Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Crowd-source me this one

Last week's news that a Gaelic-speaker would be recruited to facilitate Wikipedia articles in the language was good news. A quick glance at the Uicipeid website shows that it has a mere 14,143 entries, meaning that many speakers will simply not bother consulting it, instead using the English version, whose article tally is an enormous 5,264,840. For Irish Gaelic, which of course enjoys a good deal of State support, if only for learning rather than in the form of vital services, the number is 38,586 — hardly a rival for English, yet more than twice the number for Gaelic, whose number of traditional native speakers is probably not actually that much lower.

Some of the reporting of the new post has mentioned the salary, £30,000 — less than the average wage but above the median. Is this an example of journalists graciously lending their newspapers to some free advertising in order to attract the right person and thus help save the language? Or is it just an example, conscious or unconscious, of the kind of pettifogging bean-counting that emerges as soon as someone has the idea of spending money on a minority language?

Answers on a postcard.

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