Wikimedia Conference 2017/WM Minority languages Europe

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TIME: 7.30 pm, 31/03/2017
PLACE: Room Schulenburg

Called by Iñaki Lopez de Luzuriaga (BWUG)
Viktor Semeniuk (Bashkorkostan / Ukraine)
З. ӘЙЛЕ (Bashkorkostan)
Daria Cybulska (WMUK)
Rubén Ojeda (WMES)
Ilario Valdelli (WMCH)
Jon Harald Søby (WMNO)
Galder Gonzalez (BWUG)
Ramon Olaño, Jr. (Bikol Wikipedia, Philippines)
Elena Sanz (WMES,

Introductory statement on minority language wikiprojects[edit]

Small communities provide a good number advantages and downsides. Wikimedia has provided the opportunity for lesser-used languages to develop resources they can use in its own advantage in order to face the challenges of ever changing world and innovations.

“Make all the sum of knowledge of the world available to anyone” takes a new meaning when talking of minority languages in that the urge to exist and grow (or die) of these communities requires it be accompanied by a paralel “make local knowlegde available to everyone”, at a time when languages are vanishing at an alariming rate, and with it, a big part of the very (knowledge) heritage of humanity

However, these languages are often overpowered by the impetum of homogenizing main languages, and minority languages feel the urge to get easier access to innovations and new alliances that will strength their pursuit.

The Wikimedia Movement cannot remain oblivious to that, and in its advocacy for diversity it should also support these efforts and search for ways to help the communities. Cooperation among these communities at a regional level or otherwise can also greatly strengthen these communities help reach their goal and help keep the richness of diversity.

Tentative approach[edit]

1. Weaknesses 2. Strengths 3. Opportunities 4. Threats


Introduction to problems related to minority language projects within WM meant to diagnose cooperation in order to surmount operative hurdles in each project, as well as addressing the rol of minority languages within the WM movement in its 2030 strategy, plus further suggestions (inter language cooperation, etc.).
Participants introduced themselves. Daria Cybulska from WMUK points to her organization’s support for Welsh and Scottish Gaelic WPs, but she also cites doubts arising from the fact that all Welsh can understand and speak English, so raising the question of to what extent does WP’s motto “Make all the knowlege…” involve WMUK in the support of minority languages like Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.
Rubén Ojeda points to WMES support for minority languages in Spain and emphasizes his recognition of its multilingual reality. Ilario addressed the Rheto-Romanish case in Switzerland where an effort is being made to encourage a WP in that language, but points to problems related to the language’s sociolinguistic status, with reluctance by younger generations, very limited use, and difficulties to launch the project, despite academic efforts to do so.
That raises the issue of what the effort of Wikipedia and Wikimedia should be in providing support to launch that project and build related resources. Based on that, Iñaki Lopez de Luzuriaga and Ilario Valdelli then address WM’s strategic outlook on minority languages, concluding WM is not about saving endangered languages.
Notwithstanding that, Iñaki highlights the necessity for WM to address in its 2030 strategy the matter as part of the movement’s own outlook, emphasizing the interconnection between knowledge and diversity and therefore the need to cite explicitly the commitment of WM to minority languages. He also elaborates on the idea of making local knowledge go global, universal. Adding to that point, Galder distinguishes between saving, in its 'rescue' meaning, not the purpose of WM, and recording them, and confirms the idea of an explicit support to language minority projects by the WM movement.
Ramon Olaño from the Bikol WP (Philippines) explains the status of the language in Philippines and its intricate sociolinguistics aspects, with 8 main languages and Tagalogh standing out among them, and English as an hegemonic language. They are making an effort to develop the Bikol WP, but he finds that there is a gap between younger generations, skilled in digital matters but reluctant to write, especially in Bikol, and older generations keen on expanding Bikol WP but lacking necessary training to wiki write. The lack of technological innovations in Bikol language (e.g. applications for smartphones), widens the gap, and he makes a plea to further support Bikol WP in that respect.
Iñaki LL makes a final call for the WM to accommodate an explicit support of minority languages in its diversity and knowledge framework. The discussion is meant to have a follow-up in the discussion meeting Diversity and language death arranged by Viktor (Visem) at 10.30 am on Saturday. The meeting concludes at 8.30 pm.