Wikimedia South Africa/Unisa Workshop

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The role of Wikipedia in the intellectualisation of the African Languages: Why, what and how?[edit]

Wikipedia changed the world by putting an encyclopaedia within reach of anybody with internet access. Available in over 280 languages, it grows and improves by the hour and has become one of the most well-known and used resources on the Web. However, in spite of the many languages currently represented in Wikipedia, not all of them have thorough and in-depth content to support multilingual education. Moreover, outside of the realm of a human readable online encyclopaedia in multiple languages, the full value of Wikipedia has remained largely hidden to many readers. Today Wikipedia, for example, also provides a building block for many other advanced technologies, especially language technologies.

Through this workshop, the Academy of African Languages and Science (AALS) hopes to play its part in creating an awareness of the significance of Wikipedia as a key educational and language resource through which encyclopaedic information and educational content can be produced and consumed in the African languages.

Our hope is that academics, school teachers, language practitioners, subject experts across many domains, students and any other interested persons will recognise and embrace the opportunities that Wikipedia offers for the development of the African languages. Possible ways of contributing are, for example, by translating articles from other Wikipedias, specifically the English one, or by writing new content in the African languages. Since Wikipedia relies on volunteers for its existence, growth and quality, AALS also offers opportunities for training and support for persons interested in getting involved in the building of the African languages Wikipedias in the future.

The specific aims of this workshop are to

(1) explain what Wikipedia really is and why it is of such strategic significance for sustainable multilingualism;
(2) explore possible ways to identify topics on which to write and to select articles in the English Wikipedia to translate;
(3) provide basic technical information on how to participate and how AALS can assist;
(4) get a glimpse of what it means to be a Wikipedian – examples and lessons learnt.

Invited keynote speaker – Amir Aharoni, Wikimedia Foundation. Amir was born in Moscow and now lives in Jerusalem. He received a B.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Hebrew language and Structural Linguistics, and began studying for an M.A. in Romance studies in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a member of the language engineering team of the Wikimedia Foundation, improving the software support for different languages. As a volunteer, he is also a member of Wikimedia Israel and of the Wikimedia Foundation's language committee.

Date: 3 June 2015
Time: 08:30—15:30
Venue: Bamboo Room, Kgorong, Unisa Muckleneuk Campus, Pretoria
Attendance: Free of charge, but registration is essential since the venue has limited seating
RSVP: Ms Motswalle Kanyane, (