Latin may be the language of love, but Ethnologue says that there are more than 7,000 living languages in the world today. This left students with Andrew Nevins’s Introduction to Linguistics class at Harvard Summer School much to choose from for their Wikipedia coursework. Together his class edited 38 articles, with some students becoming so taken with Wikipedia that they decided to branch out into different topics such as beatboxing.
Two of his students expanded the Italian language, paying particular attention to the language’s growth in popularity over the years, noting that the growth of technology such as printing presses made it easier for the language to spread over large areas. One hard working student added information about the grammar structure in the Hindi language article, which received almost a quarter of a million views since they began editing! Two more of his students expanded the articles for the German, French, and Sino-Tibetan languages, the last of which now includes information on the change in the tone and word structure of Sino-Tibetan languages.
Also intriguing is the work from one student, who expanded the article on the Turkish language to give more detail on the language’s syntax, as well as information on a whistling version of the Turkish language. This language, which mirrors the lexical and syntactical structure of Turkish language, is in danger of dying off — however there is hope that attempts to teach the language in regional schools will save the language. What makes the addition of this material so much more meaningful is that the student in question was editing from Turkey, which blocked access to Wikipedia in their country. Adding this content not only gave readers the ability to learn more about the Turkish language but also gave the student the freedom to share their wealth of knowledge and resources despite their country’s censorship of Wikipedia.
You too can have your class work with Wikipedia as one of your class assignments. If you’re interested, please contact Wiki Education at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can gain access to tools, online trainings, and printed materials.
Image: Harvard University Widener Library, by Joseph Williams, CC-BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.