[Translators-l] Translate "Wikimedia Foundation" or not?

Brion Vibber brion at pobox.com
Sun Dec 31 01:05:56 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA1

habj wrote:
> Different languages translate real names to varying degree. Do you
> translate the name "Wikimedia Foundation" to your individual
> languages, or do you leave it as it is?

I've generally used/seen 'Fondaĵo Wikimedia' in Esperanto, though I'm
not certain that usage is current.

> For a start, I did translate "Foundation" to "Stiftelsen" ("Wikimedia
> Foundation" => "stiftelsen Wikimedia"). I took Wikimedia for the name,
> and "foundation" as a description. Then I was told that WMF
> technically actually is not a foundation, but a non-commercial
> company. If the WMF actually is not a foundation it seems misleading
> to translate the word "Foundation",

Well, being a foundation and being a non-commercial company are not
mutually exclusive.

As far as I understand (but I am *not* a lawyer!) there isn't really a
legal definition of 'foundation' as such in the US. A legal entity that
is what we'd call a foundation is going to be some sort of non-profit
corporation -- the incorporation is what gives it a legal existence --
and there will be some specific legal term for that which is not

That doesn't make it "not a foundation" any more than it makes it "not a
charity" or "not an organization"; it is all of those things.

In the particular case of "Wikimedia Foundation, Inc." it is considered
a domestic not-for-profit corporation under Florida state law.

But what the proper translation of that into other languages and, worse,
other legal systems might be, I couldn't really say. ;)


> and anyhow translations of true names is a troublesome business.

Too true. :P

> Has this been discussed anywhere? Has the Board, or anyone else,
> voiced opinions?

When the Foundation was young and dinosaurs ruled the earth, I tried to
get clear answers about how translations of project names and other such
names should be managed, but the board at the time was not really
interested in getting involved in the issue. (IMHO that's a problem when
it comes to branding and trademark management...)

Might be worth popping the question over at HQ, see what current
management thinks, but I would not be surprised if they don't consider
it that big an issue to muddle in either.

In theory this ought to be a question for the executive director
(presently Brad) rather than bugging individual board members, I suppose...

- -- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com / brion @ wikimedia.org)
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