Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby E}{pugnator » 2018-03-15, 18:27

Just thought I'd leave my two words here. I really don't have the time to go through the whole thread as I'm not an active user anymore, but I was encouraged to do so here by former admin Johanna:

I'm afraid some already less common languages will drown under an even more obscure umbrella. Like having a Kartvelian forum or a Uralic one tells nothing to someone who just wants to dabble in Georgian or Estonian and might even become a serious learner. The many active subforums for smaller languages are the most important attraction that was left off of Unilang, their uniqueness compared to other language-learning related forums. Having subforums sorted by language families is counter-intuictive because people don't search for a language family, like "Ok, now I decided I'm going to learn something Afro-Asiatic". An experienced learner who joins a language community will know exactly where to search, but the average learner might simply leave, thinking the forum for his language doesn't exist, while totally ignoring the Uralic or the Kartvelian forums. I'm particularly concerned about Georgian and Estonian for that matter, as there are two of the only corners in the web where one can actually discuss learning those languages.
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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Luís » 2018-03-15, 19:25

Car wrote:
Luís wrote:
Car wrote:I definitely agree there.


I think there's an extension that allows users to easily add and manage tags. I can look into it.

Is an extension for that really necesssary, though? Sure, if it's no big deal, feel free to add it, but I was thinking about doing it manually.


Well, it has some extra features though. Not sure if people would be interested in that or not.

tag2.png

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Linguaphile » 2018-03-15, 21:08

E}{pugnator wrote:Just thought I'd leave my two words here. I really don't have the time to go through the whole thread as I'm not an active user anymore, but I was encouraged to do so here by former admin Johanna:

I'm afraid some already less common languages will drown under an even more obscure umbrella. Like having a Kartvelian forum or a Uralic one tells nothing to someone who just wants to dabble in Georgian or Estonian and might even become a serious learner. The many active subforums for smaller languages are the most important attraction that was left off of Unilang, their uniqueness compared to other language-learning related forums. Having subforums sorted by language families is counter-intuictive because people don't search for a language family, like "Ok, now I decided I'm going to learn something Afro-Asiatic". An experienced learner who joins a language community will know exactly where to search, but the average learner might simply leave, thinking the forum for his language doesn't exist, while totally ignoring the Uralic or the Kartvelian forums. I'm particularly concerned about Georgian and Estonian for that matter, as there are two of the only corners in the web where one can actually discuss learning those languages.

Based on the survey on the Estonian forum, most others (96%) agree that Estonian should keep its own forum (myself included). My interest in a Uralic forum is for the smaller Uralic languages that currently don't have a forum (Livonian, Votic, Mari, Komi, Erzya, etc) and maybe also Saami, which does have its own forum but the forum has very little activity (besides my own posts there and the recent discussion over the creation of a Uralic forum, there have been only two posts on the Saami forum since 2016.) But the Estonian forum is very active and, as you pointed out, there aren't many "corners of the web" like that.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby księżycowy » 2018-03-15, 21:36

E}{pugnator wrote:I'm afraid some already less common languages will drown under an even more obscure umbrella. Like having a Kartvelian forum or a Uralic one tells nothing to someone who just wants to dabble in Georgian or Estonian and might even become a serious learner. The many active subforums for smaller languages are the most important attraction that was left off of Unilang, their uniqueness compared to other language-learning related forums. Having subforums sorted by language families is counter-intuictive because people don't search for a language family, like "Ok, now I decided I'm going to learn something Afro-Asiatic". An experienced learner who joins a language community will know exactly where to search, but the average learner might simply leave, thinking the forum for his language doesn't exist, while totally ignoring the Uralic or the Kartvelian forums. I'm particularly concerned about Georgian and Estonian for that matter, as there are two of the only corners in the web where one can actually discuss learning those languages.

Where as I follow your thought process, I see two issues:

1. We can't have subforums for every language people want to have one for. It would get ridiculous quickly. (I don't think you're advocating this, but I still want to say it.)

2. I do wholeheartedly agree that casual learners are not the type to say, "Hmmmm, I want to learn a Uralic language," for example. However with the wealth of information online now-a-days people can easily go from "I want to learn Sami" to "Sami is an Uralic language" and then find the right subforum from there. Not to mention the fact that we have some pretty helpful people around here.

I also think if we add in something like the extension that Luís was playing with earlier this argument will become largely moot. Plus there's the good old search bar, which you can easily type Sami into and find the right subforum.

Also, it's not like we couldn't call the hypothetical (at this point anyway) Kartvelian subforum "Georgian and Kartvelian languages" or something. Same for Sami, or any other forums.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-03-15, 22:04

Luís wrote:
Car wrote:
Luís wrote:
Car wrote:I definitely agree there.

I think there's an extension that allows users to easily add and manage tags. I can look into it.

Is an extension for that really necesssary, though? Sure, if it's no big deal, feel free to add it, but I was thinking about doing it manually.

Well, it has some extra features though. Not sure if people would be interested in that or not.

I like the look of that, and I think it could be useful.

E}{pugnator wrote:Having subforums sorted by language families is counter-intuictive because people don't search for a language family, like "Ok, now I decided I'm going to learn something Afro-Asiatic".

There are people here who do that, though. :P

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby atalarikt » 2018-03-15, 22:10

Luís wrote:
Car wrote:
Luís wrote:
Car wrote:I definitely agree there.


I think there's an extension that allows users to easily add and manage tags. I can look into it.

Is an extension for that really necesssary, though? Sure, if it's no big deal, feel free to add it, but I was thinking about doing it manually.


Well, it has some extra features though. Not sure if people would be interested in that or not.

tag2.png
tag.png

This looks helpful. I'm in line with those who want this feature added here.
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ خَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافُ أَلْسِنَتِكُمْ وَأَلْوَانِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِلْعَالِمِينَ۝
"And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge." (Ar-Rum: 22)

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby księżycowy » 2018-03-15, 22:16

If it wasn't clear from my above statements, I'm in favor of the tag extension.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-03-16, 0:46

księżycowy wrote:I will say that so far, we may not have to worry about the NAIL forum. Most people voting seem to be in favor of keeping it as is.

Speaking as both a user and the mod, I am in favor of splitting up the NAIL forum. But I can see the logic in wanting to keep it as one subforum.

Honestly, I can't seriously believe at this point that we're trying to organize the subforums by language family. This whole time, the one forum that has changed is one that used to refer to one well-established branch of a language family (Polynesian languages) and has now been expanded to God knows how many families. (I say this knowing full well that I myself advocated for this change, but still, I think we should be clear on the fact that this isn't organization by language family, more like the opposite). If we really were trying to organize the subforums by family, then that forum should be the first one to be broken up IMO; no other subforum encompasses so much linguistic variety.
Car wrote:
Luís wrote:
Car wrote:I definitely agree there.


I think there's an extension that allows users to easily add and manage tags. I can look into it.

Is an extension for that really necesssary, though? Sure, if it's no big deal, feel free to add it, but I was thinking about doing it manually.

Doing that manually would be really troublesome for all the threads that already exist, though.
księżycowy wrote:However with the wealth of information online now-a-days people can easily go from "I want to learn Sami" to "Sami is an Uralic language" and then find the right subforum from there.

Maybe they can, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will since they might prefer to just avoid digging around for the information they'd need to find the appropriate subforum, right?
I also think if we add in something like the extension that Luís was playing with earlier this argument will become largely moot.

How do you mean? What does that extension have to do with how we organize subforums? :hmm:
Plus there's the good old search bar, which you can easily type Sami into and find the right subforum.

Yeah, but I'm not sure newcomers will necessarily know that.
Also, it's not like we couldn't call the hypothetical (at this point anyway) Kartvelian subforum "Georgian and Kartvelian languages" or something. Same for Sami, or any other forums.

Of course, it would make those names longer, though, and I'm not clear that everyone is okay with that.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Car » 2018-03-16, 10:58

Luís wrote:
Car wrote:
Luís wrote:
Car wrote:I definitely agree there.


I think there's an extension that allows users to easily add and manage tags. I can look into it.

Is an extension for that really necesssary, though? Sure, if it's no big deal, feel free to add it, but I was thinking about doing it manually.


Well, it has some extra features though. Not sure if people would be interested in that or not.

That does look useful.

vijayjohn wrote:Doing that manually would be really troublesome for all the threads that already exist, though.


You'd have to add the tags manually, too, so I don't see how that would be more troublesome.
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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby księżycowy » 2018-03-16, 18:56

vijayjohn wrote:Maybe they can, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will since they might prefer to just avoid digging around for the information they'd need to find the appropriate subforum, right?

I'm not saying they should have to do extra work to find the appropriate subforum, I'm saying they very well may have that information before coming to a place like this, even if they are just casual learners.
How do you mean? What does that extension have to do with how we organize subforums? :hmm:

Nothing.
But it could make searching easier.
Yeah, but I'm not sure newcomers will necessarily know that.

It's not exactly hidden.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby księżycowy » 2018-03-16, 23:24

vijayjohn wrote:Honestly, I can't seriously believe at this point that we're trying to organize the subforums by language family. This whole time, the one forum that has changed is one that used to refer to one well-established branch of a language family (Polynesian languages) and has now been expanded to God knows how many families. (I say this knowing full well that I myself advocated for this change, but still, I think we should be clear on the fact that this isn't organization by language family, more like the opposite). If we really were trying to organize the subforums by family, then that forum should be the first one to be broken up IMO; no other subforum encompasses so much linguistic variety.

I'm curious what you propose then, and what changed your mind.

I don't see a good solution on way or another. I think we need to all decide how we're going about deciding what an active subforum is, what an inactive subforum is, whether we want to create things based on activity (which would have to be defined), interest (same issue), and whether merging is preferred or running polls, etc. etc.

You know, the stuff Linguoboy suggested a while ago that no-one has started discussing. :P

After that we can contextualize our poll results for the ones that were already created.

Personally, since they are the ones that will be ultimately doing this, I think it's only fair if the admins would start the conversation, and we can all engage in solidifying some of this stuff. So far we've had three different admins give 12 different answers. :P (I'm exaggerating for comical effect.)

And we don't have to tackle all of this at once, but let's start tackling at least one!

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-03-17, 4:31

księżycowy wrote:I'm curious what you propose then, and what changed your mind.

It's not that I don't want to see the forums organized by language family. Of course I would love to see that happen if it could. It's just that that's clearly not what's actually been happening, so it obviously won't happen.

Or if you mean (in part) what made me conclude that a family-based reorganization will not happen...I guess it was the fact that people have been talking so much about a Uralic subforum and what not but they don't seem to bother about forums for non-European languages (as you pointed out, no one seems to want to break up the NAIL subforum). I can understand why, but at the same time, Europe is the world's least linguistically diverse continent. If you want to organize subforums by language family, surely you should do the opposite and start with the most linguistically diverse continent (i.e. the continent of Australia, which also includes Papua New Guinea).
I don't see a good solution on way or another.

Me neither, I'm afraid.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Linguaphile » 2018-03-17, 5:36

vijayjohn wrote:I guess it was the fact that people have been talking so much about a Uralic subforum and what not but they don't seem to bother about forums for non-European languages

Except that some Uralic languages are non-European, and that was actually one of the primary reasons for a minority Uralic language subforum in the first place. Continent-based geographic groups would split them up into different subforums and scatter them among much larger, more dominant languages from other language families. They'd get lost (on the "other languages" and "general language" and various other forums, they already do).

vijayjohn wrote:(as you pointed out, no one seems to want to break up the NAIL subforum). I can understand why, but at the same time, Europe is the world's least linguistically diverse continent. If you want to organize subforums by language family, surely you should do the opposite and start with the most linguistically diverse continent (i.e. the continent of Australia, which also includes Papua New Guinea).

But if you want to organize subforums by language family, why start with a "continent" at all? Why not start with a language family, or a few of them, and work from there? (For example, which language families from Australia or PNG have the most interest among Unilang users or the most languages or the most speakers or whatever criteria you want to use?) The reason I've focused on Uralic myself is that it's my current interest and the potential new forum that I'd be most likely to contribute to, plus others seem to be interested as well. (The smaller Uralic languages also don't have a current place on Unilang.) I'm certainly not against reorganizing other forums or creating other new ones, I just don't have enough information to advocate for them. That's really the only reason I haven't advocated for other subforums in the same way.
As for the breaking up the NAIL subforum, I have no opinion either way because I'm not currently working with any of those languages enough to post there. I might someday (I'd like to study Muskogee some day, and as for CSAIL, in the past I've studied bits of Aymara, Quechua, Mixtec, and Zapotec, all of which I'd love to get back to some day; but none of them are current projects). Other interests from the past and/or for the future include Hmong, Thai, and Uzbek. So I'm interested in discussion concerning the presence of all of those languages at Unilang, but don't feel that I have anything to contribute to the discussion of how they should be organized. I'm glad, though, that there is a place for them besides the "other languages" forum; if and when I do start to study one or more of them more seriously I'll know exactly where to go. So I do hope they continue to have a place, whether it's the current one or some sort of reorganization.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-03-18, 4:56

Linguaphile wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:I guess it was the fact that people have been talking so much about a Uralic subforum and what not but they don't seem to bother about forums for non-European languages

Except that some Uralic languages are non-European

As are most language families with living members in Europe, the only possible exceptions being Northwest and Northeast Caucasian languages.
But if you want to organize subforums by language family, why start with a "continent" at all?

We don't have to, but this is effectively what has been happening anyway.
Why not start with a language family, or a few of them, and work from there? (For example, which language families from Australia or PNG have the most interest among Unilang users

None of them. There are only maybe three or four people at most who have expressed interest in learning any of these languages.
or the most languages

The vast majority of languages in Australia are Pama-Nyungan. With Papuan languages, it's much harder to say. There's a putative family called Trans-New Guinea dominating Papua New Guinea, but which languages constitute that family and whether the family is even valid are all issues that are up for debate.
or the most speakers

Not sure for the Australian languages, maybe Arrernte? For the Papuan languages, this would be Enga. Arrernte is a Pama-Nyungan language, and Enga is included in at least one classification as a Trans-New Guinea language (but it's not clear to me how strongly other linguists accept this classification). Enga is clearly an Engan language, though.
or whatever criteria you want to use?) The reason I've focused on Uralic myself is that it's my current interest and the potential new forum that I'd be most likely to contribute to, plus others seem to be interested as well. (The smaller Uralic languages also don't have a current place on Unilang.) I'm certainly not against reorganizing other forums or creating other new ones, I just don't have enough information to advocate for them. That's really the only reason I haven't advocated for other subforums in the same way.

Then I can try to provide information like I just did, I guess.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Linguaphile » 2018-03-18, 6:16

vijayjohn wrote:Then I can try to provide information like I just did, I guess.
Yes.

But I'd also like to add that I think that the following:
vijayjohn wrote:The vast majority of languages in Australia are Pama-Nyungan. With Papuan languages, it's much harder to say. There's a putative family called Trans-New Guinea dominating Papua New Guinea, but which languages constitute that family and whether the family is even valid are all issues that are up for debate

is likely to be part of the reason why this hasn't happened:
vijayjohn wrote:If you want to organize subforums by language family, surely you should do the opposite and start with the most linguistically diverse continent (i.e. the continent of Australia, which also includes Papua New Guinea).

I think that a decision of whether to organize families by language or by region is likely to vary depending on the individual circumstances of the languages involved. Where language families have clear definitions and are found in scattered geographical regions, grouping by language family makes sense. Where language families are less well-defined and the languages are found within certain geographical areas, grouping by geographic region makes sense. I don't think it needs to be 100% one or the other. It's currently a mix, and, it works fairly well other than the gaps that don't provide an obvious forum for certain languages (Uralic minority languages [Livonian, Votic, Veps, Ingrian, Ludic, Karelian, Mari, Khanty, Mansi, Erzya, Moksha, Komi, Udmurt, Nenets, Enets, Selkup, Nganasan], Albanian [Tosk, Gheg, Arbëresh], Mongolian [Halh, Chahar], Neo-Aramaic [various], Caucasian languages [Abkhaz, Ingush, Chechen, Adyghe, Kabardian, Avar, Dargwa, Lezgi, Lak, Khinalug, Rutul, etc.], Armenian, minority Romance languages [I'm not going to keep making lists, you get the idea], sign languages...etc.).
I know there are others that are missing, those are just some I've seen discussed here. So, to me, finding a "home" (forum or subforum) for those languages/language groups that don't have one here seems like a good priority if we are looking for ways to make it better. NAIL or CSAIL or Papuan languages might benefit from reorganization as well, but at least they do have a forum in the meantime.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-03-18, 17:20

I agree. I actually wouldn't have anything against just having a Papuan subforum for this reason (and because we have one thread for all the Papuan languages), even though "Papuan" is a catch-all term. I wouldn't even mind an Australian subforum that includes all the Australian Aboriginal languages; after all, the non-Pama-Nyungan languages need a home, too (and there's quite a few non-Pama-Nyungan families in (northern) Australia).

I've been studying Oirata and Teiwa. Irusia had at least started studying Kuman at some point. All of these languages have been classified as Trans-New Guinea, with Oirata and Teiwa possibly being more closely related to each other (and definitely being spoken in geographically closer areas) than Kuman is to either of them. I've also been studying Light Warlpiri, and IIRC księżycowy was studying Arrernte at some point; both languages are Pama-Nyungan but not any more closely related than that.

The rest of the world is trickier because there are a lot of well-established families elsewhere. (I suspect part of the reason why Papuan languages in particular are so difficult to classify is not only their variety but also the various political problems and increasingly deadly wars in the areas where they're spoken, which impede research). The Amazon rainforest is especially tricky since it's possibly comparable to PNG in terms of linguistic diversity but no particular language or linguistic group is dominant throughout the Amazon. There are also many language isolates in the Amazon (and in PNG and perhaps Australia). Tupian is the largest family in South America, attested both within and outside the Amazon rainforest.

Africa and especially Asia would surely be a lot easier than the Americas, though. Wikipedia seems to group all the languages of Africa into simply the following groups: Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo, Khoi-San, Indo-European (English, French, Afrikaans, etc.), and Austronesian (Malagasy). However, I would say the first four groups are all controversial to some degree. There are some fairly large and well-known groups of languages spoken there, though, such as Bantu languages. Also, even if we broke up Afroasiatic, it's still only made up of six groups that seem to be much better established. Niger-Congo is definitely the biggest group but may be lumping too many different varieties of languages together. I'll probably talk more about Asia some other time. :P

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby księżycowy » 2018-03-18, 18:06

vijayjohn wrote: IIRC księżycowy was studying Arrernte at some point

I've studied some Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara and a little Ngaanyatjarra.

I intend to return to one over the summer.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby księżycowy » 2018-03-19, 15:29

All I know, by the way, is I am very much in favor of splitting up the NAIL forum. My "specialty" (if one can even call it a specialty) is in Iroquoian language. Where as I have dabbled a bit in random other NAILs, and am willing to help people find resources and other non-linguistic things, I am no help to people otherwise. I don't say this not as a negative outlook on myself, but rather was a fact.

I know Northern Iroquoian languages. But that doesn't mean that 1. The other languages encompassed by the NAIL subforum shouldn't have a home, 2. nor am I unwilling to help anyone with any of the proposed language family subforums. (I'm not sure if I should mod any of these forums, but we don't have mods for every forum already, so....idk. Yes, I agree we should ideally have mods for every subforum, but this isn't a perfect world.)

I just think that we should play to the mods strengths, not make it something were people assume I know Lakota and be able to help them, for example.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Linguaphile » 2018-03-22, 0:55

I just thought I would post an update to say that the surveys on the Saami and Estonian forums have been up for two weeks now.

For the question Saami forum expanding to include Uralic: Are you in favor of a merger? on the Saami forum, there have been 14 votes.
    86% voted "Yes: include other minority Uralic languages"
    14% voted "Other."
The comments indicated that the people in favor of "other" (two people, which is 14%) would like to keep the Saami forum as it is, but create a separate Uralic forum for the languages that don't have a forum.


For the question What should we do with Estonian, Finnish and Hungarian subforums? on the Estonian forum, there have been 25 votes.
    96% voted "Keep them separate and reserve the Uralic forum only to minority Uralic languages"
    4% voted "Merge them and create a common Uralic forum".

I have provided links to the surveys (in the question titles above) in case anyone wants to have a look at the survey itself or the comments.

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Re: Language Subforums Management Discussion 2018

Postby Luís » 2018-03-22, 10:48

What exactly will be the name of the new Sami + minority Uralic languages forum? :hmm:
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