Wikimedia language codes

Gerard Meijssen gerardm at
Mon Nov 13 12:05:30 CET 2006

Stephane Bortzmeyer wrote:
> On Sun, Nov 12, 2006 at 04:27:55PM -0500,
>  Don Osborn <dzo at> wrote 
>  a message of 235 lines which said:
>> Take for example four related languages in western Uganda - Nyoro,
>> Chiga, Nyankore, and Tooro.  Each has an ISO-639-3 code. In
>> addition, Nyoro and Nyankore have ISO-639-2 codes which correspond
>> to the -3 codes (neither of which have a -1 code). It might seem
>> pretty straightforward that you have 4 categories. However they are
>> so closely related and interintelligible to varying high degrees
>> such that they might more appropriately be treated as a single
>> unit. In fact, it turns out that since 1990 a standardized version
>> for all 4 has been developed called Runyakitara.
> For the specific case of Wikipedia, one can say that there is very
> little demand to more unification of closely related languages or
> dialects and a lot of demand for "I want my Wikipedia for my own
> dialect/script/variant even if it is only ten pages" (there are five
> or six Wikipedia for serbo-croatian, for instance).
> There are a few very big Wikipedias (en, de, es, fr) and a lot of
> "vanity Wikipedias" and most of the political fights take place on
> these small projects with very little content.
I wish this were true and also I wish the languages involved were all 
small in numbers of people speaking the language. There are many reasons 
why a project does not take off and is  therefore small. One reason is 
when the User Interface has not been localised. Another is that there 
are few people able and willing to work on it or the quality of the 
first content is so appalling that nobody bothers. Sharing the position 
of the United Nations on endangered languages, I would say that having a 
Wikipedia in these projects would be of benefit. It may help.
The Wikimedia Foundation aims to provide content in all languages. There 
are already have Wikipedia projects. This makes it one of the biggest 
multi lingual project. The MediaWiki software has been localised in many 
languages. We have a demand to localise it properly for languages like 
Akan. There are also the first localisations specific for an orthography 
of a language. I can envision the WMF for instance support an en-US user 
interface as well as an en-UK user interface.

When the need for clarity within the Wikimedia Foundation is poo poo-ed. 
It means that many in the WMF will not accept this list for solutions 
for the issues as it has them. When the WMF (language committee) makes a 
case for a specific solution, it can be accepted or denied given a 
reason. This seems to be the way this list operates.


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