Thursday, 10 January 2013
My wife replied to my comments on the burqa: "but it suits men when they decide that women are only half citizens." Certainly! My point was just that you mustn't blame Muhammad; he probably never even saw a burqa. Anyway, Babylonian temple prostitution led me to thoughts of Babel and I wondered how many languages have a Wikipedia edition. The answer is 285 (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikipedias)from English, with 4.14 million articles, to Kanuri. with one, and Herero, so far with none. It was a shock to see Volapük at no. 37, with 119,030; I thought it had died with Revd. Martin Schleyer, who invented it in 1880, yet there it is not far behind Esperanto. Several dead languages are still kicking, including Latin, with slightly more articles than modern Greek, Sanskrit, Gothic and Old Church Slavonic. One can only marvel at the enthusiasts who produce all this stuff that so few people can read. People's attachment to their languages is one of the strongest human motivations and should never be under-estimated, especially when it is combined with a religion.