use it, it is not transmitted to the newer generations, the number of domains in which it's used for communication is increasingly reduced and usually there are no new speakers.

Language death is more than the loss of a community, it is also a loss of a vast heritage of human culture. Unfortunately, many of the endangered languages are not documented today. Language documentation is not only necessary for the preservation of culture but also language revival is impossible without documentation.


Info about Wikimedia projects in Judaeo-Spanish. (Vikipedya, Viksioner, Vikimanadero)

Challenges encountered when working with an endangered language (with examples of Judaeo-Spanish).

  • There are limited printed/online media and it is difficult to reach older literature
  • Few of the language speakers are fully literate in their own language
  • Language speakers are scattered throughout many countries
  • Non-standardised and various writing systems
  • Native speakers of the language are few in numbers and most of them are elderly and with little or no knowledge of computer technology
  • There is no institute or body that regulates or standardises the language

Impact of Wikimedia projects on language documentation, revival and standardisation (each with cases of Judaeo-Spanish).

  • There are already few audio interviews of tribal people and their dialect by Wikimedians and uploaded to WikiCommons. At least one of them even is used as a reference in an article in Wikipedia.

Future and possibilities

  • A collaborative work with Israeli Wikimedians to record audio interviews with native Judaeo-Spanish speakers is on its way to realisation.
WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Language of presentation/talk
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  1. --ProtoplasmaKid (talk) 02:25, 4 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  2. আমীর ঈ. অহরোনি (talk) 20:27, 5 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Maor X (talk) 19:55, 28 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  4. ShenMi MeiRen (talk) 08:04, 5 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Amqui (talk) 21:02, 25 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  6. CT Cooper · talk 00:43, 29 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  7. MPelletier (WMF) (talk) 18:53, 3 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]