Wiktionary talk:Votes/pl-2007-08/Brand names of products 2

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I find the "invalidating" criteria to be too narrowly drawn. Consider, with oral medications for example:

Joe took an Alka-Seltzer and went to work.
Joe took a Tylenol and went to work.
Joe took a Viagra seltzer and went to work.

It can't be disqualifying simply to indicate that something is "taken" because things can be taken for all sorts of effects, and what is really conveyed by the above sentences is the effect that Joe likely desires to achieve by taking the respective medications.

I have much the same qualms about "drives" disqualifying automobiles. Citations saying someone drives a Ram (which is a pickup truck rather than an automobile) would be included, yet the far more widely known Accord would be excluded based on the same citations. Do you consider an SUV to be an automobile or not? With respect to various legal regulations they are not.

Also, Ford makes cars, vans, and trucks. I can point you to citations for Ford that reference a light truck rather than a car. Should we have an entry for Ford meaning a truck or van but not meaning a car, even though most Fords are cars? bd2412 T 15:22, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

I've changed the wording to indicate that "automobile" is not the legal definition, in case there are any other lawyers here. ;-) Yes, this is stricter than your previous vote, and the reason is to make it more difficult for brand names to enter, since that's what all who objected seem most worried about. However, a good citation is not as unlikely as you make it out to be. For instance, if it is necessary to know that a Ram is a truck rather than a car, then the quotation could still have a case.
I've also made your examples of medicine valid because the correct sense of "took" is not clear above. "Joe took a Newsweek and went to work" illustrates that. Your counterexamples are excellent in that they are so vague! Fortunate for you that we can't see the surrounding text.
Other than that, taking "Alka-Seltzer" and "Tylenol" can be a weak case because both are used to ail some sickness, albeit very different kinds. Consider "Joe took some Tylenol with a glass of water and headed off to work." Now it's more evidently something taken orally, probably medicine. If the reader can judge that from context, then it's not a word that needs to be looked up. However, if the type of ailment were critical to the understanding of the text, but not made clear by it, then it would be acceptable. Or it could be some other aspect, like the difference in effect with asprin on the thinning of the blood—something that isn't clear from the mere fact that it's medication.
Such a quotation about Viagra before work would almost certainly be legitimate due to the innuendo. But still, it would depend on the context. DAVilla 15:54, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

In the vote text, could you add an explicit example of a citation that meets the proposal and one that doesn't, for one of these categories (say, the first one, "driving")? It will help me to get my head around it (and it will surely help other contributors in the future who were not party to these dicussions.) Thanks, ArielGlenn 21:46, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Drove an Accord...[edit]

I think there should also be some sort of consideration where the brand name is a common word that has been appropriated for such use. An accord is an agreement, an Accord is a type of car. It is possible to "drive" an accord in the sense of promoting it. People can fly "united" (with unity) or fly "United" (the airline). You could have an "apple" or an "Apple". I don't have a particular criteria in mind, but I think we need to take particular care to permit such definitions where a reader might be confused into mistaking a reference to a brand for a mundane word. Of course, this would only apply to brand names in widespread use.

I think that confusion might further the ambiguity of a pragmatic assessment, making it slightly more likely that a common word would pass as a brand name, but due to capitalization I doubt that would be a prominent reading with any consistency. The more important point, anyway, is that the brand names are in widespread use. DAVilla

Also, on a completely different note, we should take care to exclude double references as citations. For example, if a reference says that someone had a "Ford Thunderbird", someone who doesn't know "Ford" might still recognize "Thunderbird" as a vehicle type and correctly deduce that Ford is a car maker, and someone who doesn't know "Thunderbird" might still recognize "Ford" as a carmaker, correctly deduce that "Thunderbird" is a vehicle. So this should exclude use of this citation for either purpose. (This would also apply to your "Mazda Miata" example).

Cheers! bd2412 T 07:10, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Okay, I had been going the other way on that, so I took out a couple of quotations, the other a case where the understanding of U-haul would make the type of product towed apparent. DAVilla 13:29, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Well you can tow all sorts of things behind a U-haul, like a trailer or some kind of additional storage rig. My thinking was more in line with the Mazda Miata or the Mazda RX7. bd2412 T 18:26, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Wait, you don't like Mazda RX7? Do you think someone might know what an RX7 is without knowing what Mazda is? That's almost like saying a citation of Apple with "Apple IIe" is invalid. Do you think we'll ever be able to cite RX7? or IIe?
The other quotation I put it in the entry itself. DAVilla 23:27, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
If "RX7" is never used outside the phrase "Mazda RX7" then it should fail the citations test. If it's really a word, you should find people saying "I have an RX7" out of context. Same with Apple IIe - after all, a sentence saying "I like to work in Windows 98" wouldn't be used to prove that "98" means a computer program. bd2412 T 00:53, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, I believe that people would say that without mentioning Mazda, speaking to someone who was knowledgeable about cars, but I doubt it would be common enough to pass. The point is that it's a model “number” more than a model name.
I don't think we should have anything controversial in this vote, so I'm more than happy to remove it. Mazda is the name of a god as well, and I had a lot of trouble digging up a really convincing citation, but I'll try again. DAVilla 00:44, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Also, regarding the citation, "Mom drives an Accord, which is quite a surprise if you think about it. I guess that says something about her response to fame. Anyone can drive a Porsche once they have the cash." I think this is a perfect citation for "Accord" since the reader is supposed to be surprised that a famous person would drive one. bd2412 T 00:01, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

The problem is that the text tells the reader they should be surpised. I didn't count it for Porsche but I also wouldn't count it for Accord. In showing their qulities, it's a good quotation for both, but it doesn't assume that the reader has any knowledge of the brand outside of what can be pragmatically determined (and in this case rather explicitly). That's the major difference between your criteria and mine, and the reason why mine is stricter. DAVilla 00:44, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Ah, but you have to know something about an Accord to know why you should be surprised. If I told you my mom drives an Accord, that probably would elicit no surprise. If I told you my mom drives a Lamborghini, that might be surprising. If I were to say "my mom, surprisingly, drives an Accord" you would either think that an Accord is a surprising car for someone to drive, or would have to presume that this tells you something about my mom (that she is rich or ostentatious or the like). bd2412 T 01:10, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I guess you're right. "Mom drives a Lamborghini, which is quite a surprise if you think about it. I guess that says something about her response to fame. Anyone can drive a Porsche once they have the cash." Initially I thought this was absurd and didn't make any sense at all. But now I see Lamborghini and Porsche are compared rather than contrasted, and it would indeed be surprising for "Mom" to drive either, for a different reason than the Accord.
Fortunately the quotation is still not legitimate as a citation of Porsche. Should I add a note about the Accord? I think it would be confusing to try to explain so early. DAVilla 02:49, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I just realized there's another issue at work here. Suppose it said:
"Mom drives an Accord, which is quite a surprise if you think about it. I guess that says something about her response to fame. Anyone can drive a Honda once they have the cash."
That would convey a different meaning because an Accord is a kind of Honda, so it would not be comparing, but rather making a different statement about the Accord. But some readers (maybe not a lot, but possibly non-English speakers) may not know that an Accord is not a kind of Porsche. How much knowledge should we presume on the part of the reader? We really have to think about the impression we might get if, instead of substituting names of other well-known car models, we substituted nonce words:
"Mom drives an Apingloo, which is quite a surprise if you think about it. I guess that says something about her response to fame. Anyone can drive a Crodafom once they have the cash."
Think about that! bd2412 T 17:07, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Oh another reading, very good. This is exactly the way that these have to be considered. What would you presume if you'd never seen or heard of that one word? Maybe Porsche came out with a new model! This quotation should definitely go on Accord. DAVilla 21:29, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

So, what exactly does it mean if someone drives an Accord? What exactly is an Accord? As an American, I know I'm supposed to be able to judge people based solely on the car they drive, but somehow that's not a skill I ever picked up. (Also, isn't there the complication that these things change over time? As in, Japanese cars used to be famously bad, and now they're famously good, yes?) —RuakhTALK 17:47, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

An Accord is a car of that brand. It doesn't actually have to mean anything more than that (edit: although, for the sake of citation, it would help if it did, or if it at least wasn't clear that it was a car). Sometimes a brand has reputation, sometimes there can be controversy, but even the boring stuff is helpful. Wikipedia plainly notes that "the Accord has been sold in most automotive markets in the world, achieving considerable success especially in the USA, where it was the best-selling Japanese car for 15 years running." Hence, an Accord is a common car of that brand (as opposed to, say, a Porsche, for which “common” is not an associable attribute). We don't have to tackle changing attitudes toward Japanes products here. Where the meaning does change, or where there is any question, quotations help sort that out, just as with any other word. DAVilla 21:18, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


Since you used "play" in the context of an instrument, I thought I'd throw in for your perusal the colletion of citation I assembled in the RfD of Gameboy:

  1. Meg Cabot, Reunion (2005) Page 39:
    • “Let me know if you hear anything more about those kids.” “Yes, yes,” Father Dominic said, his attention riveted to the Gameboy once again.
  2. Michael Nava, The Death of Friends: A Henry Rios Mystery (2004) Page 192:
    • “I left my Gameboy,” he said. “Your Honor, for the record a Gameboy is—” The judge cut me off, saying dryly, “I know what a Gameboy is, Mr. Rios. My husband's addicted to his.”
  3. Peter Smith, Two of Us: The Story of a Father, a Son, and the Beatles (2004) - Page 83:
    • Sam maxed out on his thirty-minute Gameboy limit.
  4. Julie Anne Peters, Define Normal (2000) - Page 56:
    • While I put on Chuckie's seat belt in the backseat, Michael strapped himself in. When his eyes met mine, he smiled. Then he turned on his Gameboy.
  5. Patrick Sheane Duncan, Courage Under Fire (1996) - Page 91:
    • Major Donald Teegarden, a tanned, balding man with a blond mustache and blue eyes that broadcast an immediate amiability, was playing a Gameboy with a Captain Byers.
    • ...
    • "Sure thing," Teegarden replied easily. Byers continued with the Gameboy, ignoring the two men.
  6. Mark Victor, Jack L. Hansen, Jack L. Canfield, Diana Von Welanetz Wentworth, Chicken Soup for the Soul Cookbook: 101 Stories with Recipes from the Heart (1995) Page 335:
    • I came home the other night after my writing class to find my husband Ted in bed, playing Gameboy with a very satisfied look on his face.

Hope you find these useful as well. Cheers! bd2412 T 21:15, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Some of the quotations above are misleading because they're not the first use in the text. But thanks, there was some good fodder there. Thanks also for reminding me that, as with "take", there are different definitions for "play". Likewise "strum". I've scaled back the analysis of the John Lenon Stratocaster a little. You would have to know that he's a musician. DAVilla 02:53, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I didn't search far ahead of the words when I found these citations - please let me know which ones are "misleading because they're not the first use in the text". Cheers! bd2412 T 17:08, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
You don't have to search too far ahead, but you would have to search backwards, since most people don't start reading a book in the middle. This is encapsulated by defining context as "the text preceding and surrounding the citation", and the very first example illustrates that point.
While your quotation of "Gameboy" from Two of Us by Peter Smith appears legit, use of the product name is already well established by the author. My quotation is of the first use, where it does not pass. (Of course, it is conceivable that at some other point in the story plot it is necessary to know more about the product to understand development, but that doesn't happen often.)
I don't remember which others above have this problem, but it was only one or two more. The other quotation I used, from Courage Under Fire, was good. DAVilla 20:51, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

So does this pass?[edit]

It seems like it does to me, with 11 supports and 3 opposes. Even counting the 2 abstentions as opposes, that's still more than 2/3 support. But perhaps I'm missing something, since we're almost 2 weeks past the closing date and this is still open? I would do the honors myself, but never having closed a vote here, I'm a bit fearful of screwing things up. -- Visviva 14:25, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I'd been waiting on a reply from Dmcdevit, anticipating the need to extend the deadline, although it's been ages since any discussion took place. I am personally unwilling to close the vote on account of my stubborness in replying to him. I hope it wasn't offensive, but it was certainly heated. As far as I am concerned, this vote can wait for a neutral party or time to decide. In my opinion the decision isn't going to be swayed, but Dmcdevit was correct that it should have been discussed elsewhere first, and I don't want to push my point of view any more than I already have. If this would be your first then I wouldn't jump in just yet, but certainly the closing of votes is no special privilege for an admin. DAVilla 16:19, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
We're leaning on time here. DAVilla 03:27, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
I'd close it as a pass, but I'm hardly a "neutral" party with respect to the issue. Let's find a 'crat who didn't vote on the issue and ask for a formal ruling, as it were. bd2412 T 04:48, 13 November 2007 (UTC)