Wiktionary:Grease pit/Customization templates to provide both UK and US spellings

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Customization templates to provide both UK and US spellings[edit]

Here's an idea I've had for a while, and I think it may have come up on Wikipedia once upon a time.

We could have a template which takes both the UK and US spellings of a word and gives each a CSS class. In the gobal (not just monobook) CSS file we would make probably the US spelling the default just for numbers. In the how to customize page we show how to make UK the default. We hope and pray for a way to have a real prefs setting for this so that regular people don't have to get dirty and touch their CSS file themselves.

The template would never be ok to use in sections like headword, alternative spellings, etc - it only belongs in places such as the definition and usage notes where the spelling of a word not under the scope of the article is not important.

Adding a 3rd variant will not be easy since then a decision must be made about which to use when the preferred one is absent. Any ideas?

Doing the same for other languages, ie Portuguese for Brazil and Portual would be easy.

Both templates and CSS class names must clearly indicate their function - 3-letter names for either is almost always a bad idea.

I'm going to implement a first version to encourage discussion... — Hippietrail 20:37, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

I think \Mike knew of a way to honor the &lang= url parameter. en-us vs. en-uk could conceivably just come from user preferences. Having a bureaucrat add those two options to en.wiktionary's LocalSettings.php file would then tell the MediaWiki software to look for (to use Main Page as an example) either Main Page/en-us or Main Page/en-uk and default to Main Page if the preferred page did not exist. That was my understanding of how that setup ("the MediaWiki way") would work, anyhow. Could someone confirm or deny this theory for me please? --Connel MacKenzie T C 21:21, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Another thoughts is whether the same templates should be used for regional synonyms as well as regional spelling such as UK shop and US store. Or an similar template could be made with -syn- in place of -var-Hippietrail 22:48, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

1st draft[edit]

{{spelling-var-en-uk-us}} The template name indicates it's for spelling variants, that it's for the English language, and that it allows a 2-way choice between UK spelling first, and US spelling second.

There are 3 CSS classes. A wrapper class spelling-var-en-uk-us takes the same name as the template and allows the contained classes to be manipulated only in certain contexts if that's what the user wants. The two options have class names var-en-uk and var-en-us. Their names indicate that they belong to the surrounding class, that they deal with English, and that deal with a specific national variety.

To use: I want the {{spelling-var-en-uk-us|colour|color}} in the {{spelling-var-en-uk-us|centre|center}}.

results in:

I want the Template:spelling-var-en-uk-us in the Template:spelling-var-en-uk-us.

US spelling is the default. To choose UK spelling, put this in your CSS file:

.spelling-var-en-uk-us .var-en-uk { display: inline !important }
.spelling-var-en-uk-us .var-en-us { display: none !important }

Hippietrail 20:53, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

I've made the one I just mentioned for regional synonyms such as spanner/wrench, shop/store, tap/faucet etc now too:

To use: I bought a {{regional-syn-en-uk-us|spanner|wrench}} from a {{regional-syn-en-uk-us|shop|store}} so I could work on my {{regional-syn-en-uk-us|lorry|truck}}.

results in:

I bought a wrench from a store so I could work on my truck.

The US word is the default. To choose the UK word, put this in your CSS file:

.regional-syn-en-uk-us .syn-en-uk { display: inline !important }
.regional-syn-en-uk-us .syn-en-us { display: none !important }


So now you seriously expect us to live with US spellings for everything ! Unless we happen to be a tech head who understands (or even has the time and inclination for) CSS ! I don't think so. This is a TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE approach. . Expect to be ambushed constantly if this is implemented in this way. It is just not acceptable! (Is my position clear enough ?)--Richardb 11:43, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Hey I don't like US spelling either but I'd get the same reaction if I made UK spellings the default. Teh "tech head" problem is solvable if we can get the devs to give us a setting on the preferences page. Or is a user setting via the standard GUI still too technical? I would like to hear your proposal for a non-technical solution that satisfies both groups. Your emotion is clear enough, your understanding is not clear enough. — Hippietrail 20:35, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

I am from the UK. If someone here writes color or faucet, I want to see it! I don't want it ‘translated’ into British for me. We have to acknowledge and deal with all spellings, not find a way to remove one or the other depending on where we're from. Widsith 13:24, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

I saw this as a way to "acknowledge and deal with all spellings". It might be possible to expand on the idea with "always show me the first option". I know how to do this quite easily. Also with a "show both options" option that would display "color / colour" and "faucet / tap". I am curious to know why you prefer to see an arbitrary spelling or word even on unrelated articles though. Also this would not be automatic at all - it requires a page to be edited - there is no proposal to make them global. — Hippietrail 20:35, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Widsith here. I don't think it's a problem to anyone whether color or colour is used in a definition line or explanatory note (or, for instance in {{colour}}. The compromise there is that it is Template:colour but Category:Colors. I'm sure such compromises will be sufficient for reasonable folks. Aren't the shared contents (whichever they are, I tend to agree with Connel that it is only the translations) of color & colour and friends the real problem? —Vildricianus 14:05, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps you haven't seen some of the emotional yelling in various fora of Wiktionary? There are some very vocal people who are not happy at all. — Hippietrail 20:35, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
  • HALLELUJAH! The Brits finally see that it is a POV issue! Took what, three years? I'm going to go do a little happy dance now. Yes, both en-GenAm and en-Brit (and en-Can, en-Australia, en-India, etc.) all need to be broken out and distinguished! The interplay of which are considered valid where, need to be spelled out somehow on individual entries! Even though it is only two Brits so far, I am very encouraged to finally see progress! --Connel MacKenzie T C 18:07, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Do you call me a Brit? Even though I drink a lot of tea, that doesn't make me a Brit! :-) I use British spelling yes, but surely you know that I'm the main proponent of de-POVing US vs. UK issues! —Vildricianus 18:40, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
  • I was under the assumption that "Brit" is the friendly way to say "one of British origin or nationality", and no, I was referring to Richardb and Widsith admitting that they see the light. --Connel MacKenzie T C 20:53, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Mmm, I thought Rich was an Aussie. Must have skipped the UK bit. —Vildricianus 20:58, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Or more simply, my mistake, regarding Richard's origin. --Connel MacKenzie T C 22:10, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Please Connel, this isn't about Brits vs Yanks. In response to Hippietrail – yes, there has been yelling, but I think it's better to create the site with reasonable folk in mind rather than creating policies to appease the shouters. The reason I favour ‘arbitrary’ spellings is that I like to see what people have actually written. There may be little difference between color and colour, but tap and faucet could have different connotational shades of meaning, as may spanner/wrench. They certainly do to my ears. They are only tiny differences but they are important – different words have different sounds, impacts etc....I know I'm talking about tiny differences but they're an important part of language and if any site should be concerned about them it's this one. The nice thing about the internationalism of the Internet is that we all gain exposure to, and familiarity with, different kinds of English, and the proposed policy would neuter that diversity. Widsith 20:54, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
A few responses:
"I think it's better to create the site with reasonable folk in mind rather than creating policies to appease the shouters"
I think we can please both the reasonable people and the shouters. I for one want the shouters appeased because they sometimes get me angry and I do not like losing sleep over Wiktionary.
"I like to see what people have actually written". This seems to be a non-dictionary taste. You might be interested in the writers but the majority of people are interested in the definitions. It would seem quite a shame to rob the larger group of an improvement due to the tastes of a much smaller groups.
"tap and faucet have different connotational shades of meaning". When you find somebody blurs these shades in an article then you edit it and leave only the specific word. The proposed solution is not intended for such cases and that would need to be stressed in the documentation. — Hippietrail 22:28, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that the US vs. UK template proposal is not about "Brits vs Yanks." Um, what? If the British contingent hadn't been so overwhelmingly intent on thwacking GenAm entries, there would be no color/colour debate; they would simply co-exist, as they should. --Connel MacKenzie T C 22:10, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Please Connel (and others), I hope it's only by accident that this sounds like the kind of language sometimes labelled here as "attacking" or "fighting" or whatever. It certainly doesn't seem to helping the discussion along. Can we stick to technical stuff. — Hippietrail 22:28, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Did it sound like I was fanning the flames? If so, then I am sorry. That was not my intent. --Connel MacKenzie T C 01:26, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
(Side comment from the peanut gallery: it would have been better, then, if you had left out the words "If the British contingent hadn't been so overwhelmingly intent on thwacking GenAm entries". –Scs 03:07, 31 May 2006 (UTC))
There is no ‘British contingent’, there are only individual contributors. Widsith 07:26, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Apparently, you missed the last several flame wars. The fact that the very real "British contingent" exists is masked by their relative silence recently. I assure you, I have good reason to assume the relative quiet is temporary. --Connel MacKenzie T C 07:03, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
This individual has personal tastes on the matter similar to Widsith -- If I want important information from a book, and I can understand the language of the original, I prefer to read that rather than a translation. Indeed, perhaps stupidly, I've consulted the Hebrew version of the Bible on occasion, even though I only know Hebrew from a dictionary.
I've no objection in principle to WT providing translations to the en used in US, Can, Jam, UK, SAfrica, many other Af countries, India, Aus, and any of the other places I've left out, provided an untranslated version remains available for those who care about accuracy more than politics. I know the difference between Jamaican en or Indian en and Brit en is in many ways much larger than US - UK. It's merely that there are numerically more argumentative/bigotted users in US & UK (and I suspect a higher proportion too). Why not more users from the one billion plus in India many (over 100M and growing fast) of whom speak en -- because we don't serve their needs? Frankly, I would have more patience if it was the Js & Is who were complaining, but so long as what we do is generalisable to them, I think it will be a good thing. (If it was purely UK/US, I would say only do it if the time taken is less than the aggro saved, but we ought to address India, etc before too long, so UK/US could be a good test bed.)
I would suggest that we start with spelling differences rather than tap/faucets, that/which, wrench/spanners, machine/plant rooms, &c/etc ;-) as I think it will give more bangs per buck (well there's some things, as also the apocryphal headline Nut bolts, screws washer that just can't be said as well in UK en!). I suppose I mean that I foresee loads of edit wars as I revert items which people have changed inappropriately (possibly in bulk by bots). None come immediately to mind, but to take examples from gender issues, there are such beauties as personholes, Personchester, singing hyrs and karels, Awomen.
At least we already give pronunciations, so we don't have to worry about visitors to US heading for Ark-cans-as or San Joe's, or to Europe heading for K-nares-bor-oogh (in Yorkshire) or the Champ's Ailie-says (in differently-oriented Paris) [honestly, those were from a friend's father and another friend's mother, so they must be true]. I do worry about equally ignorant people translating between US & UK, but hey, it's a wiki, and it's survived well so far.

--Enginear 01:48, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

Regarding your last paragraph, Wow! I was shocked by the three-syllable Wiktionary, but those examples are incredible. If the majority of British English speakers really mangle pronunciations that badly (worse than the mostly-fictional/ joking/ stereotypical Texas accent) then perhaps it is a good thing we have seen so few en-uk-*.ogg files!  :-)   Joking aside, it would be good to have more uk audio files. --Connel MacKenzie T C 07:03, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I think the pronunciations of Knaresborough and Champs Élysées are urban myths, and though they were attributed to Americans (by a Yorkshireman and a Parisienne) it could just as well be Brits. Indeed, I have heard the CÉ from an English teenager who knew no French. The Arkansas, San Jose, and indeed the Sea Ooks native Americans and co-lor/col-lor, I made up about 3 years ago for use the next time an American told me that their spelling was better because it was phonetic. :-) But no one ever has. Having said that, I can imagine quite a lot of Brits using them -- after all, the change from Kansas to Arkansas is almost as unfair as the Scottish trick used against primary school children: "Pronounce MacKenzie, Macauley, mackintosh,... macadam, machine". It doesn't help that there are many Londoners, including professionals, who cannot understand broad Scotish Highlands/Islands, Glasgow, Black Country or Geordie accents -- I don't know whether there is such a range of US accents. Maybe, one day, we'll give regional accents too in pronunciation, but as a Londoner who can (usually) understand them, it's not my bag!
I will learn one day how to do .ogg files but it's not a priority for me. --Enginear 23:09, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

[Talk re display of IPA characters broken out to a new thread below (Wiktionary:Grease pit#Problems displaying IPA in edit & special chars boxes) for convienience.]

I have mislaid a long ?80 line bit of doggerel containing a few hundred non-homophonic homonyms, said to have been issued by a British embassy for advanced TEFL, but did find the attached, which may amuse you [[1]]. --Enginear 12:14, 31 May 2006 (UTC)