The Linguist

The Linguist 52,2

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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FEATURES Fringe benefits 16 The Linguist APRIL/MAY (l) in the Tec de Monterrey language lab; and (above) Robin Owain (r) with other Wikipedians wonderful thing, so I started working on the Welsh site. It's imperative that information is correct and referenced well.' That was six years ago. Today, Owain writes articles in Welsh, largely on butterflies, moths and the Scottish peaks. The latter are geo-tagged, which means the peaks appear on Googlemaps with links to the articles. 'Every sentence I write gives me that feeling that I've given something back to society, and it's free and open content shared by all.' VIA AMBASSADORS: (Top) Leigh Thelmadatter Owain also edits Wikipedia entries, corrects mistakes, and works as one of two 'bureaucrats' of Wikipedia Wales, assisted by 16 administrators. He believes the site is vital for the future of his language. 'It's the only encyclopedia we have in Welsh that is current and that's about more than just Wales.' He mentions Encyclopedia Wales – the country's answer to the Encyclopedia Britannica – whose content focuses on Welsh culture. 'I got in touch with them and we're having discussions about putting their information on Wikipedia in both English and Welsh, where it could be updated and upgraded every day.' He believes that would help to keep the language alive. 'Young people use smart phones. Even if they can't afford £65 for the Encyclopedia Wales, they could access the information freely from their mobile phones. It's important, as a minority language, that we're at the cutting edge of technology,' says Owain. 'If we're not current and accessible, we may as well pickle ourselves in the past.' Ademola Fadipe agrees. He writes, edits, translates and administrates Wikipedia Yoruba. 'Most people in Nigeria now have mobile phones, they have access to the internet, so they can look at Wikipedia Yoruba through that,' he says. Benton notes that 'Africa, in particular, is one of Wikipedia's growth areas, where we're recruiting new editors and growing encyclopedias quite well. In Swahili, there's around 25,000 articles, over 25,000 in Afrikaans, and over 30,000 in Yoruba.' Fadipe has contributed to the latter since 2007. 'There are about 30 people writing on the Yoruba Wikipedia site at the moment, although we have about 8,000 registered people,' he says. 'I don't think many people ROCK DRUM 'There is a motto in Wales, gwnewch y pethau bychain,' says Robin Owain. 'It's from St David. It means "do the small, important things". To me, that's about the conservation of diversity. It's about looking after the fringe.' Owain does this by working on Wicipedia Cymraeg – the Welsh-language online encyclopedia, with articles written, corrected, edited and administrated by members of the public. According to Stevie Benton, Communications Organiser for Wikimedia UK, a charitable organisation whose projects include Wikipedia: 'We're the fifth biggest website in the world with around 500 billion people using our website every month, across all our projects.' These projects include an impressive 285 different language encyclopedias. 'Some of those only have a few articles; others are huge,' notes Benton. The German-language Wikipedia has more than 1.5 million articles. Esperanto has 176,100 and Latin 86,600. In contrast, there are only about 9,800 articles in Egyptian Arabic and, 'because of the Great Firewall of China', just 672,600 in Mandarin and less than 22,300 in Cantonese. Wikipedia Wales, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength. Last year, it become the most popular Welsh-language website – 25 times bigger than BBC Cymru – with an average of 2.7 million pages opened every month. The site boasts more than 40,000 articles – and at least 3,000 of those were written by Owain. 'I got involved in Wikipedia after meeting an oncology consultant,' he explains. 'He and his colleagues were keeping the site up-to-date as new information came out in their field. Before that, I hadn't realised how important Wikipedia was to specialists – not only in oncology, but in other areas as well. I thought that was a WIKIPEDIA (CC BY-SA 3.0) Why Wikipedia is a great tool for both language learning and safeguarding minority languages. By Jessica Moore

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