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demographic considerations (was Re: Including content modes in 4.1)

From: gregory j. rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Fri, 10 Aug 2001 13:45:43 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
aloha, y'all!

this is a post from a while ago that magically reappeared in my outbox as an
"unsent" item -- since this thread has since frayed, here is a pointer to
the very start of the thread:
and a pointer to the recent "content modes" sub-thread:
my actual post follows:

an additional "real life" consideration, especially in the case of hebrew
and arabic, is that a significant minority (and, in some cases, and outright
majority) of those using resources in hebrew or arabic will not be native
speakers of either language...

isreal has a very significant immigrant population, and while many (if not
most) members of the diaspora receive hebrew lessons (which are often more
intensive than anything encountered in secular scholastic settings), hebrew
is still an acquired skill, and it is in the interest of those disseminating
information in hebrew to include explicit vowel marks...

likewise, whilst arabic is the native language of several nations, the
number of non-arabic speaking moslems far outstrips the number of moslems
for whom arabic is their native/mother tongue...  and, yet, as is the case
with hebrew, most religious training and ceremonies are conducted using
arabic texts, which, again, is a compelling argument for the inclusion of
vowel marks...  an even more compelling argument is that it is a basic
tenant of islam that since the quran was revealed to the prophet in arabic,
no translation of the quran can be considered "the quran" -- translations
are considered only as a means of conveying the meaning of the quran...
thus, when one considers that the quran itself exists only in the arabic in
which it was revealed, and that any translation from the arabic is
considered merely a gloss, the importance of making holy writ as precise as
possible can be considered "self-evident"...

now, consider this: the most populous moslem country in the world is
indonesia, whose population in July 2000 (a year ago) was estimated to be
224,784,210, 88% of whom adhere to islam [1] -- by comparison, according to
the same source (the CIA Factbook) the population of the united states of
america in july 2000 was 275,562,673; oh, and by the way, an estimated 83.8%
of indonesia's total population is considered literate (males: 89.6%;
females: 78% -- estimates are from 1995)

of the estimated 1 billion to 1,780,000,000 moslems in the world, only 15 to
18 percent live in countries whose official/primary language is arabic...
india, pakistan, and bangladesh account for approximately one-third of the
world's islamic population, while a fifth are found in sub-saharan africa...
some demographers estimate that 85% of the world's Muslims are non-Arabic.

of the ten countries with the largest moslem populations, arabic is the
native/official language in only 1 -- egypt... [3]

oh, and need i add that islam is the fastest growing religion in europe?
(what did you think it was, scientology?)

just some food for thought...

PS: i still think that this is an ideal usage case/scenario for the use of
ruby (http://www.w3.org/TR/ruby/)...

[1] CIA Factbook (2000 edition)

[2] Islam Guide

[3] adherents.com: Religious Statistics & Geography

3.1 Top 10 Largest National Muslim Populations
1.  Indonesia (170,310,000 moslems)
2.  Pakistan (136,000,000 moslems)
3.  Bangladesh (106,050,000 moslems)
4.  India (103,000,000 moslems)
5.  Turkey (62,410,000 moslems)
6.  Iran (60,790,000 moslems)
7.  Egypt (53,730,000 moslems)
8.  Nigeria (47,720,000 moslems)
9.  China (37,108,000 moslems)
	(yes, i know, there are only 9 -- the statistics
	are dated by the missing country -- the USSR,
	which, it was estimated, would contain 100
	million moslems in 2000 -- GJR)

Note: China should clearly be included among the top 10 largest national
Muslim communities, although it was not on the list in Russell Ash's book,
which is the main source of information for this list. Reliable religious
statistics are difficult to obtain from this Communist nation, and the
actual number of Muslims in China may be greater than the figure presented
above. Mojtaba Shabani wrote to Adherents.com with the following comments:

   The Muslim population in China is 11% by Muslim sources.
   This is based on the fact the ethnic "Hui" group are
   predominantly Muslim, and 9% of the population belong to
   this group. And then there are Uigurs and other Turkic
   people in addition to that, mostly in northwestern China,
   who constitute the remaining 2%... 11% would be around
   120 million.

Adherents.com has no argument with Mr. Shabani's calculations, but as we
currently have no published references supporting the higher figure we are
using the CIA figure in the list above, with the caveat that it is probably
too low and, according to Mr. Shabani, the CIA is biased against Muslims.
URI: <http://www.adherents.com/largecom/com_islam.html>

in attempting to find a figure for the number of moslems in the world today,
i used (or attempted to use the following:

4.1 WWW Virtual Library: Demographics & Population:

4.2 United Nations' Population Information Network (POPIN): while most of
the info at POPIN:
is available only PDF (which JFW couldn't read using Acrobat5), the
Executive Summary to the UN's "Long Range World Population Projections",
located at:
makes for interesting (and thought-provoking) reading...  POPIN's
"Electronic Library" can be found at:
Received on Friday, 10 August 2001 13:45:01 UTC

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