Proposals for closing projects/Closure of Pitkern & Norfuk Wikipedia 2

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This is a proposal for closing and/or deleting a wiki hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is subject to the current closing projects policy.


The proposal is currently open for discussion by the community.


  • Type: 1 (routine proposal)
  • Proposed outcome: closure
  • Proposed action regarding the content: should be transferred to Wikimedia Incubator
  • Notice on the project: Community Portal
  • Informed Group(s): (Which chapters, wiki projects, and other community groups have been informed, if any.)
  • Lack of rich ancient cultural heritage (ie. when compared to other pacific island languages which have existed for centuries).
  • Norfuk has no other close relatives other than its parent tongues of English and Tahitian.
  • The nature of the language as a spoken rather than a written language and lack of standardization
  • The language itself does not have words to express some concepts, which can make expressing them, particularly those having to do with science and technology, difficult.
  • The number of native speakers is too low: ~400
  • Most of the residents of Norfolk Island and Pitcairn Island are senior residents and the youths usually migrate to Australia, New Zealand and countries where standard English is the official language and thus the use of Norfuk becomes obsolete.
  • Norfolk Island is part of Australia and English and all newspapers, road signs, education is conducted in English.
  • No Norfolk/Pitcairn islander are currently showing any interest in Norfuk Wikipedia.


--Philip J (talk) 15:04, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Arguments/votes in favour[edit]

  • Agree --Apli kasi 12:30, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Agree People leave Pitcairn, then move to New Zealand. In New Zealand, Pitkern & Norfuk can't express itself. In future, this language will be extinct, it's a natural consequence Paskin (talk) 22:28, 9 March 2014 (UTC).
  • Support - Most of the interface is still written in English, but this should still remain on Wikimedia servers, most of the articles are stubs also. Really, this is just a pidgin/creole language, it should be preserved for cultural purposes. --TheChampionMan1234talken-wiki 05:24, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
What do you mean by "support"? Judging by where you have placed this comment, it looks as though you mean "support the proposal to close the project", but what you have written reads as though it means "support keeping the project open". JamesBWatson (talk) 14:57, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I assume he means this. --Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 00:06, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. If we have this, we should have a British English Wikipedia, an Aussie English Wikipedia and a Scouse Wikipedia, and a Cockney one, and a Southern U.S.A. one. Is there anyone who can read this language and NOT English? Also, nobody cares enough to make any articles above sentence stubs. Iff there is someone who can understand it and not English we should keep it, but I doubt it. Mkbw50 (talk) 12:46, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
    I think Norfuk is more comparable to Scots than to the dialects you list. Scots and Norfuk both contain some amount of altered grammar and extra imported vocabulary, whereas the other dialects are mainly characterised by accents. I agree, however, that it is easily comprehensible to English speakers--possibly more so than Scots--and that the articles are mainly stubs; and I will also note that pih:Special:RecentChanges contains essentially nothing. There is a great need to stir up interest in this Wikipedia if it is to be worth keeping. Cathfolant (talk) 19:16, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Arguments/votes against[edit]

  • Lack of rich ancient cultural heritage (ie. when compared to other pacific island languages which have existed for centuries).
    Why does this matter? We don't rate languages based on how long they've existed.
    But this is exactly what Wikipedia, along with other things, is meant for, cultivation of the language through cultural and scientific use. -- Dmitry
    This matters because an argument frequently brought up in discussions of minority languages is that these languages are 'rich ancient cultural heritage' and should be preserved on that basis. The idea is to preserve cultural heritage; this argument and the following one point out that Norfuk/Pitkern is not any more essential to said cultural heritage than English and Tahitian. I find this argument sensible but cannot say whether it is a factor here. Cathfolant (talk) 19:10, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Norfuk has no other close relatives other than its parent tongues of English and Tahitian.
    Why does this matter? We have a Basque Wikipedia, and Basque has no widely-accepted relatives, making it a language isolate.
    Basque is a natural language isolate whereas Norfuk is simply a creolised form of its parent tongue (English) that is virtually intelligible to English speakers apart from the odd Tahitian vocab which is mainly used as slang speech. --Philip J (talk) 02:02, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
    A creole is still a natural language. LangCom decides what languages it accepts. The main requirement is an ISO code. Pitkern has an ISO code.
    No close relatives? Is that serious? A language isolate after creating the Norfuk precedent will have no chance to stay with Wikipedia any more? Say good-bye to Korean and Japanese Wikis? Albanian? Armenian? Greek? Where can we draw the line to define how close the relatives should be to let the language be presented in Wiki? In addition, it doesn't sound nice at all, to charge a language with its origin. It reminds me of something... -- Dmitry
  • The nature of the language as a spoken rather than a written language and lack of standardization
    Honestly, I agree that this is a problem. But if users of the project can decide on a standard that natives can understand, then it's fine.
    But, again, this is what is called culture. Through the use of Norfuk and Pitkern in Wikipedia, by adapting the use to the needs of science, technology and other things, the language will be enriched and standardized. Is it not an unspoken-of purpose of Wikipedia, rather to enrich the use of the language than to block its way to potential refinement? By this I've responded to the next item as well. -- Dmitry
  • The language itself does not have words to express some concepts, which can make expressing them, particularly those having to do with science and technology, difficult.
    [citation needed] -- (written by PiRSquared17 01:14, 30 November 2013 (UTC))
    Source: Norfuk_dialect#Depth (Note: You do not need to be an expert in order to deduce this fact) --Philip J (talk) 02:02, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
    I don't see why this is a reason to close the wiki, however. PiRSquared17 (talk) 02:48, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
    See my comment on the previous item. -- Dmitry
  • The number of native speakers is too low: ~400
    LangCom says languages with even fewer native speakers can be eligible, e.g. Votic. Anyway, it's already open, so this is hardly a reason to close it. It already has content.
    The en.wiki article notes that as travel to and from Norfolk Island becomes more common, Norfuk is falling into disuse. --Philip J (talk) 02:02, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
    The language itself is still being used, however, and there are ongoing attempts among linguists and interested parties in reviving the language among younger speakers. Until the language goes extinct, however, there are still users. And if there are still users, there isn`t much reason to remove it as a wiki. Fpan020 (talk)
    You don't promote hunting an endangered species without restriction on the grounds that its current population is tending to zero. Quite the opposite, now we all know that biodiversity is essential. In my opinion, linguistic diversity is just as essential. I know I'm being sentimental - maybe fighting for something doomed to extinction. However, what seems useless at the moment might prove priceless in future. Those who study languages of Africa and their connections with the origins of European languages have learnt it too well - some African languages have died and are dying out sooner than experts get a chance of studying them. The more there is to remain, the better. Now that the poetry is written in Pitkern by Meralda Warren, we might see an unexpected revival. -- Dmitry
  • Most of the residents of Norfolk Island and Pitcairn Island are senior residents and the youths usually migrate to Australia, New Zealand and countries where standard English is the official language and thus the use of Norfuk becomes obsolete.
    Again, the Votic thing.
    In the regions of the former USSR, the minority languages are more easier to preserve due to the favorable Soviet promotion policies for minority languages in books, publications, education, radio, and official documents etc. That is the reason why so many successful Wikimedia incubator languages are from the former USSR.
    The same cannot be said for minority languages in the former British colonial sphere. The British colonial policies and their successor states always promoted English in all aspects public life, hence Norfuk exists virtually as a spoken language. If you were a Norfolk/Pitcairn islander, would you, for practical purposes, choose to use Norfuk Wikipedia or English Wikipedia as your main point of reference when conducting research online or when checking up facts concerning a certain topic? --Philip J (talk) 02:02, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
    "the favorable Soviet promotion policies for minority languages in books, publications, education, radio, and official documents etc." - That's entirely not true. The minority languages of Soviet Union were banned for many years (during Khrushchov's rule, later years of Stalin's rule...). Seriously.
    "That is the reason why so many successful Wikimedia incubator languages are from the former USSR." - I can count them on the fingers. --Midnight Gambler (talk) 19:34, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
    Even if that were true, then you would have to exclude all languages that existed in the British colonial sphere, including Maori or Australian languages. prescribing a pattern isn`t a good reason to exclude a language, you need to look at it on a case by case basis. Fpan020 (talk)
    I believe I have answered to this in the previous entry. -- Dmitry
  • Norfolk Island is part of Australia and English and all newspapers, road signs, education is conducted in English.
    WIL -- (answered by PiRSquared17 01:14, 30 November 2013 (UTC))
    WIL states that "Each loss of a language represent the loss of centuries old knowledge, heritage and history forever." However Norfuk/Pitkern does not have centuries old knowledge, heritage and history. Their male ancestors spoke English whilst their female ancestors spoke Tahitian (Reference). A Wikipedia version for those two languages already exist, hence Norfuk is not required because it is English spoken with a Tahitian accent and incorporates the odd Tahitian vocab - Any "old knowledge, heritage and history" are already preserved on English and Tahitian Wikipedia. --Philip J (talk) 02:15, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
    This is hardly an argument at all. It has nothing to do with Norfuk and Pitkern. We have Wikis in artificial languages that have no social circulation. -- Dmitry
  • No Norfolk/Pitcairn islander are currently showing any interest in Norfuk Wikipedia.
    This is the most important problem you listed. Let's try to find some. ;)
    This is an argument for rather keeping these Wikis than abandoning them. -- Dmitry

PiRSquared17 (talk) 01:14, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

Replied to some points. PiRSquared17 (talk) 02:48, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
  1. Oppose per PiRSquared. --AmaryllisGardener (talk) 02:17, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
  2. Oppose There appear to be two or three contributors working on the project on a semi-regular basis to add material in the language. Rather than writing indepth articles, they appear to be writing shorter stub like articles. I think the bigger focus should be on the community since it otherwise passes the criteria to exist. --LauraHale (talk) 10:40, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
  3. Oppose I don't see any reasons above which would necessitate closure - space is not at a premium, and the project appears to be active, if a little unusual in that activity. At worst it's harmless, at best it's a way of preserving an unusual language which has a history, if not a long one, and a cultural context. Orderinchaos (talk) 11:23, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
  4. Oppose. Proposer's arguments don't look persuasively. --Midnight Gambler (talk) 19:34, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
  5. Oppose. PiRSquared's breakdown is excellent; I have nothing to add. I'm not sure why we must be so proactive in shutting down projects that are harming nobody and have a potential, in some small way, of contributing "to the sum of human knowledge." Let's create, not destroy! :-) Tempodivalse [talk] 02:48, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
  6. Oppose FokkerTISM (talk) 08:46, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
    Reason? --Midnight Gambler (talk) 13:35, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
  7. Oppose ONaNcle (talk) 13:09, 29 December 2013 (UTC) prior wikidata it could have been a good idea to close this exotic wiki but nowadays its recent changes are easier to follow.
  8. Oppose As long as there are soem speakers of the language sufficiently interested to work on the encyclopaedia in that language, why not allow them to have it? Most of the reasons given for closing make little or no sense. For example "The language itself does not have words to express some concepts". So what? That does not stop the language being used, and why should the absence of a word for some concepts prevent the language from being used to write an article about a subject for whihc it does have words? JamesBWatson (talk) 14:53, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
  9. Oppose I'm strongly opposed to closing this Wiki, it's what a small island community calls home. --Tremonist (talk) 12:39, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
  10. Oppose as Tremonist above--Lutheraner (talk) 12:41, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
  11. Oppose as PiRSquared17 above --►Cekli829 05:38, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
  12. Oppose or rather Strong Oppose. This is an active project and supported by the community. The whole idea of Wikimedia projects is to use the Internet to publish knowledge in every language possible. Smaller projects deserve so much more support from the foundation. If Wikimedia is really trying to close down the tiny language projects then they will never receive a penny donation from me.--Xania (talk) 21:22, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
    @Xania: WMF is not trying to close this project. It was proposed by someone completely unaffiliated with WMF staff and the Board, as far as I can tell. A more relevant discussion about WMF having bias against certain languages (for debatable reasons) might be this. BTW it is almost certain this proposal will fail based on the comments above. PiRSquared17 (talk) 00:33, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
    I fully understand that it's not Wikimedia making this proposal although it would still be the foundation who make the axe fall after the few who get to hear about such proposals have their say. I think I was trying to suggest that Wikimedia should never allow any project to close and that it should their mission to see all language versions prosper. Votes on closure aren't really fair as they mainly only involve those active here on Wikimedia or those who work on Wikipedia Pitkern and may be unseen by others who merely have an interest in the language or those who view rather than edit articles on Wikipedia Pitkern (those who've never edited are even less likely to navigate to another site and voice their opinions to an occasionally angry crowd). I think that's all a bit too long winded argument though and not one suited to this current discussion.--Xania (talk) 23:06, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
  13. Oppose, no need to go into further detail than User:PiRSquared17, who has quite comprehensively demolished the "justification" for closing this project. Craig Franklin (talk) 08:37, 30 July 2014 (UTC).
  14. Oppose, I 'm against closing these wikipedias. You say that only a lot of elderly people speak the language, this is even a better reason to keep up the wikipedia in this language. If young people will learn the languages in language revitalization projects, how do you think they could use them? Wikipedia is also there with the goal to provide information for as many people as possible, just like with the Welsh situation, a Wikipedia can only contribute to the access to information for people with a small language. Unless you want to be like an English government from a few decades ago deserving the nobel prize for destroying minority languages, I recommend to keep this open. Bokareis (talk) 21:30, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

  • Unbelievably, this wiki seems to have a semi-active community. This seems a valid reason to keep the project open. However, not much progress is being made: almost all articles remain one-sentence stubs. Additionally, the language being used in the articles is completely intelligible to an English speaker, leading me to wonder about the usefulness of this wiki relative to the English Wikipedia. For example, there is not a single word in pih:Norfuk Ailen that I couldn't understand. This sets this language apart from, say, Scots, which does have many words not used in standard English. I wonder if there is anyone in the world who can read this bizarre orthography and not read standard English? I highly doubt it. This, that and the other (talk) 00:23, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Well, I am a native English speaker but can't decipher more than a few words of the sample article. On the other hand, I can read articles in the Scots Wikipedia with virtually no trouble. --Jakob (talk) 00:46, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
  • It's not that hard, is it? From what I can tell, it's pretty much word-for-word aside from the grammatical articles, which tend to vary between dialects of English anyway: "Dems n' laik a' riveh o' Norfuk, a' 32km o' koestliin." There's a lake and river on Norfolk, and 32 km of coastline. "A' koestliin is mainlii em klif a' presipis." The coastline is mainly [them?] cliff and precipice. "Maun Biets (319m) es t' haies point a' t' ailen, an es neya Maun Pitt (318m)." Mount Bates is the highest point on the island, and is near Mount Pitt. "Norfuk Ailen teritrii enkluud tu letl ailens; Felep ailen en Nepeyan ailen." Norfolk Island territory include[s] two little islands; Phillip island and Nepean island. This, that and the other (talk) 07:02, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
  • You are having a laugh This, that and the other, right? This is not the place to belittle a language. You really should research what a language really is. I am a native English speaker but I also know Manx and because of this can read many of the article in the Irish and Scottish Gaelic (not Scots) Wikipedias. I also know Italian and find reading the Spanish and Romanian Wikipedias very easy. Are you saying that all of those projects should be closed or merged too?--Xania (talk) 21:27, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Notwithstanding the fact that the proposer's arguments for closing this language project have been rendered... insubstantial thanks to User:PiRSquared17's well thought out and logical policy-based rebuttals, I find your most recent observation about the language quite interesting. A flip through the wiki's Special:AllPages, and one wonders how much of the site is in 'true' Norfolk-Pitcairn and how much is written in what could be considered a dialect of English. Not that I want to assume any bad faith for the contributors to the wiki nor engage in discrimination, but the fact is that I, as a native English speaker can read this article after parsing some of the abbreviations, and if I can read this, then what does it mean for the rest of the site? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 11:46, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
    @TeleComNasSprVen: Keep in mind that Wikimedia/LangCom does not define what is a language and what is a dialect. We follow international ISO standards which may sometimes have a broad interpretation of language. One should generally not propose a project for closure because it is allegedly written in a "dialect" rather than a "language."[1]. See also requirements 2 and 3 here. The main requirement is an ISO 639(1-3) code, but LangCom can decide for itself on a case-by-case basis. PiRSquared17 (talk) 00:43, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. LangCom even shows some signs that they might begin to accept the "simple" languages as legitimate, although they were created in odd circumstances and given a nonstandard language code. Perhaps we should just follow ISO as the highest authority on languages... TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 09:13, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
  • How easily the language is comprehensible to an English speaker is irrelevant. Afrikaans is comprehensible to a Dutch speaker, but that doesn't prevent us from having Wikipedias in both those languages. Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are mutually comprehensible (as anyone who has watched "The Bridge" will know) but we have a Swedish Wikipedia, a Danish Wikipedia, and two Norwegian Wikipedias in two different standardisation of the language. JamesBWatson (talk) 15:02, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
    • @JamesBWatson: Are you perhaps referring to mutual intelligibility, not "comprehensibility", between two languages? What do you think about having two separate Wikipedias for British and Canadian variations of English, based on different standards? This is not an argument for or against Pitkern/Norfuk Wikipedia, just a curious exploration of how "language" is determined. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 03:44, 27 March 2014 (UTC)


I accede to the above arguments in opposition to closure. I think the Community has now spoken largely in favor keeping this project so this proposal can now be rejected and let the project remain open. --Philip J (talk) 05:29, 31 May 2014 (UTC)