Wiktionary:Tea room/2004

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German passage

I think it's german anyway. I'm going through a complete Sherlock Holmes concordance, and came upon

"Yes," he answered, "there are in me the makings of a very fine loafer and also of a pretty spry sort of fellow. I often think of those lines of old Goethe,--

   Schade dass die Natur nur EINEN Mensch aus Dir schuf,
   Denn zum wuerdigen Mann war und zum Schelmen der Stoff.

Could someone who understands this add these words?


Yes, this is what it means

Unfortunate the fact that nature created only one humans from you because to the worthy man was and to devilish the material

No, this is what it means: Too bad nature's only created one man of you, because there was enough material to make a dignified man as well as a rogue. (sammy)


Yes, it's German. I would not know how to put it in the English dictionary form, so I will just describe it for you here, and you can enter it. :)
zum is zu dem. It always combines into zum, but that's what it is. zu is a prepostion meaning to. dem is the accusative of der, which is the masculine the. So, zum means to the but exclusively for the masculine gender.
einen is the accusative masculine of ein, the indefinite article a.
wuerdigen should really be würdigen, which is probably a form of würdiger (whatever that means). In German the case is only expressed once. Here it is an accusative. The masculine accusative form of würdiger is würdigem, but since we already have the zum before it, we just use a "generic" case würdigen which simply means würdiger in whatever case has already been indicated.
war means was, Schelmen is the plural of Schelme (beast), und is and, Dir is the dative of Du (you, 2nd person singular), Natur is nature, aus is from in this context, schuf is the past tense of a verb which I do not understand, Stoff is a noun which I do not understand, dass should really be daß, which means that, as in I think that it is raining. nur means only, Mensch is man as in human, Mann is man as in male. die is the feminine form of the

Red Prince 23:45, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Some corrections/additions:

Schelmen is in fact the male dative (who? what?) of Schelm (fool - where did anyone pick up the translation 'beast'?) schuf comes from schaffen, or to create Stoff means both material and fabric dass is correct because of the recent reforms that changed the ß to ss if it follows a short vowel (fuß (foot) is still written with a ß, fluss (river) is not)

offcourse it's german.

Damojoman writes: I think it translates to "Unfortunately Nature could only create one man when she had both worthy and devilish material." meaning she had to put both inbto one man and not create two, one of each type

Peruvian archaeology

I'm helping the girlfriend proofreading her thesis about an archeological site in the Andes. I have trouble translating some terminology though.

  • andenes (Does this have a singular form?)
    I don't know what this is. Is it from the Spanish andén?
Yes, you guessed that right. In Dutch I might say the equivalent of terrace, would that work in English? It is about the way of doing agriculture on mountain flanks, by creating a stairlike structure.
  • mampostery not sure about the spelling
    This means nothing to me either - perhaps another hispanicism. Mampostería appears in my Velàzquez dictionary as masonry, but also as the work of a person collecting for the poor.

It surely should be masonry then.

  • lithic
    OK, adj. of or pertaining to stone
Strange that the spelling checker stumbles on it.

Some of these words are poor translations, others, I don't know what is meant with them. Polyglot 22:34, 26 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I hope that it helps. Realizing that she was Spanish made things a little easier. Sometimes having a context would make it easier. Eclecticology 08:50, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Hi Eclecticology,
You are a life saver! If I find more terms that I can't manage to put in decent English, I'll put them in context. The girlfriend is Peruvian, sorry for not mentioning that. She wrote a thesis translating a lot of stuff from Spanish, but it's far from perfect. I would like to help her, but my English isn't good enough to get it right. (My mother language is Dutch)
This has been a great help. For the ones that aren't clear, I'll put them in context when I'll be in front of the thesis again.Polyglot 10:41, 27 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I hope you don't mind I add some more, this time in context. I made links of the words about which I have my doubts.

The geological relieve is steep, rugose and shows flat spaces (planicies) in different areas.

  • The noun is relief
  • "Rugose" may be correct. It is most commonly used used in biology to refer to something such as a leaf or a face that is heavily wrinkled. It is conceivable that this could be applied to a geological landscape that looks like corrugated cardboard. On the other hand it's also conceivable that she may have simply intended to say that the terrain was rough or rugged.
  • "flat spaces" should be fine.
Hi Ec, as alwasy: thanks a million. I went for rough terrain. I never would have been able to correct relied without your help. Polyglot 20:43, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

(ponencias del XII national congress of Civil Engineering, Huanuco 1999). could ponencia mean conference or convention?

  • My impression would be that ponencias would refer to the decisions or judgements or procedings of a conference, rather than the conference itself. This however seems to be an attempt to translate the title of a bibliographic source. Normally the original language should be retained for such titles unless there is an official translation, in which case the officially translated title should be used even if you think it is wrong. The school may have its own rules governing this matter.
We'll have to find out then. It's the university of my home town, Leuven.

seismicity is flagged by the spelling checker and it's not in this pocket Collins I have. Doesn't it exist?

  • Collins is intended to fit in small pockets; something's gott to go. :-) "Seismicity" is a perfectly good word in English to describe the tendency of a place to have earthquakes.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find another en-es, es-en dictionary in a shop here in Belgium. We'll have to turn Wiktionary in a better one... Polyglot 20:43, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

This is the line with escalonated:

This principal sector of the Archaeological Park of Tipon conforms 13 terraces, they have different dimensions and they ascend about 55 meters of escalonated altitude, starting in the first terrace to the last one, that fences the curved wall giving to all the unity the “u” shaped.

  • After reading this several times, I'm still not sure if I understand it correctly. How about, "This principal sector of the Archaeological Park of Tipon has 13 terraces with different dimensions stepped over an altitude of 55 metres. Together they form a "u"-shaped curved wall."? Does this represent the idea accurately?
She likes this, thanks! Polyglot 20:03, 31 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Not understanding what is meant is my feeling exactly with most of the text... Fortunately I can ask her and then I must hope I'll be able to render the idea in English...
  • Note that even in English it should be "metre" rather than "meter". The Americans get a little confused about this, but the spelling "meter" should be restricted to measuring instruments.
If it confuses Americans, guess what it does to us, poor mainland Europeans :-) What about kilometer, can it ever be kilometre? Should it be? Is it millimeter paper or millimetre paper? Polyglot 20:49, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Eclecticology, are you absolutely convinced about metre. The spelling checker is set to US English and it is flagging metre as wrong... (Maybe I should really be using Openoffice.org. I'm planning to, but for the moment I have to make do with Word) Polyglot 21:22, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Absolutely! Maybe having the spell-checker set to US explains the problem. For a more authoritative source see http://www1.bipm.org/en/si/base_units/ Eclecticology 22:34, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Meter/kilometer/millimeter is the standard American spelling according to NIST. Metre/kilometre/millimetre is the international spelling, used everywhere else in the world. Ortonmc 22:47, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I'm sure you see the predicament I'm in. This is extremely hard to turn into an English sentence that makes sense... I guess escalonated means with terraces. Would terraced work?

  • "Terraced" is good. Escalonated could also be stepped when the flat areas are not wide enough for meaningful activity, notably agriculture.
I went with terraced, tx.

Constituted by the residence area of rectangular houses or enclosures provided by hornacins and windows, courtyards (CANCHAS).

  • Try "niches".
  • "Cancha" can also be "popcorn" in Peru. :-)

Eclecticology 23:58, 28 Mar 2004 (UTC)

She is Peruvian and she doesn't entirely agree. It could be used to refer to roasted corn. (Prepared without oil and while stirring a lot during the heating)
niches sounds perfect. Thanks a lot. Polyglot 20:43, 29 Mar 2004 (UTC)


They are those things that look like Windows.

agony column

[...]what is an "agony column"? I thought it was the personal's, but this makes it sound more like puzzles.


According to Partridge's A Dictionary of Slang an "agony column" goes back to 1870, and originally referred to want ads of a personal nature in The Times of London. By 1950 the American usage was for the columns of love advice questions and answers found in many newspapers and magazines. It is also the title of a 1916 murder mystery by Earl Derr Biggers. Eclecticology 23:30, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)
If anyone's interested, the term agony aunt is British English for the writer of such columns and love advice, etc--viz. a Dear Abby

Words needing Greek stuff in Etymology

Ekpyrotic is not in any dictionary yet. Can someone show the actual greek words it comes from, as well as the orthodox pronunciation given its greek roots? I'll ask on an astronomy board for actual pronunciations in the wild.

There's a Greek word ἐκπυρωτικός (ecpyrōticos) which would give it directly; it means "heating". It may have been derived from ἐκπυρόω (ecpyroō) "to burn down" or ἐκπύρωσις (ecpyrōsis) "conflagration, catching fire". I don't understand the theory well enough to determine if any of these actual Greek words was used, or if the plain text explanation currently there is to be believed (ugh..) and it's just ἐκ (ec) "out" + πῦρ (pyr) "fire" + -otic.
[1] states, "Their model was called the ekpyrotic universe, from the Greek-derived word ekpyrosis.". Is that the same as the first one you mentioned, or a different word?
It's the same as ἐκπύρωσις (ecpyrōsis). Whether to transliterate Greek κ as k or c is something that isn't standard... Traditional borrowings it's Romanized as c, but in more modern scientific borrowings k is common (perhaps especially to keep its pronunciation before front vowels). —Muke Tever 21:40, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)
As for (GenAm) pronunciation, either /Ekp@`"rAdik/ (seems more natural) or /EkpaI"rAdik/ (also possible) could be used—it depends on someone who knows the word to supply the pronunciation (but possibly both are in use). —Muke Tever 00:31, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Greek or Latin Root

The wood ipe is apparently named for the scientific name Tabebula ipe. Scientific names are derived from greek or latin. Would anyone care to fill in where the species name ipe gets its greek or latin inspiration? —Długosz

Not all scientific names are Greek or Latin in origin, many are from local words mangled into latinate phonology. (The genus name Tabebuia appears to be another example.) Ipe appears to be from Portuguese ipê, and the accent in the form, the unlikely shape of the word, and the fact that it indicates a New World plant imply it's probably not from a classical root. My guess is it's likely a native word borrowed into Portuguese. —Muke Tever 22:57, 10 May 2004 (UTC)
The ipe article is not particularly valuable, and is probably misleading. It also attempts to be too encyclopedic. I could find no evidence that the word is from Portuguese, so I've at least deleted that etymology from the article. I agree with Muke. The name is probably from a Brazilian native language.
One has to be careful with these botanical taxa. Tabebuia ipe is not the currently accepted scientific name for this taxon. http://www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au/Sorting/Tabebuia.html suggests that it is in turn a synonym for Tabebuia heptaphylla. This pink trumpet tree is from a complex group of plants, and one would be well advised to have an understanding of biological names before going too far with this kind of entry. Eclecticology 08:04, 11 May 2004 (UTC)
On being "encyclopedic": someone looking up the word would want to know "what is that?". There are two ways to answer. One is a precise scientific definition. In particular, the species names can be looked up for more info, if desired, so no more detail is needed on that. The other kind of user is wondering what the word means in the sence of what it means to him when seeing so-labeled furnature in a catalog. Color and other distinguishing characteristics is what he's after. Specific gravity and actual hardness values belong in an encyclopedia; in this dictionary it suffices to say that it's heavy and hard, without detail. But not to say that it's heavy at all leaves out an important part of the meaning. —Długosz
I have to agree, it is a little encyclopedic. (Anything that reaches over about four lines is probably pushing it... it's already longer than the wikipedia stub for the entire genus...) The behavior of the wood on exposure to ultraviolet light, for example, is clearly a bit encyclopedic for wiktionary... if someone wants to find that kind of information, they go to an encyclopedia; one goes to a dictionary to find out whether the word Ipe he sees in a catalog refers to a kind of tree, a brand name for a type of wood, a special treatment or finish, a city known for its wood, or whatever it may be [in this case, it is a tree]. The best thing to do probably is add the encyclopedic stuff to Wikipedia (which is sorely lacking in regards to this tree) and link it in "see also". —Muke Tever 18:49, 11 May 2004 (UTC)
I disagree with removing the Portuguese from the etymology. While it may ultimately come from an indigenous word, it certainly came into English via Portuguese. For evidence, take the plant's variety names: ipê roxo, ipê amarelo, ipê branco, etc. used in English and other languages, which are perfectly normal Portuguese (for purple ipê, yellow ipê, white ipê, etc.). Apparently the Portuguese word is from a Tupi-Guaraní word something like y'pê [2] glosses it "wood with hard bark, ipê" (thus probably related to Guaraní y "hard, strong" + -pe- or -pi- seen in pekue "bark, shell, scale, rind", pe'o "to cast off bark, shell, scale, etc.", pi "thin band of bark, leather,.."). —Muke Tever 17:33, 11 May 2004 (UTC)
Giving the above explanation of the Tipu-Guaraní origins that come to us via Brazillian Portuguese is much superior to saying that it is simply a Portuguese word. The synonyms section of the article also left me puzzled; I couldn't be sure whether "synonym" was being used in a grammatical or taxonomic sense, or whether the reference was to the wood or the tree. Eclecticology 21:22, 11 May 2004 (UTC)

Verb forms? Apply -> Applies

If apply is the basic v.t., then "imp. & p.p." is Applied, then what tense is "applies"?

Nonpast (aka present tense), third person singular. —Muke Tever 22:50, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)
English doesn't have an 'imperfect' tense; just past tense. The sense of the imperfect tense in other languages like Spanish is conveyed in English by using the past progressive tense--the verb 'be' with the present participle. Example: "They were washing the car." -- RSvK 00:59, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)
For some, notably the 1913 Webster, the simple past is characterized as an imperfect tense. This may be an outdated practice, but I wouldn't exactly call it wrong. The Chicago Manual of Style does not recognize the progressive tenses as true tenses. You are, nevertheless, correct in saying that the Spanish imperfect may be translated by the past progressive, but in many situations a simple past would do. Eclecticology 03:53, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Mixed Metaphors?

An interesting phrase caught my attention, after reciently editing holy grail. geophysicist has set the scientific world ablaze by claiming to have cracked a holy grail.

Cracked a holy grail? Odd construct. How would you parse that, grammatically? I suppose it's short for "cracked a problem considered to be the holy grail". Does that make holy grail a metaphor since it stands where "problem" should; or what?


I don't see this as a grammatical problem, but as a semantic one. The word "grail" is used as a noun in the same way as if it had its more conventional meaning. Structurally the sentence is perfectly normal except for the missing "A" at the beginning. Although the sentence no doubt has a bigger context, this is undoubtedly a metaphorical use. The world has not been put on fire in any literal sense. I would not interpret "holy grail" to mean "problem", but to mean "sacred cow" or "long-held belief".
Metaphors are stones in the shoes of the unwary. English is full of them, but so too are many other languages. They reflect an entire cultural component that underlies the way we speak. The cargo cults of New Guinea have a completely different interpretation of airplanes than the residents of a modern industrialized society. Eclecticology 00:13, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

SI prefixes and amperes

Should one write, for instance, megaampere or megampere? (A Google search indicates that the latter is much more common, but that doesn't prove anything.) Eric119 18:00, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Such a current would be very shocking:-) So far I found at http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/dictM.html "a metric prefix meaning 106, or one million. (The form meg- is used before a vowel, as in megohm for one million ohms.) The prefix has also become common in ordinary language, meaning "very large," as in megabucks or megadose. This agrees with the derivation of the prefix from the Greek word for large, megas." It still doesn't make it official but it's closer. And later: "megampere (MA) - a unit of electric current equal to one million amperes. This unit is used in plasma physics and fusion research." Eclecticology 21:06, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for this discussion. I've added "meg-", "gig-" and "MA" (linking to the as yet unwritten "megampere") to the page on SI units. Incidentally, that page already included links to "megohm" (which is in the OED) and "gigohm". — Paul G 16:14, 20 May 2004 (UTC)
You cuold not use plurals of ampere. You should always use ampere whit no s no accent sign. If have a number before it you should always write it as A, you could use the whole word ampere only when you speak about it AnyFile 11:30, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
On htpp://physics.nist.gov/Document/sp811.pdf I have fund:
Reference [8] points out that there are three cases where the final vowel of an SI prefix is commonly omitted: megohm (not megaohm), kilohm (not kiloohm), and hectare (not hectoare). In all other cases where the unit name begins with a vowel, both the final vowel of the prefix and the vowel of the unit name are retained and both are pronounced.
Reference 8 is American National Standard for Metric Practice , ANSI/IEEE Std 268-1992
I don't know if magaampere/megampere is not insert in the list because it is not a common used unit or becouse you have to spell megaampere
I raccomend http://www1.bipm.org/en/si/base_units/ for SI unit definitions They are the official Bureau International des Poids et Mesures AnyFile 11:30, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I have written an e-mail to BIMP and the answered me
  • BIMP> The answer to your question is megaampere - with two a's.
AnyFile 15:17, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Noun as Adjective?

A noun can be used to modify another noun, but that doesn't mean it's listed as an adjective. But, what if such usage has idomatic meaning? For example, a "swiss cheese casserole" uses swiss cheese in the normal noun-as-modifier role. But how about a "swiss cheese partition" meaning a partition that is not solid but filled with holes? Does that make it an adjective? If not, what is this usage called, and how should it be listed in the entry for Swiss cheese? —D?ugosz

In most cases, I'd be inclined to create a separate entry (e.g. swiss cheese partition) for the idiomatic phrase, and link to it from the main entry. Ortonmc 17:42, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I would agree if that was a single idiom. But "swiss cheese" can be applied to anything to mean "full of holes", so it is more of a general adjective. —D?ugosz
Of course "swiss cheese partition" can also refer to the way in which the swiss divide a block of cheese. :-) Context can make a big difference. Eclecticology 20:17, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I've copied the question to a linguistics naming list. The usage is a noun phrase. English usage depends a lot on syntax; try to translate these and you find yourself needing to use convoluted language, especially for the partition. Other languages could conceivably make the distinction by varying the case endings. Eclecticology 20:37, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)
To make parsing easier, most Americans would probably hyphenate swiss-cheese partition.

Object in between words of the verb?

What do you call it when an object is put between the words of a multi-word verb? For example, we say "bring it down" while someone who has English as a second language tries to say "bring down it". Perhaps that's a poor example, since "bring" is the verb and "down" is a modifier, and the order doesn't matter. But if the multi words have a distinct enough meaning that they deserve an entry in the dictionary, what is that called?

You may be thinking of a split infinitive, as in "to quickly bring it down" rather than "to bring it down quickly". Eclecticology 20:10, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I don't think the original poster is talking about split infinitives, but rather phrasal verbs where the object comes either between the verb component and the following element, or after the phrasal verb, as in "to put oneself about" and "to look after one's child" respectively. While some phrasal verbs permit both forms (as in "to look a word up" or "to look up a word"), it is not possible to say *"to put about oneself" nor *"to look one's child after". To answer the original question, I believe that phrasal verbs where the verb cannot be separated from the following component are called fused phrasal verbs, while those that allow either form are called separable phrasal verbs. Check a good grammar guide for confirmation of this. (There is reference to this in section 6.6 of [3].) — Paul G 16:06, 20 May 2004 (UTC)

3 Français at the top of the page

Anyone have a clue why there are 3 interwiki Français at the top of the page? -- EmperorBMA|話す 06:46, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

A guess: these two users had signatures linking to the french wikipedia. Now, when the french wiktionary is up, the software treats them as links to the french wiktionary instead, i.e. interwikis... \Mike 12:30, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
It's a bug. The system puts this sort of thing at the top, no matter where on the page you make the link. Eclecticology 20:26, 6 May 2004 (UTC)
You can make them display inline, by prepending a colon: thus [[:la:Usor:Mycēs]] for la:Usor:Mycēs. (This is how it works on wikipedia... though it breaks backwards compatibility here—are they doing anything about it, or are we stuck with it?) I fixed the links so they're not at the top anymore (with the w: prefix, since they were Wikipedia links originally, not wiktionary ones) —Muke Tever 21:03, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

Chinese language help

Will someone familiar with Chinese please go to Wiktionary:Bug reports. Someone has, nearly 2 months ago, wuestioned the romanization of a number of Chinese characters. It was completely the wrong page for that. These queries should be reviewed, and corrections (if any) made. When that is done please remove these items from the bug report page. Eclecticology 16:05, 18 May 2004 (UTC)

Grammatical Correctness?

Is it grammatically correct to say "the strong form of of whence descended Modern English off"? I'm inquiring about the boldfaced part, which displays anastrophe (or hyperbaton).

I'm assuming that you intentionaly did not show the whole sentence, but only enough of it to illustrate your point. The order of the words is not unusual or inverted, so I do not see how it illustrates the use of anastrophe; neither is the purpose of emphasis that characterizes hyperbaton there. The latter half of your quote seems like an ordinary non-restrictive clause so the only change that I would make would be to add a comma after "of" Eclecticology 09:14, 20 May 2004 (UTC)
I hadn't thought of it before, but "whence descended Modern English off" is descriptive, not restrictive, because there is only one strong form; the weak form remained of. What I meant by anastrophe (maybe it's not hyperbaton, if hyperbaton is meant for rhetorical effect) was that this would perhaps more commonly be rendered "the strong form of of whence Modern English off descended". My original construction seems analogous to "the horse on which rode the patron"; the more common version, "the horse on which the patron rode".

Latin time periods

Is anyone knowledgeable enough to give the time period Latin words were used in, and any period specific meanings? 'Twould be useful. --Vladisdead 12:50, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Well, there's Old Latin, which is from about 7th c BC to 2nd c BC; Classical Latin, till about the 1st c AD, sometimes divided into Golden Age (BC) and Silver Age (AD), or sometimes representing Golden Age only; post-classical, post-Augustan, or "Late" Latin, becoming more and more "vulgar" through the eighth century as knowledge of the literary Latin models faded; Medieval Latin, from Charlemagne (9th c) on, was a revival of literary Latin, which began fading out around the era of the Renaissance (broadly speaking); afterwards, basically, you have New or Modern Latin, which I think is basically only used by the Roman Catholic Church and, more loosely, in scientific nomenclature.
As for individual Latin words, it takes knowing the history of each, when each was used and what each author used it to mean in each era—for this we put together =quotations= sections. I could start adding information like this where I can. —Muke Tever 16:55, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)

How do I enter this?

The illustration at http://www.spacedaily.com/images/gravity-b-orbit-chart-bg.jpg shows a "word" that is made up of three letters and an inverted breve over all three of them.

Now someone who doesn't know that this is an abbreviation for arc second might want to look it up. How can I enter it into Wiktionary, and how can someone find it again? Unicode provides for a double inverted breve (U+0361) but not for a triple.

Is there already a convention along the lines of entering just the conventional part of the word and having the accented/modified forms as subentries? In this case, look up sec and have a subentry, spelled using the Math stuff, under Related Terms. IAC, we should have a note stating what the convention is, so people know how to look up things they can't type.


Well, is it certain that we should include all such special "signs"? I mean, there are quite a number of them in math and physics, which I'm somewhat familiar with... A few examples:
 \forall ,  \exists ,  \lim ,  \frac{d}{dt} ...
... and all physical constants and .... well, you get my meaning, right? I think there has to be a limit to what we can include in the wiktionaries, and entries such as  \widehat{sec} are IMHO pretty close to that border line. (I think I got the correct symbol, but it's somewhat difficult to see the picture...:/)
Just my 50-öring :) \Mike 19:03, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Correct symbol: it's round, not pointy. Borderline: I agree. Individual "letters" such as and can easily be typed. An index of list of them might be a handy appendix (e.g. [[Wiktionary::MathSymbols]]. The differential thing is more of a notation, not a symbol or "word" that can be looked up. What's an öring? It's not in the Wiktionary yet.

I think that's 50 cents in Danish or Swedish - but it doesn't look like a Swedish plural. — Hippietrail 02:14, 2 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Sorry 'bout my mistake, my screen resoulution is maybe not top quality... And well, 50-öringen is now around:) \Mike 15:37, 13 Jun 2004 (UTC) - oh, and don't mix a 50-öring with an öring, since the former is a coin, and the latter a fish :-) (don't ask me about it's english name though, I have no idea)
It sound awfully similar to herring. But English does have o-rings (without the umlaut), which are little black rubber rings. The failure of one of these was viewed as a cause of the Challenger disaster. :-) Eclecticology 11:32, 17 Jun 2004 (UTC)

My impression is that these math symbols are a little over the top for a dictionary. Eclecticology 04:36, 2 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Agreed. I have done some work on and but these would be better moved to the maths symbols appendix - let's call it Wiktionary:MathematicalSymbols to avoid transpondian language bias. — Paul G 13:54, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I have moved the Wiktionary:MathSymbols page to Wiktionary:Mathematical symbols, updating links accordingly. — Paul G 14:07, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Math Symbols

Mike inspires me to add some math symbols to the dictionary. I started a page on as a strawman. What should the style be for these kinds of "abbreviations"? In Wikipedia they have fancy templates and common include files for groups of related entries. Maybe do something like that here? —Długosz

I put "Translingual" as the level2, language heading, and "Symbol" as the level3, part-of-speech heading. — Hippietrail 02:14, 2 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Protolanguage Reconstructions

Should words in Proto-Indo-European (and other reconstructed languages) be added as entries to Wiktionary? or perhaps as an appendix? --Vladisdead 13:44, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

  • Not as entries. For one because many of these forms are not technically words, second off because outside of the most commonly-attested forms, reconstructions are very unstable—and even when the forms are stable, the spellings are not: even in PIE, for example, where a mostly-standard is used for the stops even by people who don't believe the series were voiceless–voiced–voiced-aspirated, there are still myriad ways of spelling other phonemes: *y, *j, *i̯, for the palatal glide, for example, or *H₁, *ə₁, for a laryngeal, or even *ǵ, *g̑, *ĝ for the palatal stops (assuming they existed). A set of appendices might be better, using (a standardized transcription of) roots as headwords, or perhaps better still, maybe full pages like Proto-Indo-European index gʰ, listing all the roots starting with *gʰ, and which doesn't commit to a particular root shape. (It might have to be split up, e.g. Proto-Indo-European index gʰ/1 or something.) —Muke Tever 15:55, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)
  • I think they should. It would make for very interesting lists of words derived from a particular root. I don't see how "They're not words" is an argument: They can be prepended by an asterisk to show they're reconstructed (the software allows that in article titles, and it's a linguistic convention anyway). "They tend to be unstable" is also not an argument, because the software offers the feature of redirects. — Timwi 00:32, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I'm also in favour of adding protolanguage reconstructions as long as there can be no messiness with regard to spelling, diacritics, etc. Of course all reconstructed words should be marked with an asterisk in all places they are used: their own entries, lists & tables, and the translation sections of modern language entries.
I don't think I'd put the asterisk in the page name though. It's part of the "markup", not part of the word. It should go in the "headword" area which Polyglot initiated, usually under the "part-of-speech" heading in bold. — Hippietrail 01:57, 23 Jun 2004 (UTC)


I have been looking for the stand-alone definition for this word for some time now. The only reference I find for it is for 'subject-superject', which means a completed thought as well as a concept that gives rise to other thoughts through it's completion. Does anyone have this definition?

Perhaps if you cited your source for this word, we could be more helpful. Eclecticology 16:59, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Appears to be a little late in response, but if superject comes from the Latin word superiacere (and there's no compelling reason why it wouldn't, especially given the context where it is opposed to its antonym subject < subicere) then its base meaning would be something that is thrown on top of something else, by extension an exaggeration (compare how in English we say something exaggerated is "over the top"). In your context it would probably be closer to the literal meaning and mean that which accumulates on top of the subject ("subject" = placed under, i.e., the foundation of discourse), so it'd refer to the "other thoughts" given rise to by the subject. —Muke Tever 01:52, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)
an example: in a discussion on the mining industry, "mining industry" might be considered the subject, as the discussion progresses, the subject of "not-only-mining-but-extraction-of-a-resource-as-a-whole" (please forgive the awkward construction) arises. "Resource extraction industry" would then seem to me to be a superject of the subject "mining industry". It would also be a superject of the the subject "logging industry". Note that "logging" and "mining" would be connected by their superject, "resource extraction", though relatively unrelated to each other. The superject, in a hierarchical sense, might be said to be a "subject" which in turn 'contains' "sub-subjects". Thus any subject might also be a superject, and all superjects are subjects. Because of this, it might be said that a superject does not stand alone per se, as it could more tidily be called a subject, when not considered as a 'container' for a subject/group-of-subjects.Pedant 00:14, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I'm not well-versed in wiktionary convention, but someone who is would likely be able to create a stand-alone definition from this example but it seems to me that the word superject is meaningless without a subject.Pedant

Greek Declension

How would you say "Master of the Words" in ancient Greek? I know that "master" = anax and "word" is lexis in the singular nominative, but how would you say lexis in the plural genitive? (I would prefer a Roman transliteration.) Thanks for any help! --Gelu Ignisque

I just looked up λέξις in my two Greek dictionaries. I'm wondering whether its interpretation as "word" is modern Greek rather than ancient Greek. The ancient Greek has more to do with speaking. Perhaps λόγος would be more appropriate. Eclecticology 16:43, 9 Sep 2004 (UTC)
If the words you want to use are "anax" and "lexis", then "anax lexeon" (where that "o" is in Greek an omega). However if it were up to me I would consult Plato, who in several places speaks of a theoretical person who gives things their right names; he is normally called νομοθέτης (nomothetes, law-giver) — or in some revisions ὀνοματοθέτης (onomatothetes, name-giver), which makes more sense — at one point [4] he is called δημιουργὸς ὀνομάτων (demiourgos onomaton), which means literally "demiurge/artisan/creator of names/nouns/words)" — it may not be at all the sense you're looking for, but it's what came to mind when I read your question. —Muke Tever 01:39, 10 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Etymology of alpidem

Could anyone tell me the etymology of the chemical name alpidem, or if not at least its chemical formula? I already know where the -pidem part comes from. Thanks in advance, Gelu Ignisque.

Purely as a guess (warning: folk etymology alert) I would say the "al-" comes from the Arabic, as it does in "alcohol" and various other words beginning with "al".

Etymology of mirabelle

Does anyone know the complete etymology of mirabelle? I know the immediate source is French, but did French take it from the Latin? Thank you very much. --Gelu Ignisque

The mirabelle is named after Mirabeau, Vaucluse in France, where it was apparently first planted. —Muke Tever 15:29, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)

how do you pronounce the enlish word balcony in spanish

The Spanish for "balcony" is balcón, which is pronounced [ßalkón] in IPA transcription, or approximately "bahl-KAWN." --Gelu Ignisque


How and where do I write the cyrilic for the russian word mayak? I just created a entry for it, but the Template doesn't include an example non-latin script words... JesseW 21:27, 22 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Try маяк where the article should really go. The article Wikisource:Орфографический словарь русского языка or Spelling Dictionary of the Russian Language is an uploaded Russian source which would be more useful in Wiktionary. You can cut and paste from there, although you may still need to remove some of the stress marks. Eclecticology 23:51, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)


cat-and-mouse, cat and mouse, cat and mouse game, cat-and-mouse game, cat-and-mouse-game...

all of the above are versions of the same, which would be "correct"? Would someone please add this expression, if it would be appropriate here? Thanks. I mostly hang out at wikipedia, if you wish to message me that would be the best place for me.Pedant 23:54, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The two acceptable forms are cat and mouse with no hyphens when used alone and cat-and-mouse game. Hyphens are generally used to separate the elements of a phrasal adjective. Eclecticology 13:01, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

the Internet or the internet

I've seen it said flat out that the Internet is capitalized, which to me makes sense, there's only one of them (like the Earth). But then again, you see folks referring to the 'internet' (and they're referring to the single entity) pretty commonly, I even saw it once in a pedantic gammar book. --Eean 05:03, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

FWIW, The Oxford, NYT, and Chicago style guides all prefer the capitalized form. NYT also accepts the Net, the Web, however the Web "may be used after a first reference to the World Wide Web". -- 17:26, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Ok, so I'll continue feeling superior when I see the 'internet'. --Eean 06:28, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Email, plural

It seems everyone these days receives many an email. And we all go through our email. But if we receive two messages, do we receive two emails ? I've never found a dictionary that answers this question. -- 17:30, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Since email stands for electronic mail, I would say that you would receive two email messages or two messages, much the same as you receive two letters, postcards, envelopes, packages etc. rather than two mails. It seems like a non-count noun to me. However, in vernacular speech I hear people refer to the "emails" they've been sent fairly often. So, if you're looking for a standardized version, I'd go with email as a non-count noun like mail, furniture or people. If you're just talking to a friend and you want to express the fact that you've received more than one message, go ahead and say emails- they'll know what you're talking about. user:

This is a shifting situation, but if you insist on considering "email" as strictly a mass noun consistency would require that you not use the expression "an email". The New Oxford Dictionary of English shows the expression as both a mass and countable noun. The Chicago Manual of Style addresses some of these issues in its online FAQs http://chicagomanual.org/cmosfaq.html

Q. What is the plural of e-mail when it's used as a noun? Is it e-mail or e-mails? There's been a bit of controversy over this as a lot of people say "e-mails" but the plural form of mail, when used as a noun, is mail. Then, there's e-mailings. Thanks!
A. I would say that your sense of e-mail being grammatically equivalent to mail is sensible. And the following sentences work well:
Do you have any e-mail?
How much e-mail do you get each month?
How many e-mail messages did he send to you?
E-mail is great.
How many types of direct e-mailings have you considered sending?
The following sentences, if not incorrect, certainly sound less formal:
I got two e-mails today.
Send me some e-mails when you get a chance.
The latest versions of Webster's and American Heritage, however, endorse the use of e-mail as a noun (e.g., to send an e-mail), the latter dictionary including the plural form e-mails. Perhaps, however, e-mail will one day disappear, and we will say simply mail, or message, or note, or letter, having tired of pointing to the medium with each mention (notwithstanding Marshall McLuhan's observations).

And in another FAQ:

Q. Why do people (well-educated, high-profile people) constantly use "e-mails" when referring to more than one e-mail? The fact that the communication has been sent electronically shouldn't affect proper usage. Isn't it wrong to use the term "e-mails" instead of "e-mail"? We never say "mails" for multiple pieces of mail; we say "mail." I've been told that I'm just too picky, but I believe that "e-mail" covers both singular and plural, same as deer, moose, fish, etc. This is getting as annoying as "that is so fun." Our language is going downhill. Why must we lower our usage standards to meet the lowest common denominator?
A. "E-mail" and "mail" aren't exactly parallel in usage. We don't say "I received six mail today." We say "letters" or "pieces of mail." Since "e-mail messages" is a few syllables longer than we generally tolerate in computerspeak, the coinage of "e-mails" seems to perform a useful function. As for language going downhill, we prefer to believe that it is constantly evolving to meet our needs. (Otherwise, we would have to be grumpy all the time.)

There are other issues with this term. At one time it was capitalized, "E-mail". My Globe and Mail Style Manual still has this, but it was published in 1998, and it seems as though that is old when considering this sort of thing. The more recent Oxford Style Manual bluntly says not to use the capitalized format. The CSM changed its recommendations from "E-mail" to "e-mail" in going from the 14th to the 15th edition.

Finaly, the Oxford Style Manual shows both "email" and "e-mail", but all the others that I looked at show only the hyphenated form. Thus "e-mail" is to be preferred; this has the effect of reserving "email" for its older meaning: a type of ink used on glass. Eclecticology 18:55, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Translation into Greek

How would one say "hidden key" in ancient Greek? I know the root words are kleis and kryptos, but the trouble is that I don't know how to decline those words or what their grammatical gender is. Thanks a lot, Gelu Ignisque

"Kleis" is feminine, so "hidden key" would be krypte kleis (???π?? ?????) or "kleis krypte" ( ????? ???π??). "The hidden key" (with the definite article) would be either "he krypte kleis" (? ???π?? ?????) or "he kleis he krypte" (? ????? ? ???π??). —Muke Tever 15:36, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thank you SOOOOO much!! Gelu Ignisque

Jo-Jo's ( potatoes)

A ubiquitous food/side dish throughout the Northwest and,I believe the Midwest as well. It's make-up and recipe are not my concern. Rather the fact that no one I have contacted (including the Potato Boards/Councils/associations for Idaho, Washington and Oregon) have any idea where the name "Jo-Jo potatoes" came from. In fact the PR person from Oregon asked me to contact her if I ever found out. To quote Ben Stein in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" "Anybody?...Anybody?"

1. They are also found in the area around Lowell, Ma. Most often found as the side to "Broasted" Chicken. I had not run into them in southern MA where I grew up.

What is the dot on a lower case i called?

It's a w:diacritic mark; usually just called "dot above" or "superscript dot." --Blade Hirato 04:00, 18 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It's called a tittle, from the Latin titulus, meaning "title." --Gelu Ignisque

It is called "the dot on a lower case i" -- if it is called anything. It is not diacritical any more than the cross on the lower case t is diacritical or the tilde that forms part of the upper case Q is diacritical. Just because some dots can be diacritical doesn't make all dots diacritical.

I suppose that it could be diacritic in Turkish, which distinguishes between dotted and undotted "i". Eclecticology 10:33, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Actually it is diacritical in origin: its purpose, apparently, to make the "i" stand out in fields of identical vertical strokes. Thus it is diacritical in the original sense (Greek, "distinguishing between"), but visually, not phonetically, as "diacritic" is usually used to mean these days (e.g. c vs ç). BTW, the stroke of the Q has always been part of it, but the stroke of the G hasn't—it was invented as a diacritic by the Romans to distinguish /k/ from /g/ (both originally spelled with C). Diachronically these are diacritics, even though synchronically it may not be useful to regard them as such. —Muke Tever 16:23, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

On a side note, Cookie Monster on Sesame Street refers to the tilde of the uppercase Q as the "little stemmy part." ;-) --Gelu Ignisque


Hi there. I have been reading a lot of literary critisms lately. It seems that the authors of such works often make up their own words. Also, I have found that certain words used in the academic world have no or little references available as to their definitions. One must know all the dead languages in order to gloss them correctly. Unfortunaely, I only have a bit of Latin under my belt and a few words of Greek.

I am being long-winded. The particular word I am questioning is "holotropic". It is used in a critism by Paul Wadden as a description of Adrienne Rich's and Robert Bly's poetry. I generally get a gist of the word, but I am not satisfied with solely a gist. I know that 'holo' means whole complete and 'tropic' around (this is what my dictionary tells me), but I need further introspection into the word.

Can someone else help me out?

I am interested in finding, or instigating a dictionary of literati terms. At the moment I have way too many projects in progress and I am afraid I would not be able to commit to such. But, I find it frustrating that much of the terms used in the literati world are inaccessible to those who don't know the dead-language roots. Help! Where do I turn? Who do I ask? Where do I start (if this is indeed meant to be my project).

If at all possible feel free to reply: harrytlotus at yahoo dot com. Thank you in advance for any aid. User:

Without context I can't really divine a clue (the review of his book seems to contrast it with "dialectic" though, if that means anything) ... but "tropic" might not be being used in a sense of "around". Originally (Greek: τροπικός tropicos [5]) it refers to figures of speech (i.e., tropes). —Muke Tever 16:35, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Tropikós comes from tropē, "act of turning," the feminine abstract noun corresponding (by vowel change) to trepein, "to turn," + -ikos, an adjectival suffix corresponding to Latin -icus, English -y (Old English -īg), and so on. But I sense this side etymological discussion doesn't much answer your question ... -- Gelu Ignisque

take a shower or have a shower

I'm a Bulgarian and my English is pretty poor but could someone help me end an endless discussion which is correct -take a shower or have a shower. She always asks me where I'm taking the shower to but when I say I take the bus I'm not taking it anywhere either. Thanks in advance. Baky

I'm Australian and when I was growing up we always said "have a shower/bath/piss/shit" etc and thought of "take a shower/bath/piss/shit" etc as American to the point of being funny. I always used to think, "where are they taking it to?". These days in Australia you hear the American version a lot more.
So I'd say that "have" is more British/Commonwealth/World English. "Take" is more American English. — Hippietrail 12:35, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Ditto. I completely agree. --Gelu Ignisque
In Texas, we take showers. If you don't have one, you have to take a bath instead. If you don't have a bath either, you can jump in the lake. Last time this came up, I think it was decided that "take" refers to the act, not the appliance. —Długosz