Wiktionary:Votes/2007-07/Layout of example sentences

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Layout of example sentences[edit]

  • Voting on: The addition of the following text to WT:ELE:

Example sentences[edit]

Generally, every definition should be accompanied by a quotation illustrating the definition. If no quotation can be found, it is strongly encouraged to create an example sentence. Example sentences should:

  • be grammatically complete sentences, beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
  • be placed immediately after the applicable numbered definition, and before any quotations associated with that specific definition.
  • be italicized, with the defined term boldfaced.
  • be as brief as possible while still clarifying the sense of the term. (In rare cases, examples consisting of two brief sentences may work best.)
  • be indented using the "#:" command placed at the start of the line.
  • for languages in non-Latin scripts, a transcription is to be given in the line below, with an additional level of indentation: "#::".
  • for languages other than English, a translation is to be given in the line below (i.e. below the sentence or below the transcription), with an additional level of indentation: "#::".
  • not contain wikilinks (the words should be easy enough to understand without additional lookup)

The goal of the example sentences is the following, which is to be kept in mind when making one up:

  1. To place the term in a context in which it is likely to appear, addressing level of formality, dialect, etc.
  2. To provide notable collocations, particularly those that are not idiomatic.
  3. To select scenarios in which the meaning of the example itself is clear.
  4. To illustrate the meaning of the term to the extent that a definition is obtuse.
  5. To exemplify varying grammatical frames that are well understood, especially those that may not be obvious, for instance relying on collocation with a preposition.

Thanks for voting!

Please note that I added some more to the discussion above. I propose we first get this through, and then smaller votes can be made to change issues that have not been thought of, such as italicizing non-roman script. H. (talk) 11:45, 24 July 2007 (UTC)


  1. Symbol support vote.svg Support H. (talk) 15:58, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
  2. Symbol support vote.svg Support, with the caveat that with sample sentences in non-Latin scripts, the sentence should not be italicized but the transcription should be, and with the further caveat that with sample sentences in languages other than English, the translation should not be italicized. (Sorry, but the text of the vote didn't actually address these points.) —RuakhTALK 16:10, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
    Also, the vote doesn't say where this text should go. At a new Wiktionary:Example sentences? Within Wiktionary:Entry layout explained or Wiktionary:Quotations? At a new subpage of one of the latter? —RuakhTALK 16:10, 19 July 2007 (UTC) Oops, never mind, it does, sorry. —RuakhTALK 16:46, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
  3. Symbol support vote.svg Support EncycloPetey 19:31, 19 July 2007 (UTC) I agree with Ruakh; putting CJKV, Cyrillic, or Arabic script into italics is a BAD idea. I would also like to see a note that "For very short example sentences not in English, the translation may be placed on the same line. Responses were favorable to this when I posted short example sentences for tener in the discussion, showing both possible formats side-by-side. I also think that the points listed above have a more logical sequence, but that isn't relevant to the content of this vote, merely to the order in which they would be listed. --EncycloPetey 19:31, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
  4. Symbol support vote.svg Support —Stephen 17:51, 20 July 2007 (UTC) However, in examples in foreign languages, especially in languages with non-Roman scripts, or even with difficult diacritics, some words should be wikilinked. Also, I think that if an example is very short (e.g., Template:ARchar), it should be okay to put the example, its transliteration and its translation all on the same line. This becomes more important when there are several such examples, as for example on укроп and лес. Putting the term, the transliteration, and the translation on three separate lines could be unwieldy. On the subject of transliteration, I’m a bit undecided about transliterations of lengthy examples in Russian and Greek, since those alphabets are so easy to learn. With Russian, at least, the important thing is to show which syllables are stressed, but this can be accomplished EITHER with transliteration or by inserting the acute accent character. I don’t have a strong feeling about this, however ... the important thing is to indicate the stress, and everyone thinks a full transliteration of Cyrillic examples would be useful, then that would be okay. —Stephen 17:51, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
  5. Symbol support vote.svg Support Connel MacKenzie 18:30, 20 July 2007 (UTC) This wording accurately reflects long-standing practice; changes to it should be their own separate votes (such as the proposal for allowing wikification in non-English entry's example sentences.) The addition of the "goals" can only be viewed as extremely helpful to newcomers.
  6. Symbol support vote.svg Support ArielGlenn 18:46, 20 July 2007 (UTC) It's about time. I can't support this enthusiastically enough; we need those example sentences! I also think transcription and translation can go on the same line when short enough. Italicized Greek script is common practice so that's a small glitch in the non-Latin script scheme, perhaps. ArielGlenn 18:46, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    It's always possible for the folks working on Greek to make an exception of their language by adding the necessary policy to Wiktionary:About Greek. In the absence of a specific policy page for a particular language, this vote would set default policy for example sentences. --EncycloPetey 21:21, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
  7. Symbol support vote.svg Support with enthusiasm on almost all points, except that personally I prefer translations of example sentences to stay on the same line but just lose the italics. However I'm prepared to concede that for the sake of getting a formal policy banning wikilinks from example sentences - hurrah. Widsith 09:18, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
    I understand the desire to reduce clutter by banning wikilinks of irrelevant words from example sentences. However, there are times when it is in the readers’ best interest to draw attention to prepositions, particles, auxilliary verbs, etc. that are relevant because they frequently accompany a particular definition. Example sentences seem the ideal place to draw attention to such patterns and to ban all wikilinks from examples is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Rod (A. Smith) 16:15, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
    Examples? Widsith 16:32, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
    Copied from below, here is an illustration of the usage pattern noun+로 with 하다 (hada):
    1. to make become; to cause to become
      여자를 아내 하다
      yeojareul anaero hada
      to make a woman become one's wife
    Rod (A. Smith) 16:38, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
    I'm afraid it doesn't convince me. I like the way the bold terms match up, and I think the clarity of that is hindered rather than helped by other textual flourishes. Widsith 16:45, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
    Can you recommend a flourish-free way to drw readers' attention to terms common to such usage patterns? Rod (A. Smith) 17:26, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
    I'd use a Usage note. That has the added benefit that you can explain the pattern (here, that it is appended to a noun or whatever) rather than wikilinking where you aren't quite sure why you're being directed to follow the link. Widsith 17:44, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
    OK. Ultimately, the “perfect” entry would probably have many such usage notes. I maintain my oppose vote below, though, because I think that relevant wikilinks in examples are helpful and much easier to write than such usage notes. In any event, I respect whatever decision this community makes regarding the potential ban. Rod (A. Smith) 22:48, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
  8. Symbol support vote.svg Support DAVilla 09:40, 25 July 2007 (UTC) although some of the language is excessive, which may be a tad more restrictive than intended:
    • "If no quotation can be found"
      Better to say something like "in the absence of a suitable quotation" since this does not override CFI.
    • "beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period, question mark, or exclamation point"
      Is this biased toward English? Even in English, how would this help to illustrate other closing punctuation such as an elipsis indicating speech was cut off? Isn't "grammatically complete sentences" enough, and maybe even too much? Is an interjection grammatically complete? The point is just to avoid sentence fragments like "the ebb and flow of time".
    • "In rare cases, examples consisting of two brief sentences may work best."
      I don't argue these aren't rare, but isn't the statement about short examples enough, and this just understood? Maybe.
    • "the words should be easy enough to understand without additional lookup"
      Misleading in my opinion. Example sentences should be "real" sentences, not watered down versions, particularly of English.
    • "for instance relying on collocation with a preposition"
      This is my own language, but was just meant to be a clarification. DAVilla
    I don't mind hilighting certain words such as particles in other languages so long as they're closely related to the bolded term in the grammatical structure. But this needs further discussion. I wonder if it might be more appropriate to boldface than to wikify. DAVilla 09:40, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
    Those are good remarks, and I wish they had been uttered at the discussion before. I propose the following:
    • change ‘If no quotation can be found’ to ‘In the absence of a suitable quotation’
    • remove the part ‘, beginning with a capital letter and ending with a period, question mark, or exclamation point’
    I have no solution for the other suggestions. They might be discussed again later. Can I reword the proposal above, or is this impossible now that so many people have voted already? H. (talk) 10:54, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
    I'm not sure. You might be better off claiming, after the vote, that there wasn't enough support for the second. The first is just a rewording, so it might be possible to do on the policy page.
    Honestly, I really hate having to vote on such specific language. The change seems so innocuous. Isn't there a way to propose a minor change without going to a vote, if say, there were no objections? Do we really believe that all or even most changes are going to result in edit wars? DAVilla 07:42, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
    I agree with all your points. —RuakhTALK 14:38, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
  9. Symbol support vote.svg Support Robert Ullmann 07:53, 27 July 2007 (UTC) although the language could be a little less strict; saying "should be a complete sentence" is enough, it doesn't have to go on about capital letters and punctuation. (How do you capitalize kanji? ;-) And similar comments made by others above. Should specify italics only for scripts that make sense (basically latin/roman).
  10. Symbol support vote.svg SupportCelestianpower háblame 22:48, 27 July 2007 (UTC) Although I'm not totally convinced about the no wikilinks thing. Regards, —Celestianpower háblame 22:48, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
  11. Symbol support vote.svg Support Paul G 11:49, 6 August 2007 (UTC) Looks simple and clear.
  12. Symbol support vote.svg Support Jeffqyzt 14:12, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
  13. Symbol support vote.svg Support Cynewulf 03:15, 17 August 2007 (UTC) Assuming that the update of WT:AJ will explicitly allow wikilinking of examples (and likewise for other languages)


# Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Rod (A. Smith) 18:12, 20 July 2007 (UTC) I'm uncomfortable with prohibiting wikilinks, at least for entries other than English. Example sentences often show non-obvious usage patterns that include words with which the reader may not already be familiar. When such words are a not in lemma form, perhaps with a prefix or suffix that obfuscates the term, readers may be unable to look it up easily. When the order of words in the translation does not correspond with the order in the example, wikilinking such terms to the relevant lemma entries can be very helpful. Rod (A. Smith) 18:12, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

  1. But that is a very long-standing (accepted) practice; the example sentences highlight the term being defined. By wikifying random terms in the example sentence, the focus shifts away from the term the example is being given for. --Connel MacKenzie 18:23, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    Do I understand the proposal correctly to mean that wikilinks will be excluded from a made-up example sentence, but not necessarily excluded from an actual quote using the word (which may use other words that a typical reader might want to look up)? bd2412 T 19:47, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    I don't see the specification of examples having a direct effect on Wiktionary:Quotations. I believe those are already prohibited there, if not explicitly, then by example. --Connel MacKenzie 20:09, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    Yes, example sentences highlight the term being defined. They help readers understand usage patterns of the defined term. To understand those usage patterns, it is often important to understand which types of words are use with the defined term. When those additional words are in non-lemma, prefixed, or suffixed form, wikilinks help readers identify the inflections or other grammatical properties of words commonly used with the defined term. So, rather than wikilinking “random words”, a good editor should be allowed to wikilink critical words used with the defined term and thus helpfully draw readers’ attention to them. Those proposal would thus prohibit editors from helping readers. Rod (A. Smith) 21:15, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    I try to do that in the definition itself, whenever possible. If it is strongly related, a "Derived terms" section will list the idiom(s) that contains all the terms. --Connel MacKenzie 21:31, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    I ses the prohibition of wikilinks in examples as a benefit. It encourages the creation of simpler, easy-to-follow examples rather than complex ones with oddly inflected words that have to be looked up. --EncycloPetey 21:19, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    How would create a simpler, easier-to-follow example sentence illustrating the usage pattern of noun+로 with 하다 (hada):
    1. to make become; to cause to become
      여자를 아내 하다
      yeojareul anaero hada
      to make a woman become one's wife
    Rod (A. Smith) 22:01, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
    Not speaking Korean (and not understanding that definition as given) I guess there are two likely things you'd like to convey. One would be that it is a set phrase used only a particular way. This could by solved by using a derived terms section and defining it on a separate page. The second possibility is that for this meaning it must be preceded by a noun+로 combination. That could be solved by noting that in a {{context|when preceded by noun+}} tag, or by listing derived terms, or both. For that particular definition line, would this be an accurate definition: "# To make someone become; to cause someone to become"? --Connel MacKenzie 21:57, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
    Yes, the latter is the meaning I intended to convey. I never know whether to include object placeholders ("someone", "something", etc.) in definitions. Some dictionaries enclose such placeholders in parentheses to retain the definition's gloss reading, e.g. "to make (someone or something) become (something else)". Placeholders do make for more readable definitions. I like the suggestion to use {{context}}. Let me think about this awhile. Combined with the usage notes suggestion above, this may sway my vote. Rod (A. Smith) 23:21, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
    OK. I withdraw my opposition. Thank you to Connel and Widsith for your helpful advice with regard to {{context}} and ====Usage notes==== as a replacement for relevant wikilinks. Rod (A. Smith) 05:25, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
  1. Symbol oppose vote.svg Oppose Tohru 18:45, 14 August 2007 (UTC) To one point, while supporting all the rest: "not contain wikilinks." For English entries there is no problem, but I think there is room to discuss whether we should simply extrapolate it to the other languages. Even if example sentences are written with basic words and simple constractions, it is still like deciphering for beginners of the language to read and understand those sentences. Do we really need to ban helping learners with wikilinks there? ―Tohru 18:45, 14 August 2007 (UTC)


# Symbol abstain vote.svg Abstain Rod (A. Smith) 18:59, 19 July 2007 (UTC) I was under the impression that indenting below a definition, i.e. using "#:", was supposed to be used for brief usage notes that apply to the preceding definition. Because of that, the "#*" syntax, as used for quotations and non-Latin script examples, seems more appropriate for example sentences. Rod (A. Smith) 18:59, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

  1. I have never seen usage notes placed this way. All usage notes I have seen are placed in a Usage notes section, with the sole exceptions of noting that a word typically appears in the plural or with the definite article, and these notes are typically placed in parentheses at the head of the definition. --EncycloPetey 19:26, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
    Searching, I cannot find any either, other than those I've created for Korean and Japanese entries. That mistaken notion came from WT:AJ, which recommends that style for brief notes. Reviewing the history of WT:AJ, the "#: notes" recommendation is a hold-over from very early layout ideas, well before WT:ELE standardized usage notes into ====Usage notes====. WT:AJ should probably be realigned to WT:ELE. Rod (A. Smith) 19:59, 19 July 2007 (UTC)


  • Passes 13-1-0. DAVilla 04:08, 19 August 2007 (UTC)