User talk:Sonofcawdrey

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Your question to Wikitiki89 showed you have a lot to learn about the way we do things, so I thought I'd start the process rolling. The short answer: we go by usage, not by authoritative sources. We have a page dedicated to the issue (WT:CITE) because it's so counter-intuitive to anyone used to Wikipedia's rules. Chuck Entz (talk) 03:16, 2 November 2015 (UTC)

Thanks Chuck Entz. I understand the diff between primary and secondary sources, of course, but had noticed that references to other reputable dicts were sometimes invoked in discussions as a sign that a word or sense was indeed in use (on the understanding that they would have only entered things they had evidence for); and putting this together with the fact that all the Webs 1913 defs were transported into Wiktionary ... you can see where my thoughts led me ... anyhow, thanks again for letting me know, I will stick to primary sources from now on. Sonofcawdrey (talk) 03:25, 2 November 2015 (UTC)

Countability[edit]

Hi. A noun is uncountable if you can't refer to some number of them ("some rice", not "two rices"). Something like Fegatello Attack, on the other hand, might merely have no plural, which probably makes it a proper noun instead. Equinox 22:19, 1 July 2016 (UTC)

Hi. Indeed. But it is sometimes tricky to determine. I was following the system in place for other chess openings, most of which had been input as uncountable. Basically, they can be uncountable under the grounds of there is only one of them (e.g. the sun, the moon). Whether or not it is a proper noun doesn't affect its countability, proper nouns can be either. But, it is also difficult to determine if these are actually proper nouns - though, to be fair the convention seems to treat them as such (i.e. capitalised headwords), but not label them as such (none seem to have proper noun as the pos label). But I digress.
Your example "rice" is a mass noun, which is one type of uncountable noun. These are another type of uncountable noun - at least as far as I am aware that is a very common usage of the term "uncountable" in grammar texts, and amongst linguists. The current Wiktionary def. for uncountable "Describes a meaning of a noun that cannot be used freely with numbers or the indefinite article, and which therefore takes no plural form" is a bit nebulous ("used freely"). Perhaps some tightening up of the def. is needed and some agreement among Wiktionarians.
Finally, any count noun can be turned into a non-count noun, and vice versa - e.g. In the tournament three Fried Liver Attacks (or Alekhine Defences) were played. But the plural form is unlikely to meet CFI's three-count for many of these, should anyone try to do the research (i.e. not only for chess openings, but for absolutely every non-count noun in Wiktionary). So, in the end, my feeling is perhaps best to leave as uncountable for the while. What do you think? - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 22:48, 1 July 2016 (UTC)
I used to enter various medical conditions (like Alzheimer's syndrome — only seen with an -s in a group, e.g. "Alzheimer's and Parkinson's syndromes") as uncountable nouns, but found it unsatisfactory, and these days I do them as proper nouns. I gather there is some general debate over whether proper nouns can be pluralised, and whether we want to distinguish them from other nouns at all (since some languages don't; it has occasionally come up here). In terms of the potential inflections of something: my personal feeling is that we ought to need three citations for every single form (so certain odd verbs used by Shakespeare and Spenser might be missing a past tense, for example) but that doesn't seem to be the policy of most mainstream dictionaries, or of Wiktionary, so apparently if we have an attestable lemma we do not need three citations — or even one! — in order to add the "obvious" inflections (plural, past tense, etc.). I would see it as damaging the project to add a plural to an only arguably pluralisable noun where there isn't even one citation, though. Equinox 02:19, 6 August 2016 (UTC)
As far as proper nouns go, some are usually count (the Himalayas), some are usually uncount (the Sun, the Amazon), some can be both (an Aboriginal, two Aboriginals; I spoke to Dave last night, there were two Daves at the party). Seems to me that proper nouns behave in the same way as common nouns with regard to countability. I note also that while Alzheimer's syndrome is entered as a proper noun (without any info about its countability status), Alzheimer's disease is in as a common noun, labelled uncount. Clearly Wiktionary as a whole is in a bit of muddle over this aspect of grammatical labelling, but, then again, as we discussed, it isn't always clear, and there is no clear policy statement (though, personally I'd shrink from trying to write one in the first place), so I guess it is to be expected. - Sonofcawdrey (talk) 05:23, 6 August 2016 (UTC)

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