The simple English WP, which is old enough to compare, has 59061 articles; the English one 2941745, wht makes a ratio of nearly 50. The same ratio would make me expect a simple German WP with less than 18169 articles as the second largest. Less because English as the most important world language has most likely more foreign writers than other wikipedias and writers writing not in their mother tongue more often would chose the simple WP instead of the regular one. Therefore other simple wikipedias then the existing English one would somply be so small, than the potential readers anyway would be forced to read the regular wikipedia. And besides that simple wikipedias are, at last partly, designed for readers not knowing the language so well, but WP is being internationalized to offer information in everyone's mother tongue, only until then, many readers need to use a WP in a lingua franca, which most often is (simple) English, so simple wikipedias anyway mkae sense only in the few cases of a lingua franca. --Jackson 10:48, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Some proposals will have massive impact on end-users, including non-editors. Some will have minimal impact. What will be the impact of this proposal on our end-users? -- Philippe 00:16, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
It takes much longer for a learner of Japanese to try to read a novel compared to a learner of, for example, French. I took French in high school for 3 years and Japanese in college for 2.5 years, and now at age 40 even with some further exposure to Japanese, I'm still more comfortable puzzling out French than Japanese, UNLESS the furigana are over or below the kanji. If furigana is beside the kanji, it's a little more difficult, but doable.
This would be an important element of a Simple Japanese Wikipedia, as would other ruby characters be for Simple Wikipedias for other languages.
Ideally, for Japanese, there would be an option at the top of the page for kana versus romaji, aka the Latin alphabet. If one had to be picked, I recommend kana with a link at the top to a kana/romaji chart, because kana is not that difficult to learn, especially when exposed repeatedly to it. My college textbook used romaji until 3rd year, and it really made things a lot difficult when you try to progress and even makes manga with furigana difficult to read.
What really would be cool would be an option to place furigana above or below the main text. Kodansha's Effective Japanese Usage Dictionary puts furigana below the kanji so that the first character your eyes meet is the kanji, giving you a chance to remember the pronunciation before your eyes move to the kana. I agree with its editor that it is a much more effective learning tool, although super-position kanji is better than nothing and is more common in Japan.
It might also be good to have a show/hide box that could display both types of kana, or just one or the other for people who are strong in one but weak in the other. If it could float to the side at mid-window as you scroll down, so much the better. Being able to click on each syllable to hear the sound would make it usable for people who are studying Japanese but don't know the Latin alphabet.
The Simplified Japanese Wikipedia could also let you click on a selected character or set of charaters and then transfer you to a Search Results page in Wiktionary that lets you choose the individual kanji in a word or the word itself.
Please let me know if I should post this elsewhere as well. I don't ask for a lot, do I? [grin] Thanks!