Wikipedia in Bavarian: “My knowledge is my dialect” – digital

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The German-language Wikipedia is, apart from versions that are filled automatically, the second largest in the world after the English-language one. In addition to this quasi-official version, there are also many smaller Wikipedias from Central Europe in Slavic and Germanic language forms. Such as the Silesian, North Frisian, Alemannic and of course the Bavarian Wikipedia.

One of the authors of the Bavarian Wikipedia, which currently contains more than 30,000 articles, is “Wikibayer”. The author does not want to give his real name publicly. Because anyone who is active on the Internet can quickly attract hatred, especially in such small communities as the dialect Wikipedia. Wikibayer is, as much one can say, a 24-year-old trained metalworker from Cham in the Upper Palatinate.

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SZ: There are many dialects in Bavaria, a person from Munich speaks differently than someone from Passau, and you sound different from someone who grew up in Weiden. Is this a problem?

Wikibayer: Of course, Upper Palatinate is different from Upper Bavarian. And we have Austrians too. But basically it’s all very similar. We all understand each other.

The Bavarian written language works differently than standard German. What are the special features?

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We have no official spelling, so there is no Duden that we can use for orientation. We just write as we speak. And in Bavarian grammar there are a few differences to standard German.

There is no genitive, for example in the article on Joe Biden, “zua Woi from Donald Trump”.

Yes, that’s how we talk. One of the biggest differences is that there is no Ü in Bavarian. This is how “to Munich” becomes “af Minga”.

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The articles in the Bavarian Wikipedia are significantly shorter than in the all-German version. Joe Biden has to make do with two paragraphs.

We’re just a few people, but the High German Wikipedia has thousands of authors. If we were to write articles as long, we would only have very few – and so we now have over 30,000 entries.

How do you decide which articles to write?

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We research and write our own articles, especially on words that only exist in Bavarian. Like “Drahdiwaberl” (a toy top, Editor’s note). But I mainly translate articles from Standard German. For me, which ones are decided by chance.

What is the goal of the Bavarian Wikipedia?

We want to preserve our language. I also work on the High German Wikipedia, but I can better contribute my knowledge to the Bavarian one. My knowledge is my dialect.

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Months ago it emerged that half of the entries in Scots Wikipedia came from a US teenager who had no command of the language and who had used a translation program. Is this also threatening the Bavarian Wikipedia?

We have also had authors who have broken some things or who have given “that’s what my grandma said” as the source. It is also not always easy to stop these authors from writing. But I then programmed filters that restricted such people further and further, so that they finally no longer felt like working with us.

Besides the Bavarian dialect there are also many other small dialect Wikipedias. Do you know each other?

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Yes, we met at the Wikicon. And I also help, for example, with the Low German Wikipedia, for which I also have administrator rights. I understand relatively little, but I recognize obvious vandalism, i.e. when someone is just playing around wildly on the keyboard. I’ll delete that then.

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