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Despite the growing conversation about endangered and minority languages, public discussion about language extinction seldom focuses on the positive gains made in recent years. Thanks to changing social attitudes, more accommodating political environments, and the increasing availability of the internet and digital tools, cultural activists from around the world are making big gains toward preserving, sharing, and reviving endangered and minority languages. This presentation will expand on a lightning talk given at Wikimania 2017 in Montreal, and will be an introduction to the growing movement of individuals, communities, and organizations dedicated to sustaining and raising awareness about linguistic diversity.
In particular, it will focus on the activities coordinated by Wikitongues, a not-for-profit organization promoting the use and preservation of every language in the world. We collect oral histories and word lists in the world's more than 7,000 languages and share this content under Creative Commons licenses that, when possible, are compatible with Wikimedia projects. This presentation will discuss how our community leverages contemporary technology to build bridges through linguistic diversity, by connecting and empowering language activists, as well as working toward our goal of integrating language activism and the free culture movement.
Thanks to the alignment between our community and the Wikimedia movement, many of our volunteers are also active Wikimedians who, since the beginning of 2018, have organized a user group to facilitate more and better Wikitongues contribution to Wikimedia projects, especially Wikipedia and Wikivoyage, by improving hundreds of articles, including stubs, with samples of underrepresented languages, and by contributing translations to Wiktionary. In addition to providing an overview of contemporary language activism, this presentation will provide attendees with an actionable pathway to getting involved with linguistic preservation, and contributing to more consistent and equitable treatment of every human language across the spectrum of Wikimedia projects.
This presentation is intended to educate attendees about the vital role that language plays in the free culture movement. It is also meant to inspire action. No more than 5% of the more than 7,000 languages spoken and signed today are recognized by their own governments or supported by mainstream media and technology. As a result, as many as half the world’s mother tongues are expected to vanish in the next eighty years. If you are largely unfamiliar with this crisis, you will leave armed with the knowledge of how different language communities are fighting back. If you were familiar with the problem of language extinction and are eager to help prevent it, you will leave with an actionable framework for helping to sustain human diversity, both offline and within the Wikimedia movement. Fewer than 5% of all language communities are represented in the form of their own Wikipedia, and even on the largest Wikipedias, like English Wikipedia, many languages are underrepresented by stub articles and lack media on the Wikimedia Commons. This presentation will empower Wikimedians passionate about more and better language representation to change that.
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