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