Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Interlingua Wikipedia - Unethically raising the Article Count?

There is something queer happening on the Interlingua Wikipedia. I remember until the beginning of this month, there were about 5,500 (give or take a hundred) articles on the Interlingua version of the Wikipedia. The number today, only three weeks later, stands slightly above 9,100. Roughly speaking, this is an increase of 3,500 articles in less than three weeks. This sounds impressive. Perhaps there is a sudden interest in the language. But wait a minute. 

When you look at the number of active users, who have made at least one edit in the past 30 days, it is only 65 according to the data on the Statisticas page (Esperanto Wikipedia has 468, for comparison) and 50 of them are automated computer programmes or bots. It means either the remaining 15 people wrote all of the 3,500 or so articles (approximately 233 articles per head) or the lovers of the language have turned to playing the same game Volapukists played a couple of years ago. Back then a series of automated computer programmes had created articles on the Volapuk Wikpedia at a breathtaking speed. It now has over 100,000 articles. Of these two possibilities, the second one sounds more plausible.

Almost all the articles created in the past few weeks are one or two line articles and most of them are about cities, towns and villages in Spain and Vietnam. It is unlikely that 15 people suddenly developed an interest for geography and none of them wrote more than one or two sentences.

I believe these bot created articles will add little, if any, value to the Interlingua Wikipedia. The move could indeed backfire as new students may get discouraged on finding these stubs most of the time they look for something on the Interlingua Wikipedia. The editors, or whoever is behind this, should better concentrate on creating a few but quality articles, like these ones. (I wrote them!) ;)

Here is a screen shot of the Statisticas page on 21 September, 2011:


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Romanised Hindi / Urdu - Roesjil's Transliteration Scheme

The use of the both romanised Hindi and Urdu is widespread in South-Asia. For Hindi alone there are already over half a dozen transliteration schemes devised. The main trouble with most of these romanisation methods is that they either use diatrics or look ugly. Here you see for yourself:

kal jab unho~n ne mujhe ye batAyA ke vo sa.nskrit bhAshA kA gyAn rakhte hai~n to mai~n ulajha geyA (ITRANS)

Kal jab unhoṅ ne mujhe ye batāyā ke vo saṃskrit bhāśā kā gyān rakhte haiṅ to maiṅ ulajha geyā. (IAST)

I was shocked when he told me yesterday he knew Sanskrit.

The second is more beautiful. On the downside, it is not easy to type these diatrics while texting - the preferred mode of communication in India and Pakistan. For this reason many turn to anglicised romanisation. The main disadvantage of this system is that it doesn't differentiate between retroflex and dental consonants and both nasalised 'n' and regular 'n' are represented by 'n'. Therefore 'tota' could mean 'a parrot' or 'a splinter' and 'man' could be inferred as either 'pride' or 'mother'. Most of the time the meaning is clear from the context but that's not always the case. To overcome these drawbacks, here I propose a new romanisation scheme which doesn't use diatrics and is more aesthetically pleasing to look at than ITRANS.

Vowels:

The vowels are a, e, i, o and u

A, i and u can be either short long.

patta = leaf (not pattaa)
Abhijit = a Hindu name (not Abhijeet)
Kulu-Manali = a mountain resort town in North India (not Kuloo-Manaalee)

In case of e and o, these diphthongs are used:

kaid = imprisonment (not ked)
fauran = immediately (not foran)

Consontants:

With these few exceptions, the consonants have been left untouched:
T = त,ت   
Tz = ट, ٹ
Th = थ, تھا
Tzh = ठ, ٹھا
D = द, د
Dh = ध, دھا
Dz = ढ, ڈ
N = न, ن
N' = nasalised न, ن
Nh = ण, ن
R = र, ر
Rh = ड, ڑ

Therefore the above sentence in this new scheme would be:

Kal jab unhon' ne mujhe bataya ke vo sanskrit ka geyan rakhte hain' to main' ulajh geya.

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Here is a sample text in Hindi/Urdu in Roesjil's transliteration scheme:

Dr. Manmohan Singh Bharat ke vartaman pradhanmantri hain'. Ve ek kushal rajneta ke sath-sath ek acce vidvan, arath-shashtri aur vicharak bhi hain'. (Hindi)

Dr. Manmohan Singh Bharat ke chalte vazir-e-azam hain'. Vo ek hunarmand syasatdan ke sath-sath ek umda skolar, ekonomistz aur makul bhi hain'. (Urdu)

Dr. Manmohan Singh is the current prime minister of India. Besides being a skilled politician, he is also a scholar, economist and intellectual.