On Sun, Apr 20, 2014 at 4:15 PM, Asaf Bartov <abar...@wikimedia.org> wrote:

> Interesting thoughts.  I have a few brief comments, and will engage further
> (on Meta, perhaps) later:
> 2. This does include free knowledge _about_ every last language of the
> world, so by all means: let us preserve all languages' written output on
> Wikisource, and let us document all languages' lexicons on Wiktionary (not
> their own Wiktionary, but active Wiktionaries with existing editing
> communities), but we should not unconditionally spend resources to ensure
> the availability of free knowledge _in_ every last language.  I submit that
> our vision is satisfied by offering free knowledge in the languages people
> use to consume knowledge (a far _far_ smaller subset of even the 280-odd
> language editions we already have).

I like this thought a lot, and I don't think it's inconsistent with Milos'
proposal to save languages. Saving languages, at least as a first-pass
step, might not mean creating a Wikipedia in that language, but rather
working to make as much as has already been published in those languages,
and their lexicons and dictionaries, free and available on Wikisource,
Wikitionary, Wikibooks, etc.

One thing that makes me sad about small and very small languages is that
often there are only one or two dictionaries, and only a few books about
the languages, and these are published by small publishing houses that
can't really keep them in print or distribute them easily to everyone who
might be interested (and they can't possibly be great money makers for the
publisher, either)*. Similarly, online resources and lexicons are often
haphazardly published on unstable servers which may or may not stay up. In
other words, resources *about* languages, which are the first step in
preserving the language, often suffer from simple access issues themselves,
and would be worth effort -- the kind of effort that we are expert in, like
stable hosting and making works available under free licenses.

-- Phoebe

* Most recently I was thinking about this when I was in Oklahoma and
visited a small museum that had books in and about the Chickasaw language,
which is severely endangered:

* I use this address for lists; send personal messages to phoebe.ayers <at>
gmail.com *
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