Tacawit Wiktionary – the first language community to found itself on a project other than Wikipedia

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Tacawit Wiktionary, founded in 2015, has been growing steadily as a reference point for the local language.

Why Tacawit?

The Tacawit, or Chaouïa (in English, Shawiya), is a Zenati Berber language spoken in Algeria by the Chaoui people. The language’s primary speech area is the Aures Mountains in the eastern part of Algeria and the surrounding areas, including Batna, Khenchela, Sétif, Oum El Bouaghi, Souk Ahras, Tébessa and the northern part of Biskra.

Wiktionary in Tacawit started in 2015, but became active after the Wikimedia Conference in 2018, when a group of Wikimedians from North Africa, including myself, decided to found the Tamazight User Group.

Logo of the Wikimedians of Tamazight user group by Reda Kerbouche CC BY-SA 4.0

The Tamazight User Group works on projects in the Tamazight language and about Amazigh culture. Tacawit is part of the Tamazight language family, and the closest to me. It is my historical and native language and from all the other Tamazight languages it is the closest to me geographically. I decided to start by putting Tacawit words into French Wiktionary. When the number of words exceeded 900, I migrated them into a Tacawit incubator.

Why Wiktionary?


Since 2010 I have been an active contributor of Wikipedia. It is for me the best site that I have ever seen. But when I started to contribute to the French Wiktionary in 2016 I liked adding words there.

During the WikiIndaba 2018 in Tunis, I was in a session where two contributors from France gave an example of Tacawit in their presentation. It made me happy and at the same time, I was surprised that someone noticed the work.

After the event, I started to create and to translate the main incubator page into Tacawit. One of the contributors to the French Wiktionary helped me create templates and other things to get the incubator off the ground. To find new contributors to the project, I contacted a friend and a Wikipedian from my city in Algeria (Batna) who lives in Canada to help me with filling the contents in Tacawit. With his diaspora association in Canada, we added more than 2,000 words.

But the real question is why Wiktionary before Wikipedia. For me, the answer is easy, because for a minority language we must first find all the words we can use in other future projects. The Tacawit is not very present on the Internet, and that is why it is better to start by gathering all the words in one place before writing articles.

Our tools and strategy

Ahmed Houamel and I participated in several conferences with presentations about our project in Tacawit from the Wikimania of Cape town to Stockholm. We could also realize a MOOC with the support of Wikimedia France and the Tacawit translator in the USA. We have also created a very simple Android application who duplicates the incubator Tacawit page.

Archive notice: This is an archived post from Wikimedia Space, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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