This is the way we've been doing it so far, but I'm open to suggestions. Do people think we should only list the official languages?
Yes, personally I would only list the official language(s) of a country, because it can get a bit confusing to say the least.
Mainly because of the question where you should draw the line considering numbers? For example the danish in Iceland is less than 1% and probably the danish speaking people are scattered around the country. Should the line be 0,1%, 1%, 10%? And does it have to be for the country or just for some parts. It's just difficult.
In other cases though where a specific area is having almost only people which speak a certain language, than it's an official language. Like German in Italy or Frysian in Holland. So in that cases I would like to see the language added as official.
Personally, I think the top two or three languages should be given instead of just the official language. In most cases the "official" language will be #1 on the list. It not only tells the national language but also something of the other ethnic groups living in that country.
The US does not have an official language. (I may be wrong, but I believe the legislation to make English the official language did not pass.) If you wanted to break it down even further at some point, the US could be listed as:
English - 82.1%
Spanish - 10.7%
Other - 7.2%
For those where a particular language is "official" - list the word "official" after that language.
Isa now leaves to practice her Spanish and "other" languages.
I would just have the official language or if there is no official language, then the language that the majority speaks. If other languages are spoken in the country, I would put it in the article about the country.
Like here in Iceland although the official language is Icelandic, almost everyone speaks English, but it's not officially recognized.
The main consideration here has always been, what language/s is/are spoken most, not the 'official' language (keep in mind there can be debates about that too, just like there are debates about where a country starts and where a country ends).
The reason is quite simple, as a travel site, travellers researching a country will be most interested in how to communicate in that country, not what the official language is. So say I'm travelling to Andorra and I speak Spanish. I'd be happy to learn that Spanish is spoken there by so many people. That the national language is Catalan doesn't interest me really if only 1% of the people speak it (not saying that's the case, just to illustrate a point).
Seeing as the official language should not change often, I would suggest doing something like this:
Facts on the right hand side - list official language(s) - provided of course a source can be found that lists these and they are correct in 95% + of the cases
In the country content, create a heading ===Languages=== and just type in the languages that are spoken there and the percentage behind them if you have access to that info, so it'd be something like this:
"Despite the official language of Andorra being Catalan, it is only spoken by xx% of the population. The languages spoken most in Andorra are ... "
or for Iceland:
"The official language of Iceland is Icelandic. However, Danish is widely spoken as it is a mandatory second language in high school"
How does that sound?
It sounds like a good idea, Sam. Hopefully, we can keep our political persuasions under wraps, when giving such information.
For example, I am tempted to say that the religion of Ireland is Roman Catholic, and Protestant should not be included. But, as I said, that statement would be heavily influenced by sensitive political feelings.
Although, I do think, that the percentage of protestants is very low, in the Republic of Ireland. As far as I remember, it was only 1%, when I was a teenager. But the teacher at my school, who said that may have bumped down that percentage, because of political feelings.
I wonder if the Estonians would object to Russian being listed as one of the languages, of Estonia. Over 60%(not certain of this percentage) of the people living in Estonia are Russian, but they have only had independence from Russia, for 15 years, and could be touchy about the rights the Russians living in Estonia are claiming.
Good luck, with having enough patience to listen to all the arguments that will come your way, about the languages etc.
Quoting Sam I Am
travellers researching a country will be most interested in how to communicate in that country, not what the official language is.
Exactly. I'm much more interested in how I'll be able to communicate in the country, rather than what the official language is.
For Japan, for instance, I wrote in the language section:
English is not widely spoken. It is, however, very widely used on signs throughout the country, and many menus and restaurants will have English / Japanese menus. The Tourist Information Centers (TICs) will have English speakers, and can help with translations if needed.
In Canada, I would probably write (though I haven't gotten to writting anything there):
English and French are the official languages of Canada. Outside of Quebec, French is not widely spoken, however. Within Quebec, in the major cities travellers should be fine with either English or French, in smaller communities, however, French may be the only language spoken.
Another topic, on language, that will probably spark some debate. For the Japan entry, I concentrated on how an English speaker travelling around would fair. Given that the guide is in English, is it fair to slant language entries to what the English-speaking traveller would experience, or am I being to close-minded?
I've not been around much, so am only just starting to paly with this fancy wiki thing, but I agree that some of the languages are very interesting. But then again, the whole way of decsribing languages in a country is.
Sweden, for example, lists Swedish and Skåne. Whilst Swedish is obviously fine, Skåne is a province, not a language. Whilst it's true that our dialect - Skånsk - can be hard to follow, it would be like putting "Geordie" on the English page [though there is possibly merit in showing that, or Glaswegian, at any rate... ]. And there is no mention of Sami, an official language, or that English is very widely spoken.
Should I be annoyed that for Wales, the languages are listed as English then Welsh?. Yet on the UK page, only English is listed as a language. In this case, maybe a note saying "and regional languages" or some such? Ireland & Northern Ireland get "Irish Gaelic", whilst Scotland gets a vaguer "Gaelic", and doesn't mention Doric etc.
And surely the whole of the UK should show Polish and Australian English as languages.....?
Should I also be annoyed that the capital's name is shown in English (Cardiff) but not Welsh (Caerdydd) as well? This is a common comment, and particularly for non English speaking countries, surely showing the capital (and country) name in the native language(s) would be useful in the quick facts section as well.
Whilst the Italian listed languages are technically correct, in a way, I agree that it's not particularly helpful like that, as only small pockets speak either with any frequency, and 95%+ of the population won't speak any of the other 3. And Slovenia, where parts also speak Italian (and where Italian is much more useful across the country as a whole then Slovenian is in Italy) isn't mentioned. It should at least be consistent.
Switzerland gets an interesting "standard German" rather than just "German" (as the Germans get) or "Swiss German" which is probably more useful if German is going to be split up, though that's more of a dialect issue.
And many, many more.
One general suggestion - In the Quick facts, how about using the nationality rather than country name for flag and map (eg "Swiss flag" rather than "Switzerland flag") which sounds better to me [i've never heard anybody talk about the USA flag, for example. It's always the American flag]
Oh, and one personal gripe about all countries that i've plonked in at random - I REALLY don't like the dropping of capitals in the title (Eg, Germany, not germany). I know that it's cool and internety not to use capitals these days, and perhaps it's just that i'm too old, but that particular point irks me greatly, and i'll fight anybody who disagrees
Oh, and having just seem the list of "countries" down in Asia [Including Armenia and Azerbaijan, but not Georgia or Turkey which are both European] and remembering a long and occassionally heated debate on here not so long ago, you might need to come up with some kind of compromise.
It also took me a little time to realise that there is no mention in Asia of the Middle East, which is seperate. Surely there should at the very least be a prominent link under the Asian title to "Middle East", which is after all, almost entirely Asia.
I'd also say that maybe regional maps would be an idea - Why not have a North America map for North America? At the moment, nobody has any way of finding out where the heck Saint Piere and Miguelon is, based on the available map. And surely it should have (French) in brackets, the same way that Isle of Man has (U.K.) in brackets?
[None of these things are editable, which is why i'm saying so here instead of changing them (< ERROR: the link title is too long!)]
I'm not going to continue this one here.....
Oh, and one personal gripe about all countries that i've plonked in at random - I REALLY don't like the dropping of capitals in the title
I've just realised that if you click on a country, it's name is capitalised. If you type it in to the address field WITH a capital, it is capitalised. But if you type it in lower case (as per most web addresses) it comes up lower case. And you get a different picture showing depending if the name is capitalised or not. Is this somehow deliberate....?
[ Edit: Edited on May 23, 2007, at 9:29 AM by Gelli ]
If you type it as gErManY - that's how it will show up. I haven't been involved in the wiki development, but I guess the page is just doing a case-insensitive search (as it should) and then taking the user-input rather than picking up the 'official' name from the database. As 99.9% of internet users these days do not enter such 'complex' URLs by hand, and all links capitalize it right, this shouldn't be much of a problem, but yeah, for absolute correctness there probably should be a correcting step added there.
Please don't think that I'm not interested in updating information for areas in which I'm familiar, it's just that I'm really pushed for time with a lot of things at the moment.
I do plant to get to it in the near future.