User talk:DCDuring/2010 QI

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re paremiology et al[edit]

FYI, you might wanna refrain from trans requesting obscure words like paremiology for languages which have very few active contributors - Vietnamese for example. Its requests keep piling up but no one seems to be answering them... Tooironic 02:12, 1 January 2010 (UTC

Any others? DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 02:28, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

put our heads together[edit]

Do you know what entry title should we use for this idiom? Normally for reflexive-like possessives I use one's, but [[put one's heads together]] has serious issues. :-P
Thanks in advance!
RuakhTALK 22:13, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

How about put heads together? That seems to work for AHD/ as the run-in entry for this at "head". They also use it as a redirect-equivalent to "put their heads together" and "put our heads together" (from Cambridge idioms dictionaries). They use different forms for Intl and Amer idiom books. Usage examples or redirects for all three plural possessive pronouns should handle it. DCDuring TALK 22:30, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Done, thanks! —RuakhTALK 23:30, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Adverbs and automation[edit]

Possible risks involved in your idea of automating adverbs' definitions using adjective-level synonyms: (i) adjectives have subtly (or less subtly) differing shades of meaning that might become more stark in the adverbial forms (largely means hugely far less commonly than large means huge; freshly means newly far more commonly than fresh means new); (ii) sometimes there are totally different senses of one adjective that might be the dominant sense in its derived adverb (note how smashingly does not mention destruction at all); (iii) we could get mired in circularity, defining two synonymous adverbs in terms of each other. Equinox 17:21, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

I absolutely do not think this can be truly automated for reasons such as those you point out. I am interested solely in using automation to make entries more ready to support more abundant and rapid good-quality (sadly not perfect, but better than nothing and improvable) manual definition work. If we rely on counsels of perfection we won't make much progress.
I have been wondering why I find actual defining work so hard and instead lapse into the more superficially stimulating checklist work. Checklist work provides almost video-game-like stimulation vs. the frustrating aspects of much definition work. That is why I have been wondering how to harness this preference for quick-hit work to make the final task of generating improved and new definitions easier. If the world's militaries are making war more video-game-like, perhaps we can do the same for lexicography! DCDuring TALK 18:00, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Wiktionary the video game, where you fight vandals, create entries, add pronunciations and etymologies, cite RFV's, and improve definitions to increase your score... Ha ha. What fun.  :) L☺g☺maniac 18:07, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I thought you'd left! P.S. A few years ago I submitted a snarky LiveJournal: The Game to a silly game contest. Your final score was determined by how many "friends" you had gained by staying on the right side of drama, etc. Equinox 18:10, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I was hoping to be able to rely on w:Intrinsic motivation ! DCDuring TALK 18:45, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
What do you propose doing, then? Creating an imperfect entry from synonyms with a cleanup tag on it? Equinox 18:10, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
The last step after the cleanup-list operations (manual, assisted, and bot?) would be to list entries that were maximally "ready" for manual definition/redefinition/improvement. Such entries would be good training exercises for more complex entries, among other things. The -ly adverbs seem like a place to start because they are relatively homogeneous. The baseline "in an X manner definitions" are sometimes not to be surpassed, usually, sometimes improvable, and sometimes supplementable.
I don't really know what to do about -ly adverbs derived from highly polysemous adjectives. It seems of questionable value to add "in an X manner" for most of these by individual synonym for the each adjective sense. OTOH, COCA and BNC make it easy to look at a lot of usage examples to help winnow the possibilities. DCDuring TALK 18:45, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

in the face of[edit]

Hi DCDuring,

I was looking through Category:English prepositional phrases to try to determine if EP was right that most prepositional phrases are specifically adjectival or specifically adverbial (my provisional conclusion being that most prepositional phrases are listed by us as only one or the other, but that it's almost always easy to find citations for both), when I came across this one, which you added to the category back in June.

The thing is, it doesn't really seem to be a prepositional phrase; rather, it seems like the first part of a prepositional phrase, “in the face of ____”. That makes it a compound preposition rather than a prepositional phrase. (By some analyses, it's not a constituent at all, but rather, just the preposition in plus the first part of its object; but I think we can safely discard those analyses as inimical to lexicography. :-P  )

Normally I would have just removed it from the category, but I saw that you were the one who added it, so I wanted to ask you about it first to be on the safe side.

RuakhTALK 15:39, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure who hijacked my identity to make that change. Perhaps the hijacker had been thinking about the idea of "phrasal prepositions". Perhaps he had the fleeting thought that it would be easier to find them if they were both in Category:English prepositions and Category:English prepositional phrases. Perhaps the hijacker was just trying to discredit me.
In any event, perhaps the hijacker will reverse the change, knowing that we are on to him/her. DCDuring TALK 17:11, 10 January 2010 (UTC)


In re this: I understand your point, but as I explained when I did so, I changed the highlighting method from a pale-gold background to a goldenrod one because the former is too pale for some screens; [I’d hoped it had been] a good compromise between utility and æsthetics — clearly it wasn’t. The present colour is too pale for my laptop computer, but is presumably fine for my desktop one; the goldenrod was perfect for my laptop, albeit garish on my desktop. Emboldenment won’t do; its inadequacy is what spurred the creation of {{citedterm}} / {{q}}. Do you know of any suitable “compromise between utility and æsthetics”?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 03:36, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Customization. The imposition of color on the population at large seems wrong: against the style of WMF enterprises and a throwback to on-line hucksterism. You, the master of typographical variation, are best suited to address a problem that you seem to perceive and feel most strongly. DCDuring TALK 11:13, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
But what do we have for the default? I’m sceptical of customisation, since WT:PREFS is virtually the only means of achieving that. Originally, the background was plain yellow, per Google Book Search highlighting, but that was objected to for being in bad taste. I don’t think my “master[y] of typographical variation” really helps at all in this situation. How about getting some user feedback on different highlighting schemes viâ the main page? I know how you like focusing delivering what users expressedly prefer. ;-Þ  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 23:41, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Sure. Basic web-design guidelines tend to favor less color rather than more for "serious" sites and the use of color only for items meriting it. It would be interesting to see how our contributors come out on this. One of the ways in which Google won is by having a radically clean landing screen and fairly clean search-results pages (in contrast with, say, Yahoo). But "that was then and this is now." DCDuring TALK 23:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
No, I agree, a low-colour scheme is what we should strive for. What we need is highlighting that is obvious enough to draw attention to the cited term when a user scans a quotation, but subtle enough not to distract a user when he’s reading some other part of the entry. Do you think we can figure out what the highlighting ought to be by an internal straw poll, or should we seek the feedback of our users?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 00:23, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think we have ever gotten systematic information from our users. We would need someone technical and someone market-research-oriented to get together to do it. I could mostly provide always-welcome "management services". I doubt that this is worth it.
A straw-poll not conducted in secrecy (as votes effectively are) would be good enough, especially as changes would be reversible anyway, except for the use of technical resources/time. It would be fine to just direct users to the entries that already have the templates or to hard-code each possible color into one headword page (one page per color). DCDuring TALK 00:36, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
It needn’t even be on different pages; we could just use the permanent links to previous revisions, each hard-coded with a different colour of background-highlighting.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 01:15, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

It seems that our entire discussion has become obsolete, now that Conrad.Irwin has fixed the display of the far-preferable, thin, black outline which we can use instead. BTW, please comment on this at WT:RFDO#Template talk:q, given that you were the nominator.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:39, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

what the – ?![edit]

Do you have any thoughts on the historical grammar of "the" in expressions like "why the dickens"? The parallel use of prepositional phrases like "in Hell" and "on earth" made me wonder whether "the" was some kind of relic of an oblique case of Old English ancestral "the" that might be interpreted as a preposition or something. Alternatively, are these expressions elliptical forms of some oaths? DCDuring TALK 00:48, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

  • That's a really good question. The earliest type of phrase like this seems to be used with devil (for which dickens is a euphemism). And in the earliest examples there is sometimes no article (eg Chaucer: ‘What devel have I with the knyfe to doo?’). But it appears equally often with an article, and what's more the whole construction seems to be taken from French, where ‘comment diables!’ was a common Old French expression. On balance I think the is behaving normally here – we usually talk about "the Devil" rather than just "devil" – and possibly the definite article got transplanted to phrases like "what the dickens" in imitation. But more digging around in early quotations would be needed to really clear it up. Ƿidsiþ 10:19, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts. It struck me that grammar peculiar to cussing may not have been quite as thoroughly studied as some other realms and may have old or, at least, distinct influences. DCDuring TALK 11:06, 11 January 2010 (UTC)


Maybe I'm dense, but would you mind explaining the difference between the categories English imperatives and English imperative sentences?​—msh210 21:11, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Well, if I'm not dense, I'm at least forgetful. I think it must have been command nouns (eg, attention) that put me off using Category:English imperative sentences, which I had created first. I'd be inclined to fold the sentence one into the other. I think it was one side that triggered it.
What do you think? One category for all imperatives with the imperative (non-gloss ?) definition appearing under whatever PoS header seems natural? OR make imperative sentences a subcategory under imperatives? The first option seems better. Are there other ways of doing this ? DCDuring TALK 22:40, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with your assessment (re what to do, not re density and forgetfulness  :-) ).​—msh210 22:44, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
BTW, all of the relatively unpopulated grammatical subcategories are suspect, especially if I created them. They will need some consolidation or reform.
Also, I'm sure you have noted Category:English phrasal prepositions which effectively reverses some edits you had done. I think it makes sense as it is. There seems to be controversy between the Quirk team and the H&P team about the right grammatical analysis of (some of ?) them and consequently about the utility of the category. Whether we call them Phrases that are semantically (and often grammatically) like prepositions or Prepositions that sometimes behave grammatically like layered PPs doesn't seem terribly important. The first is a closer fit with users, I think, and is the way we do it. Perhaps we can use Category talk:English phrasal prepositions to develop some way to appropriately qualify the Prepositionhood of these. DCDuring TALK 23:12, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
(I'm trying to bear your cats in mind for categorization purposes; to that end, I have, as you may have noticed, a hierarchical list of them on my userpage.) Thanks for heads-up about the suspect ones. Re phrasal prepositions: You'll have, I'm afraid, to remind me what it reverses, if that's important. It looks good.​—msh210 23:19, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Some of the "phrasal prepositions" had been in that category. At some point it seemed that you had considered that a mispelling-type blunder and reversed it. I had been doing something similar more recently and the matter is somewhat controversial, so, one way of the other it is not that big a deal.
The categories that have some population should be appraisable based on the membership in terms of their coherence and consistency for our purposes, but that is only part of the overall question of their utility. I am always happy to discuss questions about such matters and accept any reasoned views or even mere skepticism about them. DCDuring TALK 01:53, 14 January 2010 (UTC)


Not obvious why you blocked him/her. Didn't seem like an (overt) vandal. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:31, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Simply an error. I was trying to find reincarnations of evil. DCDuring TALK 20:53, 14 January 2010 (UTC)


You can find all our terms starting with hell here. As I said, any reason for nominating one of the SoP ones, but not the others? Mglovesfun (talk) 10:30, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Feel free to add more. DCDuring TALK 11:21, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

comments re: interjections[edit]

Thanks very much for your comments. I agree with keeping as few single word, non-idiomatic interjections as possible. Otherwise there could be tens of thousands ("Green!", "Mom!", "swim!"). But I did want put in "well" as an interjection - (idiomatic) Used to acknowledge a statement or situation (short form for "that is well"). It was already an "adverb" in well for "used to introduce a statement that may be contrary to expectations" so I generalized it and put it in as an interjection instead. Facts707 22:23, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

I was mostly trying to bring you more or less up to date on the issues as I see them. If you look at Category:English interjections you will see quite a menagerie - and that is after some effort to clean out some of the worst. My own views prove changeable on these things, but clearly there are many items in that category that don't fit the narrow definitions of interjection.
I would prefer the exclude meaningful words sometimes used as interjections out of the Interjection PoS if there were a related sense corresponding to the sense(s) taken in exclamations. I fear that it will not be possible to keep contributors from adding a redundant Interjection section anyway. I wonder, for example, how long it would take before someone would decide that attention needs an interjection section, not matter what the noun section contained. I believe that a wiki cannot sustain exclusionary principles, not matter how inherently desirable they may be, without a substantial amount of conflict. DCDuring TALK 23:02, 18 January 2010 (UTC)


What the hell was this about?  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 03:43, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

It was the hell about the square brackets, which, in context, was a good edit. (I've been removing such redundant edit-count brackets myself sometimes.) I didn't see the quotation added, as I couldn't in my remotest imaginings contemplate that one would be added. Sorry. I've been noticing some plurals classified as nouns as I've been scanning English nouns, which is how I came to the entry in question.
BTW, why do you bother to:
  1. insert the quotations header for such entries?
  2. let alone cite them to begin with? and
  3. remove alt spelling of the plural, when that would save the user (most likely a contributor like me) a click in grokking the entry? Some users don't have ultra-high-speed connections and our servers aren't that fast anyway. DCDuring TALK 11:01, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, no problem. Sorry to you, too; my question had an overly-aggressive tone. I added those plurals as obsolete spellings of the singular because that’s how the OED seemed to list them in its entry for scion; it usually lists alternative spellings of inflected forms by explicitly marking them as such, though, obviously, they did not in this case. The spellings listed at scion#Alternative spellings will need independent verification by us at some point. Your questions:
  1. I believe it looks neater; having them separated like that makes the definition easier to spot quickly. In such short entries, there is plenty of space that’s wasted when they’re made too compact, so I add some spacing to make them more pleasing to the eye.
  2. It’s A Good Thing™ for our content to have a solid basis in attestation. (This is, unfortunately, a low priority for most of our contributors, as you know.) I really admire the OED for its plethora of citations. I try to encourage the same thing here. Whilst certain entries definitely benefit from attestation more than others (morphemic monosemic lemmata probably top that list, whereas present participles are the kind of entry near the bottom), attestation is always an improvement; I wouldn’t go to the effort of tri-citing every one of these obsolete spellings, regular plurals, and so on, but adding an independently-verified citation which is given by the OED seems like a reasonable amount of effort to invest.
  3. It isn’t appropriate, IMO, in those cases. Cyens is the plural form of cyen, which is an obsolete spelling of scion, but cyens isn’t an obsolete spelling of scions. This may look like a distinction without a difference, but I don’t believe it is. The same applies to tripod, tripus, tripos, and tripous, which are all alternative spellings of one another (though the relation is a little less clear-cut), whereas tripods, tripi, tripoi, triposes, and tripodes are their plurals, but aren’t themselves alternative forms of one another. In any case, including {{obsolete spelling of|scions}} does not make finding useful information any quicker for the user — the routes are cyenscyenscion or cyensscionsscion — both of which necessitate two clicks.
I hope that serves to explain my actions adequately. :-)  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 01:48, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I differ with you in that I believe that any form of an obsolete, archaic, or rare term ought to have a link to a word that might be recognizable to someone who knows contemporary English in addition to the link to the obsolete or archaic lemma. To omit or remove them is to waste users' time. I think that users' brains do the meaning construction work. If they are stuck on something like "cyens" and look it up their brain will get the job done more quickly with a current-word reference.
Our desire for consistent presentation based on some esthetic/logical ideal does them a disservice. Saving users from an unnecessary extra click should be one of our highest, most ennobling aspirations. DCDuring TALK 11:29, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
How’s this for a solution? I have found it best always to look for a way of accommodating disparate ideals where possible, rather than insisting that one value be given primacy in all cases. Now, all I want to know is, will my title be hereditary, or will I merely be created a life peer for this? ;-)
BTW, could you leave a space between your comments and others’ in future (except where doing so would break bulleting, numbering, or whatever), so as to improve readability, please? Thanks.  (u):Raifʻhār (t):Doremítzwr﴿ 20:03, 26 January 2010 (UTC)


rfe-nl removed. Entry is now complete. JamesjiaoT C 09:14, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, it looks good.
There is no need to ever let me know about any changes to an entry, unless it is of very special interest. I have a big (overlong) watchlist and I insert many rfps/rfes and other requests in the course of entry cleanup. I try to police the rfc-structure list, which usually surfaces various problems and needs for updates. I find etymologies helpful in ensuring that an entry has had some level of thought and in making the entry more intelligible, especially for a language I don't know (but can at least read the script of !). DCDuring TALK 16:06, 29 January 2010 (UTC)


...what's with all the trans reqs? Vietnamese already has 400 piled up, Arabic 314, Japanese 381, Korean 309, etc, etc. Methinks no one is going to get to them any time soon, so why bother adding them for (I assume) every entry you come across? Tooironic 05:20, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

I have added them for a relatively few of the entries I have come across. In any event, of what concern is it to you? When someone finally gets around to it, they can do it. In the meantime they can sit there. If you don't like the requests, you can always simply remove them.
Why don't you use the normal request process for your requests for entries? DCDuring TALK 10:51, 31 January 2010 (UTC)


The problem with edits like this is that it removes the edition date. The quote doesn't appear on p. 106 of the 1973 first edition hardback, it appears on p. 106 of the Penguin 2001 paperback. This is crucial information. Ƿidsiþ 21:52, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

OK sorry. DCDuring TALK 22:38, 2 February 2010 (UTC)


Re: Wiktionary:Information desk#It's an idiomatic, stupid! -- Thanks, done [[it's the economy, stupid]] and [[it's the something, stupid]]. Cheers. 18:47, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

I'm not 100% sure we should have them, but it's worth a shot. I think they make for ugly-looking entries in some ways. But, thanks for the entries.
BTW, why not register? It offers some customization advantages and it's easier for folks to trust registered users. DCDuring TALK 20:43, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

re: Clarifying our meaning of idiomaticity[edit]

Thanks much for your comments. After looking at the "English rhetorical questions" category I agree that they should all be idiomatic (I did remove two entries from that category because they were not defined as questions). I don't mind have the "English rhetorical questions" (sub)category in with the English idioms category, it should be useful.

Lately I've been to trying to trim down the "English idioms" category to remove unnecessary duplicates such as all 26 of the appendices of the editors' picks (which are included in a separate box, now just one line, at the top).

I don't know if there is a way for anything included in "English rhetorical questions" to be automatically included in "English idioms". There doesn't seem to be a template for "English rhetorical question" as there is with "idiom". Also, one "rhetorical question", who's 'she', the cat's mother? is listed with a question mark at the end, while all the others are not. I think it should probably be one way or the other - I kind of like the question mark at the end personally.

Finally, I agree, the idiomatic inclusion/defn. criteria could be better defined.

thanks again, Facts707 20:29, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

I have created several grammatical-type categories that, in effect, serve as subcategories for Category:English phrases and Category:English adverbs. They are quite imperfect and could benefit from someone else's perspective besides mine. I am no professional linguist, nor do I have any formal linguistic training, so there is not much more to these categories than is written in the category text and talk. I have been consulting CGEL and have been reading up on modern lexicography and semantics. I'm just not sure how to integrate that kind of thing with a wiki. To some extent we need to be more inclusive than the most inclusive commercial dictionary to take advantage of the energies of contributors. But we also need to improve quality. DCDuring TALK 22:33, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

speaking of[edit]

Hi DCDuring,

Could you help me categorize this? I've put it in the vague Category:English discourse markers, but I suspect it belongs somewhere in Category:English sentence adverbs. I just can't figure out where.

Thanks in advance!
RuakhTALK 01:26, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

I need to think on this. I'm not 100% happy with the adverb categories. This might be a "conjunctive" or a "speech-act" adverb. But "speech act" opens up the question of narrowness or breadth in defining what a "speech act" is. The definition implicit in the adverb category is broad indeed. DCDuring TALK 01:47, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

A dictionary for non-native speakers[edit]

Hi. Judging from recent posts, you seem to have moved further into my wicket (or perhaps you were always there?) , looking at Wikt with the eye of a TEFL. I certainly try to defend this particular wicket, as I feel our users are far more international, with English as L2 or L3, than just about any other dictionary, and hence have difficulty in decoding such items as slipt that you correctly commented on. A dictionary for non-native speakers is an area I would really like to explore more deeply, but as you say, it seems that the discussion is always just out of reach. From an EFL point of view, I believe that the appendices should be more visible, for instance, perhaps with an Appendices header level 4 stating "this word can be found in the following appendices". Usage notes should be ample rather than skimpy, correct use of tags, etc. The EFL point of view is what has guided my thinking in the debates about chemist's and capitals for animals, birds, etc. I think your -'s appendix is good, but still believe there should be an entry at chemist's all the same. I believe that it would be clearer to EnL2 users if animals, birds etc followed the general Wikt policy of "lower case unless capital really is the standard format". (Isn't that why the proverbs start with lower case except for Rome wasn't built in a day and similar?). How to open this debate? How to spur some interest? Where to locate it? Any thoughts? -- ALGRIF talk 17:48, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Actually, I think Wiktionary may fail because the English-language side will not be providing good translation targets. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't make the best of it. I'm still learning English myself and find the common patterns interesting. I firmly believe in the overwhelming importance of English-language definition quality (completeness, writing quality, up-to-date-ness) with usage examples a close second. I know that Appendices are not really accessible unless they are fed by {{onlyin}} and other links or a change in how search works. I agree that the lower case is more common in general use, but our pretensions to being the all-senses/all-words/all-languages dictionary continues to include all dates and all contexts. The dog-breeding industry has non-coercively standardized on capitals. Animal and plant vernacular names may also be or have been (in UK in 19th century) at that point. DCDuring TALK 21:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I raise points like this in specific instances. If someone else takes the subject further, then I take that to mean that there might be enough interest to make a difference. I have taken DanPolanksy's interest in provoking interest phrasebook as a chance to see if we can make it into a useful tool for learners. The progress of that discussion should provide some indication of directions of promise and of some possible consensus of some kind among contributors. DCDuring TALK 21:06, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
This is a good issue to clarify in our basic documentation. Our stance affects things like the inclusion of labels like {{temp|uncountable}}, which are important guides for English learners, but omitted by native-speaker dictionaries because such rules are routinely and intuitively broken in good English.
Recognizing such elements could also let us let dictionary readers to customize their view for their needs. Michael Z. 2010-03-04 23:21 z

Should alt forms/spellings have idiom tag?[edit]

(from Facts707 user talk): This would be a worthwhile principle to establish, one way or the other. I think I agree with your approach. But rather than implement it wholesale or in edit wars, it might be better to bring the matter up at WT:BP with a rationale. It could then become a matter of cleanup and be implemented universally (one way or the other). DCDuring TALK 18:22, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, didn't mean to start an edit war. I don't think the others actually had a problem with removing "idiom" from, say, bassackwards when bass-ackwards has "idiom" and is the main entry. I think the problem was when I went a step further and removed the "en-adj" etc. subheadings for bassackwards, etc. My thinking was that since it is only a minor alternative spelling (with a hyphen), the definition including "en-adj", etc. was redundant since the user would just to go the main entry. This would eliminate having to maintain two entries and would avoid inconsistencies, such as the currently existing one where bassackwards is defined only as an adjective, while bass-ackwards is defined as both an adjective and an adverb. I'd be happy to post this subject at WT:BP or where otherwise appropriate as well. Facts707 18:43, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
The difference is that the main form doesn't show the inflected forms of the alternative forms. We don't usually have other content, except tags for register, rarity, obsolescence, etc. at alt forms. DCDuring TALK 19:11, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

CSS saves the day again![edit]

Wiktionary:Grease_pit#Timeline. :p Circeus 04:17, 27 February 2010 (UTC)


Would you say these senses coincide?

3. (intransitive, followed by "about," "around," "through," etc.) To attempt to find or get hold of an object by searching among other objects.

Why are you fishing through in my things? [sic in the entry]

6. (transitive, followed by "for") To attempt to get hold of (an object) that is among other objects.

He was fishing for the keys in his pocket.

​—msh210 18:43, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I think so. It looks like a case of someone trying to overextend the concept of transitivity. There is something reminiscent of ergativity going on there. I don't think that "fish for" looks like a phrasal verb either, but I don't know of any rigorous test for something being a phrasal verb. Both the "for" PP and the "through/in" PP seem optional with no change in the sense of the verb that I can discern. The adverbs don't seem to make any real difference either. Someone with more discernment-by-training-and-experience or a non-native speaker might detect something that a native cannot though. DCDuring TALK 19:26, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

But for your last sentence I would have simply merged the sense lines: since you express doubt, I'll RFD it. Thanks for your input.​—msh210 16:50, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

WT:RFV#regression tree[edit]

Hi DCDuring,

Are you satisfied with the result of this? Or were you still planning to try to cite it? Or should I delete it?

Thanks in advance,
RuakhTALK 20:31, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

I have just added a def that makes sense to me, based on a quick reading of the introductory part of online lecture notes. I can't really make sense of the definition that was RfVed. The citation is not particularly helpful either. Thanks for reminding me about this. DCDuring TALK 21:02, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

tag questions cat[edit]

What do you think of creating [[:category:English tag questions]] for things like eh, what, yes, no, and innit?​—msh210 16:50, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm not the only one you're asking about this, am I? You won't open that can of worms too wide, [[will you]]? Tag questions don't at first blush constitute an inherently idiomatic grouping, all of which should be included, [[do they]]? It would be better to not introduce the category rashly if it triggers entry of more unjustified terms, n'est-ce pas? The most common tag questions (and related parentheticals) include many phrases that at first blush don't seem to warrant entry, [[dontcha know]].
It might be better to first prepare an Appendix with a list of the most common tags, including those SoP ones that would probably not meet CFI and include the non-CFI candidates systematically in the form of {{only in}} pseudo-entries, [[don't you think]]? DCDuring TALK 19:08, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
I wasn't concerned that people would add SoP ones, though perhaps I should be. I meant for the category to hold the idiomatic ones, such as the ones I listed, right, and perhaps a few more. (Is n'est ce pas attestable as English?) But never mind, I guess. As for an appendix, maybe it's worth creating, but I have no interest personally.​—msh210 19:14, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
In affected English speech, among people trying to impress others with their savoir faire, and among bilingual speakers, "n'est-ce pas#English" is used and seems to be attestable.
I am not opposed to creating the category, nor did I think you were suggesting that the possibly SoP ones be added. I was just projecting a possibly not-so-good consequence that is likely to happen IMO once the category is introduced.
Tag questions take up a 4-5 pages of CGEL. They are not beneath treatment in a brief appendix, which could cover formation and generic differences in prosody. Once we have even a bare-bones appendix, we should hazard introducing the category, IMO. DCDuring TALK 19:47, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Appendix:English tag questions already exists, as I should have checked. Accordingly, I have no grounds for caution, and may start adding some only-in pseudo-entries. DCDuring TALK 19:54, 15 March 2010 (UTC)


Depressingly, not even one comment. Mglovesfun (talk) 00:12, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

Wiktionary:Requests for deletion#be_in_possession[edit]

I've commented further and would love to hear your further thoughts. Or read. Thanks.​—msh210 18:20, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Wiktionary:Tea room#who_cares, too.​—msh210 19:34, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, twice.​—msh210 16:06, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Restricted-use labels and semantic markers[edit]

Hey, I'm just going through RFDO, and I notice that you're in favour of semantic markers. I left a suggestion in a comment there, which may interest you. See Wiktionary:Requests_for_deletion/Others#Template:tool . Cheers. Michael Z. 2010-03-23 23:51 z

Oops; I see this is discussed in more detail two sections down the page. Ta. Michael Z. 2010-03-23 23:54 z

knighthood etc[edit]

This kind of thing isn't very helpful. OK, so "knighthod" is an older spelling – call it a different language if you must – but that obscures the fact that it's formed from "knight" and "-hood". In exactly the same way as other words which were formed after the 1st of January 1470, or whenever you think modern English began. Ƿidsiþ 21:03, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

It has to do with the productivity of the suffixes at present. Many of the most common words ending in -hood were not formed in Modern English, just as many of the words ending in -ity were not formed in English. In some cases the derivation goes back farther to Old English. Though -hood remains somewhat productive, though often only in jest, poetry, or philosophy, many other suffixes can be shown to be unproductive in current English and often in any vintage of Modern English. DCDuring TALK 21:23, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm confused. What you are talking about has nothing to do with the productivity of suffixes. It was productive when the word in question was formed – that's the point as far as the etymology section is concerned. It is still a word suffixed with "-hood". Ƿidsiþ 06:59, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

I'm interested in whether it is productive now. The way to tell is by subtracting from all those words ending in -hood first those which were formed long ago (OE and ME), then those that were formed in EME days, then those that were formed through Victorian times. It is also of interest to subtract those formed by other processes, such as prefixation (ie, possibly grand- + parenthood). The mass of words that remain enable one to assess something about even a productive suffix. DCDuring TALK 09:56, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd favour putting Category:English words suffixed with -hood at the bottom. I remember EncycloPetey saying on someone's talk page about another words "it didn't magically appear in English". —This comment was unsigned.
  • OK, how about this as a compromise solution: "From Middle English foebarre, corresponding to {{suffix|foo|bar}}". This still autocategorises in the proper way, but also makes it clear that the word was formed in Middle English. Ƿidsiþ 11:00, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
I've never been a fan of compromise vs. creative solutions or correction. I like to think I am flexible enough to accept correction when I err, which is often enough to keep me in practice.
I don't think that such autocategorization is correct. Something ending in -hood is not necessarily suffixed in hood. As I see it, at [[-hood]] English words suffixed with -hood belong in derived terms, other words ending in -hood belong in related terms. WT:ELE prescribes the order. DCDuring TALK 11:29, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
I would rather have -bare appear as a Middle English suffix, with an English descendant -bar and the various ME "derived terms" appear there. We would insert the various ME spellings as required. It would certainly be useful to provide some links among the categories to provide reminders about the existence of ME and OE vintages of suffixation by -bar and its ancestors.
I came across a quote attributed to w:D'Arcy Thompson (On Growth and Form) that seems to bear on morphology/etymology "Everything is what it is because it got that way". The how and when of the getting are of interest to me. For many English word endings there seems to be a mix of derivation from ME (and earlier OE) forms and formation in Modern English. Some, like -hood and its ancestors, have apparently been productive to some degree for more than a thousand years. DCDuring TALK 11:29, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, which I why I find it very deceptive to categorise them differently. This is substantively the same suffix. Knighthood is suffixed with "-hood". That is beyond question. The fact that it first happened in Old English is neither here nor there. Or do you also think unkind is not prefixed with un-? Ƿidsiþ 14:56, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
I think it's obvious — not that I have evidence for this — that a big part of why we have knighthood is that we have knight and -hood. If the word knight no longer existed, or weren't spelled with a <k>, then the same would likely be true of knighthood. And it's hardly a coincidence that the many ModE reflexes of ME words in -hod (and variants thereof) all use -hood. So while I don't object to listing the/a ME antecedent, I certainly don't think it's a substitute for indicating the current word-parts. (And if we do list the/a ME antecedent, then we should also give its etymology! Otherwise we may as well give the etymology of 21st-century "person" as “From 20th-century "person"”.) —RuakhTALK 16:26, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Of course I believe that etymologies should be complete. But I also know that I am not always the one to complete them. I had shown a derivation of some entry ending in "hood" as {{suffix|X|hood|lang=enm}}, but that was "corrected". I do not believe that it is accurate to say that words that existed in ME or OE are recoined. Obviously all the words now ending in "hood" provide mutual support for each other's "correctness". Of course, that force did not achieve complete homogenization inasmuch as words like "godhead" and "maidenhead" continue with different endings though believed derived from ME terms ending in "hed", deemed equivalently meaning "-hood". It is the divergence of -head (unproductive in this sense) from -hood (still somewhat productive) that first got me into this.
If we would like to trivialize the etymology of derived terms, as most dictionaries understandably do (treating them as run-in entries with no distinct etymology, we can make it a policy to do so or achieve a consensus of similar force. Instead, we have made it a policy to have separate entries for each derived term (and alternative spelling) and to have all languages with ISO 639 codes (unless explicitly decided otherwise [by an unspecified grouping of voters]). DCDuring TALK 18:34, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Er...what?? "Godhead" and "maidenhead" have nothing to do, etymologically speaking, with the "-hood" suffix. The two suffixes were mixed up a little in Middle English, but they have different origins. ("-hood" is originally masculine; "-head", although not actually recorded in Old English, was probably originally a feminine version of the same base.) Anyway, even if "-hood" had changed form (which is probably has in some words), it doesn't change the fact that it's there. That's really the whole point of an etymology section: it tells you that you're looking at a "-hood" suffix even when you can't tell. Ƿidsiþ 22:22, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Context labels[edit]

Per WT:RFDO, the context labels that you want to keep, you only want to keep them to help cleanup, right? So if the entries can be cleaned up you're happy for these to be deleted. Michael and I are having trouble understanding what your position is on this. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:26, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Category:Medieval Latin derivations[edit]

Erm, I know you may not be the sole person to blame but I thought I'd let you know that since we already have Mediaeval Latin derivations, creating this has created a somewhat terrible amount of cleanup work to be done. I think this new categories contents should be moved to the old category. What do you think? 50 Xylophone Players talk 10:46, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Damn and blast. Erm, yes are these using two separate templates or what? We should unify them under the most common English spelling. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:51, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
No it's ok I can use AWB to delete the redundant ones. If Palkia you want to create the 20 or so requested categories, I can do the rest. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:54, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Blame should flow to the person or persons unknown (to me, anyway) that chose the category name. I undertook to make the changes before realizing the full extent of what is required. It is not satisfactory (to me, anyway) that the relatively unused spelling (based on BNC and COCA. I think I put the numbers in my edit summary at [[:Template:etyl:ML.]]) should be used in anything that is part of Wiktionary's vocabulary, the one place that benefits from prescription in the interest of communication. The "ae" spelling conveys a kind of pedantry and obscurantism that will suck the life out of any en.wikt I would care to participate in. I will put the numbers in some appropriate Talk pages and BP. Can category redirects solve the problem without too much work? DCDuring TALK 11:12, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
(RE:Mg) No, the templates shouldn't pose a problem as I think only the old category has {{topic cat}} subtemplates. 50 Xylophone Players talk 12:29, 29 March 2010 (UTC)