User talk:SMcCandlish

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Please post on my Wikipedia talk page instead of here. I am not regularly logged in to Wiktionary, so if you post here I may not notice or respond for months or longer. If you need to use a Wiktionary-only template in your message to me, then go ahead and post here, but you'll probably want to post a short note to me at my Wikipedia talk page that you have posted here. Thanks. — SMcCandlish [talk] [contrib]

Manx cat[edit]

Saw your message about Wikipedia but I prefer to post here. I think you shouldn't give translations into languages you don't speak. Many translations were quite a mess.--Anatoli (обсудить/вклад) 01:42, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

@Atitarev Predictably, the result is that I didn't see this for almost a year. Anyway, I'll defer to your judgment on the translations issue. My work there was based on the Siamese cat article, by others, so the defects in my material are liable to be reflecting problems in the original. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:16, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

logical quotation[edit]

Just a note that original research isn't a thing on Wiktionary. You may be confused with Wikipedia. —CodeCat 00:55, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

What's the term for "false information inserted into Wiktionary by way of misanalysis of sources"? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:30, 24 September 2015 (UTC)
There isn't any. It's just misinterpretation of sources. That said, sources defining a term aren't what decides what gets included, it's sources that use a term as part of the language. It's up to Wiktionary do the defining based on how terms are used. —CodeCat 01:37, 24 September 2015 (UTC)
Right. I'm not citing dictionaries defining the terms logical quotation and British quotation, but rather style guides and the like describing them. The other side of this debate is under the impression that because some sources gloss over the distinction that there is no difference between them, that the terms are synonymous. Nothing seems to dissuade this party that from that view, so I'll just source the matter to the unquestionable level. [shrug].

It's actually perhaps reasonable to add a definition under logical quotation indicating that the terms have (as a matter of our linguistic observation) sometimes been used by some sources as if synonymous; there are some sources that have said something along the lines of "British quotation, also known as logical quotation", or "logical quotation, or the British style", despite their equation being erroneous. That definition should have its own sources, if we were to include it. I'm not entirely certain how to format that properly, nor whether we'd want to include it. I'm certain I can find somewhere some sources that say something like "the trilby, a type of fedora" or "fedoras, like the Homberg", but I'm skeptical that we would add entries under fedora indicating synonymy with either other hat type, or create entries for those hat types that indicated synonymy with the fedora, when such an identification is provably false, even if some sources engage in the fallacy. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:59, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

I have an honest question borne only of curiosity: why do you (both you personally and others) care so much about this? I had heard from CodeCat that this was a big issue on Wikipedia, but I'm not sure I understand why. Do editors feel compelled to distinguish British and American practice for nationalistic purposes? Or is it offensive to someone that the British style has been given the label "logical" over American? The issue seems wildly unimportant, and there certainly doesn't seem to be enough Wiktionary-style evidence to draw a firm conclusion in either direction. I really don't intend to be mean or accusatory, but I really am curious why you, DarkFrog, and apparently many others invest so much time on this honestly obscure and inconsequential issue. I hope you don't mind my asking. I also realize that my question could be asked of many topics of argument on Wiktionary as well, but somehow this is still perplexing to me. —JohnC5 04:54, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

It's a complex question.
  1. There's a lot more evidence, it just takes time to gather, and frankly I've been pooling it more for Wikipedia work than Wiktionary work.
  2. It's not as trivial as people think it is; WP was publicly bashed in the British press for conflating logical and British quotation (see The Guardian article), and our coverage of the matter has actually gotten worse, all because of the anti-truth, nationalistic activities of one editor. It's a project embarrassment.
  3. I care about it, in the short term, on Wikipedia and Wiktionary because a lone editor is on a PoV-pushing mission to distort the facts (in effect, if not in intent), and I can do something about it. I'd do the same if they were trying to change Israeli or w:en:Palestine to include the words "ungodly vermin", or change the article at w:en:Dog to say that it was a kind of feline. Much of my wiki editing time is spent out-researching attempts to inject w:en:WP:BOLLOCKS into our articles (e.g. I've been doing the same kind of work to overhaul w:en:Race (biology), a taxonomic article mostly pertaining to fungus and insects, and did similar work at w:en:Shrew (stock character); the one was being PoV-pushed in two wrong directions at once (as an alternative word for domestic breed, or troll-farm about biological theories behind human "races"), and the other was being bent a misogyny vehicle about some kind of innate "archetype" of the Difficult Woman. I've done similar work on other articles, like w:en:Landrace, and w:en:Albinism.
  4. I care about quotation styles personally, as a broader usage matter, for the same reason I might care about any style or grammar matter. Logical quotation wasn't something I spent much time working on until I realized someone was using WP and Wikt to publish false information about it in wiki's voice, as part of their broader effort to rid Wikipedia of the use of logical quotation. I've supported its use on WP, but it's not been a personally central concern.
  5. Wikipedia adopted logical quotation (LQ) because it closely fits the principal of minimal change to quotations; because it's necessary for accuracy in many situations; because it reduces technical errors like the film ''Bladerunner,'' released in 1989; and various other reasons. It was also seen as something of a comprise between US and UK interests, supposedly, given that W:en imposes "American style" double quotation marks around quotations (for a different set of defensible reasons, and they're not really American, but also favored journalism and fiction generally). But I don't consider that last one a very serious rationale by itself.
  6. Various writers (in general, and of style guides since the 1800s – see w:en:Noah Webster for background) – and, also, on Wikipedia) do take a politicized, nationalistic approach to such questions. On W:en in particular, there's a camp who want to broaden w:en:MOS:ENGVAR (permissiveness with regard to different varieties of English) to an extreme, to have it be the overriding concern of the WP Manual of Style, rather than something invoked only when necessary. In this view, it is utterly essential that Wikipedians be able to write however they are used to, and to change text they're working on to reflect their national interests, no matter what the impact on other editors, on accuracy, on comprehensibility, etc. Obviously, this is not really workable, though given how long American English has been a magnet for jingoism, I can understand why it's happening.
  7. The central idea behind this is prescriptive grammar, a notion at odds with linguistic description, in this case a belief that it "is wrong", as an absolute, undeniable, factual matter, to ever use anything but typesetters' quotation (TQ, often called American-style quotation, hereafter AQ) in anything written in American English, simply because that's what these people were taught in grammar school (or this person, anyway; there only seems to be one such righter-of-great-wrongs active on WP right now). I suspect this person is actually a grammar school or middle school / junior high school English teacher, actually. But the position is nonsensical. Various American publications observably use logical quotation, and have for generations,. Even that editor's own favorite American source of punditry, the Chicago Manual of Style, admits its use in several kinds of writing (and wavers between negative, neutral, or positive depending on the kind of writing in question).
  8. But the anti-LQ camp pretends this is not true. The strategy evidenced to date is to deny all sources that don't equate British quotation (BQ) with LQ, and warp our own coverage of LQ, to falsely equate it with BQ, to help make a case that its use on Wikipedia is some terrible anti-American imposition by the British. Ironically, most of the vocal supporters of LQ's continued use on WP are Americans (usually from technical fields, where the use of LQ is routine). It's trivia to the average editor, but technical writers understand better why it could be important for a project like WP. Regardless, actually getting correct the facts about the meaning and usage of these terms is central to WP's and Wikt's missions. It doesn't matter how trivial the subject may be. Picture someone spending inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to conflate hobbit and orc as two words for the same thing. Lame topic, but still worth thwarting efforts to falsify facts about it, just on general principle.
  9. Other editors have objected to LQ's use on WP before (it's a bit of a perennial issue), but until now no one had been carrying their campaign so far as to falsify article coverage, much less across multiple WMF projects. It's appalling. Because it's about a style matter, though (i.e., something most people don't care about), I have had no luck at all getting WP administrators to do anything about it, and got berated for being argumentative. [sigh]. So, whatever. I'll just source this so well it cannot be questioned any longer. I need never write another word toward that editor again and I could still get the work done.
  10. And, yes, some people (notably that same one) are angry that the term "logical quotation" (which refers to the logic of how the punctuation was used in the original material) seems to imply that "American" (typesetters') quotation is illogical. This is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. By working hard to equate LQ and BQ, it makes AQ/TQ look like a victim of anti-Yank, imperialist Limeys. But it's a total fantasy. BQ – the real British quotation, which I'm documenting at that new article – is just as "illogical" as the "American" TQ kind (which is also frequently used in non-US fiction and journalism), just "less frequently" illogical. But even if we wanted to get into that question, various American sources on AQ/TQ explicitly admit that system is in fact illogical, so that argument would seem to be over before it could begin in any earnest. Falsifying facts in our articles on a topic because someone doesn't like the implications of its name is simply impermissible. It's like trying to change the name of the astrological sign Cancer in our articles because it sounds like a disease.
  11. Various people have been fighting angrily about LQ on WP for a long time (my opposing editor on these articles has been campaigning against it incessantly since at least 2009, for example). I think this is largely due to Parkinson's Law of Triviality: Actually improving Wikipedia (and Wiktionary) is so much more difficult than arguing half-to-death about where to put a punctuation mark, that people can feel "involved", even intensely so, without actually doing anything practical toward the huge amount of real work to get done. I work on WP's Manual of Style quite a lot, but it's always with the goal of improving the project's ability to communicate to its readership. Normally I would not care if someone wanted to spend most of their wiki time pushing some agenda about punctuation, but I draw the line at pushing false information in our articles. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 06:46, 24 September 2015 (UTC)


Thank you; this has been quite informative and helpful. As a linguist by training, I certainly understand the fear of prescriptivism and adulteration of the quoted text. On the other hand, linguistics often highlights the fact that writing systems generally, while spectacular for recording most information, do not and will never possess the accuracy or granularity necessary to represent human speech properly and fully. This always leaves me flustered by discussions over orthography and punctuation, because, with neither system perfectly suited for its task, the closer we get to a specific set of rules, the more arbitrary and niggling the arguments tend to become.
Your response, though, indicates to me that you are making these changes in good faith. You have my support as long as you are editing reasonably and with an understanding that we may still someday revert or delete this article because a lack of evidence of usage. Currently, only the 3rd and 4th of your quotations represent what I would consider usages as opposed to mentions. It's also an interesting situation wherein you've mixed your references (works describing the meaning and history of a term) in with your citations (works demonstrating its meaning and its existence through usage). This is certainly not the standard format for such an article, and the order of headers is all wrong, but I think you are on the right track. Feel free to ask if you have any questions at any point! —JohnC5 14:23, 24 September 2015 (UTC)
I was aware of the mix-and-matching of quotes vs. references, and the need to split them up into the right sections. I've mostly just been trying to get the material in there at all, to forestall more "British is the same as logical quotation and there are no sources that say otherwise" nonsense. I've focused almost entirely on finding sources for facts about the differences (since I can re-use those at Pickyweedia to improve the w:en:Quotation marks in English article), but I have started shaping the quotation selections here, from the sources at hand, to include usage of the term or one of its alternates (logical quotation, logical punctuation, logical style, etc., etc.). These aren't really proper names, so people mix it up a little bit in the exact wording they use. It will actually be easier to find examples of usage, since plenty of people on language blogs and whatnot talk about this sort of thing. So far, I've identified
  • The meaning-distinguishable concepts of this sort, that the sources indicate are conceptually real and definable (logical, British, American, typesetters', and Oxford quotation, when it comes to English-language styles)
  • The various ways the sources refer to them (X quotation, X punctuation, X style, X usage, X convention), but did not create separate articles on any of these alternative wordings, other than logical punctuation. That one by itself has gained some currency, because of the Yagoda Slate article's use of that phrase, and various published responses to it.
Some of the sources will probably be usable as both quotation-of-use sources and definitional references.

With regard to recording of speech, "fans" of logical punctuation have less to say about it since we can't actually see punctuation marks come out of people's mouths. :-) I think this relates to why even the British, whose various forms of British quotation lean toward logical quotation (even in journalism, despite adopting double-before-single style from American quotation), tend to use typesetters' quotation for fiction. The speech of the characters is not pre-existing real material that can be misrepresented, and the feeling seems to be that for white-space reasons, typesetters' quotation reads more easily. Aside from the nationalism factor, it's certainly why American publications prefer it. But that nationalism factor is very strong. You'd be surprised how many house-style manuals I've found from American publishers of technical material that advise to "always" put the terminal punctuation on the inside, as a hard-and-fast rule, when they really don't do this at all if you read the publication in question. When it comes time to lay out the material for print, they realize that all sorts of things are not punctuated this way in English, especially representations of any string literals, in computer science, math, linguistics, philosophy, textual crit, etc. But their style sheet still proudly waves an American flag at non-US writers submitting material. What they really mean of course is: "Put terminal punctuation inside the quotation marks in normal, running expository prose." They just don't like to say so. Seems unpatriotic or something.

Sometimes it has to do with the publisher, too, and whether a top-down editorial preference is being exerted. But not always: the CSE Manual of Scientific Style and Format, for example, is published by Chicago University Press these days, and tends to defer to The Chicago Manual of Style on virtually everything that is not sciences-specific. But it unabashedly recommends logical quotation, combined with the use of double-before-single from American style – i.e., precisely the combination that Wikipedia uses. This is another example of how that other editor is misusing sources, in this case citing CSE with an out-of-context snippet that appears to equate British and logical style, and to say there are only two styles, when it actually does the opposite, and explicitly recommends a hybrid style (i.e., recognizes that it is already in use in scientific journals – CSE isn't trying to impose made-up new stuff, but codify what science editors already do). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 23:42, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

A few other points:
  • On Wiktionary, we don't tend to refer to senses positionally, i.e. with their numbers, because the ordering or existence is liable to change. Normally, senses are provided using the {{sense}} template containing pithy summery of the definition. I wanted to do this in updating your entries but couldn't figure out any good ones. If you could come up with good sense descriptions, that would be very helpful.
  • Your definitions are getting a bit long because you include information like about term's antonym or about the practice of quotation. This is not definitional material but is fine for the usage notes, synonyms, antonyms, etc.
  • The fact that there are so many and varied "alternative forms" does not bode well for these entries. Their number and variety imply that the words logical, British, and American should have senses describing this issue and not that "logical quotation" is itself a special lemma. —JohnC5 00:59, 25 September 2015 (UTC)
All noted. Will see what I can do to clean them up. Lemma-wise, there are mostly two forms: "foo quotation" and "foo punctuation", but in writing about them, various sources will instead say things like "the British system of quotation punctuation", or "in the American usage", or "with the logical punctuation system". My main interest in that the material be covered accurately, however it's arranged. Thanks for the reviewing and advice. Have to get up at dawn for work, but hopefully can do some of this tomorrow evening. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 07:56, 25 September 2015 (UTC)