Requests for new languages/Wikipedia Maliseet
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- Number of speakers: 1,655 native speakers in 1998 estimated; renewed interest and instruction of the young, potential stabilization
- Locations spoken: New Brunswick, Canada; Maine, USA
- Related languages: Mi'kmaq is closest other Eastern Algonquian language; of 44 languages in the Algic language family listed by Ethnologue , only Cheyenne and Cree have Wikipedias so far[list]
- Promoting organizations: Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians; The Endangered Language Fund; University of New Brunswick Mi'kmaq-Maliseet Institute; Native Languages of the Americas; Union of New Brunswick Indians; see also Ethnologue listing
I am part Maliseet and I am working on learning the language. I hope a few other students of the language or Passamaquoddy or Maliseet native speakers will also be interested in contributing.
This language has been spoken in Maine and New Brunswick since long before European contact. It includes two very closely related dialects easily understood by speakers of the other, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy, roughly centered on what are now the St. John and St. Croix Rivers, respectively. It contributed a word to English: Moose!
Many of the original Algonquian languages, which once had millions of speakers dominating vast stretches of what are now eastern and central USA and Canada, are extinct. Maliseet-Passamaquoddy is seriously endangered, with only 1,600 or so native speakers, but it looks like its speakers are keeping it stable. It's a beautiful and fascinating language from an incredibly beautiful part of the Earth. ~ Reaverdrop 12:36, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
A sample Maliseet translation:
Wikipedia-uk, 'kocoskehlawal encyclopedia.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Uskawemal Wikipedia, 'kocoskehlawal encyclopedia wen kis-mawwikhikhotuwok.
Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
Wot Wolastoqewiyik elikok mace eli 2005.
This Maliseet version started in 2005.
- Support. There are two other Algonquian wikipedias (in Cree and Cheyenne), both sadly lacking content, as are (unfortunately) most wikipedias in native American languages. To avoid the risk of a similar fate for a Maliseet-Passamaquoddy wikipedia, I would recommend finding some more people who can contribute and starting a test-wiki. If together you can write a few dozen articles, that will give you a much better start than other native American wikipedias have had. --Chamdarae 14:51, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
- Support. But Reaverdrop, please promise to me with your hand on the Bible that you will keep contributing as much as you can and that you will strive to find some native speakers or language revivers. That is absolutely necessary when you start a new Wikipedia. Caesarion Velim, non opto 23:32, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
- Oppose. Not because I oppose a Maliseet and/or Passamaquoddy Wikipedia, but rather because Reaverdrop says "I am part Maliseet and I am working on learning the language". This is something you typically hear from people who are 1/2403248909234th American indigene, and think that learning the language is all new-agey and cool and thus learn it as a hobby rather than as a serious or a real pursuit. Choctaw, Creek, and Cheyenne Wikipedias were proposed by exactly the same kinds of people, and they are really small and never grew beyond two or three substub articles. --Node ue 05:18, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
- Good point. On top of that, one should not overlook that building an encyclopedia is a huge project, especially if you have to rely on unpaid, voluntary, non-professional writers. It takes a number of dedicated people coming from various fields of knowledge, willing to sacrifice much of their free time order to make the project a success. With the very low number of speakers (with many of them possibly being more "at home" in English), how could that be attained? Arbeo 11:46, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
- Reaverdrop Responds: Thanks, Chamdarae and Caesarion. To address the concerns raised by Caesarion and the opposers:
- I've identified a few experts I'll try to rely on: Philip LeSourd, Ph.D. MIT, lingustics and anthropology professor at Indiana University, author of a Maliseet-Passamaquoddy dictionary; Robert Leavitt, linguistics professor at the University of New Brunswick, director of the Mi'kmaq-Maliseet Institute, and co-author of an ongoing Maliseet-Passamaquoddy dictionary; David Francis, a Passamaquoddy elder at Sipayik, Maine, and co-author with Leavitt of the Maliseet-Passamaquoddy dictionary; and Laura Redish, director of a Native American language activism non-profit in my local area. I will rely on them for help, and if possible convince them to participate directly.
- My part-Maliseet grandmother makes regular visits to her hometown in Aroostook County, northern Maine, around the upper St. John River in the Maliseet heartland. She has a standing invitation for me to accompany her. I've visited there twice before. I will have the opportunity to visit again and seek to practice/check up on my Maliseet with native speakers (my relatives among them), and hopefully even get some of them interested in the Wikipedia project.
- As for being trivialized as "new-agey and cool", there's nothing "new-agey" about studying a once much more widely spoken language of some of my ancestors. I have an established record of making serious studies of foreign languages rather than merely dabbling as a hobby: I've taken classes in Latin, Spanish, French, and Dutch, I got an A on a university fluency test for Dutch, I lived in Europe for a year and was told by native Dutch speakers that I had an Amsterdam accent and they did not believe I was American. I suspect that is more of a proven record of serious language study than the authors of the Choctaw, Creek, and Cheyenne Wikipedias could claim.
- There are quite a few people who fit the exact same profile. Now, I would support this WP if a _real_ speaker requested it. But it wasn't a _real_ speaker. It was somebody who is learning a minority language. And, in the case of Native American languages, most second-language learners learn it as a hobby, but make similar claims to you (...ancestors). Now, if you get the same level of fluency in Maliseet that you have in Dutch, you could easily be considered a _real_ speaker. But currently, I really don't think you are. And, as always, Native Speakers über alle! Obviously, a very fluent speaker can start a WP, but Native Speakers are always the best. Now, don't get the idea that I have any problem with people learning the indigenous languages of the Americas, or with the languages themselves. I myself have taken college classes in O'Odham and Navajo. And despite the relative fluency I had at one time in Navajo, I would never have requested that WP. The only reason I took to it is because it already existed, and it's still pretty much cryogenically preserved until a native speaker comes along, with some minor enhancements such as a partially translated interface, and a handful of articles. In fact, it would be very refreshing to have a successful Maliseet and/or Passamaquoddy WP. I just don't see you as the bastion for accomplishing that goal. --Node ue 05:58, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
- As for Arbeo's concern: if a low number of speakers, with some of them also fluent in a lingua franca, were a serious argument against establishing a Wikipedia in that language, we should call quits on the creation of Wikipedias in new languages, and dismantle many of the extant ones. (The Latin and Old English Wikipedias seem to be doing fine with no native speakers...) There are few if any options left if we only admit languages with current large speaking populations without knowledge of a more widespread language. On the contrary, that is an argument in favor rather than against setting up a Wikipedia in that language. The Maliseet Wikipedia will encourage and assist non-speakers or non-fluent speakers of Maliseet to learn the language, and hopefully will be available to encourage and assist native speakers to be actively engaged in their language, and let them not have to leave Maliseet behind completely when they are on the Internet. As for the time commitment, sure it is sure to be slower going with a language with few speakers, but a relatively slowly built Wikipedia is still going to do a lot more to further engagement with the language than preemptive surrender. And looking at my record of Wikipedia contributions, you can rest assured that a significant time expenditure (for at least one contributor) will not be an issue.
- ~ Reaverdrop 08:49, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
- Nice to see that you are quite serious about this, Reaverdrop! I'd morally support this if you can assure that there will be at least two participants right from the start who know the language really well. Arbeo 16:37, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
- The fact is, Reaverdrop, that I agree with you, and so will no doubt Node Ue, but that we are concerned that it won't really get started. Actually, no NA language Wikipedia ever succeeded in getting a Wikipedia started, with the possible exception of the Nahuatl Wikipedia (see also List of Wikipedias). Caesarion Velim, non opto 17:04, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
- Support. But (enough) "native speakers or language revivers" (as said by Caesarion) must be found... :o) Hégésippe | ±Θ± 03:53, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
- Comment - It would be immensely easier to find native speakers of Mi'kmaw, still a viable language, with ten times the number of speakers and much greater prospects for a successful revival. (Mi'kmaq and Maleseet are not mutually intelligibl btw...) I would think they are in an even better position for a wikipedia, so I would whole-heartedly support a Mi'kmaq wikipedia first, if someone were found who can write articles in it...Til Eulenspiegel 05:54, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
- Response to Til Eulenspiegel: That's a slight exaggeration - Ethnologue lists 5.14 times as many Mi'kmaq speakers as Maliseet-Passamaquoddy speakers. (And while they're not mutually intelligible, they're closely related.) ~ Reaverdrop 23:01, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
- Support Revolución 02:15, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
- Oppose I support small languages but i wonder the following: if Cree, the most commonly spoken Native language in Canada has a hard time supporting its wikipedia despite the fact that often Cree children are taught in Cree, how will this language's wikipedia survive when its speaker population is hardly a percentage point of the number of people who speak the various Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi languages. From personal experience with Algonquian languages, I know also that learning a language from the family to which Maliseet-Passamaquoddy belongs as a second language for an English L1 speaker, although possible of course, makes learning Japanese or Chinese look like a piece of cake. I doubt any of the second language learners have even a minimally good degree of competence, unless they're really really motivated. So i could be wrong. I am curious how much the proposer knows about the language and I would like for him to respond to my reasons for opposing a Maliseet-Passamquoddy wikipedia in Maliseet-Passamaquoddy if possible (and I'll try to understand what i can, and i will withdraw opposition). Stettlerj 02:48, 24 December 2005 (UTC)
- Support Belgian man (nl na en) 16:46, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
- Support nl:Boudewijn Idema, 18:52 1 March 2006 (UTC)
- Followup - I started a test wikipedia for Maliseet-Passamaquoddy here. - Reaverdrop 04:52, 9 May 2006 (UTC)
- It's been a couple of months now, did your project progress? Are you fluent in the language, and did you convince some people to participate? I'd certainly support this if it's still alive. --Zabumon 01:17, 15 November 2006 (UTC)