Wiktionary talk:Obsolete and archaic terms

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Deleting[edit]

I noticed somewhere a mention of someone deleting obsolete terms from Wiktionary. To me this is shear vandalism. I propose this policy.

I'm now about to go looking for where I should post notice of this draft policy, so that it can be properly considered and developed.--Richardb 20:40, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Why do we need this as a separate policy. A couple of lines at CFI should be adequate. Eclecticology 10:10, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes Yes EC, we know you don't like policies. But, we need to get some clear definition. Work with me here to get the "policy" defined, and then maybe we can summarise it into a couple of lines in Criteria for Inclusion.--Richardb 11:43, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Links to the Old English Wiktionary?[edit]

I not sure what the point of "with a reference pointing to the entry in the Old English (it has a more proper name) Wiktionary." is? The Old English Wiktionary is in, well, Old English so there not much to most people linking there except by using interwiki links of course. Actually I'm not sure why there are a Old English Wiktionary at all since its a dead language... The main point of having Wiktionary in different languages is to help people that only speaks that language or to help forming a community based on a common language like the Esperanto Wiktionary. --Patrik Stridvall 13:03, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

There are as many uses for Wiktionary as there are contributors. One possible use is for people reading a text to look up words they find but do not understand. If this is an old text, then the word may be very old english, or even Old English. I'm not sure what the cut off is between them. Perhaps we could have some information here in this policy. Another dead language that has a Wiktionary is Latin. Is there an Ancient Greek one too ? And I've no doubt there are small communities who even speak Old English, perhaps when they re-enact ancient battles etc. Who knows !--Richardb 11:38, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Of course we should have Old English here at the English Wiktionary but it should be treated as a different language. The point is more what relation should we have with the Old English Wiktionary. In my opionion none except for the interwiki links that exists for all other languages. But I see that you have removed the text that I didn't like.
As for the Wiktionaries for dead languages. Well, that it not really our concern since we should have no special relation with them at all... Howevever, the Old English Wiktionary is rather pointless, I seriously doubt that there are people that speak Old English better then Modern English, especially people willing to work on a it. So why not form a subcommunity here instead and explain the words in Modern English instead.
My understanding is that there is a small community building Old English Wiktionary. If that group wants to enter their words into the English dictionary (and perhaps they can be encouraged), they should enter them just as the French or Russians or Chinese enter their words in to the English dictionary, under a different language heading. But, if the OldEnglish word is the same as the modern English word, perhaps they should refrain ?--Richardb 14:23, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
They should enter it under ==Old English== or possibly ==English, Old==. If it basicly means the same as the modern word there is not much point in adding it unless there are additional useful information like Old English inflections, synonyms, quotes, usage notes, pronunciation or something. --Patrik Stridvall 21:43, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Ancient Greek doesn't seem to have any. As for Latin that is a special case since it is the offical language of Vatican City. There are actually new words being added to the language. See for example Latin Computer Words.
Now to the what is relevant to us. The big question is Middle English, that doesn't seem to have a Wiktionary either BTW, should we treat that as a different langauges or not. I think we should if for no reason other than because we don't want words that are spelled differently in Middle English be listed as spelling alternatives to Modern English. Just marking them as archaic or obsolete would be confusing. --Patrik Stridvall 18:36, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
If there is a language code enm:, that suggests we should treat such words as being from a a diffrent language (but only where they are clearly different). but, how are we going to tell what is Middle English aand what is old, obsolete Modern English. Dunno. Needs someone with more knowledge of Midddle and Old English.--Richardb 14:23, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, enm (see w:List of ISO 639 codes) is a proper language code. As I said earlier I see it more as a way to keep very archaic spellings out of the section for Modern English. Word that are both Middle English and Modern English doesn't need to be listed at as Middle English unless they have senses that Modern English lacks. --Patrik Stridvall 21:43, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
I really hate the idea of treating Middle Englsh as a separate language. I think it's better to treat ME forms as obsolete variants of modern words, that way the continuity of the language is better shown. Plus it would otherwise mean we'd need separate entries for all the words which haven't changed (ie most of them..). Old English, which I speak quite well, is demonstrably different in grammar and vocabulary from modern English and is clearly a different language. But for MidE, most of the words could still be used today in an archaic sense...I just think there are no advantages to treating it as a different language and plenty of disadvantages. But perhaps this is better discussed on BP..! Widsith 11:35, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps you are right. In addition it might be wiser to take a wait and see approach and reopen the discussion when we have some actual examples that might benefit from some sort of split. --Patrik Stridvall 13:06, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I know many out there will not agree with this, but I think it needs to be said. Words do not die out suddenly, and it is much harder to say when a word "leaves" the (English) language than to say when it enters (in general.). I have myself noticed, and find it worth mentioning, that if one has a sufficiently thick Modern English dictionary, knows the sound shifts (in particular the Great Vowel Shift), the different orthography, and knows what is an ending or prefix we no longer use, i.e. ge- on past particples, the case endings -um, -,u ,-a, -e, it is often possible to decipher some texts in Old English using only the aforementioned "sufficiently thick" Modern English dictionary. I think the point cannot be overemphasized that words may enter the language with a bang, but they don't die out but slowly. This is even more so if Scots words are considered to be English and included in the dictionary. Granted, no one I know of uses words like "blee", "swith", "eath", "sweven", "stith", "fremd", "frith", "eam" etc. but they would be included in the sufficiently thick dictionary, and I came across them first by using Modern English dictionaries to decipher Old English (I am familiar with the sound shifts that English has gone through and the orthography of Old English). The problem with Old (and Middle) English is the differences in spelling convention. If we have a word in Old or Middle English which would be found in the thick Modern English dictionary, we should in principle spell it the "modern" way. But there are cases where it is tough to decide what spelling to include: compound words are an interesting case. Suppose, hypothetically, we want to consider the Old English word "mildheortnes" (pity). It is more or less obviously "mild-heartness". We could have an entry for "mildheartness" (obsolete) or we could leave it as "mildheortnes". The same problem arises for Middle English.

-User: Nightvid (unresgistered)

Further shade: "dated"[edit]

Words such as "fab", "gear" and "girl power" are not archaic - they are merely old, dated or old-fashioned (although "girl power" is pushing it a bit).

I think the distinction is is probably as follows (applied to individual senses as well as words):

  • Obsolete: no longer in use; found only in very old texts. Examples: zyxt, yclept (although some dictionaries mark "yclept" as "archaic")
  • Archaic: no longer in general use, but still found in some contemporary texts (eg, the Bible). Examples: thou (in the sense of "you"), œconomy
  • Dated: still in use, but only by older people and considered old-fashioned by younger people. Examples: wireless, groovy, gramophone, gay (in the senses of "bright", "happy", etc)

I propose that we use (dated) label for words in the third category. — Paul G 15:43, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure I like the word dated it means basicly the same as obsolete except that something dated for me means something that is quite as obsolete as something obsolete. In Swedish for example both words translates to same thing in their primary sense.
Ah, the beauty of English, with its many subtle variations of meaning between words. In English "dated" and "obsolete" are nothing like the same.--Richardb 14:44, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
What about deprecated? In computing terminology it means that the use of something is no longer recommended and that you shouldn't use it since it might be discontinued in the next version. While a language doesn't really have versions, they do have different generations of speakers that is in some abstract meaning the same thing. --Patrik Stridvall 22:38, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
The big difference is that dated words are still alive and understood (but may communicate things about you to your audience that you'd rather not communicate), while obsolete words are door-nail dead. People who try to use them can expect to get stared at as if they were Martians. Keffy 23:19, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but that might say more about the starer than the staree :) --Tyranny Sue 06:46, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
"Deprecated" is not a good idea, in my opinion. Remember that "deprecate" means to frown upon (which I think is largely forgotten by those who use it in computing). This might be a good label to have for disputed usages (such as the spelling miniscule) but I don't think it is appropriate as an indicator that a word is falling out of use. — Paul G 14:20, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
How about 'disputed'? --Tyranny Sue 06:46, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
I like this set of distinctions. I'd only suggest a clarification of what a "contemporary" vs. "very old" text is. Here's a concrete example. While I was doing easement this weekend, I knew the legal sense and I was passingly familiar with the old-fashioned 'relief' sense. But I was getting a bunch of corpus hits from the late 19th century where I was scratching my head and saying, "What the hell is it supposed to mean there?" Not a single contemporary dictionary had anything enlightening to say. It took a musty and large-ish Oxford to find out the ("arch." even then in Oxford's opinion) sense of 'garden shed'. Books from about 1900 aren't "very old", and may even be later than the last time anybody ever used œconomy with a straight face, but I'd be surprised if you could find many English speakers who didn't specialize in Victorian literature who had any clue of the 'garden shed' sense. Sounds like it should be a good candidate for "obsolete". How can we tweak the policy to make it clearer what to do with such cases? Keffy 23:19, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

All of these terms express opinions. They should be based on evidence. It is not enough to simply put a tag. When you add dated quotations they speak for themselves. "Dated" is especially subjective, and I either remove it entirely or replace it with "obsolete" whenever I see it. How can we be certain that a word has ceased to be used everywhere? There can be no precise boundary between "obsolete" and "archaic", nor should there be. Roughly, I apply "archaic" to words that have not been used since before 1800 in any sense. Words can be obsoleted by policy as well as by age. When taxonomic terms are updated the old ones immediately become obsolete.

Putting a word in the category obsolete should be avoided when only some senses are obsolete. The tag at the beginning of the definition line is fine, but adding it to the category will mean that a lot of words that we use everyday end up in this category. Eclecticology 10:07, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

These tags are absolutely crucial for second language learners. Most ESL students know it's not in their best interests to go around talking like a Jacobean poet and they appreciate any advice they can get, even if it's only based on our subjective opinion. (After all, as a group we're pretty representative of the people who'll be forming subjective opinions on whether the learner talks like a stuck-up prig.) And I'm fairly optimistic that our "subjective opinions" will settle down into a reasonably accurate representation of reality.
Sure, it would be nice if we could be 100% sure that word X has never been used in writing since 1902 and base our judgments of obsolescence on that. Unfortunately, the resources to do that exist only under lock and key in the lexicography departments of private publishers. Fortunately, we have the next best thing: the massed judgments of a horde of native speakers from every major dialect area and the mechanisms to make use of those judgments.
Editors don't "simply put a tag" without evidence. They add it to a word that they have never seen used (except possibly in old books) in all their decades of using English all day, every day. That's powerful evidence. True, sometimes it'll lead to a conclusion that doesn't generalize to the rest of the English-speaking world, but we have a standard safety-valve for that. Any other editor can say, "What the @!*%. I use that word all the time," and remove the tag. We don't need to get every tagging right the first time or to ominously warn editors away from the tags unless they've got the solidest possible evidence. (If we applied that philosophy to everything else in Wiktionary, we'd have nothing but blank pages.) All we need is to avoid pointless arguments and potential edit-wars by making sure everyone has the same understanding of what "archaic", "obsolete", and "dated" mean.
On not branding an entire word as obsolete because of one sense: absolutely. I never saw the point of that. Keffy 02:39, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
I like the idea of another category/tag, such as "dated". I'm moving Paul G's suggestion into the Draft Policy.--Richardb 14:58, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
But, I also wonder if we can't come up with a slightly better word. (Not deprecated!). Could we simply use "Old Fashioned" or "Out of Fashion", or even "unfashionable", well indicating that the word should not be used by people who want to appear current, but can happily be used by people who are not so concerned with what is current. Perhaps we could even go so far as to tag the word something like "Unfashionable, UK c.1990", meaning it became unfashionable in the UK from around 1990". But we would just use the CATEGORY of "unfashionable".
You could also use the word "dated" in the same manner. But I do feel unfashionable is a more precise, clear definition of what we are trying to convey, without being willing to go to the barricades over it.--Richardb 14:58, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
No, we should not use unfashionable or old-fashioned because they carry much more charge and are more POV than the term dated. — V-ball 16:33, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
Being unfashionable and deprecated are to a large part orthognal issues. Unfashionable means that people, especially the younger generation, doesn't use the word for almost entirely subjective reasons. Deprecated hints that there is at least some logical reason that the word shouldn't be used. Either because of that
  • The etymology suggests that a particular spelling is illogical
  • The pronouncation suggests that a particular spelling is illogical
  • The word is ambiguous and there are other more exact words that are recommended to be choosen instead depending on what you mean.
I'm sure there are more similar reasons. Also note that deprecated expresses the hope that the word or spelling of the word eventually will be unfashionable as well in which case it become dated and much further in the future eventually obsolete. --Patrik Stridvall 12:20, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Finer distinctions The obsolete category includes quite a range. At one end we have early middle English (the period before Chaucer) which does need a little special prpearation before it can be read. Then Chaucer, and many people do learn how to read it in school, and then early modern.

But the distinction obsolete also includes shakespeare. And the examples given remained in poetic use through the nineteenth century. A typical dictionary note for some of this is "obsolete or poetical". "And such as Chaucer is, shall Milton be."--Pope DGGD 09:19, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Rare[edit]

What about rare? Is that also part of this category of tags for words or senses? — Vildricianus 14:39, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

This is a separate issue. A word can be rare and extant, rare and dated, rare and archaic, or rare and obsolete. In other words, the rarity of the word is unrelated to the degree to which it is still in use. — Paul G 11:25, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure I like marking words as rare at all. If you consider rare as a orthogonal issue to archaic, obsolete and dated, words or rather specific senses of words that in some meaning can be considered rare, probably are or was commonly used in a specific field of study. That is they are only rare outside some kind of special context like 19th century medicine.
Wouldn't it be better that instead of marking a sense as rare to instead of spliting the sense in two. One with the orginal meaning, that since its rare in common use probably is marked archaic, obsolete or dated. And one that is marked with the specific field of study with a more exact definition and also independently of the first sense marked as archaic, obsolete or dated.
I'm sure there are words that are obsolete in the original sense but was used by 19th century medicical specialists that nowadays are consider dated by modern medical specialist even though they might understand what it means. They are probably entirely unaware of the original obsolete sense though. In short, marking words as rare usually raises more questions than it gives answers. --Patrik Stridvall 10:41, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
I like the appellation. Certain of the words I have entered are very uncommon e.g. nicholaism had three hits on google, and scrofulide had two hits in English and a few dictionary definitions which were not helpful at all (there were other hits in French). When looking for scrofulide, I then found it used in certain medical text books on the google book search. For me, the connotation rare would show users that the word is current English, but very uncommon. In my view, archaic is archaic, dated is dated and obsolete is obsolete. I think the argument against using it is that what is rare is a subjective finding, and that is the biggest drawback to using it as a tag. Regards Andrew massyn 11:36, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Words that describe concepts that are in themselves rare topics of discussion doesn't really matter if you mark them as rare or not. The point of usage markings is to tell any potential user that they should prefer other words instead if they want to write something that other people will understand. However, if they are no other words that describe the concept, you have the use that word, rare or not. Futhermore, since the markings are based on some sort of subjective consensus, markings to that kind of words will be very unreliable since few people have seen them and thus can give opinions regarding them.
As for the words mentioned above. Well, the usage markings are recommendations when you write and it would be more useful to mark them with the context where they are used instead. Futhermore they probably should have such markings for all senses and that kind of words should never be used unless you know your audience. --Patrik Stridvall 01:46, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
A useful thing to do (though I don't think a "rare" tag is the way to do it) is to mark words that are rare relative to some related word. I'm getting around to working on the requested word liturgic, which is outnumbered by liturgical by over 50 to 1, on both Google and in the Gutenberg texts. People who are unfamiliar with either word should have a way to know that liturgical is the one to use. Keffy 03:13, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Why not mark liturgic as deprecated (frowned upon) like
  1. (''deprecated'') [[liturgical]]
This should tell everybody that the favoured word is liturgical. The same should probably be done with miniscule as well as suggested by Paul above.
As for nicholaism, well, since it is a concept that seems to carry conotations that are no other word is likely the do, my suggestion is that we mark it as obscure meaning that it probably should rewritten using other words and if used the meaning should be explained in a parenthesis since even people with a Th.D., while perhaps have seen the word before, might not be 100% sure what it means without looking it up. The same probably goes for many of the phobias for the same reasons. --Patrik Stridvall 11:52, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

historical[edit]

The dictionary label for a word whose referent has gone obsolete is (historical). —Muke Tever 23:40, 4 March 2006 (UTC) (posted in Beer Parlour).

Do we need to take account of this too ?--Richardb 04:19, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Obsolete-sense[edit]

An idea of mine is to create {{obsolete-sense}} in order to separate entirely obsolete terms from those who are still in use but who have other senses that have disappeared from general usage. This would then have a different category. — Vildricianus 09:34, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Or possibly the opposite "obsolete-word" or something similar since its more normal to have an obsolete sense than that the entire word is obsolete. It will probably keep down the number of mistakes tired or ignorant users will make as well. --Patrik Stridvall 12:04, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, agreed. — Vildricianus 10:51, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

obsolete, degrees of[edit]

The examples given dhpew different degrees yclept has been used through the 16th century in works trying tfor archaisism, such as Malory, and have remained in semi-jocular or jocular use sense since, and probably would be more or less understood by at least some general readers since they do occur but rarely in modern books.DGGD 07:04, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

I have to second this view. I have seen yclept used twice in contemporary writing, and also heard it used in informal speech, each time the user clearly expecting to be understood. That is a particularly poor example of an obsolete word. Should also note that Wycleff Jeans first name is merely a variant spelling of yclept. -- Cimon Avaro 19:35, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Unfashionable/Dated[edit]

The heading Unfashionable/Dated, and references to it, should be changed to Dated since that the relevant template. Unfashionable should only remain if necessary as part of the definition, so as not to give the impression that it should be used. —Saltmarsh 11:37, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Um, so essentially, (dated) appears before words so that we can indicate to readers that the word shouldn't be used? (Am I reading this correctly?)--Tyranny Sue 06:41, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
Almost. We try not to tell readers how they should speak, but if someone wants to avoid using dated language, then yes, he or she would be well to avoid using words marked "(dated)". —Rod (A. Smith) 14:15, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
Ah, but there's the danger that what seems 'dated' in one region (or amongst one group) may be completely acceptable to another regional (or cultural) group.
I think we should be really careful using any labels that have subjective (especially pejorative) content (like 'dated' or 'unfashionable'). I'd like to think we could come up with more objective qualifiers. (It might be a safer policy to just include a usage note saying something like "This term may be considered old-fashioned in some areas" and/or possibly specify the area.)
For example, 'shat' (p.t. of 'shit') was previously labelled 'dated', though it's not 'unfashionable' (etc) in my region/group at all, it's totally acceptable, whereas 'shit' as p.t. makes the speaker sound (to me) poorly educated. Wouldn't people want to avoid using poorly-educated-sounding language? (Though if the entry for 'shit, p.t.' was labelled "uneducated", surely there'd be uproar from those to whom it sounds correct/normal?) (Another example is 'spat' as p.t., which apparently sounds 'formal', possibly 'dated', to some Americans, but conversely 'spit' as p.t. sounds uneducated/incorrect in my region/group.)
I think these different perspectives on words really need to be considered before any (subjective) labels are used, and when they are used they should be used with mindfulness of (& sensitivity to) possible region/group-specificty.--Tyranny Sue 14:17, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Endorse policy and suggestions for nomenclature[edit]

This is an excellent policy. I have tried to link words from quotations in my wikipedia articles to wiktionary but been unable to do so because the proper obsolete definition did not exist. If wikiepdia is (eventually) supposed to be more comprehensive than Britannica, wouldn't wiktionary aim to be at least, if not more, comprehensive than the OED?

Why not simply retain the OED's system of nomenclature, by the way? It is the one with which the majority of English dictionary fanatics would be most familiar (and I assume those are the people contributing to the English wikitionary). "Obsolete" indicates a definition no longer in general use and "rare" indicates a definition infrequently used, even during the word's heyday. They have many other categories, but these are the two most important ones for this discussion, I believe. Awadewit 09:13, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Linking to archaic synonyms?[edit]

Is it OK to link to archaic synonyms? For example, I added aught to the synonyms for the cardinal number zero. --DavidBiesack 14:29, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

I think that's fine, but it might be good to tag them as archaic. (Something like {{i|archaic}} should be fine.) —RuakhTALK 20:13, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Wiktionary:Requests for deletion/Others - kept[edit]

Kept. See archived discussion of July 2008. 06:00, 29 July 2008 (UTC)

Examples for (obsolete)[edit]

The only example listed for words marked as (obsolete) is zyxt. However, that word is currently only defined in Middle English, not as an obsolete English word. Are there other pages that actually use (obsolete), or the tag itself obsolete? Bungeh (talk) 05:36, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Can obsolete terms actually exist here[edit]

This is a question I think we should ask, about whether or not it is factually correct to label ANY term as 'obsolete'. I altered Appendix:Glossary#obsolete with this edit which I would like to draw attention to as the wording could use improvement. 'Common' may not be the correct adjective. I'm looking for input on this.

We need some modifier though because 'no longer in use' can NOT be factually correct. When we add a definition to wiktionary, we USE that definition. When people discuss old definitions, they USE them.

Termes like 'archaic' (strong) and 'dated' (weak) are GOOD, because they are not absolute. Things can be more dated than others (very dated things are archaic) and things can be more archaic than others. But 1 'obsolete' term can not be 'more obsolete' than another 'obsolete' term.

The only truly obsolete term could be one that we don't have a definition for here, or a word so long ago defined, and never updated, and never read, that it is impossible.

Assuming we judge robot reading of words not 'using' them, the only way to actually label an obsolete word is to have a robot do it automatically somehow. We can never correctly call a word obsolete, as in doing so, we use it, and make non-obsolete.

I'm all for having more than 2 categories denoting obscurity, but I think we should find a different term for the tier. Like perhaps 'ancient' (strongest), 'archaic' (strong) and 'dated' (weak). Etym (talk) 09:52, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Re: "When we add a definition to wiktionary, we USE that definition": Nonsense. See w:Use–mention distinction. —RuakhTALK 15:17, 14 November 2012 (UTC)

Doubts about some of the definitions or recommendations[edit]

I'm a bit dubious about some of the definitions or recommendations given here. Are they being used as traditional dictionaries use them, or is this just "how the editors feel"? For example:

Dated/unfasionable/old-fasioned: To me,"dated" seems more perjorative than "old-fasioned", not less. "Old-fasioned" to me is a relatively neutral description of something that resembles the way things used to be done. It may even have positive associations. "Dated", on the other hand, even more than "unfasionable" seems to imply something that ought to have modernised, but hasn't. (Consider a non-linguistic example: if a restaurant was described as "old-fasioned" that could be a neutral or even positive description, evoking nostalgia, or a less corporate identity, etc. But if it was described as "dated", that would definitely be negative). I also dispute some of the specific examples used: I'm not sure that "gramaphone" is a dated term for a record player, so much as the term for a particular type of old-fasioned record player.
Obsolete/Archaic: As a couple of other people have said, "obsolete" doesn't really have anything to do with age - it just means that word (or meaning) isn't used any more. Technical terms, for example, can become obsolete overnight if a new set of definitions are issued. "Archaic" on the other hand does imply very old, and not usually used except in historic contexts, or people imitating historic contexts. 62.172.108.24 10:34, 23 October 2014 (UTC)