March 2016 African language Wikipedia update

My feeds have been full with Dumi editing up a storm on the Xitstonga Wikipedia recently, as well as helping the Ndebele Wikipedia into the incubator. Ndebele is the only South African official language without a Wikipedia, and it’s great to see this hole being plugged. So, it’s time for another African language Wikipedia update. The usual disclaimer that this only takes into account number of articles, an imperfect metric, as not all articles are equal. This article is in a far healthier state than this one, for example.

But as an indicator of trends and activity, it’s as good as any, so let’s see what been happening:

African Language Wikipedias

Language 11/2/2011 13/4/2012 9/5/2013 17/6/2014 26/6/2015 5/3/2016
Malagasy 3,806 36,767 45,361 47,144 79,329 81,240
Afrikaans 17,002 22,115 26,752 31,756 35,856 39,065
Swahili 21,244 23,481 25,265 26,349 29,127 32,565
Yoruba 12,174 29,894 30,585 30,910 31,068 31,172
Egyptian Arabic   8,433 10,379 12,440 14,192 14,839
Amharic 6,738 11,572 12,360 15,968 12,950 13,031
Somali 1,639 2,354 2,757 3,646 3,446 3,878
Northern Sotho 557 566 685 691 1,000 2,830
Kabyle     1,503 1,876 2,296 2,643
Shona     1,421 2,077 2,321 2,459
Lingala 1,394 1,816 2,025 2,077 2,062 2,131
Kinyarwanda   1,501 1,817 1,832 1,780 1,785
Hausa 1,345 1,360
Kongo 1,122
Igbo 1,019 1,112
Wolof 1,116 1,814 1,161 1,201 1,023 1,044

Afrikaans as always continues to show steady growth, and while at times growth in other languages has spiked for a short while, Afrikaans has shown steady, consistent progress, and most of its articles are high quality as well.

Swahili too shows steady growth, and has passed Yoruba, which was the beneficiary of a brief spike.

Most dramatic has been been Northern Sotho, which is the most recent official language of South Africa to get a Wikipedia, and which only recently broke the 1000 article barrier. It has now surged past seven other languages, with 2830 articles. Much of this growth (a whopping 1544 new articles) is down to User:Aliwal2012, a hospital pharmacist living in Lady Grey who’s also extremely active on the Afrikaans Wikipedia, and modestly contributes to the English Wikipedia as well. Modest is a relative term, since in spite of being around for about decade less than me, and English only being their third most active language, they’ve still created more new articles in English than I have!

A great example of the impact one person can have, made more visible by it being in a language that has little content.

Kabyle, a language spoken mostly in northern Algeria, as well as France, has also shown some growth, passing Shona.

Kongo, spoken in the DRC, Republic of Congo and Angola, has now also broken 1000 articles and is a new edition on the list, and Kikuyu is knocking on the door as well.

Exciting to see new languages and bursts of activity, with only a few being relatively stagnant.

On to the South African languages specifically:

South African Language Wikipedias

Language 19/11/2011 13/4/2012 9/5/2013 17/6/2014 26/6/2015 5/3/2016
Afrikaans 20,042 22,115 26,754 31,756 35,856 39,065
Northern Sotho 557 566 685 691 1,000 2,830
Zulu 256 483 579 630 683 742
Tswana 240 490 495 510 503 538
Xhosa 125 136 148 333 356 473
Swati 359 361 364 400 410 412
Tsonga 192 193 240 303 266 352
Sotho 132 145 188 197 223 299
Venda 193 190 204 209 151 228
Ndebele (incubator) 12

The results here are particularly pleasing, as with the exception of Swati, all the languages are showing activity. As Northern Sotho and Xitsonga, have shown, one person can make a substantial impact.

Anecdotally, some of the of this activity may be down to the content translation tool – it’s great to see a useful tool put to use by the community.

This has probably been the most optimistic report since I started these a number of years ago. Long may it continue, as we get closer to a world where each human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

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Image from Wikimedia Commons

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