Wikipedia is the world’s largest free online encyclopaedia. Its contents are created and edited by volunteers all over the world. Basically, the Wikipedia language is English. But it has been translated into some other major world languages like German, Spanish, etc. Currently, a group of young Ghanaian volunteers is also trying to translate Wikipedia pages into Twi, the largest language in Ghana too.
The Twi language is spoken by more than half the population of the country —that is 58%. Twi is a Ghanaian language but it is not spoken in Ghana alone. According to Africa Feeds, a significant number of the population in Ivory Coast speak the language as well. Around 30% of Ivorians speak Twi.
With all these figures, there is still a limited online material written in the language. This essentially means those who are literate in the language may not find important information online written in the Twi language.
Wikipedia has loads of essential information like places, people events, and other activities and subjects. And all these information are mostly written in English and translatable to other international languages. But this important info does not have a Twi version, meaning Twi literates will miss out.
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That is why the move to translate Wikipedia articles into Twi is crucial. This initiative is being pushed forward by the Global Open Initiative Foundation with support from the Wikimedia Foundation.
The first session of translation happened already taken place in Accra. Over a dozen young volunteers gathered to work on the new project. They were taught how to use a tool called Content Translator on Wikipedia. This tool was used to translate the English pages into Twi.
The “Edit-a-thon” workshop will go on through April and May as the organisers hope for more volunteers to come on board. Initiated by the Global Open Initiative Foundation, the project is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. This is the same organisation [Wikimedia] that maintains the Wikipedia website. Few other organisations are also pushing their weight behind the project. They are the Africa Feeds Media Limited and the Linux Accra User Group.
The project’s organisers released a statement saying they need new editors and users of the Twi Wikipedia.
“We intend to use this project to recruit new editors and users of the Twi Wikipedia. We believe projects like these which help increase more online content in Twi could lead to the standardization of the Twi language,”
Twi is not the only language the group will be working on. The workshop’s coordinator, Zita Ursula Zage says they will hold sessions for other Ghanaian languages.
“The initiation and success of this project will motivate others to organize similar projects focusing on other Ghanaian languages like Ewe, Ga, Dagomba, etc.”