Election candidates 2006/ArnoLagrange/Réflexions/En
The vote has been open for a few days and it soon will be completed. Several people challenged me by questioning me on my positions in connection with precise and important points relating to the Foundation, its operation. I do not want to answer light it and only rather than to study each one of these points and their implications, i.e. to explore for example which dicussions were already held above - before pronouncing me, I devoted my time and my energy to improve the multilingualism in the interface of this election (see my contributions here since August 2). By a kind of wikipedian reflex , rather than to hold of the theoretical positions, I preferred to work into practice to put what I recommend: it is a question of providing to the visitor lambda an interface as clean as possible in the language of its choice, i.e. with the minimum of red links and the maximum of explanations and links in its language. It is as a question of facilitating the work of the translators and the maintenance of the whole of the pages in all the languages as much up to date as possible by applying the principle of centralized templates which contain the infos (candidates list, candidates statement translations list, the list of the translated pages,…) and to ensure of it posting in the various languages by the means of multilingual messages.
The obstacle with the multilingualism is that it requires much work, this is why it is necessary for us to develop tools which reduce this work, and consequently accelerate the circulation of up to date information. It is one of the reproaches which one can make with the multilingualism: it is slow, for a fast communication the use of a single language is adapted and this is why one returns there constantly: as soon as it is a question of communicating in the urgency, for a leading authority where a consultation and a catch of décison must intervene quickly, the single language is essential in fact. At present it is English who plays this part, and personally I also play the game: I let myself involve to try to discuss in English, I corresponded in English with various wikipedians (officials, candidates, translators, “basic wikipedians”) of various countries (Japan, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, England, etc). But I could have also contacts in French, in German in Spanish and Esperanto: the choice going on the language where the communication passes best.
I largely think of having developed it: my criticism of English is not due as well to as it plays with a certain effectiveness the part of privileged international language (one often reproached me that to criticize this use of English put in danger the possibility of communicating on an international scale), but as I - undoubtedly already too often - repeated it: that the privileged use of English excludes all those which do not control it or insufficiently. The multilingualism tries to cure it offering information in a choice of languages which makes it possible a larger audience to reach it. But I would like that one does not lose sight of the fact that a true multilingualism is not this passive form to which some reduce it: that the only sources of valid information are those which are written in English and that the other languages can only be used to translate the source. The true multilingualism consists in making possible each one express himself in the language of its choice and that starting from a source in any language, the message is transmitted in the other languages: it is to leave a centralized model where the nationals of certain privileged nations (and elites of the other nations which could reach the dominant language on a sufficient level) are the only ones which can express themself and the others reduced to the role of passive listener when it is not deaf person.
Sincerely I consider that the multilingualism is a makeshift - however preferable with the single use of English -. It seems to to me obvious that the use of an auxiliary neutral language is preferable by far. My personal choice goes clearly towards Esperanto for objective reasons which one can firmly argue in addition to personal reasons: I know Esperanto and as all those which know it I tried out the advantage which it has. This practical knowledge and this real experiment weighs another weight that all the battles of arguments in which certain polemists try to involve me. However, in the same way that the initiator of Esperanto (Zamenhof) said itself: we are in favour of an auxiliary neutral language, it does not matter its name and its form, that can be the esperanto, that can be lojban, that can be volapük, essence is to get along and stop its choice and to apply it.
Moreover I do not think that a decision on such a point is to be taken from the top and to impose on the base. Quite to the contrary it is a question of launching a vast reflexion and of launching a process of resolution of the problems which passes as much by the development of suitable tools - various projects are in maturation - that adoption of communications protocols on all the levels. The problem does not arise only on the level of the Board, where obviously the monolinguism all-English seems to be essential like an intangible and uncontested rule including by the candidates who except for two of them all wrote their statemnt in English, including those of which it is not the mother tongue.
It is posed overall on all the levels our vast multilingual wikipedian communities which are a reflection of a world quite as multilingual. Certain communities are defined around projects in a given language, but they are opened with the other languages: contributors of which it is not the language take part in it, and the contributors of which it is the language are opened with what occurs apart from their project. Certain communities are defined around projects which are multilingual by vocation (meta, commons, WiktionaryZ,…). And clearly there is no other border between all these communities, but those of the lingusitic barriers. And it is on this level that all the difficulty of the choice between the use of English like lingua franca arises, a multilingualism more or less functional or the extension of the use of a neutral auxiliary language. And once again the problem does not arise only in the present context but in a setting in long-term prospect. The defenders of all-English play make me the casting out nines in vain that English works, that science, the trade, the diplomacy, data processing, Internet and the Wikimedia projects function perfectly with English who is used in a uncontested way by people originating in all the countries of the world and having for mother tongue the most various languages: it is a tautology. Because of dominant position of English there is a selection where only the informed users of English (native or pertaining to the elites) appear in all these fields: this privileged circle is tightened on itself and answers any person who would try to approach the circle:
- Learn how to speak English as well as ourself or keep silent and listen!
- How!? you feel excluded? good! we are generous, we will forward you a translation of our divine word which will arrive you when it can. - however in the event of divergence between the translation that you will receive and our word only our text will prevail - * Ha? moreover, you have something to say!!!? then say it in English, if not, how you want that one can hear you?
- How? you cannot express yourself in English and you would like nevertheless that one takes into account your point of view?
- Good! that is to say! but, then manages to find you a translator and your reflexions will be able to perhaps reach us one day.
If this operating mode that I depict there is currently accepted in the wikimedia projects, it does not seem to to me bearable with long. The members of the world of the biznes, of the world of science, and the political leader circles adhere without reserve to the dominant position of English who consolidates their own dominant position in the society. Even those of which it is not the mother tongue play this game of easily deceived because they hope to have by this skew a crumb of the cake, whereas they are always in position of inferiority compared to a native english speaker fellow-member.
I dare to hope that this operation mode will not be durably that of the wikimedia projects which have the role to diffuse knowledge by all the ways, to make them possible available in as many languages as and consequently to make also accessible control from the development from the project to each one whatever the language in the language where he can express himself.
The sense of my candidature is not thus to want to sit tomorrow at the Board - except if it were an effective means to make evolve/move significantly the linguistic situation in the wikimedia projects, but for that I preferred to work to make progress multilingualism of the election interface as example -. The sense of my candidature is to put the question, to cause a reflexion, and of put in prospect an evolution for the operating mode of our projects in the field of the linguistic communication.
I imagine that one will be able to consider that the voices which will have gone on my candidature will be those of contributors who share the concerns that I expose and which wishes that one find there solutions suitable. One can as hope as more these voices will be numerous plus they will be heard. But I do not have any illusion on this point, within sight of the over-representation of the anglophone community as well among the voters, as among the candidates who reflects this same over-representation among the contributors, the Net surfers, the computers owners, the economically favoured populations , I hear over-representation compared to the real world population.
Small precison concerning the representation of the contributors of the wikimedia projects to the Board of the Foundation: if Wikipedia were initialized in the United States of North America and that the Foundation established its seat there, it does not remain about it less than it is now about a whole of projects in nearly two hundred languages, developed by contributors living the most various countries and speaking the most various languages, today already and even tomorrow. In the context of this reality, it would seem to me legitimate that the contributors should be better represented while organizing, if needed, elections by college of projects (for example: Latin languages, Germanic languages, Slavic languages, languages of India,…). The legitimacy of the Foundation rests on the whole of the community of the contributors (editors and donators) and does not have any raison to be seen narrowly that like an US-entity, in the legal and cultural context of this only part of the world but as an entity of world vocation in a world whose cultural diversity is immense, and of which all the sensitivities have vocation to be represented.