User talk:DCDuring/2009 QIV

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Wiktionary:Editable CFI[edit]

... is likewise commended to your attention. Needs aggressive editing; Dan and I have done a bit, but it still fairly reeks of Wiktionary-circa-2005. Anyone else reading this page should also consider themselves invited. ;-) -- Visviva 14:29, 1 October 2009 (UTC)


As you know, I don't see why encyclopedic stuff can't also have a dictionary definition. I guess there's a difference between "purely encyclopedic" and "primarily encyclopedic". Maybe I should reread WT:CFI. Again... Mglovesfun (talk) 17:32, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't think that encyclopedic is a sufficient condition for deletion. It is only a suggestion that in our hubris, our efforts to make wiktionary a Leibnizian characteristica universalis or calculus ratiocinator or a universal translation lexicon, we not forget that our first task is to be a great dictionary of actual words, including core idioms, especially of words of general use. We are constantly biting off more than we can chew: Wikisaurus, shorthand, gazetteer entries, duplication of wikispecies content, and the Pawley list of 20 ways that something might be deemed idiomatic.
What a linguistic who studies idioms (eg, Pawley) wants to include within his purview is not a reliable guide to what is appropriate for a dictionary, especially at an early stage in its development. It is particularly not appropriate for what wiktionary should be doing now. The quality of the majority of our basic entries is terrible, being a whimsical accretion of additions of a few specialty senses (especially in sports, linguistics, computing, and video games) on Webster's 1913 basic definitions, mostly not even modernized in wording and not conforming in format to WT:ELE. Just as Murray ended up pleading with the contributors to the OED to send him more examples of unusual uses of the most common terms instead of more obscure "hard" or unusual words, we need to direct contributors to improving core entries.
Why don't we have the right sense of "harrow" or "harrowing"? Why should "harrowing of hell" or "Harrowing of Hell" be in a dictionary? The problem is mostly that "harrow" is not a word whose meaning is now understood in any context. As a dictionary our core contribution would be to define the constituent terms and pass folks on to Wikipedia. DCDuring TALK 18:05, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry for not reply sooner. Yes, I mean religion is primarily a encyclopedic words but we're not going to delete that. Similarly it would be difficult to write an encylopedic entry for cute, but for cutely, cuter and cutest it's just impossible. Mglovesfun (talk) 09:09, 19 October 2009 (UTC)


Hello DC -- Re this edit, maybe you should provide an example. Hey, wait a minute . . . . -- WikiPedant 01:30, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Yea. I knew I was being cute. See also aside. Yes, there should be examples not so "cleverly" inserted where the reader could miss the point. I just couldn't resist the chance for some in-line more-or-less-appropriate humor. Thanks for noticing. DCDuring TALK 15:46, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
We desperately need some humor around here. :) L☺g☺maniac chat? 15:55, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
I second that emotion. -- WikiPedant 03:51, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
The pent-up humor usually breaks out around December, when the holidays put everyone in a better mood. --EncycloPetey 03:59, 13 October 2009 (UTC)


Hi, thanks for fixing up the adjective forms of these entries. I just got up this morning and realised my mistake! Cheers, Tooironic 19:23, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Actually, I think I overcorrected. I'm not sure that open-book (attributive form) is more common than open book (predicative form). "This is an open-book exam." vs. "This exam is open book." In any event open book should appear as an alternative form at open-book. I had them linked with {{also}}, but that doesn't seem good enough. DCDuring TALK 19:32, 15 October 2009 (UTC)


It looks like I made a mistake. I don't see own as a determiner.--Brett 13:24, 17 October 2009 (UTC)


Hello DC -- Re this edit, what did User:Jonathan Webley do here that need reverting? What am I missing? -- WikiPedant 01:27, 19 October 2009 (UTC)

Well, that settles it. Time for to stop using the touchpad on my laptop. I have a button that sometimes gives me two clicks when I want one. The second may come when my cursor is already on the move, for example, on my watchlist. I will apologize and also revert if someone hasn't already. Thanks for letting me know. DCDuring TALK 01:38, 19 October 2009 (UTC)[edit]

This is sort of what I was talking about when you go against WT:CFI because you think it should be changed. Do you see what I mean now? Mglovesfun (talk) 19:07, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't understand your point. Are you saying that I should be opposed to the well-known word exception for attestation? I have spoken out on that. What would you like me to do? DCDuring TALK 23:55, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Sorry yes, that was really unclear what I said. I was thinking about roof tile where you said we should change CFI first and then restore roof tile (assuming it got deleted) but for these two you seem to want to delete them even though it go against CFI. I'm not 'having a go' as we say in the UK, I'm just trying to open up a little bit of debate. Yes, it's kinda hard to balance CFI with one's own personal feelings on articles. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:47, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
My comment on this "word" was entirely directed at the desirability of changing CFI with respect to the well-known-work exception to our attestation requirements. OTOH, I cannot bring myself to vote for such nonce-sense as this one. If someone else were to come up with a good CFI-based reason to delete it, I'd be happy. DCDuring TALK 11:22, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Appendix:Anniversary associations[edit]

I know there's lots of leeway on what goes in appendices, but how is this at all dictionary-worthy?​—msh210 17:54, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

It's like a table of weights and measures. It is a system of meanings. See silver jubilee, silver, WT:RFD#silver jubilee. I think we need many of such tables, in some cases in lieu of entries. DCDuring TALK 18:03, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Hm, okay. (Incidentally, we lack the relevant sense ofsilver AFAICT.) (Even more incidentally, do you really use "many of such", or was that a slip of the fingers?)​—msh210 18:09, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
As to "many of such Xs", I consider my self a trendsetter: There is only one 2009 hit for the construction in COCA vs 489 of "many such Xs". It is a back-formation from "many of them". But, alas, it is actually retro: about 60% of 2080 bgc hits are pre-1920.
An alternative presentation would be to have all of them as Coordinate terms at each headword with the appropriate sense. I don't know how to draw the line between the ones that are widely recognized silver, golden, diamond and those that are less so home appliances. That I thought I would leave to the actual definitions. It is a quaint but of materialistic bourgeois folk culture, which has left a mark on the English language. DCDuring TALK 18:28, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

deus ex machina[edit]

I checked the translations and found them to be correct. Why the revert? Eipnvn 12:25, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

I'm sorry. It was a mistake. I was working on the entry, got an edit conflict and thought it was only with my own prior save. It is very rare that I get a conflict with someone else on an entry (as opposed to on a community discussion page). I will attempt to restore your changes. DCDuring TALK 15:37, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

TOC issues[edit]

I'd like to start a move to vote on better management of the TOC (I've spent too much time on large pages like "a" recently). First off, do you know if there's any systematic problems still with RHS TOCs (there was some vague mention of CJK issues earlier? If there are specific templates that just need there style fixed, that's fine, and shouldn't stop a vote. I see three different solutions that could be implemented in two different ways. I'd appreciate input into how to present it. The first solution is to use RHS ToCs. These fix the obvious problem of wasting so much space that entries don't start on the initial screen. If the ToC is longer than the first entry, however, RHS ToCs push language-specific RHS elements from that entry down below. The other avenue is to use fixed-height, scollable ToCs. When on the right (solution #2), they make sure content isn't pushed out of a language entry, and when on the left (solution #3), they make sure an entry starts at least on the initial screen (not too much room is wasted). Are there any other solutions you can think of?

After that we move onto to where to implement these solutions. It could be on all pages by default (WT:PREF for something else). Alternatively it could be done only on pages with big ToCs. For instance, a bot could find all pages with >~15 headers and automatically insert one of the solution templates ({{tocright}}, {{scrollable-tocright}}, {{scrollable-toc}}). I'd personally prefer to have scrollable, RHS ToC's on all pages (this is how I browse). The only downside is that they're a bit forgettable, but maybe this is fine, or we can spice it up with some colors or something. What's your preferred?

How do you think we should structure a discussion/vote. Present all 3x2 solutions? Present ~2 and see what BP says, and then move for a vote? --Bequw¢τ 22:17, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

For my own needs I am satisfied with rhs ToC. (I think my issues with rfp and rfap may have been due to putting a * in front of those templates. That Visviva seems to even have an alternative for "gallery" suggests that few such problems cannot be overcome.) I often use the ToC to locate structure errors: heading order and level. The scrolling, if mandatory, would slow that down. OTOH, the English language stuff would mostly appear in the window. I think any lhs option is silly and both rhs have advantages and either would be fine. I don't know whether it would be desirable to over all three options to overcome opposition, but that might be a maintenance nightmare.
There isn't that much of a constituency for non-registered user needs. I would ask Conrad or RU or Hippietrail or Visviva or Ruakh (or ?) if they think the rhs ToC is ready to be made a default or what the barriers to doing so might be. Some of them may have other ideas which might be implementable under some new MediaWiki software or when they have more time. I don't know how much of a voting issue this would have to be. But without most of our tech opinion leaders on board, I don't think anything will get implemented. The scrollable ToC would need to be tested for some length of time by some of the regulars before anyone would want to let that loose on others anyway, unless it is only trivially different from rhs non-scrolling.
I think this means that, if there is consensus among the techies that rhs ToC is ready, we could have a vote on that, if required. If you think scrollable is low-risk, then you could skip the non-scrolling, get the scrolling running, convince Conrad or someone to offer it as an option and get people to test it for a while. Then we could either implement whatever the techies thought was good without a vote or put their favorite up for a vote. I think multiple choice votes are somewhat less desirable and preferably avoided.
Those are my thoughts. I defer to the judgment of my tech betters on all tech issues but strongly favor some rhs ToC as a default. I think it is the single best change in our user interface that we are in a position to offer without radical and/or controversial layout changes. DCDuring TALK 02:30, 26 October 2009 (UTC)


When you add translation requests, please insert a space between the *-sign and the trreq-template. If the space is missing the assisted translation does not work properly. Depending on the browser, the system may produce two translation lines for languages that have more than one translation or place the attempted translation into the end of the table. Regards, --Hekaheka 20:07, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. I didn't know it was a problem, but usually (I think) insert such a space. Have you noticed me doing it more than once? DCDuring TALK 20:21, 26 October 2009 (UTC)
Yep, but that's not a major problem as they are quick to fix. The latest I encountered was under one's belt. --Hekaheka 16:59, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
2 days ago I finally realized that I hadn't made a change (to prevent the problem) in what I was cutting and pasting for entries that seemed worth translating. I made the change. There should be fewer of the offenders around. I may go back and change the ones I can find. DCDuring TALK 17:37, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Categories and functions[edit]


I thought you might find these interesting.--Brett 17:25, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Excellent, thank you. It still leaves the ugly task of reconciling the irreconcilable: H&P vs categories users may have. We don't have a "tabula rasa", or even an erasable tabula. DCDuring TALK 17:32, 31 October 2009 (UTC)


Could you take a look at the definitions for this entry? I've decided the first definition is a bit suspect, and would like a second opinion. I could go through RfV, but I'd like to run this as WOTD on the 3rd, and RfV doesn't always produce quick results. --EncycloPetey 03:36, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

I've reworded the suspect def. and added a biology def. The main idea is throwback. I didn't find the behavior sense in COCA except in reference to reversion to "ancestral" primitivism. I haven't seen it refer to, say, restarting smoking after having quit for a few years. The word habit (learned behavior) seems inappropriately Lockean. This is a more Hobbesian word. I also added some etymology. Feel free to edit. Most dictionaries just show this as a related term of atavism. DCDuring TALK 04:22, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. --EncycloPetey 04:29, 1 November 2009 (UTC)


Dude – I just found a cite of this in Davy Crockett's autobiography, so removed the UK tag – but the definition was incredibly specific. I've rewritten it in more general terms, but just wanted to check where you got the original def from. Ƿidsiþ 17:40, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

In my first conscious encounter, the term was used to put me in my place at my job by showing my ignorance of non-US securities markets. When I worked on the definition, I followed the links to WP and did a cursory b.g.c. search. I don't think the term is currently much in use in the UK because of the consequences of the Big Bang reform of the markets there, but I'm not sure about that. I have never heard the term in use in the US, except in reference to the UK. I'd bet it is certainly much more dated in the US than in the UK. As to the specificity, I confirmed it from the frequent occurrence near "stock(s)" and "share(s)" and not near other words like "bond(s)". I don't know whether redoing the work would lead me to the same conclusions in every regard. Do you know for sure from the context (not visible in the quote) whether the author was referring to securities or cattle? DCDuring TALK 18:58, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
He was referring to stocks and shares. But I've never heard the term myself, so I'm assuming it's fairly dated everywhere – though still, it's interesting if you've heard it in reference to the UK. Ƿidsiþ 19:24, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
The UK financial markets Big Bang was in 1986. I'd have to do more work to find out whether the term had diminished usage after then in the UK and whether the term was much in use in the US in the 20th century. I'll get to it shortly. DCDuring TALK 19:32, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

against the clock[edit]

Hi DC. I've brought this here in private as I don't think for one moment you want to delete this, simply discuss around the topic a bit. One of the thoughts in my mind is something I cannot seem to define well. In the example: "Rescuers worked against the clock to find possible survivors." there is the sense of urgency in the phrase which makes against the clock about the only possible collocation. It is this kind of thing that leads me to believe that it is idiomatic. Apart from the "figurative sense of clock" argument, which is also supportive. What d'you think? -- ALGRIF talk 12:28, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

I don't mind being publicly "wrong" on an RfD. I'm not at all sure it is truly idiomatic. It is not in dictionaries. "Against time" is almost a synonym. "Race against the deadline", "race against death" give the same urgency. I am a bit surprised to not find more dictionary support for the figurative sense of "clock" as meaning time itself. More importantly, I don't believe that there is any reason to exclude figurative senses of the constituents of a putative headword when considering its SoPitude. For a word like head, probably the majoroty of the usage is in a sense other than the literal one (head of a living creature). DCDuring TALK 14:17, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
It isn't for the "publicity" so much as for not wanting to nominate it on RfD, ;-) My argument on figurative senses stems from the fact that SoP is not ipso facto a reason for deletion. SoP merely supports other, stronger arguments. SoP tends to assume that there are only one or maybe two senses possible. Figurative uses will blur this assumption, turning the SoP into a series of possible Parts, leaving us with the fact the the sum of the parts is less specific, less identifiable, than the whole. -- ALGRIF talk 14:45, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
That line of reasoning means there is not credit for meaning derived either from context or dictionary. I would like there to be positive argument for idiomaticity. We have a great number of "idioms" that not even idiom dictionaries have, when that is their stock in trade. The line of reasoning you propose led EP to the position of saying that, for a two-word collocation with each word having two senses, we would need to have definitions for as many of the combinations as might be attestable, if any one combination of senses were not attestable. This seems absurd and useless, especially with the widely uneven and often poor quality of our definitions and attestation for even single-word headwords.
I find untenable the combination of entry complexity, inadequate learning tools or software assistance, small number of active English contributors, and unwillingness to make any concession toward usability for new/inexperienced/infrequent users, while constantly looking for new virginal playpens (eg, Gazetteer/toponyms) and marginal entries. We need to offer some kind of guidance toward what a good entry and, especially, good senses should look like, especially for polysemic words. Once we have done that, it might be worth considering the full Pawley program by which almost anything that anyone proposed as a worthy multiword entry would be deemed worthy, virtually eliminating any RfD for multiword entries of valid constituents.
My inclination is to nominate every multiword term not in a OneLook dictionary serially to both RfV and RfD, forcing explicit definitions in line with citations and explicit idiomaticity arguments. If we want to do more than mimic the inclusion practices of other dictionaries, we can't expect that to be without explicit policy or guidelines or consensus. DCDuring TALK 15:53, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Meanwhile, we have to work within a flexible, multi-user framework built up from a type of case law debate. This is not an untenable position. Patent and trademark laws work that way. My position, as you are aware, is that I assume the user is looking for a "meaning" because s/he does not usually know what s/he needs exactly. This means that for a dictionary to be useful, it should provide as many access points to the "chunks" of meaning that make up the language. This project in particular needs this multiplex approach due to the translation aspect being so very high profile. I suspect that the "how to translate this into Russian / Chinese / Innuit / etc" argument should be more important than it is at the moment. It is quite likely that a "chunk" such as "against the clock" could have very specific translations. Thinking about Spanish, the translation is "contra reloj" which is fairly direct. But wait ... contra reloj itself has more than one meaning, so it needs to be able to link to against the clock. As you see, my argumentation is not really aimed against what you say, as I understand your stance, but I believe there is more to this project and that your "explicit" argument could be somewhat limiting at the end of the day. I don't quite see the benefits in being so exclutionist. -- ALGRIF talk 16:36, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Lexical imperialism is the affliction of the lexicographer that says that any collocation typed in to a search box needs to find an exactly corresponding entry. I'm happy if we have usage examples, unlinked "related terms", or simply well-written constituent entries. Language users seem quite able to make inferences about meaning if they take the trouble to look at the constituents. Their experience with dictionaries generally (print and electronic) pushes them in the word-by-word direction. I find it particularly galling that the lexical imperialist argument is not based on anything factual and sharable about how users and language learners behave. It would be lovely to see what English terms idiomatic or otherwise definers of non-English terms actually choose. In the absence of those facts or other facts the translation-target argument is unsupported. Explicit standards are enabling. If the standards are loose, then we can have endless inclusionism. I would like us to fully contemplate and accept all of the consequences of that.
Do folks really believe that Wiktionary is a good English dictionary? My casual experience with serious writers suggests that they don't use Wiktionary, preferring (thesaurus) or MWOnline (comprehensive US english) or Encarta (modern) or specialized dictionaries (eg business/finance) or OED (scholarly depth and uniformly high quality). The user numbers are consistent with that, AFAICT. DCDuring TALK 18:38, 3 November 2009 (UTC)


I've responded at my talkpage. Thanks.​—msh210 21:51, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

The edits[edit]

So, can we just leave the edits that I've already made the way they are and leave the whole mess behind us now? Razorflame 15:03, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes. I hope you see that we have a lot of thoughts about the way things ought to be. We don't always agree, but would like to have things thrashed out before there are mass changes. A mass change (such as, say, eliminating a few languages !) can get folks excited. This question of etymology notation has come up before ("<" vs "from", specifically). If you like working on etymologies, there are many places where {{term}} is not used and should be.
What I find is that, if an entry has one departure from our current practices, it probably has a few. This rapidly correcting one specific format problem and not correcting the other problems has the negative effect of removing the item from a cleanup list that might have led to multiple improvements. This diminishes the net benefit of using tools like AWB and might occasionally turn it negative. DCDuring TALK 15:17, 6 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I already learned from my mistake, and I won't do it again without community approval. Thanks for the message, Razorflame 15:20, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

What is is[edit]

The reason why AutoFormat was having problems with is is that it wants Pronunciation sections in numbered Etymology section to be at L4, not L3 as you were placing them. It makes that correction, but since it can't figure out if the Pronunciation section should instead be bumped before the numbered Etymology sections to apply to all of them as an L3 header, it marks it for cleanup. The error message it gives could be clearer, but I've run across it before. — Carolina wren discussió 19:51, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Indeed, so have I. As I remember (misremember ?) it doesn't like L4 either. DCDuring TALK 20:34, 6 November 2009 (UTC)`


Hi. You're good at this sort of thing, so I thought I'd bug you. Hope you don't mind; if you do, then, well, kick me in the direction of the TR or something.

Genotyped is certainly a past tense and past participle (of genotype, of course). Is it also, as our entry currently claims, an adjective? Thanks.​—msh210 18:01, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

I'd be surprised if it were an adjective. I did a quick look for "very genotyped" and as "more genotyped than". No joy at books or scholar. As a past participle it can be expected to show up as a passive after a form of "be" which superficially resembles predicate use. The instances I looked at certainly look passive to me. And, of course, though the OneLook references don't show it as a verb, "genotype" is clearly being used as a verb in all forms, though I have only confirmed -ed, -ing, and to forms. I inserted the past and rfv'd the purported adjective sense. DCDuring TALK 20:42, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks.​—msh210 20:43, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Appendix:English gerund-participles[edit]

Hi DCD. A neat, concise appendix. Good. One question though. The category "To be classified/labeled", apart from the first entry, which I am hard put to classify also, the rest are all nouns which mean "the activity", imho. Certainly in "to go + -ing", the gerund has always been described as being the noun for the activity. And by extension, the following 3 entries are the same use, it seems to me. -- ALGRIF talk 15:20, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I had run out of gas and enthusiasm in media res when the text of that appendix was put into Appendix:English grammar which Appendix title struck me as a tad overambitious. I have no interest in or capability for such a monumental task. I haven't worked on gerund-participle since except to copy the text that had been merged out into the current appendix. Since the restoration of the appendix didn't bring down any wrath on my head, I am ready to go at it again some time. If you would like to have it, feel free.

I've been having fun trying to find parts of CGEL that don't seem to hard to reconcile to traditional PoSs and I have created some grammatical categories (some hidden, some not) to help me and, I hope, others interpret some of our less conventional entries and those that other dictionaries simply call idioms. I have assigned almost all idioms and many phrases to other PoS categories. The remaining items that are phrases are being but into the grammatical categories (sentences, subordinate clauses, non-constituents, coordinates, etc.) Of course prepositional phrases is a useful category. Most PPs would be both Adjectives and Adverbs, but it does seem a bit of a waste of time to double up definitions under both PoSs. I am also reading up on "zero prepositions" and may add that (possibly under a different name) as a hidden category. DCDuring TALK 22:50, 12 November 2009 (UTC)


You have new messages Hello, DCDuring. You have new messages at Nbarth's talk page.
You can remove this notice at any time by removing the {{talkback}} template.

Hiya :)[edit]

Hi DCDuring. Check out Talk:completely. I had some difficulties understanding the second sense you added. Cheers! Tooironic 00:02, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

With the additions, I still don't see any difference between the definitions. Each example could fit equally well under either definition. --EncycloPetey 00:50, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
I have a similar difficulty understanding how the "manner" sense applied to "completely mad". "Mad in a complete manner"?
This is still a work in progress. I have created Category:English degree adverbs using lists in grammar books. There are nearly 100 adverbs therein. For each I am trying to make sure that there is a definition that clearly incorporates the degree sense, usually with the words "degree" or "extent". I also remove those words from any definition that has the word "manner" to make as clear a distinction as I can. The degree sense, if it exists, can always modify an adjective or adverb. It can sometimes modify a verb. When it can modify a verb there may actually be no separate "manner" sense, at least not in contemporary English. Finally, there can be a completely generic intensifier sense like "very", a vulgar intensifier like "fucking", or a slang sense like "totally", sometimes marked by use also as an interjection or an agreement response in dialog.
This kind of adverb, a subset of those formed from adjectives by adding "-ly" can be considered to start with a "manner" sense modifying verbs; to subsequently take on a degree sense which can modify adjectives but retains the meaning or, at least the imagery of the manner adverb; and possibly finally become generic. There may be other aspects of the evolution that I haven't noticed, too.
The word "terribly" shows all three senses, I think.
  1. The lion roared terribly (pure manner).
  2. There was a terribly loud roar. (degree, retaining manner association)
  3. (generic degree):
    1. Would you mind terribly if I didn't exactly answer your question? {modifying verb)
    2. I'm terribly late already. {modifying adjective)
A word like complete may never have had a "manner" sense distinct from its degree sense and has not developed a slang sense such as that of "totally". Because the "manner" sense is not worded in a way that works well for adjectives, if there is to be only one definition, it would need to be worded as a degree adverb. DCDuring TALK 01:38, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
My two cents: I strongly dislike most "manner" definitions for adverbs, since they don't really define the term. Instead, a relative definition to another word is given, and this is often inadequate, since the other word may have more than one definition. when that happens, we can't add quotes unless we know whether the adverb's "manner" applies to all the various senses of the other term. The "manner" definitions were created by print dictionaries as a space-saving device, and have little place here except as a temporary measure.
As for the terribly example above, I do see more than one definition, but I wouldn't use terrible for the deifnitions. I might say (1) In a manner that provokes terror. (2) To a degree, especially to a great degree. I do not see this same distinction in completely. --EncycloPetey 01:44, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
I think I come to the same conclusions as you on both words. (I'm still thinking about whether there is any useful distinction to be made between the less and more generic degree senses.) I was taking my time in hopes that I would get questions or comments. I got both!.
Tackling all the manner definitions would take a very long time. Working on the degree adverbs will help me find the "manner" definitions that are misleading with respect to use with adjectives. There is also some opportunity to make some of the vulgar/slang intensifiers a bit better. There might also be an appendix and/or a couple of WikiSaurus pages. I also intend to review sentence adverbs. The more semantic categories of adverbs (location, time, frequency, duration, order, domain, evaluation etc.) can provide other ways of carving out some adverbs for definition improvement. DCDuring TALK 02:16, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
If someone could generate a page of links to all the English adverbs that currently have "manner" in the definition line, it could become a community cleanup project along the lines of Mutante's categorization effort. I tried to promote adverb awareness a couple of Decembers ago; maybe it's time to do something like that again. --EncycloPetey 02:27, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't think the Hippiebot works at that level yet. Perhaps manual cleanup could work even from the adverb list or the adverbs ending in -ly list if folks were allowed to use Swifties as usage examples:
"Running that oven to warm the kitchen adds a lot to my electric bill" said Tom somewhat heatedly.
"Your aunt is cute but the former Mrs. Swift is cuter", said Tom exuberantly.
"I would have been afraid to take on Jakarta" said Tom timorously. DCDuring TALK 03:15, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
Feels like a Reader's Digest section... In any case, my suggestion for a page is that it makes the list editable, so that all people know (without having to check each entry) which ones are done. --EncycloPetey 03:19, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
PS, Can I assume you own a copy of The Transitive Vampire? I love the example sentences in that book, although such things are not ideal for Wiktionary. --EncycloPetey 03:20, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
Just like edit counters and barnstars. Any motivational device that might stimulate some action would be good. The Swifties could be submitted in an Appendix or Project page, but only if the adverb definition had been cleaned up.
I've just put a hold on the book at my local public library, but titles with Vampire in them are all the rage at the moment due to the recent movie opening. DCDuring TALK 03:44, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
It's a basic grammar with thought-provoking and often entertaining examples. My favorite example sentences in the book are in the conjunction chapter: The robot and the dentist tangoed beneath the stars. or If Lucifer confesses, we'll let the rest of you go. Maybe the Swifties idea could form the basis of our Christmas competition. I've set those up the past few years, but hadn't yet found inspiration for a competition this year. --EncycloPetey 03:50, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
  • I have finished my first run at populating Category:English degree adverbs, mostly with words so classified in CGEL. Most of the words have additional or split definitions to distinguish manner from degree senses. Some of the manner senses have been reworded. I am thinking that it might make sense to have contexts for degree adverbs (perhaps manner and other categories), even if they were eventually rendered invisible to users. They would help maintain the distinctions. DCDuring TALK 17:20, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
    Would you consider clearly, certainly, plainly, etc. to be part of that set? They're not in there at present, and I'm not certain myself. --EncycloPetey 17:22, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
Semantically they are prime candidates and fit my intuition. It also seems "clearly", "certainly", and "plainly" true that they meet a prima facie grammar test. I find my intuition and my understanding of grammar tests are not always reliable. There are other semantic categories, like "modal" adverbs, that seem to be other classes into which some degree adverbs might fall. (Isn't "certainly" just the highest degree of "probably", which CGEL calls "modal"?) But, at the moment, yes.
I am going to take a break from this and revisit Category:English sentence adverbs, which is also a grammatically distinguishable class (and one not invented by CGEL as some grammatical classes are). DCDuring TALK 17:40, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Thank you, that does clear it up a bit. Will go and rethink the Chinese trans now. Cheers! Tooironic 22:30, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Merging in a revision history[edit]

May I ask you a favor? Can you please add the revision history of "Appendix:Latin nouns with English derivatives" to the page "User:Dan Polansky/English derivations"? I started the latter page back in December 2008 by copying the former, but by doing so, the revision history of the source has not been included. I'll be grateful :). --Dan Polansky 13:13, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

This is an example of why we've wanted you to be an admin. SB would want you to patrol, but that is not a requirement. I'll do it as soon as I refresh my memory on how to do it. DCDuring TALK 15:40, 23 November 2009 (UTC)


I have been far more patient with him than I am with most users. I have tried to teach him the basics of how we do things here with very little effect. One of the things we don't do is go on major editing sprees in languages we don't know anything about. I'm quite fed up with having to police his contributions and putting up with his tantrums when I undo certain revisions. On top of that, he causes meaningless drama in IRC and on meta.

Numerous regulars have asked him not to make so many edits to languages he knows nothing of, and every time he promises to stop, only to go on to another language. One of the biggest problems with this is that for some of these languages, we have no regular or even semi-regular editors, so potential mistakes (and the potential is high, indeed) may sit unnoticed for years. Tbot entries from 2007 are still floating around, and RF's edits aren't even contained in easily-identifiable categories. Having said all that, I am going to reinstate his ban, but shorten the period to one day. — [ R·I·C ] opiaterein — 18:21, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Long-standing errors are abundant in English as well, and provide plenty of problems for translators who rely on poorly structured and worded definitions for their contributions.
Blocking is a blunt instrument. I have some hope of getting him to take an approach more likely to lead to productive edits. If I could convince you to further shorten or eliminate the block altogether for now, that would give me something to work with. I am trying to recruit him to work on English, which remains deficient in quality in many ways. DCDuring TALK 18:35, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Chinese/Mandarin ttreqs[edit]

Hiya DCDuring. Just a small request, if I may. When you add trans requests like you did here [1] (and thanks for doing them by the way - much appreciated!), if you could add *{{trreq|Chinese}}: or * Chinese: * {{trreq|Mandarin}} instead of just * {{trreq|Mandarin}} that would make my job a whole lot easier. The consensus now is to put Mandarin under the Chinese section, as opposed to under "Mandarin". Thanks heaps! Tooironic 22:26, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Your wish is my command. Henceforth shall it be so. I've probably done it the deprecated way 50 times or more. DCDuring TALK 12:13, 26 November 2009 (UTC)


FWIW span does work, but I mistyped it, it should be <span id="DCDuring">, so I missed out the =. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:04, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

My error was using "does" (not work) instead of "did". I'm no HTML/wikisyntax expert. DCDuring TALK 12:14, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

or words to that effect[edit]

Hi! Would you like to provide an example or two of the usage? It would make fulfilling trreq's easier. Regards, --Hekaheka 12:51, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Your wish is my command. DCDuring TALK 13:08, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

RFV resolution.[edit]

Hi DCDuring,

How come you never resolve RFVs, only labeling them as "cited" or "clocked out"? I mean, I guess you don't have to if you don't want to, but I don't get why you wouldn't want to. It's certainly much easier than providing citations, which is something I have seen you do, so I know it's no laziness. :-P

RuakhTALK 22:47, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

As a matter of principle, I don't feel that I should close RfDs and RfVs that I have started or cited, no matter how much experience I've gotten. On RfD, I feel completely out of sync with what folks seem to want on multi-word terms/idioms, gazetteer entries, translation targets, even adhering to hard-but-not-impossible-to-change CFI. (Our CFI is essentially unchangeable and is increasingly ignored. Editable CFI does not have enough active participants to be relevant.) I find it very hard to be an advocate and a closer at the same time.
I have long spent time on cleanup of structure, missing inflection templates, bad headers, trans-table problems, category-less entries, and various other items, in the course of which I have discovered most of the items I have RfDed and RfVed. I have more recently become appalled at the low quality of many of our entries and have devoted my efforts to PoS header-category harmonization, creating and populating grammatical categories (which support entry improvement through facilitating relevant comparisons), and adverb improvement. These seem to keep me out of many of the frays. After (?) those there will probably still be all the obsolete holdover language from Webster 1913. Not to mention some basic grammar and PoS appendices and/or help pages (as soon as the professionals among us show how it's done).
Also, I remain unhappy about the lack of user focus, which has two parts: lack of admin interest in it and lack of statistics about user behavior. I've also long suspected a kind of ivory-tower ideology underlying these. Given that this is a volunteer project, I am at a loss to imagine how any change would come about.
Finally, I do not have the technical skill to develop technical solutions or even understand the technical issues that limit us.
Thanks for giving me this chance to vent and reflect. DCDuring TALK 23:23, 28 November 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm... gives me an idea. How about for the close of the year / start of the next year, we have a special page where each contributor is given an opportunity to make a statement like this. A sort of "state of the wiki" mini-address, with options to reflect on progress, pledge towards personal goals, or just rant about the shortcomings that need to be resolved in the coming year. That is, have such a page where each contributor posts his/her own statement section. --EncycloPetey 02:09, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
I rant on RfD, RfV, TR, BP, and my user page. I try not to on other peoples' user pages. Others might need a special invitation.
But actually it might be useful to have a forum at which folks can put together as coherent and long a statement as they want. No reason to have any limits other than common sense. We might get some ideas that folks haven't wanted to express. DCDuring TALK 02:44, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
Do you think such a page should be on-going, or just a one-off for now? Also, should it be arranged by topic (which could result in long threads) or set up by user where each user makes a statement? I kind of envisioned the latter (in both choices) myself. --EncycloPetey 02:54, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I thought that's what you had in mind: one-off (possibly annual) and personal in choice of form and topics. It seems like it might be a good source for topics, especially one's that don't have a good forum at the moment. It might be a good way to understand others better. DCDuring TALK 03:06, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
Do you want to set it up, or should I? I'd rather you did, if it wouldn't impinge on your work, since I have to set up the December WOTD and start this year's Christmas Competition, both before tomorrow evening. :P --EncycloPetey 03:10, 29 November 2009 (UTC)


Hi, but what about the citations at the definition? And the citations at Wikipedia? You are the only one that is questioning the definition, seems to inconclusive to me. If you would like I can email you several Canadian court cases citing the surrogatum principle. Thanks WritersCramp 16:15, 3 December 2009 (UTC)


Thanks for the support that you have given me over the past few weeks. It was/is very helpful :). Razorflame 16:17, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Please try to stay out of trouble. DCDuring TALK 16:34, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm trying very hard to stay out of trouble. The only thing I've been doing lately is Esperanto. Razorflame 16:36, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
I have found this a great learning environment. Many of my edits have been format-oriented. In the course of doing such work, I found that I picked up some of the basics of lexicography and tried more and more adventurous things. One very useful thing is to look at actual usage of words in edited works and in more casual use (usenet, transcribed speech). I don't know whether you can get that from Esperanto. The cleanup lists both help en.wikt and provide learning opportunities. DCDuring TALK 16:56, 3 December 2009 (UTC)


For "in a shocking manner", you changed "He appeared shockingly thin" to "He had thinned shockingly". What is the rationale? In both cases it could be either "so thin as to cause shock" or (the other sense) "to a shocking degree". Equinox 02:37, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

As I understand it, a "manner" sense really only makes sense when the adverb is modifying a verb. A "degree" sense can make sense with an adjective, adverb, or verb. The example for the manner sense, as it was previously worded, was modifying the adjective "thin". Those few dictionaries that have explicit definitions for adverbs seem to make a point of saying either manner or degree or both in their definitions of most -ly adverbs. Frankly (a sentence adverb), I am not 100 percent (degree adverb) sure that "shockingly" really (sentence adverb) has a "manner" sense illustrated that is distinct from the "degree" sense. Perhaps it should say something like:
He carried on shockingly at the party, making advances on several married women and two married men.
I'm thinking I should write this kind of thing up in an Appendix or a Wiktionary page. The reason I haven't done so is that my control of this subject is still not strong. I have a basic understanding of 3 out of 4 kinds of sentence adverbs and 2 out of 10 other kinds of adverbs. I welcome questions because it helps me be explicit about what I'm doing. I've been trying to classify the degree adverbs into synonym groups. I hope to find additional adverbs that have a degree sense, as "shockingly" does.
The material would make sense in three locations: (1) Help:Writing definitions (for the style points), (2) Wiktionary:Quotations (for the application), and (3) Wiktionary:English adverbs. Of course only the former ones currently exist... --EncycloPetey 03:09, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes. I was thinking of Wiktionary:English Adverbs. I don't even have a set of headers yet. I'm thinking that it would include something about grammatical and semantic types (also useful for writing definitions), morphology (mostly -ly, -wise, -s), and tests for discriminating. Also an explanation of the senses in which one can call English prepositional phrases adverbs. DCDuring TALK 11:03, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Butting in: I've started Appendix:English adverbs, with the title modeled on the titles of other grammar appendixes. Feel free to mercilessly delete the page, completely replace the content, copy it somewhere else, or whatever. --Dan Polansky 13:40, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I have inserted various kinds of material into the appendix. The structure includes the elements you suggested. I am thinking that what we need is something that extracts what is lexicographically relevant and is organized around how we present adverbs in our entries. The main issues for any PoS are probably:
  1. How do we tell what is or is not a given PoS for our purposes?
  2. How do we word definitions?
  3. What should our usage examples illustrate?
  4. What should we say about how the words are used with other words in canonical sentences or in discourse?
  5. Are there ways to generate lists with redlinks for additional entries.
This is definitely inside baseball. As such, I think it would go in Wiktionary:English adverbs. Grammarians offer us help with 1, but we will make decisions on somewhat different grounds than they, giving weight to user conceptual schemes (basic PoS and semantically oriented, needing usage examples). They usually have little to say about 2. They have more to say about 3 and 4, but we have to be careful in selecting what to show and how to show it. 5 is also for us. If we do our job in the entries, there should be relatively little that goes in a grammar appendix that is not in a WP article.
For adverbs, the PoS tests are somewhat complex. We also have some gray areas for phrases which are semantically adverbial, but not grammatically in important regards. And there are controversies among grammarians about classifying some function words.
CGEL's semantic classes are somewhat useful with definitions of adverbs, suggesting checklists for types of wording.
Collocations and complementation are important areas in which grammarians can help. But we need to determine how to communicate that usefully, whether through grammatical context tags, usage examples, usage notes, or, yes, grammatical appendices.
Many adverbs have been and are generated by prefixes and suffixes. This affords us some means of checking our coverage. Subclasses may give us some lists that we can compare with those generated by specialists.
Any thoughts? DCDuring TALK 02:40, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
It is me who is thankful that you have shared your knowledge and thoughts in Appendix:English adverbs. Reading your response, I think that you are right in proposing to put Wiktionary-regulating material to Wiktionary:English adverbs, including Wiktionary-specific practical decision procedure for what constitutes an adverb, how to word definitions of adverbs and the other points you mentioned. I am looking forward to see a draft written by you at Wiktionary:English adverbs. I do not have much to contribute myself, I am afraid, but other experienced contributors may contribute once there is a draft they may feel an urge to improve. If you would feel more comfortable at posting your draft to your userspace, that would be better than nothing, although I think we are in a wiki, and even vastly imperfect and incomplete drafts should be welcome as long as they are good enough.
The draft should probably link to Wiktionary:About English in the "See also" section, as that is a page that is (a) specifically on English, and (b) is directed towards Wiktionary editors rather than readers. --Dan Polansky 11:24, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
I wanted to do a little more work on temporal adverbs to make sure that I've got that covered. I really don't know this subject; I am still learning it. So much is from CGEL, which takes controversial positions, fortunately well marked. The grammar appendix is a bit like a high-school book report. The Wiktionary piece needs to be more of a translation of CGEL for our purposes. I also hope to have a few grammar textbooks at hand, and an older reference grammar (Curme). This should help me achieve some perspective. I want this to be good enough in outline and structure to become a model for this kind of thing. It is not because it must be perfect in wording or substance that I am slow to start wiktionary:adverbs. It is because the structure must be good enough and populated with enough text so it doesn't get torn apart by someone well-intentioned who thinks they share and understand my objectives and vision but don't. Once it is posted it will be accepted in principle and improved, rejected and moved to an appendix (merged with appendix:adverbs), or go through radical restructuring. The last option has the potential to be the biggest waste of time. I would much prefer that someone pick another grammatical class (proper nouns, prepositional phrases, pro-forms, ergative verbs) to provide us both more coverage and an alternative model. DCDuring TALK 12:24, 8 December 2009 (UTC)


Sorry to belabour this. embarrassingly: how is "in an embarrassing manner" different from "causing embarrassment"? Your examples ("He stumbled embarrassingly about the dance floor" and "Embarrassingly to me, my companion soon got drunk") are both using the word in the same way, even though the first one doesn't bother indicating who was embarrassed. Equinox 21:18, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

I appreciate your interest. IMHO, embarrassingly has three classes of usage. The distinctions are mostly visible in what is modified: in the first case, it is a verb; in the second, an adjective; in the third, the whole sentence.
The adjective case is best understood with a definition to an embarrassing degree (subject not specified). The same reading can apply to modifying clauses or verbs. Almost any of the neutral- or negative-valence degree adverbs (very, extremely, awfully; horribly, appallingly, disgustingly) could be substituted when modifying an adjective with little loss of meaning. (As I write this, I am thinking of rewording that sense as "To the point of causing embarrassment; extremely".)
In the verb case, it is the stumbling that might be embarrassing (also to an unspecified subject), but there might not be any actual embarrassment.
In the clause case, it is the entire thing that is clearly being evaluated by the speaker as embarrassing. If "to me" were omitted, the speaker would nevertheless be the one making the evaluation. One could as well substitute "to you", "to him", "to all".
Of the three senses, MWOnline (which usually doesn't explicitly define adverbs) has two, omitting the manner sense. I would be happy to follow them, but there seems a somewhat distinguishable "manner" sense. The other OneLook dictionaries that bother with the word only have the degree sense.
I hope to get better at wording and exemplifying these senses over time. Please feel free to object to any and all of them. Right now, I am still wrestling with the distinctions myself. I will have to compare my efforts with the OED to see whether I am using CGEL in a way that is wrong. DCDuring TALK 22:06, 8 December 2009 (UTC)


I'm not convinced that the first two adverb senses are distinct. We have "working hard" under the first sense but "hard earned" under the second. I don't see the difference. --EncycloPetey 01:37, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

There could be no "effort", but, say, pain, misery, suffering, embarrassment, dishonor. I have already combined five different Encarta senses into the first, which is why there are five usage examples there. Some insist on a nautical sense, which to me is indistinguishable from the sense in the "hard left" usage example in the first sense. I couldn't believe we had only one sense with no usage examples. DCDuring TALK 01:49, 13 December 2009 (UTC)


For fun, I did a b.g.c. search and found four quotes [2]. There seem to be two / three distinct senses (and so not enough quotes yet to support any of them):

  1. In the millionth place
  2. To the millionth degree
  3. Infinitely, infinitessimally

--EncycloPetey 02:40, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

I only added twelfthly because there was a break. I don't intend to go to much farther down that track. It's tedious just adding the information to make a real entry for these. It is hard to see how they would be used in the "serial order" sense which got me started, except in jest. Inventive uses, such as you've discovered, suggest that -ly is a pretty flexible suffix. DCDuring TALK 07:03, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Latin dialect templates[edit]

Per WT:RFDO#Dialect etymology templates, the separate dialect templates ({{temp|VL.}}, {{temp|ML.}}, {{temp|LL.}}) will be deleted. Please use the more functional and standard {{temp|etyl}} approach ({{temp|etyl|VL.}}, {{temp|etyl|ML.}}, {{temp|etyl|LL.}}). The template parameters work just the same. Thanks. --Bequw¢τ 15:16, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

How are all the existing ones going to be replaced? By hand? If we don't get some automated replacement capability, I'm going to need more convincing to accept such "improvement". It already is a waste of keystrokes (and concomitant risk of RSI and ensuing Sven-like behavior.) DCDuring TALK 15:27, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Oh, goodness, don't turn into him, please L☺g☺maniac 15:38, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
There were few worse threats that came to mind and my hands have been hurting a bit.
<rant> I am tired of wasting keystrokes to serve technology. I want the technology to serve me more. It's the problem with not having responsive paid technical staff. Not only is our content effort driven much more by our needs than by user considerations, the same seems true about technical efforts. Why do we have so many non-conforming headers (homophones, examples, scientific names, to mention just some common English ones)? A large portion of what I do is push things toward conformity with ELE when the automated tools tee them up on clean-up lists. We don't have enough basic cleanup lists and automated/semi-automated cleanup processes.</rant> DCDuring TALK 15:50, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Have you sent up a personalized edittools yet? I find that it has saved me lots of typing. I have set mine up so that I can insert things like
* {{a|Classical}} {{IPA|//|lang=la}}
with a single click and never have to type all that (I use that sequence a lot on Latin entries). Further, that set of text is set up so that the cursor ends up inside the slashes, so I can then start typing the IPA immediately. Conrad set up the code that makes these wonderful things happen. You can see what I use at User:EncycloPetey/edittools, and can then customize your own time-saving items. Anything I type often (or use, but have trouble remembering) I add to my edittools, and it shows up by default whenever I go to an edit window. This is technology serving the editors. --EncycloPetey 03:52, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I need to try it. As I've been spending more time with my grammar books, I've been spending less time monitoring the discussions. But I still react to change as if I had been monitoring. DCDuring TALK 11:23, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Definition quality infrastructure[edit]

I am interested in what could be done to facilitate the improvement of the quality of definitions.

The problem of definition quality is most evident whenever I go to our longer entries or any entry that still has the Websters 1913 tag, but also many other entries. The effect carries over to translations. We evidently cannot rely on mere unstructured human effort to improve the quality of definitions. English definitions matter because English matters in itself, because definition content matters more than any other single aspect of an entry, and because definitions are the source of glosses which are the key to organizing other sections of the entry and providing a default target for translations. This means that there needs to be improved definition to reduce wasted effort in the rest of the entry. To do this there needs to be some effort to:

  1. encourage the application of effort toward definition quality,
  2. fit the tasks to what volunteers can do, and
  3. provide tools of various kinds to help.

Some initial steps and illustrative task subgoals are:

  1. Gather advice, guidelines, etc from academic lexicographers and semantic linguists.
  2. Sort headwords into grammatical categories.
  3. Reducing the size of English language definition sections.
  4. Ensuring that there are usage illustrations for all non-obsolete senses.
  5. Inserting information about complements.
  6. Developing guidelines for definitions.

I would welcome thoughts on how these might be carried out and even on the goals.

Some major concerns to me include:

  1. whether we have enough interested English contributors to support an effort.
  2. how to encourage effort in a direction without providing net discouragement of participation in Wiktionary to any class of those who can usefully contribute.
  3. how to avoid getting mired in enthusiasm-sapping controversy.

I have started here because I am not sure of the right forum to advance this effort. A project does not seem right until there is more consensus on the desirability of the goal of quality improvement. BP is cluttered. About English is not used enough. A new Appendix or Wiktionary page does not garner attention. DCDuring TALK 11:23, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

My personal feeling, based on experience, is that coordinated efforts fail that focus on one or a few words over the short term (such as the WT:COW). What does seem to work are linked lists on static pages, where people can pop in and select from a long organized list of choices. I suggest a list of linked English words to be improved, organized forst by (primary) part of speech, then alphabetically. People can put their names beside words they are currently working on and strike them out or remove them from the list when they've reached a pre-determined quality level. This is not a short-term or quick fix, but it is more likely to produce results, in my experience.
It would also be good to have examples of diffs for pages that have been successfully improved, to show people the goal of the effort. I know that listen, parrot, curl, squat, and new have all undergone efforts to polish them to high standards (I know because I personally put a lot of the effort in). The first two also have good Citations pages. For pages with multiple language sections all expanded, I know off-hand only of biceps, which also has lots of citations. There are others out there that I've seen recently (like intempestivity, but because I wasn't involved in the expansion, I don't recall which pages they are. --EncycloPetey 03:44, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the COW experiment suggests that such efforts will not be a large part of the answer. I also don't think we can count of Herculean one-person efforts such as Visviva's on head. Even getting a single sense of a single word can take longer than what many a contributor has the sitzfleisch or opportunity to contribute in a single session. And that leaves many other parts of the job undone.
I have thought of many less demanding segmentations of the work that might be ways of harnessing the kind of time and attention that people can devote. Some examples:
  1. Making sure that senses of a single PoS cover the range of meanings without excessive overlap is a distinct challenge.
  2. Generalizing senses is often needed.
  3. Working across words to their synonyms would be nice too.
  4. I'm hoping that having reasonably good sub-Pos categories (as I am trying in adverbs) can help by speeding the search for synonyms and words with similar function.
  5. Building up our synoyms headings would be worthwhile. Many entries have lists of synonyms as a definition. That presentation is not terribly helpful. Only one or tw synonyms should be in a definition. the rest belong in synonyms.
  6. I've been thinking that we need to incorporate some more information about the complements taken by various words. (At present we have very little systematic information of this type except for transitive/intransitive tags, themselves not complete, not adequate for double objects, and complicated by the ergative tag.)
  7. Usage examples are a way of validating and demonstrating the senses that should take a native speaker much less time than full attestation.

Above the fold[edit]

Weren't sure if you saw this from Google. It's a nice analogue of "above the fold" and could be used to modify page layouts. --Bequw¢τ 05:30, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. If there were some kind of consensus to care. I don't think I like the (erroneous) implications that someone could draw for the rhs ToC. DCDuring TALK 23:12, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
I think the vertical rise on the right-hand side of their image overlay is for when the page forces the user to scroll to the right. That usually doesn't happen with our pages, so the RHS TOCs should always stay in the highly visible portion. --Bequw¢τ 01:19, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
You are right. Their display software doesn't support our text-flow and the ToC float. It actually appears in the 90-95% zones, about as good as could be. The problem is that it more or less says that landing page/above the fold good and scrolling down/sideways bad, which we all know, but the implications of which don't seem to motivate too many. Is this just our playground? DCDuring TALK 01:59, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Wiktionary:Votes/2009-12/Proposed CFI exception for SI Units[edit]

In light of your participation in Wiktionary:Beer parlour archive/2009/September#SI units and abbreviations, please contribute your thoughts to Wiktionary:Votes/2009-12/Proposed CFI exception for SI Units. Cheers! bd2412 T 21:01, 18 December 2009 (UTC)


Just to say that JackPotte doesn't actually want to delete these, he wants to rename them to Category: [] terms. But you can't rename categories so you have to move the contents and delete the old one. I'm not saying to change your vote, just given JackPotte's lack of explanation, you might not have understood. Mglovesfun (talk) 23:03, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

I know. DCDuring TALK 23:07, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

CFI and idiomaticity[edit]

Interesting that CFI says almost nothing about idiomaticity. Sum of parts doesn't appear anywhere, for example, but it does say that " [] of including a term if it is attested and idiomatic."

A bit later

"A term need not be limited to a single word in the usual sense."

So, as far as CFI is concerned, I can nominate child for RFD as it is not idiomatic. So we'd keep faster-than-light, but delete child, the, game and stuff like that, because they are not idiomatic. Do you see why nobody ever quotes CFI in deletion debates now? Mglovesfun (talk) 11:45, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

A written document is usually subject to that kind of thing. We don't seem to have that many good writers. Even unambiguous definitions seems to elude us. It is easy to become frustrated at the poor drafting in CFI. Lawyers and legislators who can craft documents that are usable (not just "intelligible") over decades definitely earn their keep. It is not easy to get volunteers to draft good policy documents (consider Editable CFI), but it is hard to dispense with them. It is also silly to constantly go back to first principles or, worse, slogans for every issue.
To overcome poor drafting one must read the document in such a way that any apparent contradictions from different parts of the document are reconciled. Perhaps a principle like AGF, Assume Intelligent But Imperfect Authorship (AIBIA). In this case, clearly, all discussion of idiom relates to multi-word entries (hyphenated terms being an undiscussed gray area). SoP is just a shorthand for the key element in virtually all definitions of idiom: that its meaning not be decodable from knowledge of its parts. (I suppose a really good draftsman would anticipate the need for shorthand and incorporate it into the document explicitly.) "Idiom" itself is not a perfect choice because it has at least two senses in general use. DCDuring TALK 12:39, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
The most common way to get round this is just to ignore it. I mean, how many times a day do you or I break the law? Even police officers and judges know to use their brain instead of applying the law rigidly, in fact they know it better than the rest of us. In the UK for example, it's illegal for a woman to eat chocolate while using public transport. In reality, Wiktionary decisions work on instinct and precedents rather than written rules that have never actually been used. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:34, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
I break the law twice a day, every day, when I walk my dog off-leash in a public park where it is forbidden. When in the park I do my best to influence others to control their dogs so that the long arm of the law does not take this convenience and pleasure away from us. Largely unenforced laws effectively force more careful behavior on law-breakers like me and even on those less conscientious than me (by my agency). Many laws are silly, but it is the duty of a responsible citizen to try to change silly laws or accommodate to them. If the citizens are too lazy or indifferent, then it must not be a very important matter to them. Civil disobedience is also an option. If I chose to break our rules, I could simply unilaterally delete terms that I knew to be wrong, trusting my own increasingly informed judgment.
I don't trust intuitive processes without supplementation. At en.wikt, just as in society, we have evolved some policies and are attempting to improve them. The process is analogous to natural evolution. Police officers and judges can't be trusted without a framework. Where the framework (including shared values) is weak, simply trusting the police and judges without training, help, supervision, and sanctions leads to at best error, if not corruption or chaos. I find it particularly distressing when the police and judges do not even pretend to be enforcing laws and advocate their own unfettered freedom.
CFI is hard to change because many of the more committed and knowledgeable folks here don't want to change it in any particular way. Almost everyone has some pet area that they want expanded. Unfortunately, there is no one who has an idea, can draft a proposal, and make arguments that are convincing enough to change what consensus we have. The fact that CFI proposals fail does not mean that it is perfect or even good. It simply means that there is no consensus for any particular change. To expect to change the policy without some effort to test the implications is irresponsible, even juvenile.
What is intuitively obvious to me is that our current mix of contributors does not find much interest in quality improvement, though that is our major deficit. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 16:29, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

More/-er and most/-est.[edit]

Dr. Arnold Zwicky recently posted an entry in Language Log that might interest you:

More on comparatives and superlatives

(actually, most of Language Log is interesting, though Dr. Mark Liberman's posts are usually the best).
RuakhTALK 14:14, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. That will be good material for Appendix:English adjectives and Appendix:English adverbs and might generate some ideas for entry improvement. I really like Zwicky's Errors. I don't visit or search Language Log often enough. I know it is a high-quality site. RSS feeds and even group posts are way too time-consuming. I always follow links to the site.
Now that I am thinking about the PoS grammar appendices, I have more reason to search there. I really can only manage one header at a time for the appendices, on a topic I can research, since my prior knowledge is negligible. I work from the bottom up, which is why I like to not work on Appendix:English grammar. I'd rather produce something that was linked to from it and from other useful places like the PoS categories. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 15:42, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Productivity of n’t[edit]

You’re right. All the forms I was thinking of are fairly long-established. My apologies.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 18:11, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

No problem. It only takes one "real" counterexample and a very few keystrokes to switch it to the other category. I had just been extending the category of words suffixed with "-n't". There must be those who wouldn't call it a suffix. I also don't know how many of them were actually formed in Middle English (or before?). I have put them under the PoS header "Contractions". I should revisit this and check prior discussions. CGEL calls then inflectional forms of the verbs. If another one of the major modern grammars or the weight of scholarship of the last 20 years agrees with CGEL, it should be changed. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 18:32, 22 December 2009 (UTC)


While I'm thinking of it, how do you personally feel about the use of (ambitransitive) in place of (transitive, intransitive)? --EncycloPetey 22:37, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

I hate it for users; it's fine for me/us. I've been thinking how well designed is Longmans DCE's terse information on complements for verbs. They have twenty five grammar codes (for all parts of speech), 13 of them for verbs. I'm not especially advocating codes, but for "ambitransitive" they have "[ + obj(i) + obj(d) ]". Some labels seem as helpful as dormitive principles to the uninitiated and to merely occasional dictionary users. (Also pretty much all the semantic category headers except synonyms and antonyms). The only "technical" terms they use in their codes or explanation of their codes are:
  1. "attributive" for "[A]", referring to attributive adjectives.
  2. "countable" for "[C]"
  3. "intransitive" for "[I]"
  4. "plural" for "[P]"
  5. "singular" for "[S]"
  6. "transitive" for "[T]"
  7. "uncountable" for "[U]"
  8. "progressive", used in "[not in progressive form]" (for stative verbs).
They have two other letter codes:
  1. "[F]" for "following" for adjectives that appear postpositively.
  2. "[L]" for "linking" for copulas.
The other codes are similar to their replacement for "ambitransitive". The only other feature of their system to note is that they use strikethroughs to indicate things that are not allowed for the particular word against type for the indicated class. For example, "[T + that; obj]" indicates a transitive verb followed by a clause beginning with "that", but not permitting a noun or pronoun object.
I am not advocating codes, but I admire what they try to convey and the care that went into their notational system. Hats off to Dr. Quirk and the Longmans advisory board and team. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 23:15, 23 December 2009 (UTC)


Haha. Well, I have seen this page growing recently, and I agree with most of what it says – it's a really good start. From my point of view, the best way to write a definition is to start with several examples of the word being used and to try to explain them. That usually shows up most of the problems with what you think it means. Anyway, as for the rest, I will have a good look at it when I'm back home (I'm away right now). Ƿidsiþ 15:03, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

I had noted your work today on turn on, which seemed good. It reminded me that you have tackled some of our hardest words. I look forward to your contributions and thoughts on those pages.
Writing dictionary definitions is an extremely unnatural act. Even revising definitions seems hard. (Witness the definitions from Websters 1913 that have not been substantially rewritten despite dreadfully obsolete wording.) I am interesting in trying to conceptualize some of the definition/redefinition work as a series of easy steps because that seems to work better with the way most people usually contribute to a wiki.
I often find Websters 1913 definitions so hard to understand that I cannot tell whether the sense is obsolete or dated or whether the wording just needs to be updated. Sometimes the same sense cuts across grammatical subtypes. To me grammar (complement types, for example, or modificand types (if that's a word)) provides a relatively firm primary basis for subdividing senses. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 15:24, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Hmmm. A step-by-step guide for beginners to this process? Sounds like a good idea. There are plenty of folks here who know tips and tricks that I would love to know more about, and perhapos having a written "procedure" would tempt them to commit their ideas in writing. Is there an existing page where this could appear, or will we need to start one? --EncycloPetey 17:02, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
In addition to Help:Writing definitions, we might have Appendix:Writing definitions and Appendix:Improving definitionsWiktonary:Writing definitions and Wiktionary:Improving definitons. The step-by-step approach I have been thinking about would be most immediately needed for and applicable to improving the Websters 1913 entries, but also to definitions with other typical errors or error syndromes. Perhaps entries from the Vulgar Tongue slang dictionary and Century Dictionary might merit some special treatment of their characteristic flaws from our 2010 perspective. I think that improving definitions offers more potential for improving Wiktionary for the foreseeable future. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 17:33, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps a subpage(s) of Help:Writing definitions (i.e. /Tutorial or /Improving definitions)? Sounds useful. It might be better to keep it in the Help namespace though? L☺g☺maniac 17:36, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
I was mostly thinking of using the namespace placement as a way to preserve the idea of who the target audience was. I am thinking of Help as aimed at newer users: 0-1+ years. The idea would be to make things explicit and communicate without our jargon if at all possible. We could dispense with those limits to a greater extent in an appendix. Once we had some principles for how to improve definitions (which we don't), we might be able to come up with something for Help space. I was really most interested in getting agreement on specific tasks that met a few requirements:
  1. newer users could do them.
  2. experienced users could do them quickly.
  3. there was no harm or some benefit to them in themselves.
  4. they eased the process of revising definitions. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 19:11, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
Minor comment: You seem to have an unusual view concerning the Appendix namespace. I would never put procedures, guidelines, or advice there. I would use Help: to assist beginning users and to treat technical issues, while using Wiktionary: for meta-information about the editing, functioning, and policies of Wiktionary on a day-to-day basis. --EncycloPetey 20:15, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
You're right. Wiktionary space is, above all, where technical dictionary matters belong, excluding the beginner material. Appendix is for some kinds of content that is suitable for non-contributing users. Should Appendix:English adjectives move to Wiktionary space? Its current content is relatively Wiktionary oriented, though it is a simplified version of the kind of thing one would find in a reference grammar. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 23:27, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
I think that one could go either way, since it doesn't overly emphasize editing or usage. If it's intended to be an editor's test for classifying entries, then Wiktionary space. If it's going to be expanded to include more grammatical information, it would fit just fine in the Appendix space. --EncycloPetey 23:31, 31 December 2009 (UTC)