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Wikipedia boom in vernacular languages

by Prasad Krishna last modified Aug 12, 2013 04:29 AM
The number of Wikipedia entries in vernacular languages has grown substantially in the last eight months

This article by Divya Saboo was published in DNA on August 1, 2013. The Centre for Internet and Society is mentioned.


In the last eight months, the number of Wikipedia entries in vernacular languages has grown substantially, says a Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society.

Wikipedia, the world's largest encyclopedia, where anyone can write and publish, was mainly written in the English language until a few years ago. There is a sudden boom of interest in regional languages on the internet because browsers now support Indian language scripts. Thus, people are now more interested in typing in their mother-tongues. Interestingly, this initiative is fueled by diaspora.

Mahit Gar, who has been working with the Marathi Language Wikipedia, said, “Since the last one year, we have concentrated on improving the quality of the content more. We are ranked #20. There are also some new editing facilities that are being introduced by the Wikimedia Foundation (WMS). We can now write in Marathi as well. 40 per cent of the people can type Marathi well but the rest still find it difficult to do so. The rural people interact mostly with Marathi."

He adds, "We have had this sudden boom because in 2011, we had some conferences with the English Wikipedia team and we talked about how people are not able to communicate without their mother tongues in place. Also, we don't spam. Most people love their mother tongue so they don't touch the content inappropriately (this is not the case with the English Wikipedia).”

Tinu Cherian Abraham who was on the Wikimedia India Chapter talks about how an NRI's love for Malyalam kick-started the project. There are people from all walks of life involved in this project. The collective passion for knowledge of a visually challenged editor of Hindi Wikipedia along with an elderly contributor from Kerala, has aided him in forgetting his ailments.

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