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Pronunciation Reversion[edit]

I am not very familiar with Wiktionary, and had assumed that English Wiktionary would simply be a dictionary of the English language. Apparently it also has these entries whose purpose is to translate words from other languages into English. Hence if I understand correctly, this entry should explain how this word is pronounced in German, not how it is pronounced if used as a borrowed word in English. If that is correct, this edit reverting one of my edits is incomprehensible because there's no edit summary explaining what issues "Leftmostcat" had with the edit. It would seem strange to maintain that the "g" sound occurs at the end of a word in German. Michael Hardy 19:16, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

I apologize for not explaining my reasons for the reversion. I used the wrong tool for doing so and did not have a chance to put in an edit summary. My objection to the change is a linguistic one. The sound at the end of the word would indeed be pronounced [k], but this is a regular change in German. Consonants are regularly devoiced at the end of a word. Phonemically (below the surface), this is still a /g/. One would not say /fɛrˈlaːkə/ for "Verlage", but rather /fɛrˈlaːɡə/. I'd be happy to go into more detail about my reasoning and bring the discussion elsewhere if you'd like. And again, I apologize for the lack of summary. —Leftmostcat 19:53, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Do you expect it to be understood by English-speaking people reading this that that is a "regular change in German", without that being mentioned here? I think it would be more likely to be understood if the pronunciation of the singular with [k] and the plural with [g] were both reported here. Michael Hardy 20:21, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

That final devoicing is subphonemic in German (note the // not []). However, looking at our stubbish WT:ADE page and by doing a quick search, I don't think we've agreed on the symbols used for transcribing German yet (either phonetically or phonemically). IPA symbols are a bit misleading here: the distinction between fortis (traditionally transcribed as /p t k/) and lenis (traditionally transcribed as /b d g/) stops in German is not in voicing. Feel free to start a discussion on whether to adopt established scholarly practices, or "meet the needs of our users", I bet it'll be fun. --Ivan Štambuk 20:30, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

That Wiktionary in this case needs to "meet the needs of users" is clearly shown by this misunderstanding (look at the parts of the thread that are about pronunciation). Michael Hardy 21:54, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Ignorance is no excuse. Wiktionary is just like any other other paper dictionary in the world - it abides by a certain set of pre-defined conventions that users are expected to familiarize themselves with prior to being able to take full advantage of its content. For foreign-language entries, these are maintained in the corresponding appendices. Certain aspects of these conventions may be fitted to meet the needs of an average ignoramus, but a complete dumb-down such as ignoring the fundamental distinction between phonemic and phonetic transcription is out of the question. Note that you can add both side-by-side, including sundry regional variations as well as other German standards (Swiss, Austrian etc.). However, average Joe Sixpack that we have in mind is as likely as not being able to interpret IPA hieroglyphics such as [fɛɐ̯'laːgə] invalid IPA characters ('g), replace ' with ˈ, g with ɡ as he is to be deceived into thinking that the symbols between // denote "the way words ought be pronounced". Finding middle ground between the scholarly rigor and average user's knowledge and expectations is very difficult task. Certain users may be interested in the way the word is pronounced only in a particular standard/dialect, but a great deal of them would genuinely be interested in just enough unmarked pronunciation so that everyone could understand them. When mentioning "the needs of our users" I was referring to the vague notion of our anonymous readers, whose knowledge (i.e. lack thereof) I've seen too many times used as an argument of not doing things the Right Way. Now, as far as this is concerned, you are free to add phonetic transcription(s) of Verlag into the ===Pronunciation=== section, or open a related debate on the WT:ADE's talkpage on problem of usage of this <g> in phonemic transcriptions. --Ivan Štambuk 22:56, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Even if the convention for German here on enwikt is to use a final /ɡ/, I think you can add a line for the Berlin accent, or the Geneva accent, or whatever you like, and include a more narrow transcription. See, e.g., [[bird#Pronunciation]].​—msh210 23:04, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I just love those transcriptions with "optional phonemes" ^_^ --Ivan Štambuk 23:21, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Any other dictionary in the world describes the predefined conventions it abides by in a clear manner somewhere the user can easily find it. As far as I can see, the WT conventions on German pronunciation are not described anywhere, certainly not anywhere linked to from this article. There is no way you can expect users to understand hidden conventions whose existence is only known to insiders, and calling them ignorants because of that will not help it either. EmilJ 13:41, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Ivan Štambuk: As soon as you wrote "Ignorance is no excuse" I'm starting to take you less seriously. Wiktionary should be providing knowledge to those who come seeking it. Intelligent people who making an effort to learn should not be told that their ignorance is no excuse for their not understanding things they seek to understand. Then you wrote "is just like any other other paper dictionary in the world". Next you'll tell me that we must not try to make cars different from horse-drawn carriages. Obviously Wiktionary is not and should not be just like any other dictionary. It can easily be made far more voluminous than it would be economical to make paper dictionaries, and it has enormous potential other advantages; to restrict it because of economic restrictions that paper dictionaries must follow would be a grave offense against common sense and modern technology. Then you refer to "a complete dumb-down such as ignoring the fundamental distinction between phonemic and phonetic". Sigh........... No one has proposed ignoring the distinction. That's a straw man. Where do you find anyone suggesting it be ignored? If one explains it rather than assuming the reader is already aware of it, is that "ignoring" it? And as for "dumb downs", notice that the particular misunderstanding I referred to took place among people whom you, Ivan Štambuk, should envy for their intelligence. Michael Hardy 05:37, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

On the Wikipedia discussion page you linked above you where apparently flabbergasted by the fact that Wiktionary users are expected to know the difference between // and []. I interpreted that as the other way of saying that we should ignore the distinction altogether, with average user in mind. If that was not the case, than obviously it's a bad case of inference on my part.
We are not confined by size restrictions, and indeed, we already provide several transcription schemes for English-language pronunciations, both phonemic and phonetic. As it has been pointed out, there is no reason why this cannot be done for German too. Thus, I have no idea what "restrictions" you speak of.
My comment on ignorance as no excuse was in reference to the presupposed knowledge of a user who would be prevented in the start from acquiring the required information on Wiktionary as a result of his (un)willful ignorance, as is illustrated in your comment above: Do you expect it to be understood by English-speaking people.. - No we don't expect anything. We assume that they've spent some time familiarizing themselves with our conventions as regards the German transcriptions (which there are no ATM, but nevertheless). Ideally every IPA transcription should contain a link to the appendix page that would provide a detailed account of the used symbols and the sounds that they represent in various environments. So technically, it's "our fault" that no one has written yet an appendix page that explains that the devoicing that you seem to be bothered by is subphonemic in character, and why it's being ignored within the //s...
I wasn't claiming that the dumb-down has anything to do with intelligence or any kind of innate ability to reason: I was merely remarking that the dumbing-down approach of presenting the material under the excuse of some vague anonymous user's ignorance is not something that I'm personally fond of, although it's unfortunately becoming quite trendy around here. We should IMHO strive for as much technical completeness and professionalism that we can produce. The point was that it's inane to discuss that Joe Sixpack wouldn't be able to decode word-final devoicing in phonemic transcription which utilizes /b d g/ symbols for lenis stops, when it's just as certain that he wouldn't be able to discuss the corresponding phonetic transcription which would utilize more obscure IPA symbols.
And as for the "envy" - I'm impressed with other people's intelligence inasmuch I'm impressed with other people's physical muscle strength. The last time I checked we all were still biological robots serving the same selfish gene-propagation algorithms, ending up down the same gutter into the collective oblivion. There's really nothing to envy other poor mortal souls about in the course of this miserable existence. --Ivan Štambuk 07:44, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Per our conventions (for all languages), I've added a link in the pronunciation line to an explanation of German phonology. That should help, I think and hope.​—msh210 15:59, 5 November 2009 (UTC)