Miriam
Which languages do you miss on italki?

Do you know how italki chooses the languages offered? It seems a bit arbitrary to me. There are constructed languages like Dothraki (seemingly with only one user who learns this language), endangered languages with less than 4000 native speakers like Blackfoot (I'm totally for learning endangered languages, but there are so many languages with millions of native speakers, which aren't listed here) and dialects like Alsatian (also with only one user registered). 

So, I wondered why languages like Swiss German with 4,9 millions speakers, Romansh (one of the four national languages in Switzerland with approximately 60,000 speakers),  Low German with approximately 10 million speakers, Sorbian, a slavic endangered language with 30,000 speakers, Friesian with more than 400,000 speakers, Romani with around 6 millions speakers aren't listed. I'm not learning any of those languages right now, but only checked which of the languages spoken in Switzerland and Germany are listed and those are only official languages or accepted minority languages, not dialects. There is only a fraction of the Indian languages. Odia, for example, is one of the official languages of India with 40 million native speakers. Wouldn't it be more useful to include this language than Dothraki?

Did ever anyone send a request that a language should be added and then the italki team added it? Which languages would you like to see added?

Mar 13, 2017 5:06 PM
Comments · 15

Again an interesting topic Miriam! Thanks for bringing this topic.

Unfortunately, I am one of those 40 million Odia native speakers whose language is not listed in italki:( Hindi is not my native language but it is the one I found close to Odia. I know it's is impossible for the italki to include all the languages of India as they are 1000 in numbers, but they should at least include 22 languages which are listed in the constitution as they are spoken by at least more than a million people.

By the way, I am going to write it about this to iatlki team and I will let you know about their response. Let's see on which background they are including languages on their list!

March 15, 2017

Sudeep, in Russian this reply could be shorter: "I have no idea and now a bit curious myself":)

Actually it is sad that they don't have languages of China here:( I'm for a long time interested in many languages/cultures of South China / North Indo-China.

Both Chinese 'dialects' (besides more well known like Cantonese) which can be as much 'dialects' as French is a dialect of Romance - and languages unrelated to Chinese.

China has 56 officially recognized ethinic groups - and treats languages a similar way. (By comparison: there are 130+ languages in Dagestan in Russia... and no, Dagestan is not more diverse than the whole China.). What in China is called a 'language' (Like "Hani", "Yi", "Zhuang" etc) is often whole lanuage families
Some had their own traditional writing systems and (Yi) may have an extensive corpus of surviving old texts.

Thogh I'm not learning any curently I would absolutely love to have some idea of speakers of WHAT can be met here. Both with langauges unrelatad to Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai etc - and with dialects.

I can only do so occasionally asking guys (and girls) who have "Other" or "Chinese (other)" in their profiles. Not convenient at all.

March 16, 2017

Here is the response I got from italki team. I hope it may help us understanding how they include a language in their directory--

For languages in particular, there are multiple factors that go into it. For example, whether or not there are people who speak the language, whether or not it is used, whether or not we can find a teacher for the language, etc. For example, in China there are over 50+ different subcultures and groups with their own version of "Chinese," but on the website there is only a few options for Chinese (Taiwanese, Cantonese, etc.). Again, I'm not quite sure about the particulars about the decisions behind adding languages, but I can pass this request on to relevant departments to consider.

March 16, 2017
There is "Chinese (other)" on italki, but not "Indian (other)", so now I posted a short notebook entry in Odia in "Other": https://www.italki.com/notebook/2918439/entry/783804. ;
March 18, 2017
Romani is (or are, as there are several languages) certainly needed. It is absent because iTalki is a Chinese-American enterprise - they might not be aware the Gypsy are one of the most prominent nations/cultures in Europe

I disagree with you and Jakob in the implication (if you imlied this. Did you? I'm not sure.) that 'arbitrary' is bad.

Presence of Bigfoot and Alsatian is (or might be) a sign of that somebody requested Bigfoot and Alsatian.
If iTlaki teams responds to such requests - that's just great!

The meaningful and reasonable thing would be to include a language IF there is A reason to include it. Such a list would appear exactly 'arbitrary', 'random' etc. to some extent - and still that is how the ideal list would look.

On the contrary, requesting Breton language only to receive a rebuttal based on "sorry, we don't include languages which have less than 20 millions of speakers (Wikipedia lists 57 such languages) or "it is not a national language of a prominent state"  would be disappointing to the extent of iTalki appearing unfriendly.

March 14, 2017
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