Wikipedia:Speakers of other languages

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People whose first language is other than English are both welcome and encouraged to edit the English Wikipedia. While in order to edit here you need some competence in English, as all our articles are written in English (that's what English Wikipedia means), for many of our valued contributors English is not their first language.

The reasons they choose to edit here rather than in a Wikipedia written in their mother tongue are probably as numerous as they are. This is the largest Wikipedia and likely to remain so for a while at least. It reaches more people and contains more articles for Wikilink targets. And for many languages there is no Wikipedia as yet, so the choice may be limited. And even if there is a Wikipedia in their language and they are active in it, many people choose to be active in several languages.

The contributions of all these people are special and valuable. They come from cultures that are still likely to be under-represented here even with their contributions, and they bring encyclopedic information that would be similarly under-represented if we restricted our editors to those above a particular level of competence in English. Their presence here in significant numbers is something the other Wikipedias can only envy at this stage.

The standard of English in their contributions varies enormously (as it does for native speakers as well).

  • Some need extensive editing to correct grammar and spelling.
  • Some even need editing just to untangle the meaning.
  • Some just impart a non-English flavour to their articles which will inevitably be cleaned up in time, but which at least some readers find charming and would actually prefer to stay.

But for other readers, non-standard English is an annoyance. Some hints and suggestions in dealing with this:

  • Focus on the information.
  • Don't criticise poor English. That's about as helpful and gracious as criticising a pregnant woman for getting in your way when she's slower than you are climbing onto a bus. Instead fix it.
  • If you are going to contribute by fixing grammar and spelling, make sure you have read and understood the relevant Wikipedia policies.
  • Remember a Wiki is a collaboration tool. One person correcting another person's grammar is not an evil thing, rather the ability to do it is a key strength of Wikipedia.
  • Don't try to correct articles that you don't understand. You stand every chance of making the problem worse not better. Instead place {{cleanup-translation}} on the page and click on the template to report it in the clean-up section of Wikipedia:Pages needing translation into English, or raise your concerns on the article talk page, on cleanup, or even the Village pump.
  • Don't list articles for deletion, or vote for them to be deleted, on the grounds of poor English. That's irrelevant on AfD. Again, raise your concerns in the proper place, or better still fix them. If the article is on AfD for other reasons and you think it will be deleted, no problems. If you fear it will be kept despite the poor English, either fix it or come back to do so after the decision.
  • If you find editing poor English is annoying you, take a Wikibreak and let someone else do it. You won't write brilliant prose in that mood!

See also[edit]