November African language Wikipedia update: Afrikaans passes Swahili

Time to take another look at the progress of African and African language Wikipedia projects.

African Language Wikipedias

93412525
Language 1/1/2007 11/2/2011 13/4/2012 16/11/2012
Malagasy   3806 36767 38753
Yoruba 517 12174 29894 30158
Afrikaans 6149 17002 22115 24821
Swahili 2980 21244 23481 24519
Amharic 742 6738 11572 11806
Egyptian Arabic     8433
Somali   1639 2354
Lingala 292 1394 1816 1951
Kinyarwanda     1501 1807
Shona       1272
Kabyle       1144
Wolof   1116 1814 1129

Progress has slowed in a number of the projects, and in the leading two languages, Malagasy and Yoruba, the slump has been quite dramatic after the increase seen in the previous period.

Remember as always I’m only looking at the number of articles, which is a flawed metric since it’s quite easy for bots or single users to quickly create large numbers of low quality articles. Still, it does measure some degree of the level of activity and interest in the project.

Afrikaans is distinguishing itself, and has picked up the pace and once again passed Swahili, which passed Afrikaans to become the largest African-language Wikipedia back in July 2009. Afrikaans also grew the quickest, which means that, on current trends, Afrikaans is heading towards once again becoming the largest African language Wikipedia, although it is still far behind Malagasy and Yoruba.

Two new arrivals in the 1000+ club are Shona, spoken primarily in Zimbabwe, and Kabyle, spoken primarily in Algeria, which have both passed Wolof, meaning there are now eleven African language Wikipedias with more than one thousand articles.

Shona has increased particularly quickly, having less than 100 articles two years ago.

South African Language Wikipedias

Language 1/10/2007 19/11/2011 13/4/2012 16/11/2012
Afrikaans 8374 20042 22115 24821
Northern Sotho 0 557 566 686
Zulu 107 256 483 568
Tswana 40 240 490 497
Swati 56 359 361 363
Tsonga 10 192 193 243
Venda 43 193 190 194
Sotho 43 132 145 151
Xhosa 66 125 136 141

Of the South African languages, besides Afrikaans, there has been reasonable progress in Northern Sotho, which spent a long time in the incubator before emerging to become the second largest, and Zulu. Sadly the growth in Tswana, boosted by the Google Setswana challenge from October 2011 to January 2012, has again stalled, while the other languages remain moribund.

It’s pleasing to see the signs of progress, and the gradual manifestation of a world in which every human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

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