Wiktionary talk:About Translingual

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Started at the behest of WT:BP#Translingual.

Some Initial Questions[edit]

Looking through the categories I came across a few questions.

  1. Were misspellings of common names (Gunther & Etienne) ever discussed as being Translingual?
  2. Shouldn't Category:Taxonomic names be made a child of Category:Translingual language?
  3. Does Category:Translingual abbreviations, acronyms and initialisms make any sense? Etymologically, these were most certainly AAIs in their source language, but once they became Translingual, since the underlying phrases aren't Translingual, don't they become symbols or codes instead?

--Bequw¢τ 16:11, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Symbol or Abbreviation[edit]

At V, under Symbol are senses that I have always viewed as abbreviations. Are they called Symbols because they are used in languages that have non Roman characters? Are they in fact all used that way? Also, the newly revised MUL sections for letters are placing some L3 headers at L4. DCDuring TALK 20:24, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

I would say (as #2 above) yes for being symbols instead of abbreviations. The abbreviation was part of the etymology for sure. As for the L3/L4 issues, can you be more specific or provide an example? --Bequw¢τ 01:11, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
On second issue: I think it's been resolved: the items that showed up on rfc-structure are no longer there.
On first issue, What is the logic?
Generally, how would one ever attest to anything in mul-land? Need one bother? Does anything have to actually be in use? Is Translingual just a center for international prescriptivism? What are the authorities whose pronouncements are authoritative? This realm seems so encyclopedically unlike the rest of Wiktionary.
How are you going to indicate the divergent scopes of translingual entries? Do all of them merit placement ahead of English? DCDuring TALK 01:30, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
Logic for symbol over abbreviation: I'd say that if the unabbreviated terms exists in the language then it's fair to say that the abbreviated term is still an Abbreviation, otherwise it's a Symbol. So if V is used Translingually but volt is not, then V, in English, is an abbreviation, but Translingually it's a Symbol. But maybe volt is Translingual also. If so, V really is a Translingual abbreviation.
Attestation: I think the same rules apply. We find actual uses, not just authoritative references. That tells us the scope of the entry. The only caveat being that we haven't defined the criteria for what scope is broad enough to be labelled Translingual.
Indicating scope: Such a good question I started a separate thread below.
Trans above English on pages with both: The only problem I see, would be if the scope of all the Translingual senses didn't include English. Off the top of my head I think that's unlikely, but maybe it happens.
--Bequw¢τ 20:46, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Or are terms like fro symbols? Would this L3 header be allowed/desirable? There was a discussion a while ago about symbols vs codes, but I can't seem to find it now. --Bequw¢τ 02:02, 9 October 2009 (UTC)


One issue which I believe hasn't been dealt with is mentioning on an entry its range of applicability. If the term is only used in Romance languages or if it is used in most all languages then where is this noted? The Usages Notes section could be used for this, but I don't know if it ever has (for Translingual entries that is). --Bequw¢τ 20:26, 7 October 2009 (UTC)


Can pronunciations be Translingual? See: cosh, sinh, tanh. --Bequw¢τ 15:12, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Prononciations cannot be translingual. They differ with the phoneme inventory and use of the native language of the user. -- Prince Kassad 16:38, 8 October 2009 (UTC)
If the only thing that changes about a term between languages is its pronunciation, should we have a main Trans entry and then separate languages entries for the different pronunciations? Or can we have a pronunciation section for any language that pronounces a such a term? Can there even be Category:Translingual acronyms since those would have to pronounced (rather than said letter by letter like initialisms)? --Bequw¢τ 00:37, 9 October 2009 (UTC)
I would pray that we could dispense with Pronunciation sections for Translingual terms. But only initialisms can be assumed to be pronounceable "by rule". In principle, all others would seem to "need" a different pronuncation for each language in which they are attestable unless we decide to dispense with/forbid that "by policy" until such time as we have a more space-conserving approach to presenting pronunciations. DCDuring TALK 17:33, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Postal codes and portions thereof[edit]

Aren't many postal code elements translingual? Also, because US and Canada are, at least, substantially tri-lingual and officially at least bi-lingual (multilingual if native peoples languages are counted) and mutually accepting of each other's subnational postal codes (TX, ON, etc), aren't all US and Canadian geographical abbreviations bi-/tri-/multi-lingual and therefore translingual? DCDuring TALK 17:22, 9 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes. That's part of the reason I made WT:CDPR#Acronyms classed abbreviations. --Bequw¢τ 21:18, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

What a short page![edit]

I'm a bit surprised at how short both the page and the talk page are. I think that expresses the level of difficulty that we are facing, rather than just "lack of interest". The million dollar question is what translingual entries are dictionary material. If I punch myself in the face, that's translingual. Secondly, how translingual do translingual entries have to be? {{mul}} just refers to "multiple languages" - when it's impractical to list all the languages separately. So Malta could be considered translingual as the word stays the same in at least 60 languages (the French Wiktionary has 60 listed, maybe more since I last looked). Mglovesfun (talk) 16:41, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Malta, pizza, iceberg and kanji, among other terms, have identical meanings in various languages, but different grammatical characteristics such as gender and declension, so I say they merit individual language sections. --Daniel. 16:53, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree, I was referring to the SIL/Ethnologue entries for mul. Mglovesfun (talk) 17:02, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Properly speaking, mul refers to a very different concept from Translingual. mul is used on a piece of text that contains parts in many different languages, when it is impractical to tag each part individually. That doesn't really apply to us. So we cheat and use mul to mean "Translingual". Which I don't think is a big deal. But it means that the ISO 639-2 definition of mul is completely irrelevant to us; we can't use it as a basis for defining what we mean by "Translingual", because it's inherently talking about something completely different. —RuakhTALK 22:11, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
A series of votes (if needed) on what is appropriate for translingual sounds like a good idea. This page contains very little, which reflects how little consensus there is. Mglovesfun (talk) 18:03, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Pages don't need to be long. What do you think is missing? --Bequw¢τ 18:30, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
You're right, my comment is vague. I mean there are a lot of issues that we aren't covering. I will try and cover these a bit, as this page is quite 'new', I think it's ok to make edits with minimal consultation. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:08, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Translation of Translingual words[edit]

My parser found several translingual entries in English Wiktionary, which have Translation section. As I understand this is an error, since only English entries can have translation in English Wiktionary. Am I right? Or is there an exception for Translingual entries?

The following translingual words have Translation (dump, as of 30 Oct 2010):

+ translation of Latin suffix: -idae.

-- Andrew Krizhanovsky 11:58, 2 February 2011 (UTC)

That's kind of an open issue. Some terms are translingual, but nonetheless have language-specific equivalents, and right now we don't have a good way to handle that. (Most of your examples are scientific names for various taxa. There are international scientific names, which are translingual, but some languages also have local scientific names.) —RuakhTALK 15:10, 2 February 2011 (UTC)
OK, so formally the translation section could be presented now in English and Translingual entries. Thanks!
P.S. I suppose it should be reflected in the rules (e.g. WT:ELE). -- Andrew Krizhanovsky 07:45, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
He didn't say formally it can be, or that that should be in ELE. He said it's an open issue, which I take to mean that it's not agreed upon (and I agree with such assessment).​—msh210 (talk) 16:03, 4 February 2011 (UTC)
  • We have a few distinct, obviously related issues:
    1. What constitutes a 'translation' of a taxonomic name?
    2. Where does one place vernacular names for varieties, strains, subspecies, species, genera, or other taxons?
    3. Is a word like hominids a vernacular name or a translation of Hominidae?
I hope that we can get enough of a discussion here to either resolve the issue of make a reasonable proposal at BP, if necessary. DCDuring TALK 14:56, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
@ 1. Some items that appear in the Translingual Translations sections for taxons look like the equivalent of "deer family". Some of these may be naive translations, not using 'family' in the taxonomic sense, so that the same translation might be used for subfamilies, tribes, and other levels of groupings. Arguably, a taxon occurs in a set of distinct contexts for which such a naive translation is inappropriate and, in some cases, unnecessary.
@ 2. One thing that clearly seems necessary is that we have a home for vernacular names. At present they may appear under Synonyms, Translations, and See also headings. I wouldn't be surprised to see them in Usage notes. The most common one or two English vernacular names for the term or an exemplar genus or species usually appear in the definition, which seems reasonable. But there are often many English vernacular names, though their attestation status is often unverified. It is easy to conclude that synonyms should be reserved for terms that are also taxonomic names, so vernacular names do not belong there. The Translations header has the right infrastructure of software and habits, at least for non-English contributors. We really only need to explain what kinds of terms we want to appear in the translation tables. Perhaps an explanatory template that appears under the translation header would be a start, until there were enough good examples of what we mean so that users could pattern their contributions on what had gone before. Alternatively, a new heading like "Vernacular names" might clarify matters.
-- DCDuring TALK 15:38, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
Personally, I'd prefer to see them all converted into {{trans-see}}s, pointing to the common name in English (equid, corvid, etc). I'm a little bit on the fence, though, when it comes to SAAB and cm. --Μετάknowledgediscuss/deeds 15:42, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
That presupposes that there are English vernacular names for virtually all such terms. I think it is actually the case that there are many, many more taxons (!) that have no English vernacular name. I think mammals usually do and common taxons of all kinds, but certainly not all. DCDuring TALK 15:13, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

WT:CFI or exceptional treatment for taxononic names[edit]

See Wiktionary:Tea_room#Garra_pingi_pingi and Talk:Garra_pingi_pingiSpecial:PermanentLink/24941345#Garra_pingi_pingi. DCDuring TALK 04:29, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

Scripts and translingualness[edit]

Scripts are not translingual in the same sense that scientific nomenclature and abbreviations are. Something like "km" (for kilometer) can't be said to "belong" to anything, it's just an international symbol that is used worldwide. But for characters of scripts it's different, because those belong to the script, which we recognise as distinct entities on Wiktionary (they have their own categories). It has long bothered me that we label Chinese characters as translingual merely for the fact that they are used to write multiple languages. So I think that we should not be using the Translingual header for characters belonging to a particular script. —CodeCat 19:36, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

I agree that labelling Chinese characters translingual is problematic. As someone pointed out in a previous discussion, the characters do not per se have translingual meanings — the meanings survived or evolved in some languages and not in others. I recently came across and cleaned up one ==Translingual== entry where a sense was openly labelled {{qualifier|Min Nan}}! (I found it while looking for instances of {{qualifier}} misused as {{label}}.) - -sche (discuss) 20:00, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Dictionary abbreviations of authors and works[edit]

Are dictionary abbreviations like Stat. for Statius or more complete Publius Papinius Statius (w:Statius) considered to be Translingual? Often they are used translingually, for example Stat. occurs in English, French, German, Latin and maybe other European languages when citing the ancient author and his work.

  • Sometimes abbreviations could abbreviate non-translingual short forms like English Liv. for Livy besides translingual and also English Liv. for Livius. The proper meaning of the abbreviation can then often only be seen by a mentioning in an abbreviations section. L&S for example has "Liv. Titus Livius, historian, obiit A.D. 17" (s:A Latin Dictionary#ABBREVIATIONS), while there are other English books having "Liv. Livy". So there would be both: 1. a translingual Liv. for Livius or Titus Livius which is also used in English and 2. a non-translingual English Liv. for Livy.
  • When citing works, there could be different ways of citing it. met. and Met. could both stand for Latin Metamorphoses, but met. could also abbreviate metamorphoses and Met. could also abbreviate an English Metamorphoses or a German Metamorphosen.


  • If one defines Liv. as an abbreviations of Titus Livius, then there should be no link or a link to wikipedia
  • A general problem with wiktionary's templates: It is possible that an English abbreviation abbreviates a Latin and not an English word or phrase. But {{abbreviation of|VERBUM|lang=en}} would mislink to an English entry and {{abbreviation of|VERBUM|lang=la}} would miscategorise it as a Latin abbreviation. So one would need another template or would have to type something like ''Abbreviation of [Latin]'' '''[[VERBUM#Latin|VERBUM]]''' together with [[Category:English abbreviations]].

- 09:39, 1 May 2017 (UTC)