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Restore support for Toki Pona as a user spoken language in Babel
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Description

I and a friend belong to speakers of the Toki Pona language and have noted that we recently cannot state our proficiency in that language on our user page, along with our other languages in the Babel box, because support for Toki Pona in the Babel extension has been removed in f846383260f1.

I cannot find any justification for that removal linked to that commit. Toki Pona Wikipedia may long have been closed down, but listing languages that a user speaks should IMHO not be strictly limited to languages that we have Wikimedia projects in. AFAIK, the original purpose of the Babel templates was to let other users know which languages other people speak, in order to enable communication among users. The use of Babel for automatic filtering of language content on Wikimedia sites, such as Wikidata, came only second to this.

Currently, there are for instance 50 users on English Wikipedia who indicate Toki Pona on their user page, or 30 such users on Esperanto Wikipedia. Some projects have long created custom templates, but as a polyglot with edits on 80+ Wikimedia projects in 60+ languages, I do not want to need to import and maintain a set of templates in each and every project I contribute to, just to be able to set up a user page (I often do not have a good command of the project's native language, so listing my other languages comes especially handy). Therefore, I ask that the support of Toki Pona in Babel be restored.

Event Timeline

Blahma created this task.Nov 21 2017, 11:05 AM
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptNov 21 2017, 11:05 AM

I think that the core of the problem here is indeed that we do not distinguish between using a language in producing actual content, and using a language to communicate about content.

As stated on the Babel extension's home page:

On Wikimedia projects, the noun Babel (in reference to the Tower of Babel) refers to the texts on user pages aiding multilingual communication by making it easier to contact someone who speaks a certain language.

On the same page, the extension's description in the infobox says:

Adds a parser function to inform other users about language proficiency and categorize users of the same levels and languages.

[emphasis mine]

Although I know it might be easier from a technological point of view now when Babel is linked to Wikidata and ULS, I see no justification for limiting the list of available languages that can be advertised as languages of communication just to the possible languages of content. One can be part of a tiny community speaking a language that has no chances of getting its own Wikipedia any time soon, yet they could be happily contributing to Commons or Wikispecies, for instance, while using their tiny language among them with no difference and with profit to the global community. Unless the extension's purposed goals quoted above have been deprecated, I call for not forcefully conflating the spectrum of user languages with the strict list of Wikimedia content languages.

I think that the core of the problem here is indeed that we do not distinguish between using a language in producing actual content, and using a language to communicate about content.
As stated on the Babel extension's home page:

On Wikimedia projects, the noun Babel (in reference to the Tower of Babel) refers to the texts on user pages aiding multilingual communication by making it easier to contact someone who speaks a certain language.

On the same page, the extension's description in the infobox says:

Adds a parser function to inform other users about language proficiency and categorize users of the same levels and languages.

[emphasis mine]
Although I know it might be easier from a technological point of view now when Babel is linked to Wikidata and ULS, I see no justification for limiting the list of available languages that can be advertised as languages of communication just to the possible languages of content. One can be part of a tiny community speaking a language that has no chances of getting its own Wikipedia any time soon, yet they could be happily contributing to Commons or Wikispecies, for instance, while using their tiny language among them with no difference and with profit to the global community. Unless the extension's purposed goals quoted above have been deprecated, I call for not forcefully conflating the spectrum of user languages with the strict list of Wikimedia content languages.

Sadly, the request for a language code of Tokipona is rejected by SIL: http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/cr_files/PastComments/CR_Comments_2017-035.pdf

Maybe there's no benefit to continue doing that?

KATMAKROFAN added a subscriber: KATMAKROFAN.EditedJun 3 2018, 3:34 AM

Oppose

Oppose

When commenting on phab, please include some reasoning or discussion to comments, Simple oppose comments do not add context or help in task discussion.

Liuxinyu970226 added a comment.EditedJun 11 2018, 9:13 AM

@Peachey88:

When commenting on phab, please include some reasoning or discussion to comments, Simple oppose comments do not add context or help in task discussion.

Frankly he should provide reasons, but I also agree that there's no benefits to do restore since its effort are inappropriate for nearly all twn users e.g. me

If you don't against my comment then I probably will mark this task as Invalid.

Putting the language code (non-)attribution issue aside, is there an agreement that Babel should only support languages that are also supported as content languages? If so, where has it been voiced, because that's not exactly what the extension seems to be about.

I can understand that Toki Pona might eventually remain out of Babel because it can only be represented through a non-standard code, but then have there been any other languages (with ISO code) that our users speak and use to communicate with each other on the projects yet that are not the content language of any project? Although this question is already a generalization of this task, it naturally comes to my mind when I think about the relation between Babel-declared user languages and Wikimedia content languages. Such users might currently also be affected in a similar way as Toki Pona speakers are at the moment (i.e. unable to state through Babel that they speak a particular language) and might have just not made it all the way here to express their problem in Phabricator.

If Babel's goals have been modified in the meantime so as to align the set of its supported user languages with the set of supported content languages - and if that is how it should stay, to my regret - than this should be reflected in the extension's documentation.

@Blahma If you think saving babel boxes for Toki Pona and other non-coded languages are having benefit for you, you can create babel templates locally, no need to ask support in Babel extension, which to the best of my knowledge, should always follow the "IETF language tag" keystone

Anyway, I strongly urge you to stop, cease and suspend your tokipona addition-ism on Wikidata, since Wikidata's keystone rule is same: following IETF

@Liuxinyu970226 Thank you for your suggestion number one. I've been aware of this possibility, yet, as I mention in the ticket description, that would mean a "need to import and maintain a set of templates in each and every project I contribute to, just to be able to set up a user page". For a user like me who has edits on ~100 wikis, that would really be impractical, let alone when some community decides to start a discussion about those new local templates, in their language.

Regarding your second suggestion, I don't understand what you mean. I've not added a single label in Toki Pona since September 2016. It has recently not been anymore technically possible anyway, right? And my point is not in adding something, but rather opposing the loss of something that had been here for years. As a speaker of a language, I think I have the right to do this. The community and the foundation, as those running the system, are on the other hand free to decide their rules and may choose not to accede to my request.

It could be argued that Babel is here to facilitate communication, while Toki Pona is a language with zero native speakers, not used for actual interactions. Therefore, it falls in the hobby category which is what userboxes are for.

That "not used for actual interactions" may actually hold true (in the Wikimedia context, though none of us can easily prove that), while looking at native speakers is a misleading criterion (English is not my mother tongue and I would keep using it with other non-native speakers even if all the native speakers out there suddenly died out) and I can bet that there are people who share only Toki Pona and no other common language (so that that would be their language of choice if they had to talk to each other). This last argument holds even stronger for better established conlangs, particularly Esperanto, for which I could readily provide a list of people pairs whose only shared language it is.

There is a joke about the Slovak shepherd from the mountains, who was approached by a foreign tourist. The tourist asked the shepherd: "Do you speak English?" No reaction. "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" No reaction. "Parlez-vous francais?" No reaction. "Habla Usted Español?" No reaction at all. When the tourist had left, a helper told to the shepherd: "With all the globalization, should you not start learning foreign languages?" "Why? Look at that guy: He knew five, yet to no avail!"

The moral of the story is that even if you support tons of languages, but leave out one, you might fall short of communication that could otherwise happen in that particular language (which could happen to be the only one shared by a couple of people).

Liuxinyu970226 added a comment.EditedJul 24 2018, 4:05 AM

@Blahma Per criteria for coded languages.pdf, a language needs these properties to be functional:

  • It's used in a variety of domains
  • It's used to support communication across all genders and all ages
  • It's stable enough to be widely understood across the whole area of the language

If you can't provide evidence that why Tokipona fullfill these 3 criterias, I think we can close this task as either Declined or Invalid and continue doing T132899.

@Blahma: Any feedback on the bullet points that Liuxinyu970226 provided?