User talk:Ghost of WikiPedant

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Name change[edit]

Why the name change User:WikiPedant? --Bequw τ 18:37, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Hello Bequw -- WikiPedant just got old and perplexed and went away. I'm only his ghost, a mere phantasm, a hapless sometime revenant bumping about between two worlds. But which world is the real one? I wish I knew. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 22:36, 26 July 2010 (UTC)


This word is not a compound of two words; it is formed by the addition of a suffix. (or it may be from post-Classical Latin, but I haven't found the source word yet, if it is) --EncycloPetey 02:55, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

Hello Petey -- Right, agreed. I just made the same fix to remonstrative. But it {{suffix}} won't work for the etymology of remonstrate + -ive + ly, so I left it as {{compound}} . -- Ghost of WikiPedant 03:00, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Sure it will. The word remonstratively is remonstrative + -ly. --EncycloPetey 04:11, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I just don't think of remonstrative as a suitable etymological root. The real root here is remonstrate, and I'd like to show that. It seems to me that the best way to break down etymology of a term like remonstratively is to show it as a root with one suffix and then another suffix. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 04:23, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
I diagree. The word arose by stages, which stages should be listed. That doesn't mean that remonstrate can't also be given, but the immediate progenitor remonstrative shouldn't be left out. In either case, it should not be categorized as a compound. --EncycloPetey 04:28, 2 August 2010 (UTC)
Seems to me that either approach would adequately represent the stages by which remonstratively arose. I just like to give users a link in the etymology to the root term which has the most substantive definition, and in this case that's remonstrate. Otherwise, a user who wants to look up the meaning of the root has to click his way back up the levels manually. Anyhow, my feelings about this are not strong enough to contest the point further -- I'm changing the etymology of remonstratively to your version. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 04:44, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

neither fish, flesh, nor good red herringneither fish nor fowl[edit]

Hi GoWP. Do you reckon that these two should be given as alternative forms of each other? Or do you think they have different definitions? — Raifʻhār Doremítzwr ~ (U · T · C) ~ 23:33, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Hello Raif -- Nice to hear from you. I am inclined to think that they should be separate entries, since they seem to have distinguishable meanings. The sense you assigned to neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring strikes me as appropriate, and it is not the same as the sense in the entry for neither fish nor fowl (which strikes me as the usual and appropriate sense for that term). So, I'd be inclined to leave them both as they are. Regards -- Ghost of WikiPedant 05:11, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
OK, I'll go with you on that one. Could you furnish neither fish nor fowl with an appropriate etymology, please? BTW, I was astounded to discover that you're not an administrator (neither as WikiPedant nor as Ghost of WikiPedant). Why, may I ask, did you abandon your original account to become your ghost? Also, would you accept nomination, were I to nominate you for administratorship? If so, which account should be ensysopped? — Raifʻhār Doremítzwr ~ (U · T · C) ~ 13:26, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Hello Raif -- OK, when I get a chance I'll give a little attention to an etymology for neither fish nor fowl, but I really don't do many etymologies, since I honestly feel that etymologizing is a more speculative endeavor than many editors believe. For idioms, I sometimes write etymologies (often beginning with the word "probably") when the idiom is a pretty clear allusion (like, say, asleep at the switch). As for being an admin, that's come up once or twice before, but so far it's never been a line I wanted -- I much prefer the solitary satisfactions of mainspace editing. I bumped off User:WikiPedant in February, in a vain attempt to leave the project cold turkey (I've really put too much time into this delightful distraction). But, by July, the old addiction had again overpowered me and I returned to these old haunts, hopefully just as a ghost of my former self. But now I'm at it again, putting in too much time . . . (sigh, it's just too much easy fun). At least now I've diminished to a redlink. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 17:42, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I know the wiki-addiction all too well, and understand your actions; nevertheless, it's a shame you're playing a reduced rôle — I've always valued the emphasis you place on referencing, citing, and generally backing-up assertions. I've been an administrator here for nearly six months now, and I can't really say it's added to my workload; I'd do more patrolling, but the sheer preponderance of assited-added translations (for which cases I have no idea whether they're legit or not) makes it difficult and tedious. My most oft-used tool has been undeletion. If any of that changes your mind now or in future, then you have a willing nominator in me. As for etymology, I know it's often far more difficult than many realise, as demonstrated in Talk:sinfonietta#Pertinent discussion from User talk:SemperBlotto. — Raifʻhār Doremítzwr ~ (U · T · C) ~ 21:50, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

poison pen/poison-pen[edit]

  1. I think the noun poison pen is idiomatic and attestable.
  2. I am not sure that poison-pen can be shown to be a true adjective. An argument favoring poison-pen as an adjective is that "poison pen letter" (not sure about hyphen) seems to predate use of "a poison pen" or "with poison pen". I don't know that attributive use of what is construable as a noun (despite lack of prior noun attestation) is sufficient evidence of "adjectivity".

Thoughts? DCDuring TALK 18:01, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Hello DC -- Yes, I wasn't entirely satisfied with what I did there either, but it was getting late. Later tonight, I'll go back and reinstate "poison pen" as a noun (although the defn that was there was not right--it's not a "piece of writing" but more like a figurative term denoting a means, manner, or tone of expression in a written work) and note that it is usually used attributively. But I'll leave poison-pen letter out there too. The long list of usages (from news sources) that I reviewed showed that the hyphenated form is widely used and seems to have become more common as the twentieth-century marched on. (PS -- I too suspect that "poison pen" is a back-formation from "poison pen letter", but can't prove it.)-- Ghost of WikiPedant 22:45, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
You should take a look at COCA. It makes it easy to find collocations: "poison pen pal", "'pp' memorandum", "'pp' writer". And and equal number of noun uses, eg, "with a poison pen". COCA works well for very and fairly common terms, not well for uncommon ones, let alone rare ones.
I am torn between a diachronic and a synchronic view of attributive use of nouns. In a synchronic view, we would ignore priority as a factor. With respect to suffixes, I have taken a diachronic view and looked only at whether a suffix was ever productive in Modern English, pushing to delete it otherwise, no matter how many words end in the putative suffix, even if many have the appropriate meaning (usually based on derivation in ME, OE, OFr, MFR, MDu, Fr, De). DCDuring TALK 23:29, 27 August 2010 (UTC)


Are you Wonderfool? Now, be honest with me. --Vahag 07:57, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

LOL. DCDuring TALK 13:32, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
(Me too, DC. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 20:30, 26 September 2010 (UTC) )
I actually really liked the way he showed off his perfect pitch and idiomatic English. It isn't easy to be really funny online, especially in a second language. Hold on. Maybe he's WF and this hy and ru stuff is just camouflage. DCDuring TALK 23:35, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
I'm flattered. --Vahag 15:02, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, Vahagn, but you're a bit off base. What I've seen of Wonderfool's English (in any of his incarnations) is not of a kind with mine. You may be right about User:Internoob, though. I've watched his edits off and on since you made that comment and he does strike me as a candidate. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 20:30, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
Still, humour me, write here something with your old account, User:WikiPedant. --Vahag 15:02, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Wonderfool'a edits are characterized by carelessness and rushedness. WikiPedant's aren't. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:07, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
But, as he is an international man of mystery and a master of disguise, no one -- no one -- is above suspicion. DCDuring TALK 15:34, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Yes, slipshod typing is s dead gieaway. DCDuring TALK 15:35, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Nope, WikiPedant made a valiant effort to shake the Wiktionary monkey off his back on Feb 26, 2010, did himself in, and left his farewell message in his final 4 edits. He won't be back here. If you're so bloody worried, ask a CheckUser to verify that my IP's (home and work) are located in Canada and are the same as WikiPedant's. Or send WikiPedant a message over at Wikipedia, where he is still alive and has edited continuously since before he came here. Or send WikiPedant an email and also send me an email and watch the replies both come back from the same account at the same ISP. And then apologize. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 16:14, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Trudeau salute#Alternative forms[edit]

Are you sure those meet the CFI? There's a reason I didn't list them to begin with … —RuakhTALK 18:45, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Hello Ruakh -- Ah, I see. You always have a good reason for what you do. I tend to be a little more relaxed about alt forms (at least I don't generally go looking for 3 cites for each) since they are really there just to steer the user to the real entry. (ASIDE-I've pretty much stopped using redirects, since it appears that Google searches don't recognize them.) Anyhow, I'm personally satisfied that the quotations you found (along with my native Canadian sense of Canadian usage) justify the assumption that a reasonable user might well type in one of these forms and, hence, require some steering. If the alt forms are just left on the citations page, then the user doesn't get the same kind of assistance in finding the entry.

On another subject, my watch list isn't as complete as it was during my previous life and I just today picked up on the gruesome fate to which you dispatched long goodbye. Seems to me that the citations that were collected point pretty clearly to the need for an entry with 2 senses: (1) a broader sense for any protracted termination of an activity or a life, and (2) the Alzheimer's sense. I think there are already enough quotations there to justify this, but strongly suspect more can be found if someone is still not satisfied. What do you think it would take to reinstate a modified/improved entry? -- Ghost of WikiPedant 20:09, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Re: alt forms: Understood. After further reflection, I think it's probably fine, since if we ignore the question of "Salute" vs. "salute", the with- and without-"Pierre" versions are both attested. If we weren't so persnickety about capitalization here, it would be moot.
Re: long goodbye: the 2006 cite is mention-only; the first 2009 cite doesn't really support any version of the "Alzheimer's" sense (can you imagine someone saying, "I think of HIV as AIDS", or "I think of the U.S. as the United States of America", or "I think of school as the friendships you form at school"?); and the second 2009 cite doesn't seem to be durably archived. As far as RFV is concerned, I would be happy with three citations that support the sense. RFD is more subjective, and it's been a long time since I've spent much time there; I find it too frustrating and inconsistent. Rarely are discussions there resolved by reference to citations and real-world usage (though sometimes they're resolved by foisting them over to RFV, which does eventually bring citations and real-world usage into the picture).
RuakhTALK 21:01, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

DT list maintenance and {{derv}}[edit]

At a not-neglected entry, Christmas, the hard-coded Derived terms list had 24 items. I have found 16 more, which I have auto-added to the corresponding category. For nearly all such additions I also auto-added a DT item to category(ies) for one or more other entries. One can and should argue about whether they all meet CFI, but they have all survived our process so far. One can even argue about whether Christmas disease (named after a victim surnamed "Christmas") ought to show up, which can be achieved if we really mean to exclude such indirect derivations. If someone would like to supplement this essentially morphological approach with other species of derivation, they can. (eg, is Xmas morphologically or historically "derived from" Christmas?)

EP used to say we "should" have both morphology and etymology information in our Etymology section. BP has had discussions of "synchronic"/morphological vs. "diachronic"/historical etymology/derivation. Now we are almost in a position to make decisions about the matters. DCDuring TALK 20:28, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Hello DC -- Truth to tell, I've deliberately kept BP and most other project pages off of my watchlist since I rose from the dead, in the interest of keeping life a little simpler this time around. But, I quite agree that it is perfectly legitimate to include both what you call morphological and historical content in the etymology sections. Now, back to mainspace, the closest thing we have to sanespace. . . . -- Ghost of WikiPedant 04:34, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
I understand. I despair of our ability to keep the project going without broader participation in BP. Only BP affords a forum to prevent Votes. It would be nice if we had a functional talk page about English-specific issues, too. DCDuring TALK 11:07, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
{{User:Daniel.]] has made some changes to {{suffixsee}}. It is used, for example, at -ity#Derived terms. What to you think?
Hello DC -- Yes, yes, I kind of like that. Satisfies both the guys like me who want a main entry section listing derived terms (or a virtual section, I guess) and those who want all this stuff in a category. I wouldn't display the list in italics, though. I can't imagine it would be too tough to expand this functionality to a template that would work with any category containing a list of derived terms. But then, the musical question -- Would that mean that the derived terms section for every entry should be moved to a category page (there'd be a whopping big load of them)? -- Ghost of WikiPedant 22:53, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
I think what you recommend is the architecture that has been implemented as a result of the efforts of a few. See {{derivsee}}. I have ripped off and ginned up a simple template using it, deployed at refer#Derived terms. That and referee are illustrations of the appearance. Note the redlinks at refer.
Do you know if there's any way we can change the category-tree thing to explicitly indicate if it's incomplete? It only lists up to 200 entries, but if you hit the limit, as -ity does, I don't see anything to indicate that. —RuakhTALK 00:06, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I was wondering about that. User:Daniel. may know some trick. I sure don't. It does seem that one can click on the category for the complete view. Quite a few of the affix cats, if fully populated, would have many hundreds, not just -s, -ing, -ed, and -ly, but un-, non-, -er. Not all of them can be subdivided by etymology or sense (eg, un-). DCDuring TALK 02:36, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Apparently, the value $wgCategoryTreeMaxChildren is set to 200, so the maximum quantity of derivations shown by {{suffixsee}} and related templates is 200.
Being completeness a worthy desideratum, perhaps $wgCategoryTreeMaxChildren should be changed to a higher value, like 999. --Daniel. 04:00, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
I would consult with Conrad, with someone from de.wikt, or anyone else who might have had some experience. There might be a reason not to or a better way of achieving our results. DCDuring TALK 12:11, 5 October 2010 (UTC)


The "slow" definition is distinct. A speech can be "ponderous", but not because of physical weight. --EncycloPetey 04:44, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Oh, I see. You're grouping that under "dull, boring". It might be worth including "slow" under that sense as well. --EncycloPetey 04:47, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Still working on it, Petey. This one may take more than 1 session. The OED has some interesting and rather different takes in its senses (although no separate sense like the one I removed). I'm still rummaging through quotations to see where they lead me. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 04:52, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Let me know when you're done by nominating it for WOTD. I think this would make a good selection, especially with all the nice quotations we now have. --EncycloPetey 04:59, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Hello Petey -- I think I'm done there for the foreseeable future. Glad you think it's a good candidate. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 05:02, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Citations pages[edit]

These are supposed to contain all the citations, including any that appear in the entry. They should never be emptied or deleted except when they are created fatuously or in error. --EncycloPetey 21:55, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

I disagree. If the citations page contains no citations except what're already in the entry, then it should be deleted. —RuakhTALK 22:00, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
That is directly at odds with the purpose of the namespace as stated on Wiktionary:Citations. --EncycloPetey 22:04, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
With the new system created to handle citations, often they can be harmlessly deleted as Ruakh says. Note also on Wiktionary:Citations in big bold letters "This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial". Says it all, really. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:08, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
The deletion is not "harmless". It eliminates a structured location for the accumulation of citations. Deleting the page will require its recreation in toto every time a new citation is added, which will confuse and annoy new editors who do not have the expert skilled of more experienced editors. The fact that citations can be displayed in an entry with minimal interference is irrelevant to the issue of the Citations pages. --EncycloPetey 22:11, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
Whoa, Petey -- Maintaining a citations page that contains only quotations already in the main page just creates the need for dual maintenance of both pages. That violates one of the oldest rules of database design -- don't create redundant entries that must be kept in sync manually. I have no problem with citations pages that contain stuff not in the main entry, but manually keeping the same quotations in 2 places is extremely bad practice and it is not for me. Sorry, but I just don't buy it. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 22:25, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
So, then, the citations should be divided into two locations? I'm sorry, but I don't understand your reasoning completely here. If it's OK for the Citations page to contain some stuff that isn't in the main namespace, then you are acceding that the Citations namespace will contain duplication, which are state you are against. There's a logical inconsistency there that I don't quite get. Yes, we are currently limited so that we have some duplication. This isn't exclusively a Main namespace/Citations space problem either. Some citations are used on multiple entries to document different words in the same citation. So, eliminating the Citations pages will not eliminate the problem you mention.
As I see it, the problem is that no solution that preserves the data in both locations has been implemented. The usual objection to such a solution is that it will make editing too complicated. We then have a tradeoff: we can stick to database design theory at the expense of our editors' sanity, or we can limit the location of data at the expense of our editors' sanity. Because this is a tradeoff, neither option will be wholly satisfactory. I favor duplication, so that the Citations namespace will serve its intended function. --EncycloPetey 22:33, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
Petey, in my experience the noise-to-signal ratio on the citations pages is very high; they are overloaded with ill-chosen, badly formatted, inadequately cited material. I copy good, on-the-money quotations that illuminate the meaning to the main entry where they belong. The rest I honestly have no interest in. If you want to edit citations pages, be my guest. I think their existence is unnecessary and their content mostly unhelpful, and would be happy to see them gone from Wiktionary (Prediction: Someday they will be gone). -- Ghost of WikiPedant 04:32, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
I agree that certain quotations should be kept in the main namespace because they better "illuminate the meaning" of their respective definitions. However, I don't think this practice should serve as a reason to delete every other quotation. It seems reasonable to select approximately 2 or 3 quotations for each definition in entries, while also leaving these and others in the other namespace. If, hypothetically, we had 70 English citations for word, they conceivably would show multiple nuances of usage from various authors, thus improving its coverage, but they would consume too much space in the main namespace, even with the show/hide function. The "nuances" may include the use of the word as a neologism or a borrowed word, possibly within quotes, italicized or commented, or "innovative" uses that may span other definitions. For example, one early use from Citations:marketese is "marketese, as Nielsen calls it". As for your (GWP's) other objections, can you please provide examples of "ill-chosen, badly formatted, inadequately cited material"? --Daniel. 06:13, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
As a side note, there is virtually no need for "dual maintenance", because quotations are rarely changed. --Daniel. 22:45, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
Not so, Daniel. Quotations can be and are added, changed, moved around, and deleted, as are the senses they accompany. I'm only going to put them one place -- in mainspace, where they belong. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 04:32, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

good quotations[edit]

Hello GOWP. Thanks again for the message. I've made a red account now and am looking to add some more quotations. What do you use to find good quotations? I'd much prefer to use quotes from Shakespeare or Shaw than ones from throwaway novels from recent times. --SixTwo 16:13, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

I use advanced searches at Google books and Google news, often filtering for time periods. If you have access to it, I also find the academic data base JSTOR very useful for academic journal searches.
Here's a good Shakespeare site with its own search capability:
And I'm also fond of searches at:
But the latter site's own search function has gotten buggy, so I usually search it by doing an advanced google search for that site and filtering out the term "network forums". -- Ghost of WikiPedant 16:24, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

pack on[edit]

I've no problem with the changes you've made, but I am curious to hear of any instance where a subject "packed on" bone or cartilage. That isn't usually considered possible. --EncycloPetey 01:40, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

True, true, Petey, it would be an odd locution (although possible, I suppose). But I was thinking of the packing on of body mass, which inevitably includes more than just fat and muscle. (Actually, I was trying to avoid getting into such a list with my original rework of the defn.) -- Ghost of WikiPedant 01:46, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
In the vast majority of cases, the relevant tissue is either fat or muscle, which I felt deserves mention as such. While added weight or mass can (and often does) include other tissues, they are a minority concern for most situations where this term is used. --EncycloPetey 01:49, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, still part of the meaning, though. But I didn't see any need to go out of the way to list them in the defn either, which is why I just stuck in an "etc".-- Ghost of WikiPedant 01:56, 15 November 2010 (UTC)


Hey; thanks for fixing up the line from Brown at tractable — and figuring out where to put it! I couldn't decide from the context whether it meant "manageable" or "touchable" — frankly, I could see the author intending both as a bit of humour. — Beobach

Hello Beobach -- You came up with a rather marvelous set of quotations in your quest to attest the literal sense of vaulting school. I'm not 100% sure that I was correct in assigning Thos Brown's usage of "tractable" to that obsolete sense (which originally came from the 1913 Webster's, but has quite a range of meaning that is handled differently by the OED and some other dictionaries), but I agree that Brown seems to be trading a bit on the ambiguity of the term and that broad sense struck me as the most reasonable home for the quotation. You seem to share my fondness for the literary and expository writing of bygone centuries, and it was one of my day's delights to read through what you added; in a few cases I found myself digging up the sources so that I could read on. As for vaulting schools, I had no idea that Brits (of which I gather you are one) had such a venerable and storied tradition of institutions and programs dedicated to the august art of the vault, but you have enlightened me. I hear that the tabloids are now reporting that Kate and William first met in mid-vault. -- Ghost of WikiPedant 20:19, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

Poll on formatting of etymologies[edit]

I would like to know your preference as regards the use of "<" vs "from" in the formatting of etymologies in Wiktionary, whatever that preference is. Even explicit statement of indifference would be nice. You can state your preference in the currently running poll: WT:BP#Poll: Etymology and the use of less-than symbol. I am sending you this notification, as you took part on some of the recent votes, so chances are you could be interested in the poll. The poll benefits from having as many participants as possible, to be as representative as possible. Feel free to ignore this notification. --Dan Polansky 10:48, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Discussion re wikilinking in quoted text[edit]

I recently contributed to a discussion to which you were party five months ago (at Wiktionary talk:Quotations#Links in the body of quoted text). I notify you in case you wish to respond. — Raifʻhār Doremítzwr ~ (U · T · C) ~ 15:51, 23 March 2011 (UTC)