Wiktionary:Tea room/2014/February

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discussion rooms: Tea roomEtym. scr.Info deskBeer parlourGrease pit ← January 2014 · February 2014 · March 2014 → · (current)


This is defined as "A god thought by Europeans during the Middle Ages to be worshipped by Muslims." Etymologically, it is derived from the name of Muhammad. During the Middle Ages, some Europeans believed that Muslims worshipped Muhammad as a god. So, my question is: does this term mean "Muhammad, whom mediaeval Europeans thought Muslims worshipped", or did mediaeval works distinguish between Mahomet/Muhammad and Mahound as separate entities, e.g. describing Mahomet as a prophet of Mahound?
Next question: if Mahound means "Muhammad", is the information that Europeans thought he was a god relevant to this specific form (moreso than to any of the other equally-archaic and often more-common forms, such as Mahomet), or is it sufficient to replace the first definition with {{archaic form of|Muhammad}} and move the information that Europeans thought he was a god into the etymology section (or even just into a qualifier, like this)? - -sche (discuss) 04:20, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't see how this could be truly resolved except by citations. If this alternative form is used with a distribution of meanings that is strongly shifted toward the "god" definition, it is not unhelpful to users to suggest that the "prophet" definition is more likely to apply, as the main form entry might apply. But your thought of a qualifier or usage note might be adequate.
I suppose that one might imagine that the forms and the definitions each had their own temporal distributions, which we would fully document in the main entry, so that the correlation between the "Mahound" spelling and the "god" definition was the result of the otherwise independent variation in the temporal distributions.
Either presentation would require a goodly amount of scholarly research to fully support it. I wonder how much of such research has already been done. DCDuring TALK 11:25, 1 February 2014 (UTC)
I have overhauled the entry. - -sche (discuss) 23:58, 5 March 2014 (UTC)


The usage note there says "No imperfective (or Volitional), perfective." The bad caps and bad grammar look like a bad sign, so having doubts I did a quick search for uses of a perfective form and found plenty of examples, but unfortunately it's hard to be sure because 要した is also the perfective form of 要す. The negative form 要しない is unique to 要する, and I found many examples of that, such as:

1921, 宮本百合子, 深く静に各自の路を見出せ:


1937, 戸坂潤, 認識論としての文芸学:


1947, 坂口安吾, 咢堂小論:


That leaves the volitional, and indeed I could not find any examples of 要しよう, but it may just be a strange thing to say ("let's need it right now!") rather than grammatically impossible. I admit that inseparable type 3 verbs are a bit of a mystery to me, so I was wondering if there's any accuracy to that usage note, and if it's the case for every such verb or just this one. Is {{ja-suru-i-ku}} accurate? Does it have exceptions case by case? This question applies to most of the entries in Category:Japanese terms using ja-verb with type 3. Haplogy () 05:45, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

  • Sometimes the "volitional" is used more to posit an opinion than to exhort: 要しよう == 要するでしょう. Some English-language books describe this as a presumptive use. I found numerous examples on Google books, including this one that shows this kind of usage:


FWIW, [single kanji]+ verbs are (as best I can tell) just the older forms of the modern [single kanji]+する forms, though both varieties are still regarded as inseparable. The form conjugates into archaic-sounding form like [kanji]+せる for the potential, or [kanji]+さない for the negative.
That usage comment was added by Izumi5 (talkcontribs). I wonder if they meant that there isn't a valid 要そう form? A cursory Google Books search didn't turn up any such instances that I saw. But there's certainly a perfective 要した, and the volitional using しよう instead of そう, as linked above. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 11:02, 2 February 2014 (UTC)


The second sense "(UK) Someone dependent; someone disregarding or ignorant of another's personal space." looks like two different definitions. Is there really only one definition that incorporates both dependence and disregard for personal space? DCDuring TALK 11:31, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

I wouldn't mention "personal space" at all. Also, the word does not necessarily imply dependence. My suggestion (probably someone can improve on it): Someone who clings to another person, usually in an unwelcome way. Are we sure that this meaning is UK only, by the way? 03:37, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
By the way, I also have doubts that the sentence example He stuck to me like a limpet all day! actually illustrates this sense at all. 03:59, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, your definition is much better for the modern sense (not given by the OED which has a dated sense "esp. of officials alleged to be superfluous but clinging to their offices"). Dbfirs 18:57, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


The entry here is potentially very misleading. The examples state that "bobby" is UK slang for a police officer or railway signaller. I am unable to speak for the rest of the UK, but certainly in Scotland this word would never be used for either meaning and such useage would be seen as a distinct Anglicism. If for no other reason, by far the most common useage of the word "bobby" in Scotland is (perhaps through borrowing from the Scots "boabie" or vice-a-versa) as a vulgar and somewhat childish reference to the male genitalia. 19:48, 1 February 2014 (UT

The "police officer" meaning is well known throughout Englsnd. I have never heard the word used to mean a railway signaller. 03:18, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
User:Sgeureka added the railway usage. He's only made one edit in recent years so it might be difficult to ask him where he found this. It's certainly not common. The slang meaning of "penis" is, I think, exclusive to Scotland, but it's less common than the "policeman" sense which is used in Scotland (regularly by the Scottish newspapers) and is very common in England (and of course, Edinburgh does have its own Greyfriars Bobby). Dbfirs 18:46, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

lose one's marbles

Since the noun cool (c.f. google books:"my cool is") and the verb lose one's cool are distinct entries I think we should restore the definition for lose one's marbles instead of redirecting it to one's marbles. But I thought I should bring it here first as the deletion discussion says "do not recreate without careful consideration" TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 03:07, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Well the other option is to move lose one's cool to one's cool, which should definitely be considered alongside this. --WikiTiki89 03:19, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
lose one's cool at OneLook Dictionary Search and lose one's marbles at OneLook Dictionary Search do not provide the kind of lemming parade that we would unquestionably join. DCDuring TALK 03:37, 2 February 2014 (UTC)


This is generally used to refer to skids and is not considered to be anything resembling a skilled hacker. Anyone who would refer to themselves as a "h4x0r" would generally be dismissed as a try hard fool with no skill who tries to act big. I'll make appropriate changes. Inquisitor Sasha Ehrenstein des Ordo Scharzenkommando 04:28, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

It's a leetspeak form of hacker. Imagine a script kiddie talking about legitimate, skilled hackers in script-kiddie spelling. Equinox 04:29, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand what you mean by skids but I suppose Special:PrefixIndex/hax and Special:PrefixIndex/h4x should prove enlightening for this discussion. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 04:31, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
He means script kiddie (perhaps we're missing an entry!). Personally, I've only heard skiddie. Equinox 04:32, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
<whince> Yah, I have another sense for skids too... brown streaks in underwear. - Amgine/ t·e 07:03, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
For what it's worth I have heard "skid" used that way before, but only as slang (not in reputable print sources or anything like that) Goldenshimmer (talk) 22:28, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
g.g.c finds nothing on Usenet either. skiddie has got some hits, on the other hand. Might want to add them. Keφr 09:53, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

dawn prayer, noon prayer, evening prayer, sunset prayer

User:Pass a Method created these entries recently, defining them as the Islamic prayers that occur at those times. However, I feel as though the definition and meaning are somewhat reversed: e.g. isha is an evening prayer, but that doesn't prevent evening prayer being SoP when the definition is isha: this is just one particular prayer done in the evening (in a particular belief system). I think perhaps PaM is getting carried away with his Islamophilia, to the point of creating entries that aren't really useful. (Would we have an entry for morning prayers defined as "matins"?) Equinox 05:43, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

I agree that these are SOP. A dawn prayer is a prayer at dawn, whether it is the Islamic fajr or not. --WikiTiki89 05:47, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Oh, i didn't see it that way, if thats the case, go ahead and delete them. Pass a Method (talk) 10:08, 2 February 2014 (UTC)


The Swedish entry for check says that it is pronounced /ɕɛk/, but to me the audio file given sounds more like [ɸʷɛkʲ]. Is [ɸʷ] a regular realization of /ɕ/? I would be surprised if it is. --WikiTiki89 20:27, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

Apparently Swedish has [fˠʷ] as an allophone of the sj-ljudet. Maybe this is the one the user is pronouncing. — Ungoliant (falai) 20:48, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
But the sj-sound is /ɧ/ not /ɕ/. /ɕ/ is the tj-sound. --WikiTiki89 20:55, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Could be a hyperforeignism. — Ungoliant (falai) 20:56, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not really asking why it's pronounced that way. I'm trying to figure out why there seems to be a discrepancy between the phonemic transcription and the audio file. --WikiTiki89 20:59, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

"we are come"

I'm reading ASOIAF, and came by this sentence: "We are come, we are come to break your Wall". But isn't "we have come" the usual way to say this? What's the difference? --Fsojic (talk) 22:59, 3 February 2014 (UTC)

(Oh, that's what you're talking about. I thought it was a Wikimedia acronym, like MOS or POV. This isn't a fansite, so please don't assume we all speak the dialect of your fandom. (I'm not knocking fandoms or dialects, BTW. I've been an sf fan and a linguistics geek all my life.)) --Thnidu (talk) 04:05, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
It's very old-fashioned. However, you still encounter similar constructs like "we are gone", "are they finished?", etc. in modern English. No difference in meaning as far as I know. Equinox 23:01, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
"we are gone/finished" is not being used as the past tense of the verb. You can't say "we are gone to the store" or "they are finished the project", even though you can say those with "have". --WikiTiki89 23:03, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Hm. "We were gone from there" would be okay. Equinox 23:05, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, but it is being used as a state of being rather than as the past tense of "to go". --WikiTiki89 23:09, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, "we have come" is the usual way to say it. "we are come" is archaic and ASOIAF is intentionally written using a lot of archaisms (and many pseudo-archaisms). --WikiTiki89 23:03, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. Could it be mentioned on the relevant entries? This seems like valuable lexical information to me. --Fsojic (talk) 23:06, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
It's not lexical, the verb to be used to be used as an alternative past tense auxiliary verb, similar to other Germanic languages (and to French as well). If this information belongs anywhere, it is at the entry for [[be]]. --WikiTiki89 23:09, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
And we already have it. See definition 13 at [[be]]. --WikiTiki89 23:10, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. Thanks again. --Fsojic (talk) 23:12, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
English originally used be and have as auxiliaries for the perfect tense, like all Germanic languages once did (and most still do). Which verbs used which depended on the verb, specifically on the meaning of the participle. If the meaning was adjectival, then it used be, otherwise have. Transitive verbs generally used only have, but passive transitives used be. That's why you still say the work is done by... and the work has been done by.... —CodeCat 23:13, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Martin is echoing a passage by Darton in "Seven Champions of Christendom":
"Caitiff, are you that vile Leoger whom every true knight abhors? Set free your prisoners! We are come to break your power and make your spells in vain. Undo your enchantments and repent of your evil life,or we will slay you in addition."
- Amgine/ t·e 17:10, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

antonym of "intensifier"

I'm looking for an antonym of intensifier in his linguistic sense (I'm at a loss trying to define French un coup; I'm not even sure we ought to have it...). Would you happen to know one? --Fsojic (talk) 18:19, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

deintensifier/de-intensifier, moderator, diminisher, weakener? Just guessing. Michael Z. 2014-02-04 19:49 z
Softener? How are you planning to use the word — in the definition of un coup? I think the current definition ("used to soften...") is clearer than saying "a softener" or "a weakener" or any of the other "-er" words we've come up with so far. - -sche (discuss) 20:07, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Um, we already have that sense described as the 4th noun definition at coup. This would appear to make the un coup entry both redundant, and a sum-of-parts. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 20:32, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
That's not the same: "passe un coup le sel" doesn't mean "give me a small quantity of salt", but "give me the salt, will you?". For that matter, the current definitions of coup don't seem very good to me. "boire un coup" in the third definition makes me doubt, though. --Fsojic (talk) 20:55, 4 February 2014 (UTC)


Is there a more elegant or concise way of expressing this in English?: the practice of hospitals and doctors using profits gained from the sale of pharmaceuticals to sustain themselves. ---> Tooironic (talk) 02:11, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

You mean like financial kickbacks from the pharmaceutical company?--Brainy J (talk) 13:51, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
Based on the definition given, I don't think I'd call it a kickback. --WikiTiki89 14:22, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
  • The definition as given makes it sound as if the doctors in question would be destitute if not for the pharmaceutical company's support. It's also unclear if doctors are rewarded based on how much of a given drug they sell (which would be a kickback or a commission, depending on how the deal was arranged), or if the doctors are on the pharmaceutical company's payroll and are receiving a regular paycheck. Or, as another possibility, it might be that the doctors are acting independently -- inflating the price of the drugs they prescribe, and pocketing the difference, without any direct involvement from (or perhaps even awareness by) the pharmaceutical companies.
The definition definitely (ha!) needs more detail. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 21:07, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I may easily be wrong, but the way I understood it was as the hospitals and pharmaceutical companies taken as a whole, making more money off drug sales than off any other part of the patients' visits. --WikiTiki89 22:11, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
  • It includes everything that has been mentioned above. That's why it's so hard to define in English (in Chinese it's just four simple characters!). Oh well, never mind then. ---> Tooironic (talk) 22:33, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
    • "Never mind then"? What about adding in those senses? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 23:20, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
      • Because the definition is already too long and I don't want to refer to a specific activity as that's not part of the meaning of the term. ---> Tooironic (talk) 21:26, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
        • So what did you mean then by It includes everything that has been mentioned above? Does this term include these meanings, or does it not? If it does include them, that needs to be explained in the entry. If it does not include them, the entry still needs expansion of some sort or another, as it is very cryptic and unclear in its current form. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 01:25, 12 February 2014 (UTC)


It would be useful if Wiktionary could say something more about the status of the word "smoothe". Many (most?) dictionaries do not acknowledge this spelling at all, and I believe that some people view it as simply an error. 03:02, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

  • I'd be in favor of changing it to {{misspelling of}} and/or {{obsolete spelling of}}, depending on circumstances. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 12:19, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
    By our definitions it would be archaic rather than obsolete. The ending is an application of the orthographic principle used to distinguish teeth and teethe. But it is much, much less common than the smooth spelling and has been for more than 200 years according to a simple search of the Corpus of Historical American English (1800-2010). It is certainly impossible to call it a "common" misspelling. We don't include misspellings that are "uncommon" – not that we ever got around to committing ourselves to what uncommon meant for our purposes. DCDuring TALK 13:33, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
    I think that calling it archaic would imply that when people use it they are aware that it is archaic, which I don't think is the case. --WikiTiki89 14:21, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
    Looks like a job for usage notes. In EME it might have been one of the spellings in use. In literary use currently adding an "e" is a cheap way of making dialog seem more 'medieval'. And it might be considered a misapplication of the softening effect of "e" after "th" (bath/bathe, sheath/sheathe, cloth/clothe, breath/breath, and other, mostly obsolete pairs). DCDuring TALK 14:37, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
    The "making dialog seem more 'medieval'" thing applies to pretty much any word. I think adding the "e" for the "softening effect" is much more likely in normal circumstances. --WikiTiki89 14:41, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
    I always thought that 'smooth'/'smoothe' was the regular adjective/noun:verb pair, alongside 'bath'/'bathe', 'cloth'/'clothe' etc. I had no impression that this usage was any more obsolete than the use of "whom". But then, given my reading habits, I may suffer the same difficulty as Anathema Device ("... it's not so much that her spelling was wrong, than that it was five hundred years out of date.") --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 20:52, 6 February 2014 (UTC)


  • (ec) The graphs here and here may be of interest. These seem to show that, while the verb form "smoothe" is relatively rare, the third-person present "smoothes" is common, and becoming more so. I also found that oxforddictionaries.com [1] gives "smoothe" as an alternative spelling without any warnings or caveats. On this basis, I propose adding a usage note as follows:
Variously described as an archaic spelling or a misspelling, smoothe is recognised as a valid alternative spelling by at least one major dictionary [2]. The third-person present-tense form smoothes appears to be much more common than the base form smoothe. 21:11, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I use "smoothe" myself as the verb. I think I do it on the basis of pairs like loath/loathe and teeth/teethe. Offhand I can't think of any other word in English that ends in /ð/ and is written with final ‹-th›. I'm not arguing for its inclusion on the basis of just my usage, but since we've got at least one authoritative reference for it, I'd support treating it as a variant spelling.
P.S.: I inserted an {{outdent}} above the last, anonymous comment. --Thnidu (talk) 03:57, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
American dictionaries like Merriam-Webster and American Heritage do not accept the lemma form smoothe (though Oxford does), but they do accept smoothes as the third-person singular of the verb smooth. Perhaps we should call smoothes an alternative form of smooths on both sides of the Herring Pond, while smoothe is an alt. form in the UK but a misspelling in the U.S. (in addition to being an archaic form). —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 09:22, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure that the anomalous listing of "smoothe" at www.oxforddictionaries.com is in itself enough proof of a UK/US difference. I can't find the word any other UK dictionary, and my feeling is that most people over here who care about such things would consider it a misspelling. It may be that the people at oxforddictionaries.com saw the prevalence of "smoothes" and decided that this must imply a base form "smoothe", rather than allowing that it could be an irregular verb. My feeling is also that most people who write "smoothes" are using an "intuitive" spelling that is technically incorrect, rather than knowingly forming an irregular inflection. 12:40, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree we should not rely on one source listing it as a lemma. The actual OED says this at "smooth v.": "Forms: ME smoþe, ME–15 smothe; 15 smouthe; ME, 16, 18 smoothe, 15– smooth." --WikiTiki89 14:20, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
But the OED also lists five cites of the usage of the spelling smoothe, including by Shakespeare in Richard III, and by J A Froude in 1879. I don't see how this can be "technically incorrect". Dbfirs 10:02, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Probably hundreds of words are spelled differently in Shakespeare compared to the way they are conventionally spelled today. 02:14, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Fair comment, but "smoothe" was also used by Mary Young Sewell in 1809, by Charlotte Brontë in 1853, by Elihu Burritt in 1865, by Christie Anne Farnham in 1994, by Irvine Clarke in 2005 and by Vicki Iovine in 2011. Some of these are American authors, though Bryan Garner does claim that the final "e" is incorrect for current American English. Dbfirs 23:15, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Idiomatic usage of who/whose

How would one concisely define this usage of "who" or "whose": Who are you reading? or The papers want to know whose shirts you wear ? I would say something like "pronoun indicating the person or organization that produced an item", but I think it could be better worded.--Brainy J (talk) 13:48, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

The first is the use of who as an interrogative pronoun. The second is use of whose as a relative pronoun. The entries seem to me to include suitable definitions and examples. Do they not seem adequate to you?
"Grammatical" terms, like pronouns, conjunctions, and the most common prepositions and adverbs are difficult to define. Often the definition line contains a "non-gloss definition" describing the function of the word rather than attempting a definition, let alone a substitutable one. DCDuring TALK 13:59, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I've seen fashion reporters doing celebrity interviews at the Academy Awards ask "who are you wearing", i.e., "who designed your clothes". Chuck Entz (talk) 14:16, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
True. The original usage example shows metonomy as well. DCDuring TALK 14:25, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I think in The papers want to know whose shirts you wear it's the ordinary usage of whose, even though the answer could potentially be either the name of a clothing designer or simply "my own, of course". But in Who are you reading? it's metonymy just like Who are you wearing?, since literally you don't read an author, you read his books. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 10:28, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

Stone translations

Discussion moved to Etymology scriptorum.

grammar term

Can "refer" be used as a grammatical term? For example, in the sentence Mary hated her sister, and killed her son for that, could we say that the second her doesn't refer to Mary, but to her sister? If so, is it the most usual way to say it? (because I'd like to add a translation table: in French, renvoyer is the most usual word for it) --Fsojic (talk) 01:28, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

Yes, you can use "refer". As for the sentence itself, you can't say that the second her doesn't refer to Mary, because it could refer to either Mary or Mary's sister. --WikiTiki89 01:39, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks (yes, it could refer to Mary, but that wouldn't make much sense to kill her own son to displease her sister - you never know, though)... That's a dumb example anyway, but the only one I could come up with! --Fsojic (talk) 01:44, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
There are languages where there would be different words for her depending on whether it referred to Mary or her sister. In Latin, for example, it would be suum if it referred to Mary and eius if it referred to her sister. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 08:38, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it would be the same in Russian. свою́ (svojú) for Mary and её (jejó) for Mary's sister. --WikiTiki89 08:51, 8 February 2014 (UTC)


This was added to WT:REE. I've found enough citations to support an entry, but I'm not sure whether it should be defined as "fear of grammar," "fear of writing," or both. -Cloudcuckoolander (talk) 05:08, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

It should certainly be "fear of writing", as γράμμα does not mean "grammar" in ancient Greek.Diomedea Exulans (talk) 21:15, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
We're a descriptive dictionary: we go by how it's actually used in English, not what seems to make the most sense etymologically (for example, look up the etymology of nice). Chuck Entz (talk) 00:26, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

seem to recall

In the phrase I seem to recall, our definition "To appear; to look outwardly; to be perceived as." at seem doesn't really fit, does it? --Fsojic (talk) 12:07, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

  • Totally wrong, I'd say. "I remember in a way that may be faulty" is how I would phrase it. SemperBlotto (talk) 12:12, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
    I think it's nevertheless a fairly common usage for expressing w:Epistemic modality. It means something like SB's paraphrase, but I view it as something more like "It seems to me that I recall X". "I recall X" makes a more definite assertion of the probable correctness of the memory of 'X', though not as definite as "X", where "X" is a nominal, either a noun or a subordinate clause. One can certainly say "She seems to recall X". Most people don't express the same skepticism about their own recollections.
IOW, our definition seems reasonable to me, but the function of "seem to" seems to me modal, possibly only when used in the first person. DCDuring TALK 14:01, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't see any fundamental difference in the meaning of "seem" between "I seem to ..." and "He/she/etc. seems to ...", nor any need for separate definitions. 20:44, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't think that that's the difference being discussed. The difference under discussion is between "He seems to be reading a book." and "He seems to recall being there." --WikiTiki89 21:12, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Oh, it seems to me that I seem to have misunderstood the question. 22:52, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

Latin suffix -ceps

There are two suffixes -ceps, so I'd like to have two different categories instead of a single Category:Latin words suffixed with -ceps, but I don't know what to call them. Besides, on account of this there are several entries whose declension tables are probably wrong: nigriceps, flaviceps, ruficeps, longiceps, laticeps, atriceps, breviceps (since they all come from the first suffix, -ceps, -cipitis the genitive would be nigricipitis, not nigricipis). --Fsojic (talk) 12:51, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

I don't think any addition we make could really fix it. {{suffix}} has a pos= parameter that might help, but even if we split the category, people will still keep adding more entries to the old one. —CodeCat 21:08, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
-er is another string of letters which represents several etymologically distinct suffixes, which our categories currently conflate. - -sche (discuss) 22:51, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for cleaning it up. I'd suggest leaving the -ceps category, and adding two additional subcategories: -ceps (headed) and -ceps (catcher)? Don't see how additions to the old category would be a problem. This approach would work find for -er too, but sorting out the etymology of all the English -er words could be quite a task, especially as many of those meanings seem to overlap. Pengo (talk) 07:04, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Another case: English "-est", which is different in "oldest", "boldest" vs "(thou) goest", "thinkest". - -sche (discuss) 00:35, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Though both are rather productive inflectional endings that are best not made into categories. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:38, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Another: user:msh210/Sandbox#adjectives ending in 'ly'.​—msh210 (talk) 15:33, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
Discussion continues at WT:Beer parlour/2014/March#Suffix_category_name_conflict. - -sche (discuss) 17:37, 21 March 2014 (UTC)


Is feces used with plural verbs and pronouns, or singular ones, or can it be used with both? For example, is it grammatically correct to say "feces have always been considered unclean", "an animal that eats feces may be attracted to their odor"? Is it grammatically correct to say "feces has always been considered unclean", "an animal that eats feces may be attracted to its odor"? - -sche (discuss) 22:56, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

It is always properly treated as plural, as far as I know. Your singular examples certainly sound wrong to me. 22:59, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
I think it's like data. It's supposed to be plural, but a lot of people treat it as singular. But the singular treatment is probably rarer due to the -s making it sound more plural than data. --WikiTiki89 23:00, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
While I find "the data has ..." quite acceptable, even to the extent of finding "the data have ..." slightly pedantic in some cases, "the f(a)eces has ..." just sounds impossible to me. 23:15, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Searches for "feces are" vs "feces is" turn up too much chaff for me to sift through (e.g. "the color of feces is", "pieces of feces are", where the singular- or plural-ness of the verb is due to an earlier word), but after some thought, I did come up with some decent searches:
Now that I check other dictionaries, I notice that Dictionary.com says "used with a plural verb", while TheFreeDictionary.com says "used with a sing. or pl. verb".
What do you think of this usage note?

- -sche (discuss) 01:16, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm surprised that anyone accepts such usage. I can only reiterate that, to me, a phrase like "feces has a strong smell" seems plain wrong. It would be interesting to see other people's opinions. 01:52, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
My unexamined instinct is to treat feces as a singular mass noun (unlike data, which I carefully always treat as a plural noun), but Boogle Gooks Ngram Viewer suggests it has always been more commonly treated as a plural noun. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:48, 9 February 2014 (UTC)
My inclination matches Angr's. I wonder whether this is a pondian difference.​—msh210 (talk) 16:25, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
For me, both "feces" and "data" are singular mass nouns. —CodeCat 16:29, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
But what's your dialect? (Though I linked to a description of my dialect, above, let me be explicit: it's American English.)​—msh210 (talk) 16:42, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Dublin English in pronunciation, but with many other influences because I've never lived in an English-speaking place. —CodeCat 16:48, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Good idea. If it were a Pondian difference, one would expect a difference in how often the American spelling "feces" took a singular vs plural verb, vs how often the British spelling "faeces" did. In the BNC, "faeces is" gets 8 hits, "faeces are" gets 6; in the COCA, "feces is" gets 6, "feces are" also gets 6... but these counts are unreliable because of the chaff I mention above, phrases like "the color of the feces is" and "piles of faeces are", where the singular- vs plural-ness of the verb is due to another word. In the BGC data I cite above, which I sifted the chaff out of, the ratio of singular to plural uses of "feces" is 12/56 (=0.21), while the ratio of s/p "faeces" is 1/24 (=0.04). - -sche (discuss) 19:56, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks much. So I guess it's primarily plural everywhere (and perhaps more so in Rightpondia).​—msh210 (talk) 20:54, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I find it really weird to spell it like this: in my view it should always be a diphthong, "faeces". How do we handle dialect issues in Wictionary? Diomedea Exulans (talk) 21:02, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Generally, we have a main entry for the most common spelling and a short entry containing {{alternative spelling of}} or the like for every other spelling.​—msh210 (talk) 15:38, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

prinking = pre-drinking

Is this term admissible? --Fsojic (talk) 17:46, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

If it can be cited (see WT:CFI#Attestation). --WikiTiki89 20:06, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Latin intransitive verbs with no future active participle?

Full list of verbs: Category:Latin no-passive verbs with no future active participle.

Intransitive verbs generally have no passive forms, which makes sense. But I've come across quite a few verbs that have no passive forms and no future active participle either, while there are also quite a few verbs with no passive that do have a future active participle. For example, equito has one, while abequito does not, even though one is derived from the other. I'm not sure what to make of this. Purely semantically, there is no reason that an intransitive verb couldn't have a future participle, and these verbs all have regular future conjugated forms. Form-wise, I suppose it does kind of make sense, because the future active participle is made from the same stem as the past passive participle, which is missing from these verbs. But is that an actual grammatical gap in Latin, or is it just a deficiency of our current inflection tables that needs to be fixed? —CodeCat 20:12, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Beware: conventionally, it's the supine, which has an active sense, that's used in dictionaries, not the passive past participle (precisely because the participle can't exist with intransitive verbs). There are cases where this supine doesn't exist either, though, and then the future active participle is mentioned (for example: consto, fugio, careo, iaceo). I don't know why, actually; maybe for syntactic/semantic reasons: "The supine is used with a verb of motion in order to show the purpose."; for a verb like "to cost" consto, it wouldn't make much sense (for a verb like fugio, I don't see the problem... and indeed L&S provides a supine for it - and for all the other verbs I mentioned as well save careo -, whereas my French dictionary only gives the future participle). Is that to say that even if there is no past participle/supine, there is always a future participle? I don't know, but probably not (see a verb like ningit, I don't think it exists).
Now I'm wondering: if all the verbs that have a supine have a future active participle (I think this is the case), but that the reverse is not true, why don't dictionaries always mention the future participle in place of the supine?
So, really, this matter is no clear at all to me. --Fsojic (talk) 14:39, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
My question wasn't so much about the participle/supine as much as about the stem of the fourth principal part, whatever that is. That stem is also used for the future active participle, so if that stem is missing, then the participle can't be formed. So I wonder if the verbs in the category above really have no such stem, and therefore no such participle either, or that this is something missing from our entries. Are all these entries missing a parameter, or is their current contents legitimate?
I think in the case of ningit it's because it's impersonal. Something like "the X that will/is about to snow" doesn't make that much sense. Snowing isn't a property of anything, so there can't really be a participle to describe that property. Then again, impersonal verbs do allow present participles as adverbs "while snowing", so maybe as an adverb it might work, something like "being that it will snow...". Our template {{la-conj-2nd-impers}} does show all the participles... is that correct or should that be changed? —CodeCat 15:25, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, but we could have a phrase like "I wonder if it will snow soon", and in Latin we would have Dubito an mox †nicturum† sit: we have to use the subjunctive in this clause, but the subjunctive future doesn't exist in itself; so we have to use a periphrasis with the future participle ("I wonder if you will be coming soon": Dubito an mox venturus sis), but ninguit happens to have none. --Fsojic (talk) 15:39, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
About your question: I really don't know, it might be that some of them have such a stem (on which a future participle or a supine or whatever would be formed), but it has to be checked on an case-by-case basis (and it doesn't seem too easy to me: sometimes such forms are only mentioned by grammarians, sometimes it's only used once by an author, and dictionaries, as we have seen, contradict each other). --Fsojic (talk) 15:48, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Should I remove the category then, or do you think it will be useful for you or someone else to check? Also, if the future subjunctive is made periphrastically, maybe we could add a note for that, like we do with the passive perfect currently? What about the future passive subjunctive, if such a thing exists? —CodeCat 16:22, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
I think it best to keep it for a while (might be a long while...), until a thorough investigation has been made. About the future subjunctive: it would be useful, yes. About the future passive subjunctive, I think we would have to resort to an even longer periphrasis (as well as for my example about the snow). "I wonder if he is going to be killed/it will snow soon" would be something like Dubito an futurum sit ut occidatur/mox futurum sit ut ningat, but I'm not sure about this... --Fsojic (talk) 22:07, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

half of a mind to

Is it idiomatic? --Fsojic (talk) 00:17, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

I've only heard half a mind to, not half of a mind to. See half a mind. (The to is just the infinitive marker on the verb that follows.) Equinox 00:21, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
*half a mind at OneLook Dictionary Search, *half of a mind at OneLook Dictionary Search, *half a mind to at OneLook Dictionary Search, and *half of a mind to at OneLook Dictionary Search yield nothing. I don't think it occurs without have (or got): have half a mind at OneLook Dictionary Search and have half a mind to at OneLook Dictionary Search, but *have half of a mind at OneLook Dictionary Search and *have half of a mind to at OneLook Dictionary Search also yield nothing. DCDuring TALK 00:53, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Since it can be separated by conjunction (search for "...and half a mind to...", "...or half a mind to...") I feel that the half a mind entry is best. Equinox 03:17, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
The ones I can see that have the idiomatic sense are of the structure "I have/had half a mind to X and half a mind to Y". Toghether with the lemming evidence, we would seem to have strong confirmation that have is required. DCDuring TALK 04:20, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
"Have/had" is the most common verb but not the only one. "Is in half a mind to..." is also common, and "is of half a mind to..." is also frequent enough. Pengo (talk) 07:16, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

here ("adjective" senses)

The entry claims that "here", in sentences such as:

  • John, here, is a rascal.
  • This here orange is too sour.

is an adjective.

I disagree, but I'm not sure what to do with these. They're definitely real, though the second is a dialectal construction that's proscribed in standard English. I would guess that they're either particles or adverbs. Thoughts? Chuck Entz (talk) 03:52, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Both are inherently colloquial. I find it hard to see how they would come up in writing except in dialog or reported speech. So, the proscription is against saying them?
The definitions given look like the two given for the adjective sense in MWOnline. But in the "John, here," usage example here is set apart by commas which makes it seem to me clearly adverbial. MW has "this book here" as a usage example - no commas - and says that here is properly postpositive. Colloquial this here (plural these here) and that there seem like determiners grammatically, along the same lines as yonder and 'yon.
Are we missing an adjective sense for here as in "I am/will be here for you" in the sense of "reliably present or available as a source of support"? MWOnline has such a sense for there but strangely omits it for here. DCDuring TALK 04:59, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
I think in "I will be here for you", "here" is an adverb. Compare "I will eat here for you". --WikiTiki89 05:08, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Etymologically it is obviously derived from that use, but it has come to have a non-locative meaning in which it is used with a sense that is paraphrased best with adjectives. And incidentally, there can be used virtually synonymously. DCDuring TALK 05:13, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, but I don't think the part of speech has changed. Even if it is best paraphrased with adjectives, the PoS is not determined by the meaning, but by the syntax. --WikiTiki89 05:29, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
But I am here. --kc_kennylau (talk) 12:54, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes you are here, but you also eat here and sleep here. And I think "here" has the same function in all of these. --WikiTiki89 15:21, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, I added the commas in the first example sentence because it seemed ungrammatical without them. I'm not so sure, though, that they change the underlying syntax. Chuck Entz (talk) 14:29, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
I've added an attempt at this here and that there if that helps in any way. SemperBlotto (talk) 15:27, 10 February 2014 (UTC)
You can also say that here (but seemingly not this there, which sounds wrong). --WikiTiki89 15:40, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

aboon, abune

I don't think English has a phonemic /ʏ/, but I'm not sure if it should be changed to /ʊ/, /ʌ/, or /ə/ in these two words. - -sche (discuss) 23:50, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Maybe we should just give the Scottish pronunciation with a Scottish accent tag. --WikiTiki89 01:29, 11 February 2014 (UTC)


I don't understand the fourth meaning. In the example we can't really replace it with improve... And shouldn't the seventh meaning be moved to the header "Etymology 2"? --Fsojic (talk) 18:25, 11 February 2014 (UTC)


Is it (as our entry claims) derogatory to call a German a "Teuton"? It seems poetic, but it doesn't seem offensive the way "Hun" does. Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster label "Hun", but not "Teuton", derogatory. - -sche (discuss) 23:50, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

The usage I’ve come across was not offensive at all. — Ungoliant (falai) 02:37, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
I've removed the "derogatory" tag accordingly. - -sche (discuss) 07:59, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

spit cotton / feathers

Do spit cotton, spit feathers merit inclusion as idioms for "feel very thirsty, have a very dry throat"? Stumbled in a Shelby Foote's book on Civil War: "When they reached the field of battle, spitting cotton and stumbling with fatigue..." --CopperKettle (talk) 09:42, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

Modern Japanese verbs all end in one of the following: うくぐすつぬぶむる. That's the part that conjugates. Yet there are some entries like that do not end in any of those kana. What's going on here? Was that a verb hundreds of years ago? I've tweaked Module:ja-headword so that it puts all of those terms in the hidden category Category:Japanese verbs without modern inflectionsCategory:Japanese verbs without modern conjugations. It will take some time, but once that category fills up, all of its members need some sort of attention. Haplogy () 06:27, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

  • The entry looks like a leftover messy stub created by folks who weren't entirely sure what they were doing. That's meant as a description, not as a criticism. My guess would be that the editor who marked the setsu reading as a verb was trying to figure out what to do with the on'yomi that conveys that meaning. It's not a verb in its own right, but it can convey a verb kind of sense to compounds.
... aha, it's an anon, possibly our old friend: (talk). Whoever they might be, I stand by my guess that they were trying in good faith to account for the verbal senses of the on'yomi. The current state of the entry isn't the way to do that. ... In fact, the JA edits by this anon are pretty universally incorrect. I'll see what I can do to clean that up.
So your new category might be a brilliant mechanism for finding broken stuff.  :) ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 07:42, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
No, it's an IP that geolocates to Nevada, which I see editing Japanese from time to time. My uneducated impression is that they're a bit amateurish, but mercifully without the fatal combination of ineptitude, prolific output and stubbornness that marks our English IP. Chuck Entz (talk) 08:03, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
That should have been modern conjugations...oops... It looks like most of them are verb forms, which brings up a separate issue, namely the lack of a consistent way of doing verb forms. I think those should be moved over to {{ja-verb form}}, and that that should be plugged in to the Lua headword module. Haplogy () 12:45, 15 February 2014 (UTC)


I just added sense 4 to the verb and am requesting volunteers to look over it and its usex and make any improvements. Also, isn't sense 5 of the noun capitalized? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:19, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

Judging by Google Books, one can also volunteer the use of animals, objects and land one controls:
  • 1941, The President's Report to the Board of Regents [of the University of Michigan] for the Academic Year 1941-1942, page 310:
    Over 200 schools volunteered the use of their equipment, which included 351 sound projectors.
  • 1995, Rosalyn Fraad Baxandall, ‎Linda Gordon, ‎Susan Reverby, America's Working Women: A Documentary History →ISBN:
    Eileen, a production leader, generously offered her parents' garage, but the parents vetoed the idea. Finally, Maria, an older Italian woman who was vociferous in her criticisms of Burger King, volunteered the use of her lawn, []
  • 2009, Chuck Parsons, The Sutton-Taylor Feud: The Deadliest Blood Feud in Texas, page 216:
    Meador volunteered the use of his own horse.
I don't know if we should expand your sense 4 or add a sense 5. AFAICT, one can only volunteer the services of other human beings if one has influence over them, e.g. one can compel an employee to help a business partner, or socially pressure a sibling to do dishes, but a random person cannot "volunteer" the president of China to do the dishes... can they? - -sche (discuss) 20:18, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Glendower: "I can volunteer premiers from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: "Why, so can I, or so can any man;/ But will they come when you do call for them?"
You can volunteer someone for a task without the slightest expectation that they will do it. Take as a hypothetical a meeting where someone who is not present is volunteered for a task without even being told about it. All it takes are the words "Fred will do it."
--Catsidhe (verba, facta) 20:31, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Maybe a random person can't volunteer the President of China to do the dishes, but I bet his wife can! Anyway, I don't think that needs to be part of the definition; that's just part of the pragmatics of volunteering other people's services. Maybe the quotes you give do call for a separate sense, as they involve volunteering the use of something rather than volunteering a person. That sense doesn't seem to be informal, but when a person is the direct object, I think it is informal. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:40, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I note that we don't have a definition suitable for one of the two usexes that were formatted as quotations. The missing sense is transitive, not informal, and takes an impersonal object. DCDuring TALK 22:22, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Offer is an adequate, though improvable, definition for the missing sense. DCDuring TALK 22:26, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

verba dicendi (verbum dicendi), verba putandi (verbum putandi), verba timendi (verbum timendi), etc.

I wonder if these entries (I don't know their English counterparts) would be acceptable here? They're clearly SOP, but are used quite often (and useful) in the teaching of Latin, and maybe of other languages too. --Fsojic (talk) 20:36, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

They're SOP in Latin, but not in English, and they are used in English, sometimes even unitalicized: [3], [4], [5]. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:50, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

me, myself and I

Pronoun or adjective? --kc_kennylau (talk) 03:23, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Pronoun: "Who was there?" / "Just me, myself and I."
Can also be used as object of prepositions and of transitive verbs and as a subject. DCDuring TALK 05:05, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
To be an adjective, it would have to be modifying something equivalent to a noun, and in the examples given, it's substituting for one, not modifying it. Really, me, myself and I is just a humorous version of me- jokingly referring to oneself as if one were three people. Part of the humor comes from the fact that having the three forms in the same coordinate clause is ungrammatical. Chuck Entz (talk) 05:51, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
I agree it's a pronoun. I created [[me, myself, and I]] with the Oxford comma as a hard redirect. It may be worth mentioning that this pronoun takes a plural verb, as in "Me, myself, and I are all in love with you."Aɴɢʀ (talk) 10:33, 15 February 2014 (UTC)
I object to the word "aloneness" in the usage note, as it sounds like it means the speaker is "lonely". --WikiTiki89 10:56, 15 February 2014 (UTC)


It seems there's a sense missing, but my French is not good enough to be sure. One hit at google books:"judaïquement" suggests that the proper translation is "excessively literally". Also, I'm not sure what tags belong on it, although it looks obsolete. —Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 20:45, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Does this help?: Note 1, l. 8. judaïquement, i.e. too literally, as it were like a Jew who interprets the Judaic law too literally, too rigidly. --WikiTiki89 22:11, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

like it

I looked through the senses we have at [[like]] and none of them seem to cover the usage "to like it somewhere" (such as "I went to Morocco and liked it there very much."). Should we create this sense at [[like]] or at [[like it]]? --WikiTiki89 02:49, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

I think the appropriate sense of it#pronoun is among those that our entry lacks. MWOnline has the following three definitions to which we have nothing corresponding as I read the entry:
3b —used with many verbs as a direct object with little or no meaning <footed it back to camp>
4 —used to refer to an explicit or implicit state of affairs or circumstances <how is it going>
5 a crucial or climactic point <this is it>
3b and 4 both seem applicable to the like it collocation. I don't think the meaning of it in like it is peculiarly associated with location: "Some like it hot". DCDuring TALK 03:29, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
(e/c) Although we have more senses than either Dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster, we haven't explicated the main sense of like very well. That sense, which Dictionary.com words as "to take pleasure in; find agreeable or congenial" and M-W words as "to feel attraction toward or take pleasure in", seems to me to cover "liking it in Morocco", with it as a dummy pronoun. The fact that one can also "(love|hate|adore|despise|enjoy|loathe|detest) it (there|here|in Morocco)" indicates to me that it is not part of the lemma. - -sche (discuss) 03:33, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Now that I think about it, DCDuring, you're right that it's not only used with locations: "Turn the heat up, I like it hot." And -sche, you're right that "it" is probably not part of the lemma. But I still think that there should be some usage examples at the appropriate sense of "like", and maybe even a note saying that it is often used with a dummy pronoun. --WikiTiki89 03:42, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Usage examples are good, though if we have "too many" in a given sense, they probably will need to be hidden, which reduces their value. But that is a topic for BP, possibly usurped by GP. DCDuring TALK 04:34, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Sadly, both words, common and important though they may be, have deficient entries. More sadly, this is not at all unusual. Function words and common verbs are the worst and the hardest to correct. DCDuring TALK 04:43, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

'ruin' and 'poem' as monosyllables

I see that the Pronunciation sections for ruin, ruined, poem, and poems doesn't indicate a one-syllable pronunciation. I pronounce them with one syllable myself (/ru:n/ invalid IPA characters (:), replace : with ː and /powm/ (or /poʊm/ if you will) respectively). It's also my impression that I've heard that a lot when I was living in New York, but I'm not sure, and, anyway, don't know what dialect(s)/register(s)/cetera it's specific to. Is it possibly just my own idiolect? If not, does anyone know its range?​—msh210 (talk) 16:17, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

I wouldn't be surprised if this is a regular sound change of -wəC- > -uC-. —CodeCat 16:20, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
It's definitely not just your idiolect. I've heard both pronunciations, though I don't use them myself and tend to think of them as "proscribed". —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:00, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Okay, so I'll add them as pronunciations for now, and anyone can add more information (on dialect, proscribedness, vel sim.) later.​—msh210 (talk) 21:51, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I definitely heard both of those as a kid (from other kids), but have not heard it at all in my adult life. --WikiTiki89 22:04, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
  • An article in the 1941 edition of Language, [the] Journal of the Linguistic Society of America (on page 244) contains a disappointingly detailless confirmation that a monosyllabic pronunciation of ruin existed at that time:
      B5 /əj/ in the typical New York City pronunciation of bird, and in the sub-standard New York City pronunciation of both bird and Boyd; §10. A similar pronunciation, requiring the same analysis, occurs in parts of southern New England, New Jersey, the South, and elsewhere.
      B6 /uj/ in a monosyllabic pronunciation of ruin and in a pronunciation of buoy different from boy; perhaps also in the Scotch pronunciation of good as [gyˑd] or the like.
      C1 /iw/ in mute, beauty, pew, new, due, tune, cute, etc., pronounced with [ɪu̯] by many American speakers (but rarely in the South), []
That's the only scholarly mention of the pronunciation that I can find offhand (I didn't search very hard). Unless other dictionaries have it, it is probably be appropriate to label it {{a|nonstandard|or|dialectal}}. - -sche (discuss) 22:15, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Webster's Third New International lists /poʊm/ (to rhyme with home) but marks it with the ÷ symbol, meaning "many regard this pronunciation as unacceptable". It doesn't mention /ɹun/ (to rhyme with June) at all, but does give a dialectal pronunciation of ruin as /ɹɝn/ (to rhyme with burn), which I don't think I've ever encountered. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:28, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I think the monosyllabic pronunciation is much more widely used in the US than the disyllabic or diphthong pronunciation, though possibly just among the more poorly educated 95% of the population. DCDuring TALK 23:21, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I wonder whether Dictionary of American Regional English covers pronunciation. DCDuring TALK 23:22, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I can't say I agree. At least where I live, the disyllabic pronunciation is much more common (except possibly among young children as I mentioned above). But I can check the DARE next time I visit my school's library. --WikiTiki89 00:30, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
There are probably regional as well as socio-economic factors in its distribution. I can't say I've ever noticed it in Los Angeles, but maybe I just haven't been listening for it. I have heard "howya doon?" once or twice, which seems to be related. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:56, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
MWOnline has the monosyllabic pronunciation of ruin as the third of three, one pronunciation having a schwa. Similarly for poem. At least three possibilities might account for the difference between 1961 and 2014:
  1. The monosyllabic pronunciations have become more common in the US.
  2. MW now recognizes the high frequency they has always had.
  3. MW is less prescriptive.
OTOH, most other dictionaries don't mention any alternative pronunciations, none any monosyllabic ones. DCDuring TALK 01:19, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
From the Dictionary of American Regional English:
poem n Pronc-sp pome Cf poetry
Std sense, var form.
c1820 in 1941 AmSp 16.157 NYC [New York dialect], Pome—poem. 1829 Kirkham Engl. Grammar 194, [Improper:] pome—[pronounced:] po em. 1897 KS Univ. Qrly. (ser B) 6.90 neKS, Pome or Po-um: poem. 1936 (1947) Mencken Amer. Lang. 341, In the vulgar speech . . poem . . pome. [1936 AmSp 11.161 eTX, Poem, is always [ˈpoɪm] or [ˈpoɪ˅m], never [ˈpoəm] or [ˈpo:m].] 1976 Garber Mountain-ese 70 sAppalachians, I had to write a pome for school fer my english assignment. 1996 DARE File cwCA (as of 1950s), When I was growing up, people used the word poem for serious poetry, but said pome with regard to doggerel or unsophisticated verse, or with self-deprecation applied to one’s own work.
In other words, confirming that [poʊ̯m] exists as a variant, which in New York City is actually more common.
The entry for ruin is much longer so I won't reproduce the whole thing:
ruin v
1 pres: usu |ˈruən|; rarely |ˈrɝn|; pronc-sp rurn.
2 pas, past pple, ppl adj: usu ruined; also:
a ruin. [] Gulg Region [] Ruin meat [] It's (nearabout) ruin. []
b |ˈruɪnt|, rarely |runt|; pronc-spp roont, ruint. chiefly Sth []
So the only monosyllabic forms mentioned are the rare [rɝn] and the even rarer variation of the past participle [runt]. --WikiTiki89 19:45, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for taking the trouble to look these up.
For inclusion purposes, I defer to DARE, especially as my ear is untrained, but I often hear "ruin" pronounced as a homophone of "rune", with "runes", "runing" and "runed" being homophones of the inflected forms. The audio at "rune" sounds very much like the pronunciation I hear.
I think what I often hear is [ˈpo:m] or [ˑpoəm], but if MW3's [poʊ̯m] rhymes with my pronunciation of "home", then we are agreed. DCDuring TALK 20:15, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, we transcribe home phonemically as /hoʊ̯m/. Where and when the diphthong is realized as a monophthongized is outside my area of knowledge. --WikiTiki89 22:33, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Relative directions as synonyms for cardinal directions?

People regularly use "left", "right", "up" and "down" as synonyms for "west", "east", "north" and "south". Our entries are currently missing these senses. Should they be included? —CodeCat 21:02, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

They do? I'm familiar with using "up" and "down" to refer to places that are north and south of where one is, but that's not the same thing as using "up" and "down" synonymously with "north" and "south". And I don't think I've ever heard "left" and "right" to refer to places that are west and east of where one is. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:33, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I know left and right in use in those senses only by the very young, who don't know better. Up and down are used in e.g. "he lives up in Montana / down in Texas", roughly meaning "north/south of here" (adverb), as Angr says. We already have that sense of up (adverb sense 4) and down (adverb sense 3).​—msh210 (talk) 21:43, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't think the meaning is very clear though. I've definitely heard people say things like "come up to my place" and "come down to my place" without any regard at all to the direction or elevation of "my place". --WikiTiki89 22:07, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
For sure. (At least down. I'm not sure I've heard up in that sense.) But that's another sense.​—msh210 (talk) 22:11, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I have never ever heard "left" and "right" used even remotely close to that way, except when looking at a map. --WikiTiki89 22:08, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
It's the only way to account for Rightpondia though. It definitely means "east" there. —CodeCat 22:16, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
But "Rightpondia" is a humorous term and it is likely that whoever came up with it was looking at a map (at least in his head). --WikiTiki89 23:06, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I think it mostly shows up in expressions such as down under and left coast, where it has a definitely humorous overtone. It's also true that one speaks of down south and up north, and not the other way around (in the US, anyway). Otherwise, it's only in the context of looking at a real or figurative map, which is expected to be oriented with north to the top. I'm not sure anyone would understand if one said "it's 50 miles to the left of that other town", but they might if one said "go up the 5 to the 80, then right 50 miles". Chuck Entz (talk) 22:20, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Anglicism, capitalized?

The Anglicism entry is capitalized as an alternate capitalization of anglicism. Unless it's a proper noun (is it?) why is it capitalized? RJFJR (talk) 01:10, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

In English, not only proper nouns are capitalized, but also adjectives that are derived from proper nouns. English, Newtonian, and Anglican are examples of adjectives that are capitalized. --WikiTiki89 01:23, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
And common nouns derived from proper nouns such as Americanism and French fry. --WikiTiki89 01:25, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes. But, to clarify, some are also often found lowercase (like abelian and french fry — and, I guess, anglicism).​—msh210 (talk) 05:41, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
I think that, in this case, the connection between Latin Anglia and anglicism is obscure enough to most speakers that anglicism doesn't usually get capitalized. Chuck Entz (talk) 06:12, 18 February 2014 (UTC)


I created this article - a word apparently not used in North America, but is used in the British Isles? Anyway, I'm not a language expert. I'm hoping somebody with more knowledge can tidy it up and do further research. Also, can I assume the word 'scrabble', and thus the board game, can be linked? -- 05:16, 18 February 2014 (UTC)


It's probably not the best place to ask this, but I don't understand the definition of our entry pronominal. What does functioning as of a pronoun mean? --Fsojic (talk) 20:20, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

It means someone made a typo when writing the definition. I've fixed it to "functioning as a pronoun". —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:40, 18 February 2014 (UTC)


Looking for the definition of a Welsh-derived word "Aylard". Used by my grandfather to describe a man with poor fashion sense.

tomato tomato

I really want to RFV this spelling, but I don't want it to look like I'm RFVing the entry itself so I'm bringing it up here. Who in their right mind would spell this using the same spelling twice? No one would have any idea what it means. --WikiTiki89 01:11, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I would support moving this to tomayto, tomahto, à la potayto, potahto. - -sche (discuss) 01:37, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Are they attestable? There are only cites for the potayto, potahto spelling. DCDuring TALK 01:44, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
"tomato tomato" doesn't seem to be attestable either. --WikiTiki89 01:58, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
[6], [7], [8] (this one with a diacritic), [9], [10]. There are doubtless more.​—msh210 (talk) 05:31, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

sensus plenior

(Current redlink.)

In Latin texts, it seems, this is SOP (if it's used at all. I haven't found it). But it's used in English texts also, where it has a specific meaning in Christian hermeneutics (see w:). (Per bgc, it has at least two meanings, actually: one is close to the Latin, something like "deeper meaning", and the other is something like "the method of finding Christian meanings in the Hebrew Bible".) But AFAICT from bgc, it's always italicized, so we wouldn't count it as English at all. I guess that means we shouldn't have it, but that seems a shame. Thoughts?​—msh210 (talk) 05:23, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

English often uses Latin phrases and italicizes them, this does not mean we can't include them as English, or perhaps Translingual if it is shown that they apply equally to multiple languages. --WikiTiki89 05:32, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
If an English speaker is faced with a term in an English-language text that they don't understand, then they should be able to look it up in an English dictionary. So if a writer uses a term originating from Latin as part of an English text, and don't provide a translation, then they're assuming that an English speaker would know that term as part of their vocabulary. And that, to me, implies that it is English. Unless, of course, the writer is actually writing their text in both English and Latin and is code-switching between them, but I doubt that writers still do that nowadays (they probably did in the past when Latin was common knowledge among educated people). —CodeCat 15:41, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


Under the definition for wahala , 3 nouns are offered to define a verb.

Perhaps it is not a verb at all —This comment was unsigned.

I changed the header from "Verb" to "Noun" and the category to Category:Nigerian Pidgin nouns. Could someone more knowledgeable about Nigerian Pidgin (or other English-related Pidgins) take a look? DCDuring TALK 17:01, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
The sources I found agree this is a noun. — Ungoliant (falai) 10:38, 2 June 2014 (UTC)


We now show a three-syllable pronunciation (UK) and a four-syllable pronunciation (US). In the US I think the three-syllable pronunciation exists, especially when the adjective is before the noun it modifies.

In British English is the three-syllable pronunciation used even when is word is the focus? For example, in "Because the storm front is stationary, we will experience Noahtic flooding." Is that a common phenomenon in English? Is it so common as to be virtually non-lexical or does it need to be mentioned in for each three-or-more-syllable word for which it is applicable? DCDuring TALK 17:39, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

I was wondering that myself. My home dialect tends to omit the schwas, so I might have a slightly biased viewpoint. I decided not to start changing all the possible words, and just to put the schwa in brackets where the OED indicates that it is optional in British English. I think the answer is that it depends on the speaker. I'll listen carefully to the weather forecasts! Dbfirs 18:02, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
  • FWIW, in the dialects of US English that I'm used to hearing, this word is never three syllables, and in fact, the penultimate syllable omitted in some UK English dialects instead has a secondary stress: /ˈsteɪʃəˌnɛɹi/. ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 19:07, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
    Maybe I'm just used to hearing fast-talking New York city slickers. DCDuring TALK 19:51, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
    I think one of the US variants in fast speech is a secondarily stressed schwa which is sometimes ultrashort but always there. I don't think it is every completely dropped. --WikiTiki89 22:48, 20 February 2014 (UTC)


The entry says of the meaning "To compose, to constitute" that it is "informal" and "considered incorrect". However, several reputable dictionaries list this meaning with no caveats, for example [11] and [12]. The Wiktionary usage note itself agrees that it is "increasingly frequent and accepted usage". My feeling is that "considered incorrect" could be softened perhaps to "considered incorrect by some" or "traditionally considered incorrect", or perhaps even removed altogether. In my view the phrase "is comprised of" does deserves condemnation, but in the present layout, examples of both acceptable (in my view) active usage and unacceptable (in my view) "comprised of" usage are mixed up under the same item #3.

I find the usage note a little confusing. I don't understand "... whereby the passive form effectively means "the members comprise the team'". I also don't understand the distinction being made between the "compose" and "constitute" "variations".

I also don't see the need for three separate definitions #1, #2 and #4, and in #1 a usage note seems to have been inserted next to the example, which doesn't seem standard Wiktionary style.

Overall, I think this entry would benefit from some attention. 03:24, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for bringing this up. We would want to maintain some recognition of the criticism as part of our descriptive approach which includes mention of such criticism, even as the criticism abates. DCDuring TALK 04:31, 21 February 2014 (UTC)


There seems to be a popular idea in web-based dictionaries that the word "wuss" was invented, or at least popularised, in the 1982 US film "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (eg http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wuss); this is implicitly endorsed in the Wictionary article. I know exactly where I first came across this excellent word: it was part of the active vocabulary of a fellow-student at the University of Liverpool in 1975, a lad who spoke with a pronounced East Midlands accent and came from Leicester. His speech wasn't much affected by current American slang, and I find it likely that the word has been in the dialect of the East Midlands for many years. I see that there is a rather similar Dutch word meaning "ooze", which might suggest a derivation. Diomedea Exulans (talk) 20:57, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

The OED says: “Origin uncertain. Perhaps a blend of wimp n.2 and puss n.1 Compare slightly later wussy n.” --WikiTiki89 22:37, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
And an alternative way to blend these two words gave pimp, I suppose? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:50, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, certainly in use at Liverpool University (I think as early as 1970, and by someone from Kettering). I don't think I'd heard it before then, but perhaps someone from the East Midlands can help with the origin? The earliest written record that the OED can find is from the University of North Carolina in 1976. Dbfirs 09:47, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Two "English" sections in entry

Sec. and Med have two "English" sections. Is it correct? —This unsigned comment was added by ‎ (talkcontribs).

@ Thanks, fixed. --kc_kennylau (talk) 11:32, 22 February 2014 (UTC)


What's the BE pronunciation of ma'am? The alternative spelling marm suggests that it is not identical with AE. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 14:44, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

According to The Queen it's "/mæm/ as in ham and not /mɑːm/ as in farm" when speaking to Her Majesty, but the fact that someone felt obliged to point this out to someone else suggests that /mɑːm/ as in farm is also a popular pronunciation. You'd never have to tell an American not to rhyme ma'am with farm, as no American would dream of doing so in the first place. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 16:23, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Ha Ha! Are there any words that Americans pronounce /...ɑːm/? Dbfirs 16:36, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, since most Americans have the father-bother merger, yes: mom, bomb, calm/palm/psalm (for those who don't use the spelling pronunciation in /-ɑlm/), and so forth. But since we've lost distinctive vowel length it's more accurate to say we pronounce them /-ɑm/. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 16:49, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, none of those would be transcribed using the long vowel /...ɑːm/ in American English. I must admit to being confused by the lack of long and short vowels in American English. They are alive and well and used to distinguish between words in northern British English (to distinguish between cam /kam/ and calm /kaːm/, for example). Both /mam/ (or /mæm/ in the past) and /mɑːm/ are common pronunciations of ma'am in the UK. Dbfirs 18:01, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Some dictionaries, especially British ones, do use the long vowel mark to transcribe American English. For example, John C. Well's Longman Pronunciation Dictionary transcribes AmEng mom as /mɑːm/, and even transcribes AmEng hot as /hɑːt/, as if it were homophonous with RP heart, which I find very distracting. And AmEng does have long vowels, just not contrastive ones: vowels are long before voiced consonants and short before voiceless ones, so while pot and pod are distinguished as /pɑt/ and /pɑd/ phonemically, they're [pʰɑtˀ] and [pʰɑːd] phonetically. And "tense" vowels are somewhat longer than "lax" ones, so heat has a longer vowel than hit, just not as much long as in BrEng, so we don't bother transcribing it. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:43, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, that helps to reduce my confusion. Dbfirs 19:06, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't see any reason not to use the long vowel mark to indicate the phoneme, for the sake of consistency with British English. Also, British English also has a length distinction between vowels preceding voiced and unvoiced consonants. Compare the UK pronunciations given at white and wide. It may be more restricted in British than in American, but it is still there. --WikiTiki89 20:35, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
The length mark doesn't bother me too much with /i/ and /u/; I will usually write things like * {{a|GenAm|RP}} {{IPA|/hiːt/|lang=en}} for heat rather than separating out /hit/ and /hiːt/ on separate accent lines. But if there are other pronunciation differences that necessitate two separate accent lines anyway, then I won't use the length mark for GenAm. But doing as Longman and transcribing hot as /hɑːt/ really rubs me the wrong way; it just feels flat-out wrong. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:55, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
/hɑːt/ and /hɑt/ both rub me the wrong way. I prefer /hɒt/, as it is more inclusive to the minority of Americans who make the distinction. For the same reason, I also oppose entirely omitting rhoticism in UK pronunciations. --WikiTiki89 21:01, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
But underlying representations aren't pandialectal. A person who acquires a dialect in which bock and Bach are homophones isn't going to assign them separate phonemes just because other people are acquiring a different dialect in which they aren't homophones. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:16, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
So what? As a dictionary we are trying to show how the word is pronounced in as many dialects as possible. Someone who is learning "GenAm" will know to merge /ɒ/ with /ɑː/ just as someone who is learning RP will know to ignore the the /(ɹ)/ in /fɑː(ɹ)m/. The more information we can fit into a single transcription, the better (as long as it is still readable). --WikiTiki89 21:27, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
In Wikipedia, we use such a pandialectal scheme already, why not here? We would simply transcribe farm as /fɑrm/ there. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 00:27, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
I have always supported such a scheme, but I am continually opposed by those who say that phonemes only exist within a dialect or that such as scheme is difficult for readers, but I disagree with both of those. --WikiTiki89 00:55, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
After long opposition, I finally conceded to the pandialectal transcription at Wikipedia because it's an encyclopedia where the focus of an article is the concept behind the term, not the term itself, so listing three or four different accents' pronunciations of a term would be putting undue weight on lexicographical information instead of encyclopedic information. But Wiktionary is a dictionary, so its focus is on words and it can afford to spend the time and space transcribing words accurately into several different dialects. Wiktionary is the one Wikimedia project where dialectal differences in pronunciation shouldn't be glossed over by a pandialectal transcription scheme. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 17:13, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Unless you plan on adding every dialect to every entry, we will be missing a lot of information if we do not use a pandialectal transcription in addition to the selected dialectal realizations. That's one think you may be overlooking that a pandialectal transcription is not mutually exclusive to listing dialectal realizations. --WikiTiki89 20:11, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
Just one more thing to add, one more thing to keep our entries from ever being complete. I do add RP and GenAm pronuns to practically every English entry I edit. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:32, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
That's exactly what I'm objecting to. I don't think GenAm and RP are sufficient. According to Wikipedia, GenAm excludes the entire American South and Northeast and "Peter Trudgill estimated in 1974 that 3% of people in Britain were RP speakers." A pandialectal transcription would cover the vast majority of the English-speaking world all at once. --WikiTiki89 21:37, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
On the contrary, it would exclude 100% of the English-speaking world all at once, because no one pronounces English the way the pandialectal transcription represents it. Anyway, we already have a pandialectal transcription in use here, just not one in IPA: our {{enPR}} scheme is pandialectal. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 09:05, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
{{enPR}} is potentially pandialectal, but it is not always used as such. But IPA is the more widely accepted scheme for transcriptions so it makes more sense to also include it in IPA. If we were to consider that any speaker that does not pronounce words identically to the phonemic transcription is excluded from the phonemic transcription, then the only way to include anyone at all would be to use more detailed phonetic transcriptions (and we'd need about 360 million of those on each page). I do not consider GenAm /ˈwɑtɚ/ to exclude the majority who actually pronounce it [ˈwɑɾɚ] because that pronunciation is directly derived from the dialectal rules of how the given phonemes are realized (in this case that intervocalic non-pretonic /t/ becomes [ɾ], merging with /d/), but I do consider it to exclude those without the father-bother merger who are then left to wonder whether (in a rhotic New England dialect) it is pronounced [ˈwɒɾɚ] or *[ˈwaɾɚ]. Using the scheme /ˈwɒtɚ/ (vs */ˈwɑːtɚ/) is inclusive to those dialects as well as to "GenAm" where the rule would be to pronounce both /ɒ/ and /ɑː/ as [ɑ]. --WikiTiki89 15:38, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't consider /ˈwɑtɚ/ to exclude the pronunciation [ˈwɑɾɚ] either, because [ɾ] is an allophone of /t/, but /ˈwɒtɚ/ does exclude those who have an unrounded vowel in the first syllable as well as those who have a nonrhotic vowel in the second syllable. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:59, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
You can just as easily say that [ɑ] is the only allophone of /ɒ/ in GenAm and that in non-rhotic accents the allophone of /ɚ/ when not directly followed by a vowel is [ə]. --WikiTiki89 16:18, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
If the only allophone is unrounded, then the phoneme isn't rounded. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 17:22, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Phonemes can't be "rounded", only sounds can be. A phoneme is just a symbol. --WikiTiki89 17:38, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
A phoneme is not just a symbol. It contains distinctive features, like [+round] or [labial] or whatever feature your favorite theory uses to distinguish /ɑ/ from /ɒ/ in languages that distinguish them. Actually water is a particularly good example of the problems with a pandialectal transcription, because some (cot-caught distinguishing) speakers rhyme it with hotter while others rhyme it with daughter (and still others rhyme it with footer). What symbol do you use to represent that range of possibilities? Neither /ɒ/ nor /ɔː/ will do if hotter has /ɒ/ (since there are accents in which they don't rhyme) and daughter has /ɔː/ (since there are other accents in which they don't rhyme). You'd have to come up with some other symbol that means "equivalent to /ɒ/ in accents A, B, and C, but equivalent to /ɔː/ in accents D, E, and F, and equivalent to /ʊ/ in Philadelphia". —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 18:45, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Maybe a phoneme is not just a written symbol, it is also an abstract idea. As soon as the you assign specific characteristics to the sound, the phoneme ceases to be a phoneme and becomes a realization. Water is not an example of a "the problems with a pandialectal transcription", but of the fact that I frequently mind-blank when coming up with examples. If I had thought about it for more than a second, I would have realized that water is actually /ˈwɔːtɚ/ and that a better example would have been something like hotter /ˈhɒtɚ/. But I still should point out the caveat that pandialectal transcriptions do not imply that a given word will only have one transcription. For example, lever and bath clearly need two different transcriptions each (/ˈlɛvɚ/ vs /ˈliːvɚ/ and /bæθ/ vs /bɑːθ/). I'm not an expert on Philadelphian English, but depending on whether it's a regular process, [ˈwʊɾɚ] would either be covered by /ˈwɔːtɚ/ or will need its own transcription. Another point is that in my opinion, pandialectal transcriptions should only handle what they can represent easily. For example, a pandialectal symbol could be devised for the a in bath to simultaneously differentiate it from both the a in trap and the a in father, but that would cause more complications than simplifications and therefore should not be done. The same goes for certain peculiarities of certain dialects, such as the Pennsylvania (or maybe elsewhere as well) pronunciation /kɹɪk/ of creek or the New England pronunciation /ˈhʌtˌdɒɡ/ of hot-dog vs /ˈhɒt/ of hot and /ˈpʌpˌkɔː(ɹ)n/ of popcorn vs /pɒp/. --WikiTiki89 19:38, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I agree with Angr. The proposed "pan-dialectal" transcriptions I have seen have all been too abstracted and too far from most speakers' pronunciations to be useful to them. To use different symbols A and B in a phonemic transcription is to convey that there is a phonemic distinction between A and B. If speakers with accent Foo make such phonemic distinction, then it is appropriate to have an accent-specific transcription that makes the distinction. If speakers with accent Bar do not make such a distinction — especially if they do not make a distinction even on the level of allophones, let alone on the level of phonemes — then it is incorrect to have a transcription that claims to cover their accent and yet acts as though they make a phonemic distinction between A and B.
It is not cogent to argue simultaneously that /ɒ/ and /ɑ/ are so different that they should be distinguished in even a pan-dialectally broad transcription, and yet that they should (and readers should somehow know that they should) be treated as not just allophones but the same sound on a phonetic level in many accents (especially if the "pan-dialectal" transcription isn't even going to have the space or ability to specify which accents those are).
Whereas, I think it is obvious that having a transcription tagged "Foo" that transcribes that accent's pronunciation is always appropriate, and if it does not cover the pronunciation of the accent "Bar", that is immaterial, because it does not claim to.
Lastly, the point about distinguishing vs not distinguishing sounds such as the a in bath vs trap vs father (while simultaneously using /ɒ/+/ɑ/ in the aforementioned way) concedes another basic flaw in the idea of "pan-dialectal" transcription. If is isn't truly pan-dialectal/comprehensive, then it's especially unhelpful: it's even more difficult for casual readers to figure out if their accent is supposedly covered by the transcription or not, and the transcription still fails (in the way Angr and I have described) to represent some or all of the accents it ostensibly covers. - -sche (discuss) 20:50, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Postscript: we as a community should undertake, perhaps by bot or perhaps simply by hand and AWB, to systematically replace all uses of {{a|US}} with {{a|GenAm}} or other appropriate tags, and all uses of {{a|UK}} with {{a|RP}} or other appropriate tags, since "US" and "UK" (in contrast to the well- and specifically-defined "GenAm" and "RP") do seem to claim to cover certain accents that they do not in fact cover. I have copied this suggestion to the BP. - -sche (discuss) 20:50, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
  • To get back to the question that started this thread, Longman gives both /mæm/ and /mɑːm/ but recommends the first for learners of English as a second language. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:14, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
    The OED gives both variants in both for both UK and US. It also gives the additional unstressed UK /məm/ and US /əm/. --WikiTiki89 21:33, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
    And FWIW, Dictionary.com lists /mæm/, /mɑm/ and (when unstressed) /məm/ as American pronunciations, and Merriam-Webster Online adds /əm/ as another American pronunciation "after 'yes'". - -sche (discuss) 21:42, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
    In that respect, I trust MW and the OED more than Dictionary.com. --WikiTiki89 22:47, 24 February 2014 (UTC)


The adjective says it's only plural, but I'm not sure how that works. Adjectives agree with nouns in Finnish, so what happens when you use this with a singular noun? —CodeCat 21:03, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

The singular of the participle is liittoutunut, so maybe that's the singular of the adjective too. Or maybe the thinking is that you have to have at least 2 things to be allied. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:08, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
@Hekaheka Could you shed some light on this? —CodeCat 02:43, 25 February 2014 (UTC)
First a warning: I'm engineer, not linguist. That said, I think pluraronly is too narrow for the adjective sense (if it should be there in the first place, see further down). I changed the entry accordingly and revised also other aspects of the entry.
Finnish participles are an unsolved issue in Wiktionary. Most of them are not regarded as adjectives in Kotus or NSK but many are translated into English with adjectives which may not be equal to the past participles of the standard English translation of the Finnish verb in question (still following?). Often I simply add an adjective section to the verb form entry, using {{fi-adj}} as POS template, which causes the participle to be categorized to Finnish adjectives in addition to Finnish verb forms. Today it occurred to me that perhaps using {{head|fi}} would be better, see liittoutunut. That would allow me to provide the English adjective as a translation to the Finnish participle form while avoiding the latter to be listed as "false" adjective. Any opinions on this? --Hekaheka (talk) 15:14, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
Participles are more like adjectives than like verbs. But because they are often used in a distinctly verbal meaning, it's not always clear which one to use. I think using "participle" as the header is best, because it captures this ambiguity in a single word. —CodeCat 15:39, 2 March 2014 (UTC)


well statistics is mainly used to judge an advert of some sort.

Huh? What are you on about? JamesjiaoTC 20:22, 25 February 2014 (UTC)


I'm not sure if the English translation I gave in the second sense of this Latvian word (as well as in the example sentences) is really the best way to say it in English. Is there a better adjective for this meaning of "which gives good results", more appropriate for the context of the examples? I'd be thankful for any input from native speakers here! --Pereru (talk) 15:47, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

I can additionally suggest: beneficial, worthwhile, fruitful. --WikiTiki89 16:36, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • [After e/c]
  1. grateful is much, much better for the usage examples in sense 1. I'd consider deleting thankful if the usage examples shown cover the full range of usage. Thankful is usually used where there is not a material being involved, rather God or fortune.
  2. For sense 2:
    1. worthwhile, profitable, and fruitful are other synonyms.
    2. instead of which, standard – though still possibly dated or stiff–- dictionary practice would have that.
    3. ***"productive to theatr" => **"productive to theather/theatre" => *"productive for theater" => ?"good for theater" => "makes for good theater". I think usexes 6 and 7 would both be expressed colloquially with such circumlocutions. There might be a substitutable adjective, but it doesn't come to mind at the moment.
HTH. DCDuring TALK 16:38, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I would suggest in this particular case to use -ing rather than which or that (i.e. "yielding good results"). --WikiTiki89 16:43, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback! One final question: I had always thought that thankful and grateful were bona fide synonyms, and the Wiktionary definitions would seem to confirm that... Does everybody agree with DCDuring that grateful is much better than thankful for the meanings and examples for pateicīgs in 1? Should I indeed delete thankful from the definition and the translations? --Pereru (talk) 06:56, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
They are synonyms in that their denotations are exactly the same, but their connotations are different. In the usage examples you gave, I would prefer grateful for all of them. But, it is very likely that in some uses of pateicīgs, thankful would work better. --WikiTiki89 07:07, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
I'd not thought about it before, but the use of thankful seemed like a non-native speaker's "mistake". Thankful and grateful don't seem mutually substitutable, though most dictionaries seem to act as if they were full synonyms. To me, grateful requires a more (explicit) or less (anaphoric or kataphoric) clear object for the gratitude. 'Gratitude' is a feeling, only possibly expressed. 'Thankfulness' seems to me to place much more emphasis on the expressed behavior. I give thanks, but do not give gratitude. I suspect that not every native speaker would accept this characterization exactly, but I don't think it's idiosyncratic. DCDuring TALK 12:34, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Also, I can be thankful (eg, say "thank you" politely) for something I am not grateful for (eg, for an unwanted gift). DCDuring TALK 12:40, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
I didn't realise that insincere thanking was "thankful". Chambers doesn't list such a sense. Equinox 01:18, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
It is the essence of politeness that one's true feelings not be obvious to any but one's closest friends. DCDuring TALK 02:13, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I've never heard that sense of "thankful" that Equinox is objecting to either. --WikiTiki89 02:21, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
Interesting! The more you play with a language, the more you learn... So I can be thankful without being grateful. Is the opposite also possible, in your opinion? Can someone be grateful (for something) without being thankful (i.e., without saying "thank you") for it? --Pereru (talk) 23:25, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Can one "be thankful without being grateful"? It seems like 2 of the 3 native speakers above think one cannot; the distinction may be idiolectal. Individual speakers make all kinds of idiolectal distinctions between words.
Merriam-Webster define thankful as "1: conscious of benefit received: for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful. 2: expressive of thanks: thankful service. 3: well pleased, glad: was thankful that it didn't rain". They define grateful as "1a: appreciative of benefits received. 1b: expressing gratitude: grateful thanks. 2a: affording pleasure or contentment, pleasing. 2b: pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated". I.e. the words seem to be synonymous. (Sense 2 of grateful is the one used in Longfellow's line "fell I upon my spear, / oh, death was grateful".) - -sche (discuss) 19:32, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
So no one else has apparently ever noticed insincere behavior, which is really all that this is about ? I am saying that thanks is more (not exclusively) about behavior and gratitude more (not exclusively) about personal feeling. Insincere thanking is simply the place where this shows up in (apparently only my own) everyday life.
Evidence supports the relatively more common association of gratitude/grateful rather than thankfulness/thankful with feeling. As a background to the following facts about the two terms, grateful is about 3.75 times more common than thankful at COCA:
  1. after forms of feel ([fee]): grateful is more than 8 times as common.
  2. feeling of gratitude is 6 times more common that feeling of thankfulness.
  3. [feel] gratitude is 24 times more common than [feel] thankfulness.
  4. [seem]OR[appear grateful is 45 times more common than [seem]OR[appear] thankful.
The evidence seems relatively clear to me. DCDuring TALK 20:59, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree that they are used in different ways, but I don't think there are situations where you can be one and definitely not be the other. The fact that in certain situations, the word "thankful" is much more common, doesn't mean that one necessarily is not grateful in those situations. --WikiTiki89 21:17, 2 March 2014 (UTC)


The people who ran one of my favourite restaurants have retired and the restaurant has reopened as "Deroka". According to the chap on the phone it means something like "special feast", and is an ancient word from Mesopotamia.

Any ideas what language that might be? SemperBlotto (talk) 19:44, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

I can't see it being Semitic, so I would guess it could be Sumerian, or maybe even Persian? Or perhaps they are totally bullshitting you. --WikiTiki89 02:34, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
@Wikitiki89 OK - visited the restaurant this evening (very reasonable) and talked to the man (seems educated). He reckons it is Sumerian and is a sort of harvest festival meal. He also says that spelling is somewhat negotiable! SemperBlotto (talk) 22:14, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately I know virtually nothing about Sumerian or their cuneiform script and Category:User sux is strangely empty. --WikiTiki89 23:33, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
There's always The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary. I couldn't find anything using a wildcard search, but I didn't spend much time on it. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:41, 1 March 2014 (UTC)
Google got me buru and kul. I know absolutely nothing about Sumerian syntax or morphology, but mishearing and simply combining them can lead to "deroka".​—msh210 (talk) 05:50, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
Or even more interestingly than kul is the first citation at that entry for buru: "buru14!-ka". Maybe "-ka" is some sort of suffix. --WikiTiki89 06:04, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

to no avail

Does it deserve an entry? --Fsojic (talk) 00:59, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I think it does. --WikiTiki89 02:23, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
to no avail at OneLook Dictionary Search. A few yeses among the lemmings. DCDuring TALK 05:44, 28 February 2014 (UTC)