Cooperation between Wikimedia and Endangered Languages Project

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The Endangered Languages Project (GELP) is a project from Google and an attached "Alliance for Linguistic Diversity", which has the goal to support endangered languages by making it possible to access information about them, including audio, video and text material (cf. The Endangered Languages Project: Supporting language preservation through technology and collaboration). The idea has been brought up in the Language committee (Langcom) to somehow cooperate with this project, as a number of language versions of Wikimedia projects in endangered languages exist and have contributors (as full wikis or on Incubator); and content, experience and contributors could possibly be shared. In that aspect, GELP and Wikimedia's goals are complementary.


Wikimedia Language Committee's intent in this project is to promote the presence of worldwide endangered languages on Wikimedia's projects through a cooperation with Google Endangered Languages Project. It will do so by engaging in an active collaboration with GELP and other relevant key actors such as Wikimedia chapters.

Millosh's speech on Wikimania 2011 in Haifa (see on YouTube) is quite relevant for this project. In short, strategically, we should be more interested in languages which are able to survive (top ~3000). A number of chapters, including but not limited to France, Australia, Indonesia, Canada and Russia, are interested in their own languages, which are mostly inside of the bottom ~3000 [GELP itself says it would support 3054 languages, but there is no clear distinction between top and bottom ~3000 languages, as it's not possible to create it].



  • Links from GELP's language entry pages to respective Wikipedia versions (existing or in the Incubator).

Script issues[edit]

  • Problems that regularly appear with writing (not only endangered) languages in Wikimedia (cf. Narayam and WebFonts):
    • Script support in Unicode might be lacking
    • Fonts for the script might not exist or not be open source
    • Many languages lack official orthographies. Langcom was discussing a few years ago about creating orthographies for languages which don't have them.
      • Could Google give money for that? - They say that their goal is to preserve endangered langauges. >90% of those languages don't have orthographies and they need them to survive.
    • Script conversion for languages that use multiple scripts. Google could help us in relation to this issue.


  • Discuss the possibility for uploaders on GELP to have the option to share their contributions under a free license (i.e. CC-BY-SA), and ideally allow them to upload e.g. video/audio to Commons
  • Look for a way for GELP to use existing Wikipedia's articles as samples on a language entry (a good way to make publicity to the test-wiki).
  • Explore a way to share contributors: maybe making it possible for GELP's member to check "I speak that language and volunteer to contribute to share it."
    • Having a profile page for members on the GELP where native (or not) speakers could say they speak which languages (i.e. Babel templates).
  • Wikisource(+Commons) allows to keep scanned documents in endangered languages and to transcribe them.
    • Expanding the availability of free-license stuff on Wikisource. Hosting in two or more places even doesn't hurt at all.
    • They could also use the community on Wikisources and Commons for crowdsourcing and transcriptions for uploaded documents.

Chapters involvment[edit]

  • There is a plan (though, postponed) for a regional conference in Indonesia, planned by Wikimedia Indonesia, Wikimedia Australia and Langcom which would include indigenous people in an area with a lot of languages
  • Wikimedia France cooperates with their department for overseas territories.
  • Canadian Aboriginal Languages Wikipedia Coordination.

Other ideas[edit]

Development summary[edit]

First meeting (10 Aug 12)[edit]

Langcom has approached the Google project about possible cooperation. A first video meeting was held on 10 August; attendees were: Langcom members Millosh, SPQRobin and MF-Warburg; Amqui from Wikimedia Canada and Canadian Aboriginal Languages Wikipedia Coordination; and Jason Rissman (project manager at GELP).

Action plan[edit]

  • Langcom will continue to be in contact with GELP managers to propose elements of cooperation
  • Langcom will contact chapters to gauge interest and to further coordinate efforts
  • Creation of a dedicated mailing list for this cooperation
  • Set up a body of Wikimedians and interested partners which would coordinate efforts and share knowledge internationally in regards of Endangered Languages presence on Wikimedia's projects.

Related pages[edit]