User talk:Soargain

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I see no one has yet given you one of our welcome messages. Here's one for your reading pleasure:


[Stuff I already found out before I tried to edit Wiktionary elided.] If you have any questions, then ... or ask me on my talk page.msh210 19:42, 15 June 2009 (UTC)


I appreciate your efforts and the way you are going about it. I think it is more or less even money for each of your entries to survive the RfD process. It is not your fault, of course. We are continuing to have difficulty in determining which compound terms should be included. Obviously "red car" would be out. But "red Corvette" might have a chance. (Think mid-life crisis.) We haven't been able to formulate or find criteria that cover many cases of compounds. Prevailing opinion is increasingly leaning toward including multi-word compound terms, so I would predict that we will find ourselves including more and more of them, especially as we already include a large share of the population of one-word terms.

The surest thing is that rangefinder being a single word certainly made it a shoo-in. range-finder and range finder then make it as alternative spellings. Then, in principle, we determine which of the entries should be the main one based on their relative frequency. Would range finder have made it otherwise? I don't think so, but it might have. The discussion might have sounded very linguistically sophisticated, but it really is the judgment of the more respected folks here that carries the day, IMHO.

I wouldn't want you to get too wrapped up in this, though you seem to have a realistic and constructive attitude about it. I agree with EP as to the desirability of making sure that range has definitions that clearly include major technical senses without requiring too much from a user not knowledgeable about the context. DCDuring TALK 02:06, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

compound terms[edit]

Idiomaticity is not a very familiar (or, at least to me, easily evaluated) concept. I read through the list of examples and frankly my sense of it was that a massive amount of energy and some community morale was probably expended debating these. If more useful positive and negative guidelines had been developed, that energy could have been more productively spent.

I respectfully suggest that one positive rubric might be, "is this widely considered a technical term?" Most people can't provide a good definition of "technical term" but in my experience disagreement within a field about whether a given term is one of the field's technical terms is rare. Technical terms deserve definition.

Another is, "does the term have different definitions in different fields?" Ambiguous terms deserve definitions. Example: "Four on the floor" - automotive and music.

-- Soargain 03:52, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

You are onto something. I've been inclusionist and exclusionist about these terms at various times (by which I mean tending to err one way or the other). I am not a language professional of any stripe and often have the feeling of being sneered at here. The idiomaticity discussions are beginning to seem really silly to me because even those who claim to be applying them don't always seem to understand them or even remember them. If even the veterans here can't agree on the criteria or apply them correctly, how can we claim to be a wiki open for everyone to edit? It must often seem completely arbitrary to those who are not regulars. BTW, you should consider course authoring tool, which has just today been deemed to have survived RfD.
Interesting. I know the definition from my career building computer systems, so I'm not a clean test... but I would have expected to see a SoP objection. But: I eventually acquiesced on "range estimation" partly because I became convinced that I don't understand what Wiktionary is currently trying to be... so, am I capable of productive thought on such a matter? -- Soargain
I have some fields whose terms I watch over. Me favorite is Category:Statistics, where I have been adding terms from w:exploratory data analysis that were coined in their statistical sense by the late w:John Tukey. I have found that new one-word terms are not often challenged and that new senses added to old terms are virtually never challenged. Building from these one can sometimes identify senses of compound terms that are likely to survive challenge. But that presupposes that one actually finds lexicography itself interesting.
We have some rationales for including technical terms which I need to review. DCDuring TALK 21:33, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

I must say that while my main reason for being here has been shaken, nevertheless, if I've met a friend in you, the last couple days of frustration have been well worthwhile. -- Soargain 23:22, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

I liked the relative calmness with which you handled the challenge. Most get frustrated quite quickly and up and leave. I like technical subject matter, especially of an engineering nature, especially non-computer. I believe that Wiktionary needs a broader range of participants from outside the community of language professionals and is deficient in technical entries. There are many here who I can work with, but an online environment is not quite conducive to friendship. I'm happy to help you in any way I can. Besides the various businessy categories I follow, I try to get photos and drawings into entries. I like to get good links to WP and to WikiSpecies into entries. I like etymologies and the process by which words get specialized meanings (range, head). I'm in the NYC area and may go the July real-world meeting that's scheduled. DCDuring TALK 00:17, 17 June 2009 (UTC)


Doesn't use of the criterion that a term should only be included in Wiktionary if it can be found in other dictionaries doom Wiktionary to also-ran status? -- Soargain

Yes, it would. But it is not a criterion, though it influences our judgment. OneLook not only has some of the big online dictionaries (but not the OED) but also some specialty dictionaries, including technical ones. If a term is not in any of them it is both an opportunity to be at the top of some searches, thereby potentially winning some new users, and a danger that we could, 1., mislead users into thinking a term was really "special" enough to be its own entry and, 2., appear to be fools to each other and to the lexicographic and academic community. So we are usually extra careful with such terms. If the term just needs supporting citations, it usually isn't hard to get it included. (BTW the search term that has most consistently gotten users to Wiktionary is MILF.)

With multi-word terms the risk is a combinatorial explosion of entries that leaves Wiktionary unmaintainable. (We believe that our entries are intrinsically less likely to attract enthusiasts to maintain them than WP articles, mostly because a dictionary can't treat any subject in depth. Many words cut across many fields so that no small number of individuals can really focus on all of an entry. Some of the most common words are only of interest to linguists (prepositions, modal verbs, articles, adverbs, but many others too). We have vast numbers of entries that have no subject matter categories.) DCDuring TALK 00:02, 17 June 2009 (UTC)