The Beginnings of Wikipedia Masry
Date of Issue2010
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Having been officially launched in 2008 by a group of young Egyptian internet users, Wikipedia Masry became the first Wikipedia to be collaboratively written in one of the colloquial varieties of Arabic - Egyptian Colloquial Arabic (ECA). This has caused a lot of controversy and criticism in numerous forums, blogs, and Facebook groups, both in Egypt and throughout the Arab world. In this article, I discuss the ideological background of this project which is grounded in territorial Egyptian nationalism and articulated around the claim that, rather than a dialect, ECA is a separate language, completely different and independent from Modern Standard Arabic (MSA). My analysis of several lexical, morpho-syntactic and orthographic characteristics found in Wikipedia Masry articles demonstrates that a lot of what active contributors to Wikipedia Masry write is, in fact, an admixture of ECA and MSA. Despite the contributors' insistence on linguo-ideological claims that they write in the 'Egyptian language', many linguistic features of their language production reveal that the resultant written discourse of Wikipedia Masry still relies on MSA.
Al-Logha: Series of Papers in Linguistics
© 2010 The editors and Arab & African Research Center, Cairo. This paper was published in Al-Logha: Series of Papers in Linguistics and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of Arab & African Research Center, Cairo. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.