“Languages on Wikipedia” by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia – EF Guest Vlog

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“Languages on Wikipedia” by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia – EF Guest Vlog


Hi, I’m Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia. I’m delighted and honored to be the
host of the EF Guest Vlog this week. Wikipedia, of course, is in 285 some
odd languages all around the world. We have a huge global community. Our international communication mostly
takes place in English because it’s the most popular second language around the world. One of the interesting things about Wikipedia
is that it’s all written by volunteers. There’s no machine translation. Everything that is moved from one language
to another is done by some person, so there are huge opportunities to do this. One of the opportunities you might think is ‘I could read the English page and translate it
into my language.’ That’s a great thing to do. But there’s actually something really interesting. One of the reasons that English is the largest
language version of Wikipedia is that English is by the far the most popular
second language in the world. What happens is, people write
something in their mother tongue and then they’ll write maybe a shorter version
or basic version in English and then from there, it gets translated to other languages still. So that kind of bilingual work is really important. I travel all over the world and I meet with
Wikipedia volunteers all over the world. One of the funny things that always happens is,
people come to me and they start to talk to me and then they say ‘oh, I apologize for my English.’ What I always tell them is that, actually,
I understand your English very well. The only place I have trouble understanding
English is, actually, in the U.K. because they have a very wide range
of accents and native speakers. Native speakers from the
north of England or Scotland. Sometimes it’s very hard to understand them. So I think for people to remember, when
they’re speaking in a foreign language, particularly English is one of the most common… The number of people who speak so-called
bad English around the world is enormous, so English speakers are quite accustomed
to hearing all kinds of English. And, particularly, if you’re not a native speaker,
you may not notice, but you will tend to speak more slowly and carefully, so it’s quite
easy to make yourself understood. So don’t be shy. Just give it a shot. In today’s world, the level of communication
between different people in different parts of the world is dramatically
higher than ever before and the opportunities to travel are
dramatically larger than ever before. So the study of language has
become something that I think has always been good
for you, and healthy and helpful, but now it’s becoming really,
really critical for lots of reasons. I tend to think more in terms of
the fun and the cultural reasons, but also for employment
reasons, it makes a lot of sense. I think I should be spending one day
a week learning a new language. So Happy 50th Anniversary, EF! I think your work is more important today than
it has been at any point in the last 50 years because language has become
so important to the world. And thank you very much for having me on!

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