Talk:mass

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Can u plz include a defintion for body mass???????

Should "Roman Catholicism" be replaced with "the Catholic Church"?

No, because there are (ironically) several groups called "Catholic Church". --EncycloPetey 16:29, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
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Rfv-sense: adjective. Just attributive use of noun. DCDuring TALK 14:08, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Keep. Other dictionaries (Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster) have it as an adjective, and you've presented no evidence that it's a noun. —RuakhTALK 17:00, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
May as well just cite it, though, right? Mglovesfun (talk) 17:04, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't think so. DCDuring has been abusing this page for a long time, and I'm sick of it. I'm not really opposed to his listing this sort of question here — RFD or the Tea room might be better, but whatever — but I reject his pretense that these are real RFV questions, and I see no reason to spend time citing something when lack of citations is not the problem and is not even an issue. —RuakhTALK 18:47, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
The burden of proof is with the entry/PoS/sense at RfV, AFAIK. The specific definition at mass#Adjective seems particularly suspect. Perhaps if there were better senses.... DCDuring TALK 18:10, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
The sense in question is cl early widespread use. Actual RFV questions take the form "Does this word/sense exist?", and the burden of proof is on the person answering "yes"; but you're asking the question, "Is this word an adjective?", which is not an actual RFV question. I'm not really opposed to your listing that question at RFV (rather than at RFD or the Tea room), but the forum doesn't change the question, and doesn't shift the burden of proof.
I have presented evidence that the word is an adjective. (Actually, I think the sense is used in too narrow a range of constructions for any POS assignment to be strongly justified, but since it only occurs in attributive use, and that's a core function of adjectives rather than of nouns, I think ===Adjective=== is the best header. And clearly other dictionaries agree.) If you want to have an intelligent discussion about the subject, then you need to present some sort of argument. And no, "the burden of proof is on you" is not an argument.
RuakhTALK 18:47, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it is. This is a matter of interpreted fact, not fact-free debate and vote. Nor is it just a matter of idle Tea Room discussion.
But, I had not realized there was so much pent-up anger on this matter.
On the substance, I thought that we were trying to avoid having needless duplication between adjective and noun senses caused by the erroneous failure to make sure that the purported adjective senses were not merely attributive use. If that is not our objective, I didn't get the e-mail. I have been fascinated by the number of instances in which purported adjectives don't seem to meet normal grammatical tests for adjectivity. If grammatical tests don't matter, I'd love to understand why.
On this word in particular, I reacted to the sole sense that appears in the adjective PoS, which I found in none of the dictionaries I looked at. My reckoning is that in the course of attempting to cite the sense given, we (possibly me) would find which senses actually are sustainable and whether they are or are not included in noun senses. I also note that the sole comprehensive semi-modern dictionary from which one could simply copy definitions without copyvio, Websters 1913, does not have any adjective PoS. DCDuring TALK 20:36, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Re: "This is a matter of interpreted fact": You're saying that this is an RFV matter because RFD and the Tea room have pervasive problems: RFD discussions ignore facts, Tea-room discussions sit idle. These are valid concerns, and I share them, but they don't make this an RFV issue.
Re: "I had not realized there was so much pent-up anger on this matter": Not very pent up: I've expressed my anger several times before. I guess the Internet isn't the best medium for conveying rage. :-P   (Which, all in all, is probably a good thing. You're a diligent and thoughtful contributor, with reasonable and valuable viewpoints, and I guess I should be happy that, on the rare cases when I'm annoyed with you, you can't tell.)
Re: "On the substance, [] ": I do agree with the general notion that plenty of nouns, perhaps the majority, see attributive use, and that this does not, in itself, justify an ===Adjective=== section for each one of them. But there are plenty of times that an ===Adjective=== section is clearly required. You obviously agree with me, for example, that an ===Adjective=== section is clearly required once it starts meeting normal grammatical tests for adjectivity; to this I would add that an ===Adjective=== section is generally required when it stops meeting normal grammatical tests for nounity. I don't see how any of our noun senses really explains the hits at google:"mass murder of"; and if someone added a noun sense that did really explain it, I would wonder what evidence they had that it's a noun. I think that if a word or sense is found only in attributive use, then ===Adjective=== should probably be the default POS. (I see that the World English Dictionary -slash- Collins gives this sense under ===Modifier===, presumably recognizing its limited distribution, but we don't use that POS, and I think we're fine without it.) The lexical categories are all fuzzy: there are words that are clearly nouns, and there are words that are clearly adjectives, and so on, but there are also words that don't fit so nicely, and RFV does not provide an objective means of handling them.
You speak of removing duplication between adjective and noun sections, but removing an adjective section doesn't remove duplication unless the noun section already covered the sense in question. And if it does, then WT:BOLD and {{rfd-redundant}} work as well as {{rfv-sense}}.
On the specific word, this is not a reply to any part of your comment, but rather than making it a separate comment, I'll tack it on here: This word doesn't "feel" like an attributive noun to me. For one thing, attributive nouns are generally stressed, and this word is not; hypothetically speaking, we can distinguish "MASS measurement" (measurement of mass, attrib. n.) from "mass MEASurement" (measurement writ large, IMHO attrib. adj.).
RuakhTALK 21:20, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
The sense given in the entry is the one I was focused on. I will confess to sometimes not paying sufficient attention to the "distinct sense" rationale for inclusion. That is, in part, because I have gotten so used to adjective senses revealing themselves as attributive use of the associated noun. In this case most of the probable true adjective senses are descended from the plural-only noun, as in "the masses are revolting." As of 1913 or so, that didn't merit inclusion in Websters. As a direct result of that exclusion, we do not have a noun sense covering said sense at mass#Etymology 2 (noun). It is at masses, but should be mentioned at mass as well.
If that sense were a singular form, I bet that the use of "mass" in attributive position would be semantically indistinguishable. I am not willing to force users to go through such mental gymnastics, of course, as must be the case for the dictionaries that have the adjective as a distinct PoS. But, AFAICT, those dictionaries have adjective senses that are apparently derived from the meaning about the mass of people (and possibly other animate beings or mobile things).
The variety of problems with mass#Etymology 2 is why I don't like to tackle these old MW-based entries, preferring to work on some area where there is less need to undo, to reword, to redistribute uses among senses, all to shoe-horn in one or two senses in entries that are rarely used, except by translators. And sometimes the translators complain about repartitioning because of the consequences for the translation tables. I miss the en-N contributors who were willing to tackle these and appreciate Widsith's work. I wish I had the skills and courage. DCDuring TALK 23:24, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
I have added two noun senses for mass#Etymology 2. The RfVed sense seems to include attributive use of sense 1 and sense 2 of the noun. I don't think that sense is semantically distinct, used in predicate position, used in a comparative, or otherwise graded. But I could be wrong. MW has two main senses, four or arguably five total senses for the adjective. I am not sure that I believe that all of them are true adjectives, but some probably are. I just don't know which. DCDuring TALK 23:55, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Your noun senses are good, and relevant — thanks for adding them — but not quite on target IMHO; I repeat my example of google:"mass murder of", where it's unclear to me what relationship the noun "mass" would have to "murder". The "of" there is intentional on my part: in bare "mass murder", we could interpret "mass" as playing the semantic role of patient, but in "mass murder of ____", it is ____ that fills that role. BTW, to forestall the possible objection that "mass murder" is an idiom, and therefore not necessarily representative of any specific sense of "mass", I'll preemptively link to google:"mass deletion of" (where, again, the patient slot is ocupado) and google:"mass exodus of" (where the agent slot is). And I think examples like google:"mass indiscriminate" (with another adjective interposed between "mass" and its modificand) also argue against interpretation as a nominal.
By the way, on the general topic: the CGEL has a whole section dedicated to attributive-only adjectives (adjectives like "mere", where you can say "a mere child" but not "the child is mere"): chapter 6, §4.1, pp. 553–559. Note that plenty of the ones it mentions are also nouns in closely related senses (total disarray, the extreme end, past students, a military expert, a certain winner [in the sense of "sure"]), and it points out that a lot of them don't accept modification by (e.g.) very. Honestly, I don't know what criteria the CGEL is using to rule out the possibility of their being attributive nouns — with "a military expert" it even points out that military functions similarly to the noun safety in "a safety expert" — but it's obvious that it isn't using Wiktionary:English adjectives to decide.
RuakhTALK 03:38, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I think you are arguing against a position that I do not hold. To clarify I have made the RfV an RfV-sense.
As to the noun senses, I did what I could. I am reasonably sure that the main valid senses of mass#adjective have to do with people ("the masses"), not with the other senses of mass#Noun. This is in contrast with our sole sense which doesn't have any such restriction. Looking at BNC (COCA not responding at the moment) the collocations that don't have to do with "the masses" are relatively few: "mass storage", "mass spectrometer/ry", "body mass index", "mass balance" (appears in Encarta, WP, and technical glossaries), "mass privatization", "mass stranding" (of whales), and a whole series from the physical sciences ("balance", "curve", "density", "loss", "ratio"). I view "mass privatization" and "mass stranding" as generalizations from the putative "people" senses.
I have added all of our entries that are derived from mass. I have added all of them at the noun, though some are almost certainly from the still-missing true adjective senses. DCDuring TALK 10:57, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
mere and certain are not nouns, so they are of little relevance. As for the others, extreme, total, past and military were all adjectives long before they were ever used as nouns, and so it's perfectly natural to read them as adjectives in these positions. Furthermore all can be used predicatively (the reaction was extreme, her surprise was total, his bearing was military). None of these things are true of mass: there is simply no reason to believe it is an adjective. Ƿidsiþ 10:19, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
They are of infinite relevance. The senses in question are found only in attributive position, and do not accept modification (with the possible exception of "extreme": "at the very extreme end" sounds awkward to me, but not wrong). They do not demonstrate that the CGEL would consider this sense of "mass", specifically, to be an adjective, but they demonstrate that DCDuring's arguments simply do not justify treating "I think this is attributive use of the noun" as a matter for RFV, with the sense getting "RFV failed" unless someone presents cites. No one has presented objective, correct criteria for evaluating whether a given sense is an adjective. You've provided decent ad-hoc arguments for several words (all of which seem to boil down either to "they don't have any unambiguous noun senses" or to "they also have unambiguous adjective senses"), but if forced to prove it using the criteria in Wiktionary:English adjectives, you could not do so for the specified senses. —RuakhTALK 11:41, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
You invoked mere (presumably) to show that some adjectives only appear attributively, but I don't dispute that. What I was considering was how to tell whether a word is an attributive noun or an adjective, and since mere is never a noun, the question doesn't arise. My arguments are historical. Yes, there are adjectives which only appear attributively, but this is generally a development – you can find old citations for mere, for example, like "Earthly happiness [...] is neuer meere and vnmixed". On the other hand, it is not usual for a new adjective to spring into being already restricted by various positioning constraints. In the other examples you gave, the words were all primarily (by which I currently mean ‘in a historical sense’) adjectival, and so it is very natural to read them as adjectives in attributive position. But with mass you have a word which only appears attributively AND cannot be qualified AND which historically has only ever been a noun....basically what I'm saying is that there's simply no need to posit the existence of a brand-new adjective for a situation like this, which is already covered by the attributive noun. Ƿidsiþ 13:13, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Re: "You invoked mere (presumably) to show that some adjectives only appear attributively": Well, not really. I mainly invoked "mere" to explain what is meant by "attributive-only adjectives". (In the real world, the term "attributive-only adjectives" is semantically transparent, but among Wiktionarians the term "attributive" has sprouted some by-senses, so I thought it best to clarify.) IIRC, DCDuring owns a copy of the CGEL, so my goal was to direct him to a relevant section that I thought might interest him, and I invoked "mere" to explain what the section was.
Re: "since mere is never a noun, the question doesn't arise": Sure it does! Under an approach whereby adjective status must be proved by three can't-be-a-noun cites — an approach that DCDuring and others have advocated (usually implicitly, but sometimes outright) — "it's never a noun" would not be good enough. I suppose that we would simply delete the entire [[mere]] entry until someone produced either three clearly nominal cites or three clearly adjectival ones. :-P
Simply put, you're misunderstanding the purpose of my whole paragraph there. That paragraph was not arguing "'mass' is an adjective". It was arguing "a policy of demanding non-attributive cites is a non-starter".
RuakhTALK 14:31, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Fair enough, perhaps we should move to RFD then. Ƿidsiþ 15:35, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
mass — AEL [edit]

Re: "DCDuring has been abusing this page for a long time, and I'm sick of it." Seconded.

Now to the substance. The sense requested for attestation is this: "Involving a large quantity, or a large number". Phrases that seems to come under this sense include "mass extinction", "mass migration", "mass demonstrations" (mentioned by MWO and Encarta in their adjective senses), and "mass communication" (mentioned by AHD in its adjective sense). The attestability of these phrases is out of question; what remains to be decided is whether the use of "mass" in these phrases is really an adjectival one. I do not know how to decide this, but I vote keep per authorities, until there is a convincing argument that the authorities are wrong. Dictionaries that have at least one adjectival sense of "mass" include MWO[1], Encarta[2], AHD[3], and Collins[4]; see also OneLook search[5]. --Dan Polansky 09:09, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

  • For what it's worth, I agree with DCD a hundred percent and I don't see any evidence that this is an adjective. You cannot say "these extinctions were mass" or "the murderer was mass" or "it was a very mass demonstration". If it is an adjective, it is certainly one which only appears in very specific positions where it looks suspiciously like a noun. And if we're quoting authorities, the OED doesn't recognise it as an adjective, and they just revised the entry last year. Ƿidsiþ 09:57, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
  • The OED doesn't recognize it as an adjective, but it does have an entire section called "Compounds", with one sense defined as “In attrib. use, with the sense ‘relating to, involving, or affecting large numbers, or the majority, of people or things’ (examples of which are very common in 20th-cent. use)” and other senses exemplified by large numbers of individually defined compounds; so the OED doesn't "agree with DCD a hundred percent" (since, recall, DCDuring thinks our objective is "to avoid having needless duplication between adjective and noun senses", whereas the OED dedicates two-thirds of its entry to detailed "needless duplication"). I mean, obviously you can cite the OED as a source without agreeing with it in every detail, but it bears noting. :-)   —RuakhTALK 10:17, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
    I'm agnostic on duplication, but the debate at hand seems to be about whether this is an adjective or not (it isn't). As you know, many thousands of nouns have "compounds" sections in the OED (since English nouns forms compounds very easily), so that is no reason to think of it as anything but a noun. Ƿidsiþ 10:28, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
    Re: "the debate at hand seems to be about whether this is an adjective or not": There are a few debates at hand, so if you want to agree with someone on only one of them, you should be explicit! Debates we seem to be having include (1) whether "mass" is ever an adjective (DCDuring, myself, and most dictionaries, including Oxford Dictionaries Online, feel that it is; you and the OED Online feel that it's not); (2) whether there is an adjective sense of "mass" that means "Involving a large quantity, or a large number" (DCDuring feels that there is not; I feel that there probably is — even if that's not the best definition for it; most other dictionaries seem to feel that there is — Oxford Dictionaries Online, for example, has the adjective "relating to, done by, or affecting large numbers of people or things" — though one can always argue about whether sense X in one dictionary is the same as sense Y in another; you and the OED Online obviously feel that there is not); (3) more generally, how to determine whether a given noun is also an adjective; and (4) whether RFV is the right forum to determine the part of speech of a given sense. —RuakhTALK 11:41, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
    True, I should probably scale that down to 60 percent. I agree with him that the sense in question is not adjectival, but I disagree that adjectival senses exist at all. Ƿidsiþ 13:16, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
It does 'feel' like a true adjective, albeit an uncomparable one. I'll see if I can find some citations. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:00, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I have added three senses to mass#Adjective. Two seem clearly semantically distinct from the noun senses ("total", and "on a large scale"). The other sense is semantically related to masses, not mass, if such a distinction can be made. From a user perspective, the difference between mass#Etymology 2 (noun) and masses may be important enough to merit including the sense.
Procedurally, we could now split the RfVed sense into two senses: that related to things and that related to people. I would RfD-sense the "people" (and people-like things such as animals and organizations) sense and RfV-sense the "thing" sense. Would that be less abusive of the process? I really don't know how to use the processes to avoid annoying people and yet work to improve the English language sections, very many of which are obsolete in language, don't fit format (esp, citations and usexes), and have missing senses or erroneous PoS sections. If I can't tag something quickly, I am likely to forget about it. As Widsith can attest, reworking entries is time-consuming. If marking defects in entries is supposed to wait until new material is added, our bad entries will not likely ever be corrected. The more procedural hurdles are added, the more obvious the lack of procedural support for entry quality improvement. DCDuring TALK 13:23, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not (primarily) saying "you can't tag this for RFV", I'm saying "you don't have to tag this for RFV". It's not an RFV question. We're not figuring out if a sense is attested, we're figuring out if it's an adjective. If you're confident that a sense is a noun, be bold and move/merge it to ===Noun===. If you're not sure, and you want other editors' input, you can tag it {{rfd-redundant}}. Or if you think it's worthwhile to look for clearly-adjectival cites to help decide, then you can tag it {{rfquote-sense}}; or, heck, you can tag it {{rfv-sense}} and start a discussion here; but by "discussion" I mean "discussion". Not "please provide three clearly-adjectival cites or else we'll declare this 'RFV failed'" — WT:CFI simply doesn't support that — and certainly not "Rfv-sense: adjective. Just attributive use of noun." That's no way to start a discussion. (BTW, the "new material" that you mention can take the form of {{rfdef|lang=en}}. If you're RFV-ing the sole sense in the a section, that implies that you think the section should be removed. That implication could be defeated by explicitly stating otherwise, but in this case your initial RFV comment seemed rather to reinforce the implication!) —RuakhTALK 15:06, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I am interested in whether the adjective sense is attestable as an adjective. RfD seems to be devoted to interpreting application of WT:CFI other than attestation. It is an attestation-free zone. The grounds for something being deemed an adjective are basically two, a grammatical one and a semantic one. There is a further possibility, historical priority of the adjective, presumably of non-negligible frequency in the appropriate senses.
  1. The grammatical grounds are that, even if the sense of an adjective is basically indistinguishable from a corresponding noun sense, it merits a sense in an adjective section if it behaves as an adjective in some way that another part of speech does not. As all (virtually all?) nouns can be used attributively, the other behaviors are crucial for the distinction. This requires evidence of the same basic sort as is required for general attestation.
  2. The semantic one is that, even if use is only attributive, if the sense cannot be readily construed as a sense of the noun, the sense merits inclusion in an adjective section. This is basic attestation.
  3. The priority grounds could be settled either by authority or attestation. In my experience the authorities are not as authoritative on dates as to be relied on.
Any one of these would be sufficient and at least one is necessary for the existence of an adjective section. Thus attestation is of the essence in cases such as this. Clearly widespread use would work if all agreed that that a given sense was clearly in widespread use as a true adjective or that the distinction between attributive use of a noun and a true adjective is not worth making. I don't think it is so "clear" in this case. And I have yet to see any evidence that other serious dictionaries do not follow similar principles for determining whether a given term is an adjective. For example, MW and AHD do not have senses of "mass" as an adjective that duplicate nounal senses. DCDuring TALK 16:17, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Re: "I am interested in whether the adjective sense is attestable as an adjective": But "attestable as an adjective" is not a real thing; you've just made it up. If we're all allowed to make up a concept, label it as "attestable ______", and demand that every sense have three cites conforming to the concept, then we'll be here all day.
Re: "RfD seems to be devoted to interpreting application of WT:CFI other than attestation. It is an attestation-free zone": We're a descriptivist dictionary, we shouldn't have attestation-free zones. Every single decision we make should be consistent with the facts of usage.
We used to have documentation saying that words that failed RFV would be listed at RFD. I don't know if we ever actually did it that way, but maybe we should start. Anyone can request any sort of cites here that would convince them a word/term/sense should be kept, and other people can pipe up with their own "requirements". At the end of a month, we move the discussion to RFD, everyone can see everyone else's stated criteria, everyone can see what cites were presented for each set of criteria, and people can vote "keep" or "delete".
RuakhTALK 17:32, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
"Attestable as an adjective" is old wine in a new bottle. It is my shorthand for the attestation of adjectival senses to establish adjectivity on any of the three grounds that have been suggested and any rational ones that might be suggested henceforth, without requiring us to, in principle, have an adjective sense line for virtually every noun sense line. The point about no-unnecessary-duplication between noun and adjective definitions is one that I have heard read explicitly on these pages and have inferred from our practice and from the entries of the dictionaries at OneLook. There is nothing new about any aspect of this.
I don't understand how one could attest to a sense of a word without at the same time attesting to its PoS when having that sense, given our entry structure. If we would want to have a different set of headings to replace the PoS headers, it might be wise to consult with our users. DCDuring TALK 18:17, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree that we shouldn't "have an adjective sense line for virtually every noun sense line". I disagree with the notion that some sort of transmogrified three-cites rule could be devised that could keep the wheat while discarding the chaff. Likewise: You and I both feel that we should allow entries for certain word-sequences, and forbid entries for others, on the basis of a concept that goes by names such as "idiomaticity". Yet somehow, miraculously, we've managed not to translate that into some sort of monstrous three-cites rule for determining whether a given sense is idiomatic. Attestation remains relevant: we won't keep a word-sequence that's unattested; and we always should (and sometimes do) examine the usage both of the word-sequence itself, and of other word-sequences that use the component words and synonyms thereof, to gather evidence for and against idiomaticity. But it's not the whole picture: at some point, as people, we need to examine and discuss the evidence and make a decision that goes beyond counting. The same applies here: we won't keep an sense that's unattested, and we always should (and sometimes do) examine the range of its uses to gather evidence for and against adjectivity. But at some point, as people, we need to examine and discuss the evidence and make a decision that goes beyond counting. —RuakhTALK 18:41, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
There has been no transmogrification, simply application. "I don't understand how one could attest to a sense of a word without at the same time attesting to its PoS when having that sense, given our entry structure." I simply disqualify citations that are ambiguous as to PoS, such as attributive use of senses that could be construed as either adjective or noun. This is the same practice that we follow in disqualifying senses that are ambiguous as to sense specifically.
I don't consider our treatment of idiomaticity to be a desirable model of decision-making. The tedium and conflict of the process has allowed numerous highly suspect terms. See WT:TR#Suspect compounds of mass for some examples. Any systematic effort to challenge all such terms would simply flood RfD. OTOH a really thorough-going effort along these lines might give at least one other contributor a chance to add the 2,000,000th entry. DCDuring TALK 19:12, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I view the POS classification as an aspect of the definition. If someone edits [[unicorn]] to add the definition, “a won-horned mythological animal”, there are lots of questions we can examine: (1) Is that sense attested? (Yes.) (2) Is that a good definition for it? (No. Not even after fixing the misspelling of "one".) (3) Is that sense really separate from the other senses, that we already listed? (No.)     Usage — attestation — is relevant to all of these questions. (In that specific case, of course, we know, even without Googling, what attestation would tell us. That's what the "rollback" link is for.) But only the first question can really be addressed by RFV. If someone wanted to list the other questions here, just to see what evidence people could find, that would be fine; but the answer to those other questions cannot be expressed as "RFV passed" or "RFV failed". I frequently have marked something as "RFV passed" and then fixed it in various ways — including changing the POS header(s) — based on what I learned during my search for cites.
Re: "I don't consider our treatment of idiomaticity to be a desirable model of decision-making": And yet, you've managed not to subvert said treatment by trying to RFV-itize it. I don't think WT:RFD works very well, either, but there are things that the RFV process simply cannot accomplish. In fact, there's really only one thing that it can accomplish. Hacking around WT:RFD's shortcomings by treating RFDs as RFVs is not going to make WT:RFD better, but it has made WT:RFV worse.
14:35, 18 March 2011 (UTC) 20:08, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Would that I could see how a matter of attestation of sense-PoS was an RfD matter. Your list of questions leaves out one of the things that definitely can be attested in the overwhelming majority of cases, at least defeasibly: the PoS of a sense. Furthermore, attestation can be used to confirm the presence of each specific element of a definition. "horned", "single"-horned, "mythological", and "animal" could each be separately attested if necessary. {It is usually only in the case of our most verbose or encyclopedic definitions that this might come up.) If no sense can be attested in a given PoS, then eihter the PoS should be removed or a request for a definition added. The choice is left for the judgment of the wise ones who close these matters.
If I could figure out any sensible criteria I would very much like to use attestation for determining idiomaticity. I have used it to support or oppose claims that a given term was a "set phrase", because said claim was often made. If folks made other specific claims as to the basis of purported idiomaticity those claims could possibly be tested in some way. Folks just don't seem to like to make testable claims. DCDuring TALK 23:02, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Re: "Would that I could see how a matter of attestation of sense-PoS was an RfD matter": That's a straw man. You meant to say, "Would that I could see how something that I mistakenly consider to be a matter of attestation of sense-POS was in fact an RfD matter". ;-)
Re: "Furthermore, attestation can be used to confirm the presence of each specific element of a definition. 'horned', 'single'-horned, 'mythological', and 'animal' could each be separately attested if necessary. {It is usually only in the case of our most verbose or encyclopedic definitions that this might come up.)": Yes, I've noticed that you believe this. In large measure I'm making these arguments here because I plan to start closing discussions like this one as "no action taken" after a month or so, and I'd like you to understand why, even if I don't expect to convince you. (I do not believe that your views are an application of policy, and I haven't seen evidence for consensus that they are, so I simply cannot apply your views as though policy supported them.)
Re: "I have used [attestation] to support or oppose claims that a given term was a 'set phrase', [] ": You're equivocating. As I have said repeatedly, we use, or should use, attestation for everything; but you have not used any sort of three-cites rule to reject "set phrases", because no one would claim that something unattested is a "set phrase". Which is exactly my point: obviously, just obviously, we're not going to list an adjective that's unattested, and obviously, just obviously, we will examine attestation in deciding if something is an adjective. It does not follow that we must subvert the three-cites rule in the way(s) you propose.
RuakhTALK 14:35, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
FWIW, for the "people" adjective sense, I've added three citations in which mass appears to be modified by an adverb. — Pingkudimmi 00:27, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
I didn't doubt that one would. Were you looking for support for the challenged sense? Did you see anything that doesn't fit the new senses? I tested them only against the top 100 collocations at COCA and not very systematically at that. DCDuring TALK 02:25, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
I wasn't specifically looking for senses; the fact that I found this one relatively easily might be a result of my search domain (g books) and method (somewhat haphazard), or it could just be more common. A possible candidate citation is "We failed to find such formerly mass species as Liocyma fluctuosa, Alvenius ojianus, or Yoldia seminuda," (here).
BTW, the mass in mass extinction is not quite total, or we wouldn't be here. (Of course, any extinction is total for the species involved.) — Pingkudimmi 05:15, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
The collocation "mass species" seems to occur in the marine biology context. I don't get what the sense of "mass" is. It seems especially common in works with Russian authors. Could it be a calque? I will add what I find to the Citations page. It is possible that "mass species" is a context-specific idiom, though it is not listed in any OneLook source and I have not come across an explicit definition in any of the texts. DCDuring TALK 09:30, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
"Mass species" seems to often occur with biomass. DCDuring TALK 09:55, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Great cites. I think this demonstrates that mass is in the process of passing from an attributive noun to something interpreted as a true adjective. Still, I'm not sure the process is complete, as I would regard all of those quotations as bad English. Anyway, that is definitely grounds for having an =Adjective= section, although personally I think it's simpler to just have one definition along the lines of "pertaining to a mass of people or things". Ƿidsiþ 09:38, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Most unabridged OneLook dictionaries have multiple senses.
I've added citations for the rfv'd sense — along the same lines as before, meaning more bad English for Widsith to marvel at! — Pingkudimmi 15:37, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
8-o Ƿidsiþ 15:50, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Looks good. Convincing citations as to its having crossed the threshold even in the challenged sense. I have seen a few uses of "[be] more mass than [individual|class|segmented]" (polar oppositions). It may even soon become comparable in at least on sense. DCDuring TALK 17:32, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
FWIW, some writers write "masser" and "massest". - -sche (discuss) 02:17, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I have interleaved those citations in the definition which seems to have the most use of the comparative of all forms. I note that the 1958 sense has it in quotation marks, which is arguably insufficient for citation, though it usefully illustrates the approximate timing of a transition to adjectivity. At least that sense seems comparable, even if the forms "masser" and "massest" might not be yet be attestable for themselves.
  • RFV passed, after some lengthy and inetresting debate. Ƿidsiþ 09:28, 21 April 2011 (UTC)