Wikipedia in Masri? No, Thanks!   14 comments

Well, just by chance today I came across the Egyptian version of Wikipedia. I was surprised. All the articles are in common modern Egyptian dialect of Arabic, known as Masri. I’m not against the idea, but I’m still not supporting it.

Firstly, the current language spoken in Egypt (Masri) is not a standalone language. It’s just a dialect of Arabic. In Wikipedia it’s called Egyptian Arabic. So, it’s as humorous as creating a Wikipedia written in the southern dialect of American English. P.S. Egypt had a different language long ago called Egyptian, that evoluted into Coptic; it is not related to Arabic or to Masri. It was being spoken in Egypt until the 17th century. It’s not spoken at present. Just so that it’s not to be confused with Masri.

Secondly, in Egypt, the official language by which all formal, scientific, and educational affairs are managed is Arabic. Masri is not recognized by the government, and thus does not have any role in education or scientific research, or in applying knowledge for the benefit of people. You can’t write a scientific paper in Masri, for instance, but you can write it in Arabic. So, how can this Masri wikipedia be useful?

Lastly, the main Arabic Wikipedia is severely lacking in content. In contrast to more than 300,000 articles in the English or Japanese Wikipedia, there are only a little over 50,000 articles in the former. Moreover, most of its article are stubs, in that they are very short and technically incomplete. I personally believe that the effort being put in the Masri Wikipedia should be put in the main Arabic Wikipedia.

It may be easier for Egyptians to read the Wikipedia in their own dialect, but what benefit are they getting? All the info is laid out in a very informal way. The Egyptian dialect is inherently poor in precise technical terms, so the meanings are all mixed up. There is a Wikipedia in Simple English, which is a great idea. Younger audience and the less educated will definitely benefit from a simpler yet a technically correct wikipedia. But a wikipedia in a common speech will never be useful. It would be just like a random blah-blah at a bar late at night.

How about a Wikipedia in Simple Arabic instead? This could work.

I can see how Wikipedia, as a foundation, promotes sharing of knowledge in every way. But I’m not sure if they realize that sharing knowledge in common speech or dialects is no longer reliable. Today, precise technical terms and even precise lingual tools evolved to convey correct and useful knowledge. Gone are the days of folk medicine and our grandma’s recommendations for heartburns.

P.S. Ironically, Masri is written in the main page of the Masri Wikipedia as ‘Masry’. In the English Wikipedia, it’s referred to by ‘Masri’, so which’s the correct word? In fact, both ‘Masry’ and ‘Masri’ are not found in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Simply because it’s a non-recognized language.

Take a look at the Masri Wikipedia
http://arz.wikipedia.org/

Join The Anti Wikipedia Masry Movement

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14 responses to “Wikipedia in Masri? No, Thanks!

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  1. justanotherthinker
  2. Thanks, I added a link to your group in this post if you don’t mind.

    • Of course i don’t mind. I just want to make one thing clear to those who sommented on this post.

      1) The goals of Wikipedia Masry is not to help Foriegners to learn Masry and Arabic. If you go through the request page and read the “for arguments” would find that their ultimate goal is to replace Arabic as the official language of Egypt with Masry, they do not consider themselves (and egyptians in general) Arabs or related to Arabs in anyway. And this is the main point that annoys me otherwise I wouldn’t have cared less what they do

      2) As for Arabic not being suitable for Scientific discussions as well; well have you tried reading a scientific article on Wikipedia Arabic? You’ll find it more than adequate unlike Masri. I do not know about Medicine but alot of Scientific publications and books in subjects of Math and Physichs ,to name a few, are published in Arabic. Inaddition to the fact that alot of schools in Egypt teach Science and Math in arabic.

      3) a third point that i would like to pose for discussion is that of “Religious Articles”. I personally find the religious Articles in Wikipedia Masry (unlike thos in Arabic or English) are seriously offensive to all Religions and not just Islam. They are written in an almost sarcastic matter it might be to no fault of the author but the language just cannot be taken seriously. I am not going to quote any of them because honestly they give me the hepitijibus.

      Sorry for the rather legnthy comment but I couldn’t help myself and i hope that i have helped clear out some confusions (and hopefully generated more confusions to replae them)

      justanotherthinker
  3. As a student learning Arabic, I find Wikipedia بالمصري extremely useful. It’s just a little side project so I don’t think it should threaten anyone. My goal as an Arabic learner is to speak and understand the dialects, particularly Egyptian, while reading and writing fusHa. Some Arabic teachers don’t understand that this is the most practical way to go about it. If you don’t know a dialect, you can’t speak to anyone. That’s not a minor issue. When I was in Egypt, people thought my fusHa was English, so there was no question of using it. My Egyptian was quite useful, though.

    Secondly, you say that Masri can’t express scientific or scholarly ideas. Unfortunately, I think Arabic has a similar problem. Medicine is taught in English in almost all Arab countries (Syria is the only exception). There is a constant problem of translating new scientific terms. Take a look at the Arabic article on DNA… Every sentence has an Arabic term followed by the English original. People often don’t think that Arabic is a scientific language.

    However, Masri has an easy solution… just use the terms from fusHa. Easy, right? People use formal Arabic terms in real-life spoken language, so it’s easy to put those into Wikipedia Masri articles. It’s not rocket science.

    Anyway, again, this is just a fun thing to do.

    However, I do strongly agree, the Arabic Wikipedia needs to get bigger and better!

    American student of Arabic
  4. and… compare the chinese wikipedia article to the arabic (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%84%B1%E6%B0%A7%E6%A0%B8%E7%B3%96%E6%A0%B8%E9%85%B8). the chinese article only uses “dna” in english, basically nothing else. meanwhile, the arabic article feels the need to translate the word “genes” and even the word “translate”. formal arabic has a little way to go in becoming a scientific language itself.

    American student of Arabic
    • I agree about that, but Masri is not only deficient in scientific terms, but also in lingual terms. As you said, often one needs to insert fusha into Masri to form a meaning. There are many Arabic words with no synonyms in Masri. That’s why I think Masri is nothing more than a dialect of Arabic, but people in Wikipedia insists on it being a standalone language.

  5. However, it does seem like 1500 articles is kind of enough already. It definitely shouldn’t be a serious project…

    American student of Arabic
  6. I understand that some people might benefit from a wikipedia Masri, such as foreigner students who want to learn Arabic dialects, but I think that in general there is much more harm done by this page than the gained advantage.

    The thing is that Arabic is suffering quite a lot at the moment. Arabs are neglecting their language and choosing to use foreign words and expression. Youngsters and elders alike hardly know anything about Arabic grammar.

    Using dialects to write is becoming a phenomena that not only threatens our culture and heritage, but also minimizes our ability to express scientific and technical knowledge in our own language, because dialects are generally much more recipient of foreign words.

  7. و الله هم احرار يكتبوا زي مهمو عايزيين !!
    ده ايه ده ….
    حاجه عجيبه و الله !

  8. No, It’s not easier for us (Egyptians) to read in this Masry thing, it’s a crap, we never saw it written, and it’s not a language at all, every governate/city has its own dialect , everyone has his own dialect.

  9. @drhaisook
    I totally agree with your point of view, plus I’m against the fake-wikipedia (Masri).
    @Ehab
    Yes, they are free to write in any language, but they claimed that there is a language called Masri (for god’s sake have you ever heard of language called Masri before !!) and created a a Wikipedia for it, and started writing !!

    I consider it as their “blog”, not our Wikipedia.

    Also, see this link, It’s the discussion that was made in Wikipedia Arabic while Wikipedia Masri was being initiated:
    http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D9%88%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A7:%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86/%D8%A3%D8%B1%D8%B4%D9%8A%D9%81/%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1/09/2008

    Thanks.

    Muhammad Saeed
  10. I think it’s helpful for students, to see if they understand etc.
    But good article

  11. Sorry but just keep your opinion to yourself; we do not need to hear it.

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