Sunday, June 26, 2005

The reason for not too many definitions on European wiktionaries

People from the English wiktionary in particular often say that the European ones are only full of stubs as they lack in definitions, synonyms, antonyms etc.

I was thinking about this today as I thought there must be a reason and yes, there is a very obvious reason.

When you live in an English only world most of all you do not need to know other languages to communicate since many people in the world speak enough English to be able to communicate.

When you live in Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands etc. instead the need of communication with other languages is much higher and this leads to a completely different perception of wiktionary. People see it as help during their everyday communication and since communication in Europe is made of translations you have plenty of translations and less defintions.

People add to wiktionary what is important for them from their cultural point of view and not from the other's point of view.

There are also other reasons.

Some time ago I also had an interesting conversation with Dave from the Ido wiktionary (http://io.wiktionary.org). People on the discussion list were reacting strange to their uploading huge translation wordlists. But: why did they? For the Ido language these lists and the possibility to have them searchable is one of the most important things. There are lists online, but you need to search in different places and you cannot add. So having wiktionary and being able to add in particular translations for them is very important.

What we should consider with any project: people add what is important for them, what they would like to find and so it is quite clear that translations are a huge part of that.

Definitions are important, of course, but they are just a part of the existing contents and not the main thing for everyone.

Personally being a translator what I need most are of course translations. Another thing that would help a lot are images. One example for technical translations: time ago we translated a CAD-Software and within this software we had long lists of different screws, bolts, etc. Sometimes we needed quite a long time to figure out which one was which one in which language. A dictionary with multiple translations showing the screws etc. would have helped a lot.

So please: from now on consider translations as important as they really are - and those of you who can add photos and images: add them at commons and link them to wiktionary as well.

Consider also: language students often use wiktionary - so create soundfiles ad add them - it helps them to learn a language.

Sabine Cretella
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