Monday, August 27, 2007

Some more on Wolof

OmegaWiki wants to support all words of all languages and, it does not want to go into the issue of does this language exist or not. We make use of the ISO 639 standards and, when we feel like being adventurous, we look at what is recognised in the IANA language tags.

Deferring to standard organisations means that you take what they say as the "truth". It does not mean that we necessarily agree, but it saves us from a lot of mayhem. Yesterday I wrote about the first native Wolof speaker for OmegaWiki. Today Ibou changed the definition for Wolof and included Gambia as a country where Wolof is spoken. According to the description by Ethnologue of the Wolof language this is not the case. They do refer to another language, Gambian Wolof, this description makes it clear that Wolof is spoken in the Gambia as well.

The article on Wikipedia on Wolof is in my opinion wrong; it gives the impression that the ISO-639-1 and the ISO-639-2 codes are split into two. This is contrary to how standards work. When a language is split into two, the original meaning will stand as it is, it will get a new description to indicate that it has been split and two new codes will be created.

So Ethnologue is inconsistent. Ibou is probably right. I have send an e-mail to Ethnologue and I hope that they will amend their fine resource so that we will know for sure that he is right. :)


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