Wiktionary:Multiple etymologies

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
Replacement filing cabinet.svg This page is no longer active. It is being kept for historical interest.
No discussion is needed to revive this page; simply remove the {{inactive}} tag and bring it up to date.

Multiple etymologies[edit]

I'm looking for feedback on how to format words with multiple etymologies, pronunciations, and so forth. I've had a go at it in forte, but I'm not very happy with the result. -- Ortonmc 18:42, 15 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I think you have the right idea. The trick seems to be in maintaining some degree of flexibility in applying different levels of headings and indentations. Forte was not a good choice as an example since the two usages do have a common etymological root in Latin. Eclecticology 02:53, 23 Jan 2004 (UTC)

<Jun-Dai 12:27, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)>I think it's better to use a format that clearly distinguishes the etymologies as separate words. I took a stab at this be reformatting forte, and I'd like to see what others feel about this format. After looking through the various formats that others have been using, I think this one is a significant improvement for tokens with multiple etymologies (words). If consistency is incredibly important, we might do this for tokens with only one etymology</Jun-Dai>

I've put together two more variations at user:dmh/forte and user:dmh/forte2. I think I like forte2 the best. - 14:38, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC) (-dmh)
<Jun-Dai 15:17, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)>Unfortunately your second link is empty. As for the first one, I think it makes sense to separate them out by etymology, rather than join them together and comment on the etymology and pronunciation. After all, the two entries for forte aren't really the same word, they just happen to be the same string of letters (and come from a common, distant root through quite different paths). Also, having the notes about which etymology is relevant, etc., seems a little verbose. Creating separate entries marked with numbers is a little more in keeping with how other dictionaries do it, and also with how it is currently advised at Wiktionary:Entry layout explained.</Jun-Dai>
The second version should be there now. It's a bit of a philosophical question whether the various senses of forte are the same word. They're certainly much closer together semantically than the various senses of e.g., fly, which all have the same etymology. The only wrinkle with forte is that one sense is borrowed through French and the other from Italian. Given that both are essentially modern dialects of Latin, this doesn't seem like such a big deal.
To me, the basic unit is a sense, anyway, to the extent we can describe these cleanly. It might be nice to have fly (to travel through the air), fly (to be accepted), and fly (the opening of a pair of trousers) all separate, and one could argue that they just happen to be the same string of letters. We group these disparate senses together anyway, not only because they all come from the same roots, but because that's how we represent them in text. Even in the (very rare) case of totally unrelated words with the same spelling, the senses should be grouped under the same spelling. The only question here is how best to indicate the different origins - 16:29, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC) (-dmh)
<Jun-Dai 18:00, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)>It's certainly true that the two fortes are closer in meaning that the various senses of fly, but I still think that there's an important distinction (which, in the case of forte is also made in the pronunciation) between new meanings that develop out of an English word, and seperate words that come into the English language with the same spelling, and that we ought to push that distinction to the highest level possible (as shown in the template page). Any situation where two words come into the English language and manage to fuse into one meaning would call for a special case, but I've never heard of such a thing.
Incidentally, it is in some sense merely convenience that we group words together based on spelling. After all, sake (the alcoholic drink) and soju are closer than sake (the alcoholic drink) and sake (all other meanings), yet we put them both on the same page.
While an argument can certainly be made that fly (the opening of a pair of trousers) and fly (to travel through the air) are entirely different words, because the meanings are no longer connected, it opens up a tremendous grey area where we would have to start making the distinctions between how far the meanings have to diverge before we can consider them a separate word. We could allow the wiki philosophy to sort each case out, but I think it's better to keep them together, because any divergence is going to be recent, at any rate, whereas every case of words diverging etymologically but joining together in their English spellings is going to be substantially older. But where the two meanings have different etymological roots there is no grey area. The only grey areas are in those cases that we don't know about, in which case I would argue that we should keep them as senses of the same word until certain that the etymologies differ.
So I would argue that we should treat cases where words with different etymologies share the same spelling as coincidences, since that's essentially what they are. That's not to say that there's no reason for forte (from Italian) and forte (from French) to have the same spelling, it's just that forte (from French) could have just as easily come into English as fort.
I disagree that we should consider forte(1) and forte(2) as different senses of the same word. They should share the same page in the wiktionary, and they should both be categorized under English, but I think they should have nothing in common in our formatting beyond that.</Jun-Dai>
I'm not sure how much farther we can usefully carry this but . . . I think the forte2 version agrees with what you say, execpt perhaps takes it further. I give forte(talent) and forte(sword) separate headings, because even though they share the same etymology, they differ in pronunciation.
Personally, I think the difference between French and Italian borrowings is fairly minor (especially compared to the two entirely different origins of sake), but it's more important to document what difference there is than to make a pronouncement on its size. I don't care for the forte1/forte2 approach, because I believe most people looking up a word will be primarily interested in the meaning. In other words, etymology is interesting and valuable, but secondary. How important is it, really, to know that one sense came to us from Latin through one of its northern dialects and one from one of its southern dialects?
Here's how I would rank the various versions by weight that they give to etymology
Personally I think medium weight is about right. -dmh 18:40, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
<Jun-Dai 19:16, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)>I'm not entirely opposed to separating the distinct definitions into separate words, but in such a case, I would do it in a clearer manner, as here: User:Jun-Dai/forte3. Nevertheless, I think the grey area introduced by trying to divide meanings of a word with the same etymology might be problematic, and it would probably lead to some inconsistency throughout the wiktionary. In any case, I'd like to see what some other people in the community think, and if it's decided that there should be a change in the template (to forte1, forte2, or forte3, or something else altogether), then the Wiktionary:Entry layout explained page should be updated. As it stands, the forte page is the one that most accurately reflects what is written there.</Jun-Dai>