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Indigenous Languages Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon: October 14, 2019

October 1, 2019
Wikipedia logo, Navajo

Guest post co-authored by Christian Brickhouse, Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics.

Please join us on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 14, 2019, in El Centro Chicano (at the front of Old Union, on the Stanford campus), between 10am and 4pm, for a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon focusing on indigenous languages.

To celebrate the thousands of indigenous languages across the world, the United Nations has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous languages. From the Penutian languages of the San Francisco Bay area to the Pahoturi River languages of Papua New Guinea, language is used to share information and as a central part of our cultures and identities. Despite the work done by anthropologists and linguists on the world’s indigenous languages, information about the languages indigenous to where we live and work is hard to find and especially so for those with a personal connection to these languages. As part of the celebration of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the Stanford Department of Linguistics, the Stanford Libraries, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Stanford American Indian Organization, and other campus groups are working together to host this Wikipedia edit-a-thon on Indigenous Peoples’ Day to help spread and share knowledge of the world’s indigenous languages.

Because Wikipedia is written and edited entirely by volunteers, there are large gaps in its coverage which students, librarians, and academics are well situated to fix. Languages with many speakers such as Quechua tend to have well developed articles because they have a larger pool of people who would be interested in editing Wikipedia. Languages with fewer speakers, on the other hand, tend to get little attention and are often only a few sentences. While anthropologists and linguists have managed to document a large number of the world’s indigenous languages, this information is often inaccessible to the public and especially to speakers of the language, due to paywalled databases or highly technical writing.

One of the best ways to celebrate indigenous languages is by making the knowledge we have collected accessible to the speakers who shared their knowledge with us, and one of the most effective ways to do that is by improving Wikipedia.

With the help of the Stanford Libraries, we have compiled a list of Wikipedia articles and library resources that can help improve them. What we need most is help editing! Facilitators will be in El Centro Chicano (Old Union) from 10am to 4pm on October 14 to help new editors add information to Wikipedia articles. Participants are welcome to drop in any time and for however long they can spare. There are small tasks such as adding example sentences to articles or improving bibliographic information to large tasks such as writing entire sections. All these tasks help improve the encyclopedia, and the only difference is how much time you can volunteer.

No experience (in either Wikipedia or indigenous languages) is required, but please bring your own laptop.

Contact Christian Brickhouse (brickhouse@stanford.edu) or Glen Worthey (gworthey@stanford.edu) with questions.

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