Wiktionary:Tea room/2019/February: difference between revisions

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(→‎'Cunning Linguist': response for -sche)
(→‎'Cunning Linguist': :::I agree that, for me, "cunning linguist" has not reached the threshold to become a word or phrase proper, even in slang English. But I am having difficulty imagining what the cut off point between 'commonly-seen pun' and 'colloquialism proper' would be. Am I understanding the issue correctly? --~~~~)
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::People also occasionally use the term "pianist" (someone who plays the piano) to "humorously refer to" a "penis" (reproductive sexual organ) - this doesn't mean that the definition of the term "pianist" should be changed.
::People also occasionally use the term "pianist" (someone who plays the piano) to "humorously refer to" a "penis" (reproductive sexual organ) - this doesn't mean that the definition of the term "pianist" should be changed.
::The fact remains that "cunning linguist" and "cunnilingus" are not synonymous, homophonous or homonymic, and differ in spelling, punctuation and meaning. [[User:Walterblue222|Walterblue222]] ([[User talk:Walterblue222|talk]]) 20:54, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
::The fact remains that "cunning linguist" and "cunnilingus" are not synonymous, homophonous or homonymic, and differ in spelling, punctuation and meaning. [[User:Walterblue222|Walterblue222]] ([[User talk:Walterblue222|talk]]) 20:54, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
:::I agree that, for me, "cunning linguist" has not reached the threshold to become a word or phrase proper, even in slang English. But I am having difficulty imagining what the cut off point between 'commonly-seen pun' and 'colloquialism proper' would be. Am I understanding the issue correctly? --[[User:Geographyinitiative|Geographyinitiative]] ([[User talk:Geographyinitiative|talk]]) 21:03, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
== [[twelfe]] Obsolete form of twelfth ==
== [[twelfe]] Obsolete form of twelfth ==

Revision as of 21:03, 13 February 2019

discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← January 2019 · February 2019 · March 2019 → · (current)


The current definition of legitimize is "to make legitimate". I'm wondering about appropriate subjects for this verb. If a street gang attempts to transition into legal business, is it proper to say that it is legitimizing itself? Is legitimize about whether the activities of the subject are actually legitimate, or only about them being recognized as legitimate? In other words, is it up to a politician to legitimize the gang through public recognition? I tend to think of legitimize as referring to expanding the boundaries of social norms, as recognizing and accepting as legitimate what was formerly regarded as illegitimate, with no change in the subject itself. Daask (talk) 10:46, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

I think that legitimize refers to both a process and an achievement. An illlegitimate entity or an entity of uncertain legitimacy can be both the subject and the object of legitimize. I don't think that an entity that is legitimate can legitimize itself or be legitimized by another. The substance of the legitimacy achieved can include lots of things. The IRA could be said to have been a legitimate reflection of the goals of a population before it became a legitimate political party. DCDuring (talk) 13:21, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
One main use of the verb is for the recognition by the natural father of an illegitimate child, that is, one born out of wedlock. Then, I think, it can mean something like to confer legitimacy in the sense of being recognized and respected, thereby regularizing something that was irregular. Like for example when a squatter receives a deed of the squatted land, legitimizing his occupation. Legitimizing oneself would seem a bit difficult, but one can legitimize one’s business by getting all necessary permits and paying the requisite fees. Anyone can attempt to legitimize Hamas, but to pull this of will be a major accomplishment of international diplomacy.  --Lambiam 22:22, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

会 pronuciation "ēre"

In the entry for the traditional form of , a pronunciation is given for Min Nan as "ēre". In the expanded form, you see POJ ēre and Tai-lo erē. Are these all elaborate typos for "ēr" /ɤ22/?

MGorrone (talk) 16:31, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

@MGorrone: No. It's meant to be something like /əe/, only used in the "Old Anxi" accent spoken in certain areas of New Taipei, such as Sanxia, as well as the "Old Nan'an" accent spoken in parts of Changhua and Yunlin. See this for details on these uncommon vowels/rimes. — justin(r)leung (t...) | c=› } 17:32, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
@Justinrleung: Would that be stressed on the er or on the e? /ǝe̯/ or /ǝ̯e/? And what countour? Is it the 22 that MoE 台湾闽南语常用词辞典 associates to the tone marked by a macron? MGorrone (talk) 21:49, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

student, sense 2

Why do we need the sub-senses? They're essentially 2: someone who studies at an institution, 2.1: someone who studies at university, 2.2: someone who studies anywhere else. If it's about separating translation tables, sense 2.2 already lumps elementary and high school together, plus students of any other kind of institution. A search of "vocational student" turns up entries in several languages. We might as well have every level of education under one sense and in one table with qualifiers, rather than point people to schoolchild (and fail to point them to the hub high school student). Ultimateria (talk) 18:31, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

See Wiktionary:Tea room/2018/August#student. Some dialects only call a university-level studier a "student", and don't call a schoolchild a "student" (but rather a "pupil", etc), which is why the first subsense ("university enrollee") is there. I can't recall why the second subsense ("a schoolchild") was not folded into the super-sense (that encompasses both university- and school- enrollees). I seem to recall that there was some reason, but if not, subsense 2 (but not IMO subsense 1) could be folded up. - -sche (discuss) 19:35, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Someone can be a student of Sumerian while not studying at any kind of institution; for example, a retired professor who now finally has the time to write their magnum opus on the unrealised-volitive mood in Sumerian in the quiet of their study in the attic. Someone else can be enrolled at a prep school and thus be registered there as a student, while actually spending all their time on enjoying drinking beer and anything else that does not require one to take notes or open a textbook. These are truly different senses.  --Lambiam 22:38, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, but this thread is about the subsenses of sense 2, I think. - -sche (discuss) 23:08, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Oops, my bad. Then the only reason I can think of are the in particular labels. However, I question that these are relevant. The term student is also used rather freely in the UK for sense 2.1, like here: “Third of students at many British boarding schools come from overseas”.  --Lambiam 03:35, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Judging from a quick search for "kindergarten students" site:.gov.uk, British English can also refer to schoolchildren / primary-/secondary-school pupils as "students"... still, the term is sometimes used 'restrictively' in sense 2.1, "university enrollee / studier", so I left that sense for now, for the reasons mentioned above and in the previous discussion. But I can't think of any time that "student" refers exclusively to a schoolchild and not a university student, so I merged that subsense into the main sense... - -sche (discuss) 05:40, 3 February 2019 (UTC)


The turnout of voters in an election isn't mentioned; it would come under sense 1, I think. DonnanZ (talk) 21:55, 1 February 2019 (UTC)

Add some usex like “Bad weather has been often blamed for low voter turnout” [1]? (I would have written, “has often been blamed”.)  --Lambiam
Yeah, I have a translation for that, but I'm not sure what to do with it yet. DonnanZ (talk) 23:23, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
Sense 1 was awkwardly worded; I tried to improve it, and added mention that it applies especially to elections. (But not just elections; a meeting can have good turnout, too.) If some translations are specific to election turnout, you could provide them with {{qualifier}}s (like some of the age-specific translations of brother). - -sche (discuss) 04:58, 2 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, that's a definite improvement and reads much better; and yes, I used a qualifier for the translation. Cheers. DonnanZ (talk) 09:59, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

"there's something serious wrong"

Are these mistakes for seriously, or is serious serious used as an adverb? Per utramque cavernam 16:54, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

(Some? Many?) adjectives can be pressed into service as adverbs in a pinch (awful, powerful,...); I don't know if we have any clear way of deciding when it's lexical (compare pressing adjectives into service as nouns: rich, deaf, Irish,...). However, the results I see for google books:"something serious wrong" are simply using the adjective "serious" to modify "something", in a way that's neither an error nor an adverb: they're saying that something serious (i.e. some serious, important/weighty thing) is wrong. - -sche (discuss) 17:18, 2 February 2019 (UTC)


Definition of adverb "how" from Oxford Dictionaries [2]:

"In what way or manner; by what means."
Examples: "he did not know how he ought to behave", "he showed me how to adjust the focus"

Definition of conjunction "how" from M-W [3]:

"the way or manner in which"
Example: "asked how they could help"

Our definition of conjunction "how":

"In which way; in such way"
Example: "I remember how to solve this puzzle"

Is there any logical basis on which "how" is classified as an adverb in the first two examples and a conjunction in the second two? Mihia (talk) 22:59, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

Maybe Oxford is taking the position that what others call a subordinate clause is "really" a complement of the adverb how or that the clause/complement is an "adverbial clause". DCDuring (talk) 07:36, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Template problem showing components of 茭白

On the 茭白 page the box showing the division into words has markup in the column header for 茭. There are double square brackets around w:Zizania aquatica and w:Oenanthe javanica. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 23:21, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

I suppose recent changes to the definition section of (Chinese etymology 1 definitions 2 and 4) broke the expansion in the component character boxes. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 23:38, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

Thank https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/User:Shāntián_Tàiláng https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=Module:zh/data/glosses&diff=51268312&oldid=51167474

Thanks for tracking that down. I don't understand how that part of Wiktionary works. Can somebody revert the change if it ought to be reverted? Vox Sciurorum (talk) 10:51, 7 February 2019 (UTC)


Is sense 2 a different sense/group, or is it just that the grouping "birds" is sometimes considered its own thing, and sometimes considered a subclass of Reptilia, in which case we only need one sense and no subsenses AFAICT? - -sche (discuss) 23:33, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

There are two approaches to taxonomy, the old-school Linnaean form of taxonomy, and the new-fangled cladistics. In general, taxa in the two approaches may not be comparable. For example, in the Linnaean system, the class Reptilia (the reptiles) does not include birds, while it does cladistically. However, as it is, the respective taxa in the two approaches that cover the birds are coextensive in the sense that they cover the same set of species. Moreover, the name of the Linnaean taxon has been retained for the clade. That is not a coincidence, of course, but it is also not a matter of course. So the term Aves is a term, shared between two taxonomic schools, for two conceptually different entities that happen to be coextensive.  --Lambiam 04:13, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
It so happens that the accepted membership in Aves is the same whether it is considered a subclass of Reptilia or a class more directly in Vertebrata, at least if one restricts oneself to extant species. We are also fortunate that there is an English vernacular name (birds) that corresponds to the taxon (Aves). Often there is no such name, in which case the definition of a genus might something lame like "certain molluscs" (molluscs constituting a phylum, several ranks above genus, in which case "certain' serves as a marker of a definition that could stand improvement. It is virtually impossible to provide definitions of taxa that are both useful to normal humans and complete, whether providing an intensional (hypernym and differentia) or an extensional (member taxa). At the species level one can provide useful ostensive definitions using pictures, at least sometimes for macro fauna and flora. Sometimes all one can usefully say is where on Earth members of the taxon can be found or why they might be of importance or interest. Sometimes it is just the taxonomic name itself that is of some interest (eg Han solo, Ba humbugi). But there are taxa that do not have well-known ranges; have no known use to mankind, no vernacular name, and uninteresting taxonomic names; have uncertain placement in the tree of life and uncertain membership, and are not photogenic.
IOW, definitions of taxa are challenging and cannot readily be reduced to formulas, much like definitions of ordinary words. DCDuring (talk) 07:07, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
I took the liberty of adding some explanatory verbiage. The formatting was too close to the way we do subsenses everywhere else to avoid the implication that these were two separate taxa rather than separate ways of classifying the same one.
The table of hypernyms has problems with the hierarchy of the ranks, but I have yet to see a classification system with ranks that can deal with the way a whole huge hierarchy can arise from within the lower levels of another hierarchy: cladistically speaking, birds are dinosaurs, and tetrapods (including reptiles, birds and us) are lobe-finned fish. It does seem particularly strange, though, to have Aves as a class within the class Reptilia. Chuck Entz (talk) 16:24, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
I'll try to remember to put something like your explanatory wording in similar cases. I have settled on using one comprehensive hierarchy, which has been accepted by a few of the comprehensive taxonomic databases (ITIS, WoRMS, IRMNG), as a standard or default (See {{R:Ruggiero}}) for all taxa except plants (APG system instead) and have downplayed unranked clades (except for plants) and older terms like division which are no longer fashionable. I simply accept that we will have taxonomic definitions whose defects are much more obvious, though not necessarily any worse, than those of normal words. The purpose of the reference sections is to aid users in finding more current and, possibly, more definitive sources for definitions. The reference databases may facilitate updating entries as well. DCDuring (talk) 17:51, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
The Hypernyms section for the class placement of Aves is an example of how hard it is to maintain a "complete" cladistic hierarchy. The terms used often have usage limited to a small number of taxonomists and a short useful life. They may be as worthy as any to be definienda but it is hard to justify their use in definiens. DCDuring (talk) 18:03, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks! - -sche (discuss) 05:35, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

y avoir anguille sous roche

I don't think the cited English idiom with "similar syntax" in this entry it is particularly relevant or insightful. Instead it seems to me to imply that the French idiom might also have an offensive meaning/contain a slur. There is already limited value in including an English idiom in an entry to a French idiom which has no etymological connection to the English.

While I understand and believe that dictionaries must contain racial slurs as well as every other word in usage, it does not seem in this case that the slur adds any particular information to this entry, and instead is an unpleasant surprise for anyone who wants to understand the unrelated French idiom.

Agreed; removed. There are plenty of syntactically similar phrases, e.g. skeleton in the closet. Equinox 04:44, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Another sense for "wild"?

In the "making of" material for the "Runaway Jury" DVD, the set designers talk about "wild" elements of the scenery - i.e. elements that can be moved aside or away to allow or facilitate camera access. This sense is not covered in the entry for "wild". I am reluctant to add this sense to the page for "wild" because I don't know how widespread the term is. But someone else might have a better take on whether this would be a good thing to add. 22:31, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

"deep enough punk in turpitude"

1941, The Spectator - Volumes 166-167 ((Please specify the language of the quote)), page 228:
The general rule, I suppose, is that if the assassinee is deep enough punk in turpitude the assassin may secure an honourable place in history.

What does this mean? Is it one of our existing sense of punk? DTLHS (talk) 23:36, 3 February 2019 (UTC)

Typo for sunk? Per utramque cavernam 23:39, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, thanks... interestingly Google Books gives results for both "enough punk in turpitude" and "enough sunk in turpitude" for the same passage in the same book. DTLHS (talk) 23:40, 3 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, I've noticed that too. There seems to have been a problem at printing. Per utramque cavernam 23:47, 3 February 2019 (UTC)


Two noun senses of truck (9 and 10) share the same quote:

10. (Britain, rail transport) A flatbed railway car.
Far away he could hear the sharp clinking of the trucks on the railway.
11. A pivoting frame, one attached to the bottom of the bed of a railway car at each end, that rests on the axle and which swivels to allow the axle (at each end of which is a solid wheel) to turn with curves in the track. The axle on many types of railway car is not attached to the truck and relies on gravity to remain within the truck's brackets (on the truck's base) that hold the axle in place
Far away he could hear the sharp clinking of the trucks on the railway. No, it was not they that were far away. They were there in their places. But where was he himself?

Which sense does it belong with? At the very least, if it's ambiguous, it should be removed from under one sense, or possibly just removed to the Citations page. Andrew Sheedy (talk) 03:08, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

D.H. Lawrence probably didn't know much about railway terminology. Sense 10 is a flat wagon, and 11 a bogie. He probably meant wagons as a general term, they were normally four-wheel wagons without bogies in his day. I suggest removing the quote from what is now sense 10 (pivoting frame) at least. DonnanZ (talk) 10:51, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Why is sense 10 (former sense 11) so wordy (~80 words)? DCDuring (talk) 15:43, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
I simply deleted the sentence after the definition, which still seems too long. Also, def. 3 (nautical) is too long. DCDuring (talk) 15:46, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

bogey vs. bogie

Someone got bogey (sense 4) confused with sense 4 at bogie (now elevated to sense 1 as the main sense). The correct spelling is bogie. I have added references. DonnanZ (talk) 11:35, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

The translations in particular should be moved to bogie. DonnanZ (talk) 13:07, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

I fixed it myself. DonnanZ (talk) 16:36, 4 February 2019 (UTC)


  1. 1968, E. H. Cookridge, The Third Man: The Truth about 'Kim' Philby, Double Agent ((Please specify the language of the quote)), page 2:
    A novator is the 'planner' who devises the operational plans in the 'target' country.
  2. 1978, Rolfs Ekmanis, Latvian literature under the Soviets, 1940-1975 ((Please specify the language of the quote)), page 154:
    A novator not only aims at setting a good example, but also at educating up to his level the members of his family or his friends.
  3. 1999, Glenn Horowitz, Véra's butterflies: first editions by Vladimir Nabokov inscribed to his wife ((Please specify the language of the quote)):
    In modern Russian literature I occupy the particular position of a novator, of a writer whose work seems to stand totally apart from that of his contemporaries.
  4. 2014, Ian S. MacNiven, "Literchoor Is My Beat": A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions ((Please specify the language of the quote)):
    [] but, as he cautioned J, he was a “novator” in Russian literature whose works were banned in his homeland, read only by a handful of intellectual Russian expatriates.
  5. 2017, Alexander M. Sidorkin, Reforms and Innovation in Education: Implications for the Quality of Human Capital ((Please specify the language of the quote)):
    Teachers Gazette was instrumental in promoting national exposure for so-called novators (Novatory), a group of teachers who were especially successful in (re)inventing and applying allegedly innovative tools for class instruction.

There seem to be several senses here. How should this be defined in English? There are enough non-italicized uses that it seems to deserve an entry. (The current entry which is from Webster 1913 probably needs another etymology). DTLHS (talk) 20:36, 4 February 2019 (UTC)

Do the three cites that are not mentions support any one specific meaning? The cites above don't give enough context to tell. DCDuring (talk) 21:49, 4 February 2019 (UTC)
Can’t we just define it as a transliteration of Russian новатор (novator), meaning “innovator”? The Horowitz quote is actually taken from a letter by the hand of Nabokov written in January 1941, less than a year after he had arrived in the United States.  --Lambiam 09:10, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
That's the etymology, but "innovator" doesn't fit the 1968 cite, so we'd be lacking one. It would be a novation for us to allow non-gloss definitions like Used to translate Russian новатор (novator) when the translator can't find a better term. DCDuring (talk) 09:33, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
That one may have a different etymology: “NOVATOR — KGB term, an acronym of the Russian words novye, for new, and torit, to flatten. It referred to a newly recruited agent abroad: a novalor [sic] was newly flattened and owned by the KGB.”[4]. (The term acronym should have been blend or portmanteau, новые is actually a plural, and I don’t know what Russian word is being transliterated as torit.) That does not perfectly fit the 1968 cite either, but perhaps everyone thought it wiser not to tell Philby the unflattering ἔτυμον of his job title. I did not immediately find independent confirmation of this etymology and meaning.  --Lambiam 00:14, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
The verb referred to is presumably торить (toritʹ) “(literary) to tread, to clear (a path or road) (by frequent walking or traveling)”.  --Lambiam 14:02, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

해초 and 海草

Can a Korean-language editor check these entries? I just found a mistake in the Chinese. It was previously defined as "seaweed" (海帶) which is incorrect, it is actually "seagrass". However, the Korean entry still says "seaweed". Presumably the Korean should mean the same as the Chinese and Japanese, but I thought I would check with someone who speaks the language well before changing anything. ---> Tooironic (talk) 07:25, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

The entry was created by Tbot, and has never been carefully edited by a Korean speaker. w:ko:해초 unambiguously refers to seagrass, so I have changed it accordingly. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 15:32, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
Many thanks! ---> Tooironic (talk) 02:53, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

mocha: "strong Arabian coffee"

Does the definition "strong Arabian coffee" refer to the Mocha coffee bean or something else? ---> Tooironic (talk) 12:37, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

In modern uses is short for caffè mocha (Wikipedia: Caffè mocha), seen used e.g. here: [5], [6], [7]. So it refers to the beverage, which is made with any bean suitable for making espresso (usually not Mocha beans), but has some chocolate flavouring added to approximate the taste of Mocha coffee. In older uses it does refer to coffee made (or claimed to have been made) from Mocha beans, but then I expect the word to be capitalized, just like Java in the sense of a coffee beverage.  --Lambiam 14:27, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
Yes, that modern use is not the problem; it corresponds to sense #1 "coffee drink with chocolate syrup added", right? But what about sense #4 "strong Arabian coffee"? There seems no mention of it on the Wikipedia page. ---> Tooironic (talk) 02:57, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
I wondered about this back when I edited the entry in December. The sense is in other dictionaries. Dictionary.com says only that such coffee is from Arabia, but Merriam-Webster says it's from "small green or yellowish beans", which suggests Mocha beans are indeed meant. I poked around for citations, by no means exhaustively, and couldn't find any that were clearly this sense with this capitalization, but the existence of the modern sense and of capitalized Mocha [coffee] made it hard to search, and the sense is plausible. Both dictionaries, incidentally, also have a leather sense we lack. - -sche (discuss) 03:28, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
Mocha, Yemen, is an Arabian city, so Mocha coffee can reasonably be called “Arabian coffee”. Conversely, Yemen is the only country on the Arabian peninsula that is a significant exporter of coffee (or used to be before the Saudi/US war), which was naturally shipped from the port that was closest to the coffee-growing regions, Mocha.  --Lambiam 06:43, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
Hmm, so I guess I will have to translate it literally as "Arabian coffee", since the Chinese word for "mocha" pretty much only refers to the first senses AFAIK. Thanks. ---> Tooironic (talk) 11:45, 7 February 2019 (UTC)


The pronunciation is uncertain. This had the stress mark after the /b/, which certainly isn't valid. Collins [8] has the stress on the first syllable but Forvo's Turkish pronunciation [9] has it on the second. For now, I have moved the stress mark to match Collins' pronunciation. Can anyone confirm which pronunciation(s) we should give? — 07:47, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

I assume the enquiry is about the English pronunciation, which does not necessarily have the same stress pattern as the Turkish pronunciation. I bet that English speakers more or less randomly select where to put the stress, with a predilection of Britishers for the first syllable (like for borrowed words such as valet and buffet), while Americans, recognizing the foreignness of the word, may be open to putting the stress on the last syllable.  --Lambiam 22:48, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

heap big

I don't see any mention of the American English "heap big", meaning "very big" but you're trying to sound like an Indian in an old Western. Does it deserve a new page? A mention on heap? Vox Sciurorum (talk) 10:56, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

Never heard of it. Examples? DTLHS (talk) 22:49, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
See https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-317323.html for example. Vox Sciurorum (talk) 12:49, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Reminds me of some "Red Indian" song in my sister's beginner piano book, which had a line something like "we eat um pig and big chow chow". It isn't necessarily the job of an English dictionary to cover deliberate brokenness that is explicitly supposed to suggest "bad English" — especially when that's grammatical rather than lexical. Equinox 23:07, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
This is a well-known expression supposedly stereotypically said by "Red Indians" back in a time before today's political correctness. It definitely deserves an entry, probably at "heap", since "heap" can potentially modify other words as well as "big". Mihia (talk) 18:26, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Hmm. I'm inclined towards Equinox's view that deliberately (or dialectally) broken grammar is generally not something to cover, and there's some precedent in that direction—we had a few entries that gave hate (et al) as a dialectal third-person singular and hates (et al) as a dialectal first-person singular ("I hates grammar, I hates it real bad"), and we decided to not have those. Of course, those phenomena apply to every verb in the dialects that have them, whereas "heap" is one of only a few words used this way (right?? or no??), so there's a stronger case for including it on the same basis as, say, real#Adverb. How would it be labelled? "(fictionalized American Indian speech)"? - -sche (discuss) 08:01, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

non-parental Papa, Mama, Daddy

Sometimes if someone is e.g. shaking dice hoping for a money-winning roll they might say "come on, Daddy needs a new car" or "Mama needs a new car", or they might guide something they want towards them by saying "come to Papa" ... even if they are not parents. Our entries don't seem to cover this kind of use at all, and I'm not sure how to word it. (It seems, to me at least, more idiomatic than the fictive kin of referring to a fellow connected by a common cause as a "brother", which we do have a separate sense for.) Any ideas? "An affectionate or jocular term for oneself."? And should it be at Mama, etc, or mama? - -sche (discuss) 17:06, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

In a sense it's the "informal term of address for a man" that we already have: perhaps sth for a usage note? Equinox 22:21, 7 February 2019 (UTC)
I suppose that sense could cover this usage, though it's only present at [[daddy]] at the moment and is labelled "dated". Can "mama" and "papa" also be used that way, of a third person? Could e.g. a waitress say to a single person, without assuming she was a parent, "what'll mama have tonight?"? If not, or if it's uncommon, then consistency between entries and Lambiam's phrase below may suggest that a first-person sense is still appropriate. (Probably at lowercase.) In any event, a sense to cover this is entirely missing from "mama" and "papa" right now. - -sche (discuss) 04:54, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
The quintessential use of the self-reference is found in the phrase “Ooh, daddy like.”  --Lambiam 22:57, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

if pigs had wings

Is the definition right? Compare the rather different definition of the longer phrase. - -sche (discuss) 23:02, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

No, it's not. If it began with when, it could, but that would still seem like a clumsy expression to me. Sometimes I wonder about our contributors. DCDuring (talk) 12:56, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

brood countability

We have a sense: "(uncountable) The young of any egg-laying creature, especially if produced at the same time." Is that really uncountable? The creature "laid some brood", or "laid brood"? Equinox 01:35, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

Searching Books for '"much brood" -honey -bee -honeycomb' found ants, fish, lac-producing insects. Without preview the hit list included books with partridge, and more fish. I would delete any, possibly replacing it with certain, though I am actually uncertain about that. DCDuring (talk) 03:39, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
(edit conflict) In this case, broodeggs, so "laid" isn't used. What does come to mind is "a hen and her brood". It's uncountable when referring to the chicks, but it seems like a hen could have multiple broods over her lifetime. I would compare the behavior of "brood" here to collection terms like crowd, herd, etc. (perhaps also batch?).Chuck Entz (talk) 03:47, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I will leave it to you biologists, but particularly please note that the en-noun template doesn't show uncountability (would require en-noun|-) yet some senses are uncountable. (Hey, imagine if the computer could tell you when data wasn't consistent! LOL just kidding, NoSQL...) Equinox 04:05, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I'm more nearly a grammarian than a biologist. Much is the determiner that best indicates uncountability, many, a, and pluralization being the indicators for countability. DCDuring (talk) 04:12, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
By the way, one of the examples for the other uncountable sense, sense 4, "The children in one family", is "Conte had arrived a week early despite spending his summer with Italy at the Euros. Exhausted, he went home during the international break to see his family and brood." I wonder whether the ambiguity about whether "brood" is a noun or verb is some intentional clever wordplay (wouldn't "family" include "brood" anyway?), but let's assume that it is a noun, then is there any reason to believe it is uncountable? Mihia (talk) 20:32, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Context could give hints. Does Conte have to much or too little brood? Is this just one of Conte's broods? DCDuring (talk) 21:50, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
The written context is there to click on, and I see nothing in it to dispel my doubt that this is uncountable. I have deleted this example. If anyone is sure that it is an example of an uncountable noun then please reinstate it, but I would be interested to know why. Mihia (talk) 01:48, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
Here is a cite referring to Westmorland’s “second brood”. I think it is fine then to state that Westmorland, just like some birds, had several broods – not in a season, but in his lifetime. And this scientific book talks about “a set of children who are last-born in their respective broods”, where “brood” clearly means “a collection consisting of the children in one (nuclear) family”.  --Lambiam 14:36, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
OK, but this is the countable sense. The question here is about the uncountable sense. Searches for "much brood" show hits mainly for bees but also for some other creatures. Now that I have deleted the very doubtful "Conte" example, we have only an archaic citation for uncountable sense 4 "The children in one family" (presumably referring to a human family). I have not been able to find any modern examples of uncountable "brood" used for a human family. Mihia (talk) 20:22, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
... hmmm ... but having said that, the countable sense for humans does not actually seem to be mentioned, unless humans can be included in "certain animals". I think the "children in one family" sense should be labelled "countable and uncountable", which I will do, but a modern uncountable example would still be desirable if such exists. Mihia (talk) 20:36, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
The sense #2 of “young of a non-avian egg layer produced at the same time” can definitely also be countable: [10], [11], [12]; attesting unassailably uncountable uses is less easy. Likewise for human offspring. Ironically, it is much easier to find uncountable uses for sense #3 (like e.g. here) than countable ones, but this sense is not labelled at all.  --Lambiam 23:19, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

Angels - 5's the same as 9?

I think meanings 5 and 9 for angels (An affluent individual who provides capital for a startup, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity) are the same. And, related to that, does "angel" especially mean a theatrical backer (perhaps in a British context)? Maitchy (talk) 03:28, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

Thanks for noticing the duplication and bringing it to our attention. I think the general venture capital sense is an extension of the theatrical finance sense.
And MWOnline seems to agree:
" : one (such as a backer of a theatrical venture) who aids or supports with money or influence // Angels funded the start-up company."
DCDuring (talk) 04:24, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
angel in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911 has only "In modern theat. slang, one who advances money to put a new play on the boards: a financial backer."
DCDuring (talk) 04:26, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree that the venture capital sense is an extension of the older (but still common) sense of backer of a theatrical production or some other not-for-profit venture, a significant difference being that angels in the older sense will usually not expect anything of material value in exchange; an acknowledgement of their support in the back pages of the playbill will do.  --Lambiam

far along

Would this entry merit inclusion? As in "how far along are you?" = "how long have you been pregnant?" It seems idiomatic to me. ---> Tooironic (talk) 03:53, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

The lemmings don't agree: far along at OneLook Dictionary Search. DCDuring (talk) 04:15, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Also, it's not limited to pregnancy. Any process or person undergoing a process can be far along. DCDuring (talk) 04:31, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
I can't personally think of a way this could be used (and understood) without context—such as gesturing with one's eyes at someone's pregnant belly—establishing that it was ellipsis of "how far along are you in your pregnancy?", since if someone was writing a book, working on a project, etc, one could ask "how far along are you?" then too (eliding "...in your work?", etc). To me it doesn't seem entry-worthy, and as DCDuring says, other dictionaries don't have it either... but hopefully more people weigh in... - -sche (discuss) 04:43, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Whatever we do with this as an entry, it should be in a usage example, possibly even at both [[far#Adverb]] and [[along#Adverb]].
Cassell's Dictionary of Slang (2005) has an entry to which their 'entry' for far along refers "far gone 1. exhausted, worn-out. 2. mad, eccentric, insane. 3. (also far along) drunk or otherwise intoxicated."
I've not heard far along in that sense, but have heard far gone. It still seems like a simple ellipsis.
Search for far along in dictionaries I haven't found other entries, but many dictionaries use the term in definitions(!!!) and in usage examples. DCDuring (talk) 13:13, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
Here are a few uses in the sense of referring to the degree of advancedness of a pregnancy: [13], [14], [15], [16], [17]. I tend to think this is idiomatic: one cannot say something like, *“She is along, but not far.” When referencing the advancedness of pregnancy, the combination with far is obligatory. As DCDuring noted, the use is not limited to pregnancy; you can also ask someone compiling a list of works containing the phrase “Beam me up, Scotty!” how far along they are. Also there, the answer cannot be, *“Well, I am along, but not very far yet.” Comparative and superlative would be further along and furthest along, as seen here and here. In these uses along is short for “along some (generally unspecified) path to some (likewise unspecified) completion or closure”. But used by itself, along does not carry that sense, so I feel there is a strong argument we have an idiomatic collocation here – and the specific use with respect to pregnancy may deserve a special mention, e.g. in a usex or cite.  --Lambiam 14:15, 9 February 2019 (UTC)


"(obsolete) To incite; to provoke; to spur on. (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)"

Well, how about this, from Hamlet Act II sc ii:

"Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy." (Rosencrantz) 10:50, 8 February 2019 (UTC)

Older dictionaries accepted a single use of a word from a great work or great author as meriting inclusion, as we did for more than a decade. As a result printing errors etc. from Shakespeare et al. have entries. We require three if someone challenges a term or definition, so we are very gradually weeding out such entries. The question naturally arises whether your cite is the one that has justified inclusion in older dictionaries and whether there are other independent uses. DCDuring (talk) 13:22, 8 February 2019 (UTC)
When I created this entry a decade ago, I’m pretty sure that Shakespeare quote was the only basis I was working from. That said, there’s a few more citations in the OED that show the word is indeed attestable by our current standards. — Vorziblix (talk · contribs) 02:20, 9 February 2019 (UTC)


The second definition given for treason is:

   2. (US, law) Waging war against the United States or providing aid and comfort to one of its enemies.

I wonder how truly appropriate is the inclusion of such an Americentric definition, at least to the level of specificity provided. It may very well be accurate that under US law, 'treason' is so defined, yet one could if so inclined provide equally-specific definitions of treason for nearly every country in the world. Should we likewise include the specific (Canada, law) definition of 'Using force or violence for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Canada or a province'? The specific (UK, law) definition of 'Compassing or imagining the death of our lord the King'? I use the logical extreme of including every specific national legal definition of the term by way of highlighting just how silly I find the inclusion of any specific national legal definition.

I should like to suggest this definition either be stripped entirely from the entry, or replaced with a more general gloss thereof, such as 'Waging war against one's own country, or providing aid and comfort to its enemies.' 17:04, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

It's undesirable to have definitions for every separate country, and it's also undesirable to include some countries but not others. From there it follows that the US definition shouldn't be included either. —Rua (mew) 17:12, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
Let me confirm my understanding of this line of reasoning by applying it elsewhere:
  1. Since we don't have all attestable regional or dated, archaic, or obsolete spellings of words, we should exclude the mainstream ones as well.
  2. Since we don't include every term relating to political controversy in other countries comparable to the US-specific term like Elevatorgate or Watergate, we should not include them either.
  3. If a term exists in English, but not in some other language, we should exclude it.
Please distinguish the case at hand from these other applications of the stated principle invoked. DCDuring (talk) 18:50, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
The sense given for (US, law) is not a general legal US definition of treason. It is, quite specifically, the definition of Treason against the United States given in the United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3. Should we decide that the term Treason against the United States is entry-worthy, that definition may be appropriate for that entry. For the entry treason it is not, in my opinion.  --Lambiam 20:01, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree with the IP here and have gone ahead and removed the sense since that seems like an obviously appropriate course of action. - -sche (discuss) 20:07, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
The definition was wrong, too, because e.g. the Axis waging the Second World War against the United States was not treason...because, as definition 1 says, for aggression against a country to be treason, it has to come from someone who belongs to that country. (Yes, a while back, some American conservatives accused Julian Assange of "treason" for supposedly harming the United States by leaking documents... but they got corrected on what was obviously a factual error; Assange is not American and so him harming the United States is not treason.) - -sche (discuss) 20:17, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
I think you are missing the point. Under US law, which can only speak meaningfully about treason against the US, treason is limited to waging war against the US and to giving aid and comfort to its enemies. There is no discussion of betrayal of trust or general disloyalty, which is the thrust of most general definitions of treason. It was the explicit intent of the US Constitution to define treason much more restrictively than British courts had defined it, which was and is AFAICT much more vague. DCDuring (talk) 05:12, 10 February 2019 (UTC)


I think there's a sense missing, of an organism collected/analyzed/experimented upon. But sense 2 is vague enough that it might include this sense? Still I think a lab rat and a urine sample are pretty distinct. Ultimateria (talk) 02:24, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

Sense 2 covers it adequately, though what you're getting at is a real distinction that might be best suited for a usage note. In my experience, a lab rat is a always a "specimen", a stibnite crystal is a "specimen" or a "sample", and a millilitre of urine or a millibar of carbon dioxide is always a "sample". —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 02:46, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

Category:English words prefixed with back-

Apparently somebody indiscriminately added all words beginning with "back" to this category, even ones like "backboneless" that clearly weren't formed with a back- prefix. I'm working my way through it but it's a big category and help would be nice. Equinox 09:14, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

There's plenty of back words with hyphens, e.g. back-formation, but they're all terms derived from back (and should be listed there as such), not prefixes. The category can be deleted when empty. DonnanZ (talk) 10:18, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Why do we have categories for words derived from prefixes and suffixes, but not for terms derived from other words by compounding? DCDuring (talk) 18:17, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
We already have ====Derived terms====, where terms are added manually. I'm not sure whether they can be added to a category automatically. Any system that gets rid of the current mess with {{der3}} etc. should be explored though. DonnanZ (talk) 19:15, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
  • @Equinox: The category is now empty, so it can be deleted. The derived terms section at back is now twice the size. The prefix back- also needs deletion, I suppose it will have to go to RFD. DonnanZ (talk) 22:50, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
OK, I've deleted the category. - -sche (discuss) 23:27, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Thanks for the help. I should add that I believed that only some words were wrongly in this category: "backache" is a simple compound "back" + "ache", but something like "backread" might perhaps be best interpreted with the prefix! In any case, this is something we should be doing with a template in the Etymology section and not with an additional category that might conflict with that. There's always more work to do... Equinox 02:14, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
In every case "back" is a separate or separable word, which I think is the key, and it doesn't appear to be a recognised prefix. One or two had suffixes: backie, backman, and backable (which I found). There could be different rules for prefixes and suffixes; -able and -man are both suffixes (when used in compounds) and standalone as able and man: a businessman, a man in business. Hmm. DonnanZ (talk) 10:59, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I think "backable" is very important in terms of our idea of what a pre/suffix is. We have some weird things like -man that to me should be compounds, but apparently aren't. If these are hand-me-downs from Middle English then that isn't evidence of a Modern English -man suffix either! How do people feel about a deletionist rampage through the pre/suffixes. Oh you don't have time but I have. Equinox 14:02, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I looked at the etymology given for piggyback, and thought for a while before adding it to derived terms for back. It is a ride on someone's back after all, and I think it's current usage that matters. DonnanZ (talk) 16:26, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

error on a page and I can't edit!

Hello, on this page https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/y%27a there is an error... The title page is totally wrong ! Y'a is an error, it should not be written with an apostrophe! "Y a" is a contraction of "il y a"... No apostrophe. Please, can you correct this? I know french orthographe is difficult, but if some pages like yours keep making errors, it is normal than people can't write well.

Thank you.

D in handsome: silent?

I'm pretty sure the audios at handsome have a d in them, contrary to the IPA which doesn't. So which one is right? Is that d silent or not? MGorrone (talk) 14:57, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

The stop is sometimes pronounced, and sometimes (usually?) not. Most old (Century) and modern dictionaries I checked which give any pronunciation information at all only give the -n.s- pronunciation, but Collins does include the variant pronunciation with d and Merriam-Webster has it as an optional t. - -sche (discuss) 15:59, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
I pronounce the "d" myself, but having listened to the audio on Oxford (silent d) I would say it's optional whether it's pronounced or not. DonnanZ (talk) 16:07, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
I also pronounce it with the "d". Well, to be more accurate, the ds in spelling becomes /ts/ in pronunciation in this case, so I would pronounce it /ˈhænt.səm/. Tharthan (talk) 19:05, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Same for me; I question whether it's optional or dialectic, however. For reference, my anecdotal concurrence with you is from Canadian English. 22:18, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, I don't know which part of Canada you are from, and I don't know how much of an overlap there is between my dialect (a dialect of Eastern New England English that does not have the cot-caught merger) and your dialect of Canadian English (my knowledge of Canadian English is limited, although I do know some things about it. Also, I am particularly fond of Canadian Maritime English and [to a lesser extent {although my saying this is by no means a knock on it at all}] Newfoundland English), but I wouldn't be particularly surprised if there were some minor relation. However, with that said, I must note that the pronunciation of handsome is far from constant here. Although I have never heard /ˈhænd.səm/ in everyday life (to my recollection), when I think about it, I know that I have heard /ˈhæn.səm/ before (but because I pronounce it as /ˈhænt.səm/, I never really thought about it). I also ought to note that I come from a generation that restored the /ð/ to clothes, pronounces forehead as /ˈfɔ(ɹ)ˌhɛd/, pronounces waistcoat as /ˈweɪst(.)koʊt/, and uses /ɔɹ/ where /ɑɹ/ (not the /ɑɹ/ written as ar. The /ɑɹ/ written with or and the like) / /ɒɹ/ was used in previous generations, in contrast to previous generations here (including my parents [to some extent. However, they pronounce forehead and waistcoat as I do], grandparents, and great-grandparents). Tharthan (talk) 23:31, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
The difference between the two is a very slight difference in timing of the end of the nasality/voicing and the beginning of the sibilance- I have my doubts as to whether it means anything in normal speech. Also, due to categorical perception, different people will hear it differently. That is, the division of a stream of sound into individual sounds is something our brain does, and different brains can do it quite differently depending on what they've been trained to expect by exposure to different speech over the years. Chuck Entz (talk) 22:44, 10 February 2019 (UTC)
FWIW, I pronounce "handsome" to exactly rhyme with "ransom", i.e. no "d". Mihia (talk) 20:29, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

Quick help

How do I add a link to the RFE template on 𠄑𠄍? Johnny Shiz (talk) 15:33, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

The template does not allow adding a link. You could instead use something like

{{rfelite|zh}} ''(Related to ''[[孑孓]]''?)''.  --Lambiam 22:34, 10 February 2019 (UTC)


Aren't sense 2 "(collectively) Persons of the same race or family; kindred." and sense 3 "One or more relatives, such as siblings or cousins, taken collectively." the same? Ultimateria (talk) 23:21, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

To me that sense 2 seems an ill-defined sense; there is a huge difference between “same race” and “same family”. The second usex is misplaced (octopuses are not people of the same race or family as ammonites). Also, the first usex does not make clear which sense of “kin” is involved (in the full sentence, of which only the tail is shown, it is clear that the addressee (George Villiers, soon to become Duke of Buckingham) is of kin with “some near in blood” to him.  --Lambiam 11:23, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
MWOnline has three current definitions with synonyms clan, kindred, and kinsman, all limited to people, which is clearly narrower than usage. Since we like to make explicit obvious extensions, MW's definition would need to be extended to include other living things, both as taxa and individuals. To me it seems natural to extend the term to non-living things like designs of devices (transportation equipment, computers, phones, tools, ideas, documents), but that doesn't seem to show up in print much. DCDuring (talk) 14:05, 11 February 2019 (UTC)


We have two senses, one for a "bird, reptile, or other animal", and another sense for insects. These can be merged, right? Ultimateria (talk) 23:24, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

I've merged them. The sense was added by Fletcherjp, who was probably confused by the mangled translation section. (I removed the Bulgarian SOP translation that only refers to a bird.) —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 23:32, 10 February 2019 (UTC)

using "the" before abbreviations of international organizations

Is there any reason why we say "the UN", "the EU", "the WTO" and "the IMF" but NOT "*the NATO" and "*the ASEAN", among others? Doesn't seem grammatical to me. ---> Tooironic (talk) 08:07, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

I think there is no particular reason; in the competition between two forms (with vs. without article) one of the two won out mostly by chance. In German it is die NATO, and in French l’OTAN. There are also English uses of the NATO, but this form is less common. Possibly the English-speaking communication officers at NATO in its early days preferred the shorter “NATO”, and this then spread through communiqués and press releases to the media.  --Lambiam 10:45, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
One difference I notice in the examples here is that those with the definite article are initialisms, while those without are acronyms. I can't think of enough examples off the top of my head to test whether that holds in general, though. Chuck Entz (talk) 13:58, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
At least for organizations and institutions, where the acronym can function as a proper noun, this seems to hold most of the time: just ACORN, PETA and SCOTUS, but the ASPCA, the NRA and the YMCA. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, as illustrated by, e.g., “it highlights what a terrible rule the NASCAR has when it comes to relief drivers”. For early computers like the ENIAC, EDVAC and EDSAC, there are plenty of uses either way. And IBM, not an acronym, is normally not used with an article. I see one (non-organization) exception: in the FANBOYS, the article is obligatory, but that one may be special because it functions as a plural. When the acronym functions as a countable noun, we can of course have both the definite and the indefinite article.  --Lambiam 23:33, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
"The FANBOYS" still seems to fit the general divide Chuck mentions; things pronounced as words have no "the", those pronounced as letters have one. "The NASCAR" sounds as stodgy/formal as "the NATO" to me. - -sche (discuss) 20:11, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

chosen people, Chosen People

Worth an entry? Per utramque cavernam 09:54, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

picture postcard, picture-postard

Worth entries (especially the latter)? Other dictionaries have it. Per utramque cavernam 21:10, 11 February 2019 (UTC)



Čai is listed as an alternative form of shej but they have different definitions. How come?Jonteemil (talk) 01:33, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

About the ancient phoneme of 商(the ancient of Koeran)

Maybe I'm the world's only 甲骨音(B.C.17c Oracle phoneme) researcher. I've been looking for a researcher like myself all over the world, but I couldn't find one. It is already known that the Dongyi(東夷) people are the ancestors of Koreans. If people are equal, languages are the same. Therefore, the Chinese Shang(商) is Korean and Chinese characters are loaned to Korean. For example:

風(풍) bərə(ᄇᆞᄅᆞ)>bərəm(ᄇᆞᄅᆞᆷ)>bəram(ᄇᆞ람)>pəjam(ᄇᆞ얌/ᄇᆡ암)>pajam(배암)>pæm(뱀-蛇)

                     >brəm>prəm>pjəm>pi ̯um>piuN   
         > bɯrɯ(브르)>buru(부루)>pur(불-吹)>fur(Japanese)
         > bara(바라)>bere(버러)>per(벌)>per+ej(벌+에-虫)>(벌레) 
                                >pere ki(버러+기)>pere tsi(버러지-虫) 
                                               >per ki(벌기-虫)  

I am a Korean scholar. I can reach you through the publisher of my book <갑골음으로 잡는 식민사학 동북공정>. The publisher's name is BookLab in Koera.

hallow, Halloween, [possibly a small few other words]

I initially grew up using the /ɑ/ pronunciation of these words (which I think that I largely inherited from my mother, as well as my early childhood schoolmates), although I now use the /æ/ pronunciation (something that I started doing many years ago after noticing that my father [who is from a close, nearby state in the region] used the /æ/ pronunciation, and that it seemed to make more sense if one compared it to other words with similar spellings [even though in some cases I will readily opt for an /ɑ/ pronunciation for a word, justifying it by the argument that the word had an /ɑ/ in Proto-Germanic/its source language / the word's /a/ in its source language was closer in practice to /ɑ/ than /æ/ / whatever]. Mind you, my father also uses the /ˈt͡ʃɔklᵻt/ pronunciation of chocolate, and I don't [although I would definitely do so if I thought that I wouldn't get raised eyebrows when doing it], so it's not like his pronouncing of the words with /æ/ was the sole factor in me changing my pronunciation of those words). To be more specific, I was taught /ˈhɑloʊd/ in the Our Father in Catholic school [here in the area of Eastern New England that I live in] as a child, and said /ˌhɑloʊˈwiːn/ {yes, not /ˌhɑləˈwiːn/ or /ˌhɑloʊˈiːn/}] for Halloween from as long ago as I can remember until my early-mid teenage years.

My question is, though, why do some North American English dialects have this alternative pronunciation? From where did it arise? Tharthan (talk) 03:57, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

A variety of (h)al- and (h)ol- spellings in Middle English (with some forms identical to those of hollow, e.g. a past tense holowid attested for both per the MED) and in English (the EDD has a cite of Hollow-eve, besides cites in the other direction of hallow (hollow)) suggest that variation in the pronunciation may be old. Otherwise, I would speculate that perhaps speakers unfamiliar with the uncommon word just guess /ɑ/ based on the similar hollow, hall, etc or /æ/ based on hallelujah, ally, etc. - -sche (discuss) 07:54, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure what hall has to do with it, considering that (in my dialect), hall is /hɔl/. However, you may indeed be on to something with that, because swallow and wallow both have /ɑl/ in them in my dialect. The word want also has /ɑ/ in it (although I knew an older history teacher also native to my area in high school who still said /wɔnt/, showing signs of lot-cloth split influence [common to varying degrees in areas of New England that lost historical /ɒ/ after other dialects of English in the United States had, but that also didn't go through the cot-caught merger. /ɒ/ has been replaced by /ɑ/, /ʌ/, or /ɔ/ depending on the environment that it is in, although most people nowadays {and I am no exception, more or less} have adopted the general pattern found in other dialects in the country, even with words where the historical /ɒ/ preceded /ɹ/--that class of words kept a distinction from /ɔɹ/ words far longer than any of the other /ɒ/ distinctions lasted. But, yeah, traditionally speaking, I do know elderly ladies in my area who pronounce forgotten as /fəˈɡʌt.n̩/, and got and gotten as /ɡʌt/ and /ɡʌt.n̩/ in very rare instances as well, and my mother still says /ˈpʌp.aɪ/ like her mother and father did. If I didn't know better, I would have considered the possibility that these instances could have simply arisen from vowel reduction or something similar, but the history of the area--and both the fact that words that have traditionally been, and still are, both pronounced with /ɑ/ and written with a are not generally subject to having /ʌ/ in similar instances, and the fact that /ɒ/ disappeared from my area seemingly late--indicate otherwise} in that word that has been dropped by the younger generations. Keep in mind, however, that there is quite a bit of variance in minor colloquial pronunciations in my area--and I'm not talking about significantly General-American-influenced pronunciations used by the very young here, either. I mean, I've even heard /ˈkæfl̩/ for careful amongst less educated speakers here! Furthermore, the typical pronunciation of parent (with /ɛə/) can be heard amongst some older people {although there are those of the same age from other families that pronounce it with the /æ/ that I, my family, and [most of] my schoolmates have always known}, and vary and various can be either /ˈvɛəɹi/, /ˈvɛəɹi.əs/ OR /ˈvæɹi/, /ˈvæɹi.əs/ depending upon the generation of the speaker. Note that the General American /ˈvɛɹi.əs/ is not a pronunciation used {at least not before the adoption--more or less-- of General American by a number of the very young people in the area started}]). Tharthan (talk) 10:51, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Is it possible that the pronunciation with /ɑ/ is an older, more original one, that survived only in the US?  --Lambiam 14:01, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Possibly. I can find some evidence suggesting that, but it's inconsistent. David Crystal's 2016 Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation does give hallow as /ˈ(h)ɑlə/~/ˈ(h)ɑloː/, but contrasts it with hollow and follow (and folly) with /ɒ/ and e.g. dally and hammer with /a/. Whereas, Wilhelm Viëtor's 1906 Shakespeare's Pronunciation says "there are two rimes in the poems where the riming vowels are [æ] and [o], viz. dally : folly RL 554, and hallow v. : follow VA 973"; his notation isn't IPA but is still asserting the same vowel in hallow and dally, in contrast to Crystal. And Charles Jones' English Pronunciation in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries mentions that John Jones' 1705 Alphabetical Spelling Dialogue records fallow/follow and hallow/hollow as homonyms (which would make Viëtor's rhyme work perfectly in contrast to what both Viëtor and Crystal think).
OTOH, by 1816 John Walker's Principles of English Pronunciation denounced pronouncing it like hollow, saying "this arises from not attending to the distinction made by a syllabication between the single and double l: the double l in the same syllable deepens the a to the broadest sound, as in tall; but when one of the liquids in carried off to the next syllable, the a has its short and slender sound, as in tallow; the same may be observed of hall and hallow." (I don't have time to look for possible counterexamples at the moment.) - -sche (discuss) 20:05, 12 February 2019 (UTC)
Firstly, does this mean, then, that it is possible that at least some of the class of words belonging to the -allow category that are pronounced with /æloʊ/ nowadays were originally pronounced similarly (or identically) to those words in the -allow category that are pronounced with /ɒloʊ/ (intentionally broad transcription) nowadays? The first source that you referenced seems to indicate that one set (a set that today has /æl/) had /ɑl/, whereas the other set had /ɒl/, but that this was also distinct from the vowel used in other words not in the -allow category that have /æ/ today. The third source seems to indicate that they both may have had /ɒl/. I suppose that a third possibility (which looks more than just somewhat possible, I'd say) is that the exact pronunciation of the set (the /ɑl/ set) in question varied from dialect to dialect (and perhaps, dare I say, from speaker to speaker?), but then was largely made stable by some factor at a later point in time.
...Actually, that would make a lot of sense, considering that (from what I understand) Old English /æ/ and /ɑ/ (along with, in some instances, /æː/. [Also, there is that tricky diphthong that I think took part in some of this too, but I've always had some trouble fully understanding that one, so I won't try and go into that. Furthermore, I think that this may, in certain environments, have applied to /ɑː/ {which usually became /ɔː/ by the Middle English period, of course} as well]) merged to /a/ after the Old English period, but then split into multiple vowels again later. This would mean that, unless there was/were somehow some dialect(s) that had/have managed to elude linguists all of this time, of which there is/are no good written record(s), that never actually fully merged the Old English /æ/ and /ɑ/ (and the like) vowels (something which I think has pretty much no chance of having happened), the new /ɑ/ and /æ/ (by which I mean the ones that arose out of Middle English's /a/) may have had, at least in some cases, variable distribution at first.
Secondly, I have to thank you, -sche, for letting me know about that (relatively) recently published comprehensive Shakespearean English dictionary of pronunciation. I'll have a great time browsing through it! Tharthan (talk) 07:10, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Intriguingly, Crystal has almost all other -allow words (ballow, gallow, sallow, shallow, tallow) with /a/, modern /æ/. Only fallow joins hallow in having /ɑ/. I can't offhand see a reason for the split, since there's no clear split in their etyma, and any influence fall and hall (which Crystal says had /ɑ/) might've had on fallow and hallow, ball and gall et al (likewise /ɑ/) should've had on ballow, gallow etc. The only difference that comes to mind is that follow and hollow exist, and not *(b|g|s|sh|t)ollow, if -ollow words might've pulled their -allow friends back for some reason(??). The difference must've levelled out in most dialects, since all the words now usually have /æ/. How do you pronounce fallow, vs gallow, shallow, tallow? That might provide at least some clue as to whether dialects with /ɑ/ might be preservations, or modern changes. (Crystal also has swallow with /ɒ/, like Apollo and hollow, but that makes sense, coming from ME o instead of a.) - -sche (discuss) 09:43, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Well, unfortunately, I came to know the word fallow much later than I did hallow. I also do not recall how my parents pronounced it when I was a child (the word, although not particularly uncommon by any means, is not one that usually arose in everyday conversation), and I definitely do not recall ever hearing from my early schoolmates. So this is a bit of a roadblock, I am afraid. I suppose that I could ask my parents at least how they pronounce it/how they have pronounced it, but I am unable to do that at the moment. Tharthan (talk) 19:21, 13 February 2019 (UTC)


A usage note at withers (noun) reads:

This noun refers to one object; there is no corresponding singular form *wither for this word, the singular form being obsolete.

While contemplating whether to add an entry for this meaning under "wither" labelled "obsolete", which is presently lacking, I did a Google Book Search for "the horse's wither". This retrieved about 20 hits, many from relatively recent publications, versus about 90 for "the horse's withers". It does seem to suggest that "wither" is in some kind of current usage, so perhaps the usage note is just wrong? Anyone know anything further about this word? I see that M-W has it [18]. Mihia (talk) 15:03, 12 February 2019 (UTC)


acontecer (verb) in spanish has a regular conjugation table, even though it's only used forms are infinitive, gerund, participle and 3rd person. Is it possible to make an irregular conjugation template?

I am sure it is possible - @DTLHS? It is not the only verb that is defective this way; alborecer is another example. It appears to me, though, that the defectiveness is more semantic than grammatical. In English “I occur” or “you dawn” are also not used.  --Lambiam 11:00, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

bwrw hen wragedd â ffyn

This entry translates the above phrase as Welsh for "raining old ladies and sticks". ("bwrw" is literally "casting, throwing", though in this phrase it's conventionally translated as "raining".) A key sticking point is it should be "a ffyn", not "â ffyn". With the accent, the meaning becomes "it's casting old ladies with sticks", or even possibly "it's hitting old ladies with sticks". Cythraul (talk) 21:03, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Chinese Word- "Sandouping"

Today I made a page for 三斗坪, a town in Yiling, Yichang, Hubei, China. On the English Wikipedia page, we currently have the Mandarin pronunciation as Sāndòupíng and the traditional characters as 三鬥坪 (with a calligraphic jpg of the traditional form to boot), but I think it may be wrong- it could be Sāndǒupíng with the traditional and simplified forms both being 三斗坪. I probably need to find a pre-1956 book that talks about the area, and I'm looking on archive.org.

It sounds like it could be dǒu and not dòu, but I can't tell for sure because of the sandhi/变调 here: [19] [20]

If it is dǒu and not dòu, then 鬥 can't be the traditional form, and I will need to delete 三鬥坪.

Appreciate any help --Geographyinitiative (talk) 14:07, 13 February 2019 (UTC)


Dear Community, Please note that TRANSTAINER is a term invented by PACECO Corp. and is a registered trademark.

We would be greatful if the pages TRANSTAINER and TRANSTAINERS be adapted to reflect PACECO Corp. trademark rights.

Thank you for your collaboration. LDIPBrussels (talk) 14:08, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

Hi! That might be true in some territories, and not in others. Do you own this trademark in every country in the world? Anyway, we define words by what they mean and not by what a lawyer says. If you have a serious problem with this and you want to put money and time into it then you should be suing the WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION. You might find better things to do. Equinox 14:12, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
If it can be reliably sourced that the word was invented by this company, that would be suitable for inclusion in an etymology section. The entry itself, of course, can not reflect the asserted trademark status of a term. bd2412 T 16:02, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
If it was a trademark it's clearly been genericized for several decades (see cites). DTLHS (talk) 16:12, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

'Cunning Linguist'

The phrase "cunning linguist" is not equivalent to the term "cunnilingus".
They are not homophonous (sounding the same) or synonymous (meaning the same), and differ in spelling, punctuation, and meaning.
The improper usage of a word or phrase does not automatically modify the proper definition of said word or phrase; while words can indeed change in meaning over time, this is not the case in this instance. "Gay" historically meant "lighthearted and carefree", yet modern usage of the term is primarily in reference to and synonymous of "homosexual".
The usage of "gay", which has two meanings, is significantly different than the usage of "cunning linguist", because "gay" (lighthearted and carefree) and "gay" (homosexual) are homophonous and have identical spelling and punctuation, while "cunning linguist" and "cunnilingus" are not homophonous and have different spelling and punctuation, and are made up of different letters (none of which are silent). It is my belief that this definition be modified to include the proper definition of 'cunning linguist', instead of the improper, inapplicable sexual definition of 'cunnilingus'. Walterblue222 (talk) 17:32, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

The phrase is used humorously to refer to one who performs cunnilingus. (This has been explained when you also brought this up on PUC's talkpage and your talk page (not to mention the entry's talk page). Our sister project Wikipedia has a term for what you're doing: w:WP:IDHT. - -sche (discuss) 18:25, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Au contraire, -sche, I "get the point" - it's just not a good point. Just because someone uses a phrase humorously to refer to something else, does not mean that the definition of the phrase should be modified. Also, seeing as humor is subjective, basing an argument on a phrase being "used humorously" doesn't do much to support the argument.
People also occasionally use the term "pianist" (someone who plays the piano) to "humorously refer to" a "penis" (reproductive sexual organ) - this doesn't mean that the definition of the term "pianist" should be changed.
The fact remains that "cunning linguist" and "cunnilingus" are not synonymous, homophonous or homonymic, and differ in spelling, punctuation and meaning. Walterblue222 (talk) 20:54, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree that, for me, "cunning linguist" has not reached the threshold to become a word or phrase proper, even in slang English. But I am having difficulty imagining what the cut off point between 'commonly-seen pun' and 'colloquialism proper' would be. Am I understanding the issue correctly? --Geographyinitiative (talk) 21:03, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

twelfe Obsolete form of twelfth

Why was the form twelfe used to represent the ordinal twelfth without adding the corresponding suffix? --Backinstadiums (talk) 17:52, 13 February 2019 (UTC)

first time as adverb meaning "for the first time"

Can first time be used as an adverb meaning "for the first time", e.g. when I met him first time (Confession Tapes, third episode, 02:40) --Backinstadiums (talk) 19:18, 13 February 2019 (UTC)