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Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article)
I suppose you may be interested:
http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/el-me-aristotil/2134379/18
But, don't expect it to be an actual usable judgement about those
projects, because it's more like a pretext to comment some recent
Italian events.
A Google translation to English contains "only" 2-3 completely wrong
sentences.

Nemo

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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
We have heard this type of criticism before, that lower-prestige
varieties or languages that are not "official" or "national" languages
are somehow intrinsically incapable or unsuited to encyclopedic
writing. Article quality on a Wiki is not high or low due to some
intrinsic characteristic or trait of the language variety used, it is
a result of the content not being well-developed. Also, many languages
in a relatively small territory does not mean living in a ghetto; on
the contrary, count how many national languages there are in Europe,
then count how many across all of Latin America, then take a look at
economic indicators and you'll see that there is no necessary
correlation between linguistic diversity and poverty.

-m.

On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 1:49 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo)
<nemowiki@gmail.com> wrote:
> I suppose you may be interested:
> http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/el-me-aristotil/2134379/18
> But, don't expect it to be an actual usable judgement about those
> projects, because it's more like a pretext to comment some recent
> Italian events.
> A Google translation to English contains "only" 2-3 completely wrong
> sentences.
>
> Nemo
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
There is however a direct correlation between poverty and internet
access. Regardless of the linguistic diversity, its an issue of usage, the
highest read, reviewed and edited articles would have the highest merits in
terms of quality and length. It is an issue of reflexivity, lots of
contributors means lots of eyes viewing the same content which means that it
would be corrected and edited by the largest population. This is the reason
why English language Wikipedia has the largest and highest rated articles
compared to any other language because its written and viewed by the single
largest contributor group.

Theo


On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 3:02 PM, Mark Williamson <node.ue@gmail.com> wrote:

> We have heard this type of criticism before, that lower-prestige
> varieties or languages that are not "official" or "national" languages
> are somehow intrinsically incapable or unsuited to encyclopedic
> writing. Article quality on a Wiki is not high or low due to some
> intrinsic characteristic or trait of the language variety used, it is
> a result of the content not being well-developed. Also, many languages
> in a relatively small territory does not mean living in a ghetto; on
> the contrary, count how many national languages there are in Europe,
> then count how many across all of Latin America, then take a look at
> economic indicators and you'll see that there is no necessary
> correlation between linguistic diversity and poverty.
>
> -m.
>
> On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 1:49 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo)
> <nemowiki@gmail.com> wrote:
> > I suppose you may be interested:
> > http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/el-me-aristotil/2134379/18
> > But, don't expect it to be an actual usable judgement about those
> > projects, because it's more like a pretext to comment some recent
> > Italian events.
> > A Google translation to English contains "only" 2-3 completely wrong
> > sentences.
> >
> > Nemo
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > foundation-l mailing list
> > foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
> >
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
An'n 19.09.2010 11:32, hett Mark Williamson schreven:
> We have heard this type of criticism before, that lower-prestige
> varieties or languages that are not "official" or "national" languages
> are somehow intrinsically incapable or unsuited to encyclopedic
> writing. Article quality on a Wiki is not high or low due to some
> intrinsic characteristic or trait of the language variety used, it is
> a result of the content not being well-developed. Also, many languages
> in a relatively small territory does not mean living in a ghetto; on
> the contrary, count how many national languages there are in Europe,
> then count how many across all of Latin America, then take a look at
> economic indicators and you'll see that there is no necessary
> correlation between linguistic diversity and poverty.
>
> -m.
I agree with the points you make but I don't agree that that is what Eco
said (although I don't speak Italian and automatic translation is rather
poor). Eco is a very intelligent man and he wouldn't say things that are
so stupid. He actually values "dialect" Wikipedias (I'd object to
calling them dialect Wikipedias, that term is derogatory in the first
place, but as the term was used I quote it) for their ability to support
awareness of regional culture. He then counters this positive argument
with the negative argument that "turning local tongues into the sole
means of communication" decreases the role of the national standard
language and would therefore lead to a situation where people are
captured in the very limited frame of their local tongue. And here's
where the intellectual mind of Eco lapses. He's thinking with the mind
of a 19th century humanist who's living in a world where 90% of the
population are illiterate peasants who have little understanding of the
world (at least those aspects of the world that are relevant to a
humanist's mind. The peasants were not dumb and had outstanding
knowledge of the world directly surrounding them and relevant to their
daily lifes). On one side these 19th century humanists deeply cared
about the "improvement" of the peasants but on the other side they were
highly arrogant about their own level of intellect. And so they were
arrogant about their language. At the universities they learned Latin
and the national standards. Every educated person spoke standard
languages and all the uneducated people spoke non-standard languages.
The correlation was clear to them. But of course there was one fatal
fallacy: the correlation was not a product of the superiority of some
languages over others but it was their own admission policy that created
the correlaton: "you won't get any education if you don't learn the
standard language in the first place". The system solely depends on its
own positive feedback. Once you break the feedback chain (by
establishing education in a non-standard language) the argument
collapses. So Eco's idea is fallacious.

Estonian is a nice example. There are only 1.25 million speakers of
Estonian. That's a rather low number. Less than the speaker numbers of
most of the Italian tongues Eco is talking about (Piedmontese has 2
million, Sicilian even 8 million). But the Estonian-speaking society is
in no way inferior to other societies. If Siclian or Piedmontese were
not suppressed by the Italian standard language and were allowed to
establish their own education systems there would be no problem. There
would be no "ghettoization".

Marcus Buck
User:Slomox

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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
On 19.09.2010 13:01, Marcus Buck wrote:
> An'n 19.09.2010 11:32, hett Mark Williamson schreven:
>> We have heard this type of criticism before, that lower-prestige
>> varieties or languages that are not "official" or "national" languages
>> are somehow intrinsically incapable or unsuited to encyclopedic
>> writing. Article quality on a Wiki is not high or low due to some
>> intrinsic characteristic or trait of the language variety used, it is
>> a result of the content not being well-developed. Also, many languages
>> in a relatively small territory does not mean living in a ghetto; on
>> the contrary, count how many national languages there are in Europe,
>> then count how many across all of Latin America, then take a look at
>> economic indicators and you'll see that there is no necessary
>> correlation between linguistic diversity and poverty.
>>
>> -m.
>
> Estonian is a nice example. There are only 1.25 million speakers of
> Estonian. That's a rather low number. Less than the speaker numbers of
> most of the Italian tongues Eco is talking about (Piedmontese has 2
> million, Sicilian even 8 million). But the Estonian-speaking society is
> in no way inferior to other societies. If Siclian or Piedmontese were
> not suppressed by the Italian standard language and were allowed to
> establish their own education systems there would be no problem. There
> would be no "ghettoization".
>
> Marcus Buck
> User:Slomox
>

The example of Eco is a little bit complex.

In few words: an article about philosophy written in a dialect has not
the same value of another written in a standard language.

It is normal because any standard language has different registers, the
dialect has limited registers and in general only for daily and familiar
use.

The synthesis is in one sentence "Infatti il dialetto, ottimo per il
comico, il familiare, il concreto quotidiano, il
nostalgico-sentimentale, e spesso il poetico, alle nostre orecchie
deprime i contenuti concettuali nati e sviluppatisi in altra lingua"
which can be translated "The dialect, excellent for the funny, the
homely things, the daily use, the nostalgic memories, and frequently for
poetry, lowers in our understanding the conceptual contents born and
developed in other language".

It seems to me normal.

The standard Italian has had eight centuries to become the current
standard language, and the Latin has been used in Italy for a lot of
time to write scientific and philosophical books (and it is still used
for ecclesiastic matters).

I understand the position of Eco because for eight centuries no language
has been ghettoized in Italy, if the Italian standard is used as
"super-language" probably there is a reason.

The process for a dialect to be a language is long and complex.

In the opposite side the Italian standard is not suitable for familiar
language: it's a "standard" and aseptic language without "nuances".

If a dialect would be a language, probably it should accept to lose the
wealth of words and expressions for daily communication.

It is what happened for Rumantsch Grischun and Limba Sarda who are
"artificial" super-languages not used in the families or in the group of
friends, but at the same time so weak to clash the expansion of more
common standard languages.

Ilario

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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
On 19 September 2010 12:42, Ilario Valdelli <valdelli@gmail.com> wrote:

> It is normal because any standard language has different registers, the
> dialect has limited registers and in general only for daily and familiar
> use.


This, by the way, is why we don't have multiple English Wikipedias -
in the higher registers, all the dialects (which are frequently all
but mutually incomprehensible in the lower registers) converge and
educational English is quite consistent. The only major dialectic
variant is American versus British spelling, and anyone who reads one
can read and often write in the other.


- d.

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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
In the science of linguistics, standard languages are considered to be
dialects which, simply through historical and political factors,
rather than any intrinsic expressive capabilities, are given added
prestige and wider realms of use than other dialects.

I am not from Italy, but speaking generally about languages and
language varieties around the world, I will say that it is true that
for the most part, any concept that can be expressed in one language
can be expressed in another. In some cases, this may require the use
of loanwords or other lexical adaptations, but there is no such thing
as a language variety that is "unsuited" to discuss politics, science
or philosophy. Just because the variety has not been used for that
kind of thing in the past does not mean it is incapable of expressing
those concepts.

When you say that the "dialect", by which I assume you mean the
nonstandard dialect, is only "for daily and familiar use", this
implies to me that just because this is the usual realm of these
language varieties, that it is impossible or not feasible or desirable
to use them outside of these domains. None of these are true, although
of course "desirable" is an own decision of the speaker.

-m.

On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 4:42 AM, Ilario Valdelli <valdelli@gmail.com> wrote:
>  On 19.09.2010 13:01, Marcus Buck wrote:
>>    An'n 19.09.2010 11:32, hett Mark Williamson schreven:
>>> We have heard this type of criticism before, that lower-prestige
>>> varieties or languages that are not "official" or "national" languages
>>> are somehow intrinsically incapable or unsuited to encyclopedic
>>> writing. Article quality on a Wiki is not high or low due to some
>>> intrinsic characteristic or trait of the language variety used, it is
>>> a result of the content not being well-developed. Also, many languages
>>> in a relatively small territory does not mean living in a ghetto; on
>>> the contrary, count how many national languages there are in Europe,
>>> then count how many across all of Latin America, then take a look at
>>> economic indicators and you'll see that there is no necessary
>>> correlation between linguistic diversity and poverty.
>>>
>>> -m.
>>
>> Estonian is a nice example. There are only 1.25 million speakers of
>> Estonian. That's a rather low number. Less than the speaker numbers of
>> most of the Italian tongues Eco is talking about (Piedmontese has 2
>> million, Sicilian even 8 million). But the Estonian-speaking society is
>> in no way inferior to other societies. If Siclian or Piedmontese were
>> not suppressed by the Italian standard language and were allowed to
>> establish their own education systems there would be no problem. There
>> would be no "ghettoization".
>>
>> Marcus Buck
>> User:Slomox
>>
>
> The example of Eco is a little bit complex.
>
> In few words: an article about philosophy written in a dialect has not
> the same value of another written in a standard language.
>
> It is normal because any standard language has different registers, the
> dialect has limited registers and in general only for daily and familiar
> use.
>
> The synthesis is in one sentence "Infatti il dialetto, ottimo per il
> comico, il familiare, il concreto quotidiano, il
> nostalgico-sentimentale, e spesso il poetico, alle nostre orecchie
> deprime i contenuti concettuali nati e sviluppatisi in altra lingua"
> which can be translated "The dialect, excellent for the funny, the
> homely things, the daily use, the nostalgic memories, and frequently for
> poetry, lowers in our understanding the conceptual contents  born and
> developed in other language".
>
> It seems to me normal.
>
> The standard Italian has had eight centuries to become the current
> standard language, and the Latin has been used in Italy for a lot of
> time to write scientific and philosophical books (and it is still used
> for ecclesiastic matters).
>
> I understand the position of Eco because for eight centuries no language
> has been ghettoized in Italy, if the Italian standard is used as
> "super-language" probably there is a reason.
>
> The process for a dialect to be a language is long and complex.
>
> In the opposite side the Italian standard is not suitable for familiar
> language: it's a "standard" and aseptic language without "nuances".
>
> If a dialect would be a language, probably it should accept to lose the
> wealth of words and expressions for daily communication.
>
> It is what happened for Rumantsch Grischun and Limba Sarda who are
> "artificial" super-languages not used in the families or in the group of
> friends, but at the same time so weak to clash the expansion of more
> common standard languages.
>
> Ilario
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
On 19 September 2010 20:08, Mark Williamson <node.ue@gmail.com> wrote:

> I am not from Italy, but speaking generally about languages and
> language varieties around the world, I will say that it is true that
> for the most part, any concept that can be expressed in one language
> can be expressed in another. In some cases, this may require the use
> of loanwords or other lexical adaptations, but there is no such thing
> as a language variety that is "unsuited" to discuss politics, science
> or philosophy. Just because the variety has not been used for that
> kind of thing in the past does not mean it is incapable of expressing
> those concepts.


Although you can be faced with the sort of choices many major
languages, languages whose speakers have a great deal of pride in
them, faced when needing words for concepts in 20th century science
and technology: cut'n'paste vocabulary from English, or make up a
complete set of synthetic terms for the sake of differentiating
themselves from English. Both are problematic, though I'm not sure
what form an ideal solution would take.


- d.

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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
Hoi,
The most common different orthographies are those for the American and
British spelling.. When it comes to differences between British and American
English, the standard version of either can be well understood in either
country. Australian English or Jamaican English are less easily understood.
I do not know to what extend Indian English is homogeneous..

As long as people write in either the UK or US orthography, the words are
easily enough understood. The problems comes with implied expected
knowledge. This is where things break down.
Thanks,
GerardM

On 19 September 2010 14:08, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 19 September 2010 12:42, Ilario Valdelli <valdelli@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > It is normal because any standard language has different registers, the
> > dialect has limited registers and in general only for daily and familiar
> > use.
>
>
> This, by the way, is why we don't have multiple English Wikipedias -
> in the higher registers, all the dialects (which are frequently all
> but mutually incomprehensible in the lower registers) converge and
> educational English is quite consistent. The only major dialectic
> variant is American versus British spelling, and anyone who reads one
> can read and often write in the other.
>
>
> - d.
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> foundation-l@lists.wikimedia.org
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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
Standard Australian English is very easy to understand for me as a
North American speaker of English, especially when written because
that eliminates the potential problem of different accents. Standard
Jamaican English is easy to understand, perhaps you are thinking of
Jamaican Creole, which is often impossible or nearly impossible to
understand for me personally and is usually considered an independent
language by linguists and actually has a test WP:
http://incubator.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wp/jam/Mien_Piej

-m.

On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM, Gerard Meijssen
<gerard.meijssen@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hoi,
> The most common different orthographies are those for the American and
> British spelling.. When it comes to differences between British and American
> English, the standard version of either can be well understood in either
> country. Australian English or Jamaican English are less easily understood.
> I do not know to what extend Indian English is homogeneous..
>
> As long as people write in either the UK or US orthography, the words are
> easily enough understood. The problems comes with implied expected
> knowledge. This is where things break down.
> Thanks,
>      GerardM
>
> On 19 September 2010 14:08, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> On 19 September 2010 12:42, Ilario Valdelli <valdelli@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> > It is normal because any standard language has different registers, the
>> > dialect has limited registers and in general only for daily and familiar
>> > use.
>>
>>
>> This, by the way, is why we don't have multiple English Wikipedias -
>> in the higher registers, all the dialects (which are frequently all
>> but mutually incomprehensible in the lower registers) converge and
>> educational English is quite consistent. The only major dialectic
>> variant is American versus British spelling, and anyone who reads one
>> can read and often write in the other.
>>
>>
>> - d.
>>
>> _______________________________________________
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> _______________________________________________
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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
On 19 September 2010 21:12, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hoi,
> The most common different orthographies are those for the American and
> British spelling.. When it comes to differences between British and American
> English, the standard version of either can be well understood in either
> country. Australian English or Jamaican English are less easily understood.
> I do not know to what extend Indian English is homogeneous..
>

Tends towards 1947 British English.

--
geni

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Re: Umberto Eco on small languages/dialects Wikipedias (Aristotle article) [ In reply to ]
On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 2:08 PM, David Gerard <dgerard@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 19 September 2010 12:42, Ilario Valdelli <valdelli@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> It is normal because any standard language has different registers, the
>> dialect has limited registers and in general only for daily and familiar
>> use.
>
>
> This, by the way, is why we don't have multiple English Wikipedias -
> in the higher registers, all the dialects (which are frequently all
> but mutually incomprehensible in the lower registers) converge and
> educational English is quite consistent. The only major dialectic
> variant is American versus British spelling, and anyone who reads one
> can read and often write in the other.
>
>
> - d.
>

Yes, the question of English is different.

The dialects and local languages in Europe are generated by:
A) a form of "regionalism" or local adaptation of a standardized language
B) local languages derived directly from from Indo-European root or
from an old language like Latin (i.e. the Sardinian languages). These
local languages don't have a large presence of registers and the
standard language substitutes them for *different kind of registers*
(i.e to write administrative documents).

For this reason there are persons who use Italian in some geographical
areas with different accent and with a substratum of local language.
It can be considered like a "regionalism" but this situation lives
together with local languages which have a strong derivation from an
old language from whom they keep archaisms or old syntax. An example
that I have faced is a local language in Calabria which is an old
Greek not derived from current language spoken in Greece but generated
probably from a local form of Greek due to the presence of Byzantium
in this area in the Middle Age.

The problem is that the regional languages are disappearing because
they would be "official language" and the local government forgot that
the vitality of these local languages is in the daily use. In few
words the local governments focus their effort in a high level, to
build new registers, and not to support the low levels and the low
registers.

In the same time the large use of Italian in the media is generating a
form of local regionalism which is replacing the local old language.

The result is that the young people are changing their language in a
standard Italian with interference of local language (most of all in
the inflection).

The English languages spoken in USA or Australia, for example, are
more or less similar to this last situation: it is not a derivation
from an old root of English language, but it's a "local" adaptation of
the standard English.

The example that I have is the Italian spoken in Switzerland (who I
live) who is influenced a lot from French and it's also used in high
registers, but for daily use the persons continue to use a local form
of the Lombard language. This Swiss Italian language is derived from
the standard Italian with some small differences most of all in some
colloquial expression or in some accent and with an "enrichment" of
words derived from French or from local dialect.

Ilario

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