Wiktionary talk:Votes/pl-2007-06/Placenames 2-A

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This misses the point of the opposition to the earlier proposal, I think. Yes, you've picked some non-controversial placenames. But this is still striving towards encyclopedic notability, and not word usage. It's obvious that the Sun, and the Pacific Ocean, and Morocco merit inclusion, but the question is not which places are notable enough for "automatic" inclusion, but how we should decide whether a particular word merits inclusion like these do. It seems like this suggests that the answer is to have a series of votes on sets of placenames, which is a bad idea.

To simplify the issue, while I agree that the Sun merits inclusion, that doesn't help me decide which word actually denotes the sun in another language. This is not a crazy idea, even for this seemingly uncontroversial group of proposed placenames. Are "Middle East" and "Central America" (your examples) common to all languages? Is there a word in Comorian, Abkhaz, Comanche, Old English, for them? What about the US "Midwest" the "Great Plains" or the "West Coast"? Some of these are exclusive to a set of languages, surely? This proposal doesn't clarify that: in fact, it seems to imply that any Comorian word for "Great Plains" automatically passes CFI even if I can't show that that word has any real usage in the language. And it would pass CFI then, because the concept it represents is notable, regardless of the word's actual use. If we are going to replace the current placename policy, it needs to be with something that has relevance in a dictionary, not encyclopedic notability of the word's referent.

The idea is that some placenames go in a dictionary because they are so common that, for example, I can mention Central America, or the Sun, as I did, and I can make myself understood without context in this language. We need to come up with a gauge for that: how to tell that a certain placename has a common enough usage in a certain language that it merits inclusion in a dictionary. Dmcdevit·t 16:29, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Really my entire thinking in this is to get rid of the "New York delicatessan"-type "attributive" reference requirement for place names that really ought to be included - nations, states, and provinces, major cities, important geographic features. Whatever formula most cleanly accomplishes that, I'll be happy with! bd2412 T 17:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Ruakh's comments from my talk page[edit]


First of all, sorry for bringing this to your talk-page, but the discussion page you linked to is a red-link, and I'm not sure if you actually meant for discussion to go there.

There are a few things I'd like clarified about Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2007-06/Placenames 2-A before it is begun. I've put them all below, and individually signed, so you can intersperse replies if you like.

Thanks in advance!

RuakhTALK 16:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

  • By "planet" do you mean "classical planet", or does Pluto (which was formerly considered a planet, but is now recognized not to be) count? (For a dictionary's purposes, I think Pluto is as worth including as any classical planet, but this won't actually affect my vote.) —RuakhTALK 16:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Do "continents", "countries", etc. include historical and prehistoric such (continents: Pangaea, Gondwanaland, etc.; countries: Songhai, Persia, Cornwall, etc.; regions: Nubia, etc.)? (I think it should, but again, this won't actually affect my vote.) Also, does it include ancient city-states (Greek, Sumerian, etc.) that were independent, but aren't commonly called "countries"? (I have no opinion on this, but think it worth clarifying.) —RuakhTALK 16:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Does the "name" of a country refer to its long, formal name ("Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma" ← historical, "Russian Federation", etc.), or to its normal name (Burma ← historical/disputed, Russia, etc.)? (I think the latter, and only the latter, is worth including, except in cases where the long, formal name is actually used sometimes in normal writing — "People's Republic of China" or "PRC", "Democratic Republic of the Congo", etc. — in which case both should be included. Even so, I don't think this will actually affect my vote.) —RuakhTALK 16:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Does "Reference to the name of a subject country in a document produced by the government of another country shall be sufficient evidence of the name of the subject country in the language in which the document is written" mean that only one citation is needed? So, if the IRS makes a typo and accidentally refers to "Republic of Botzwana", we include "Republic of Botzwana" as an English word? Further, does it allow mentions: "The State of the Vatican City hereby recognizes the rightful independence of the ruling government of Taiwan, and its right to refer to itself as the Republic of China"? (This one might well affect my vote — I think the "used attributively, with a widely understood meaning" criterion is silly, but I don't see why we'd throw out the normal CFI for words — though it's more likely that I'd just vote in support despite this reservation. Even if I do, I see this one as potentially turning this vote needlessly contentious. If you really think that the normal CFI for words shouldn't apply in this case, I'd prefer that that be a separate part of this vote, so we can vote "yes" on everything else without voting for this.) —RuakhTALK 16:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Do micronations count? (w:List of countries doesn't mention them, so I assume they don't, but I thought it worth asking. And don't worry: I really don't know whether they should, and that wouldn't affect my vote; I'm just wondering.) —RuakhTALK 16:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Also, if we include a term by one of these criteria, but it has a more common use that doesn't pass, then do we exclude the more common definition? (For example, Naples used to be its own country, the Kingdom of Naples, but today the term more commonly refers to the city of Naples and the informally-defined region surrounding it.) —RuakhTALK 16:29, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

"Widely recognized"[edit]

I thought the idea was to eliminate ambiguous wording. #4 therefore should be removed, if this is to be a non-controversial round. Also, #1 implies that Pluto would no longer be an acceptable Wiktionary entry (and we've certainly beat that horse to death, back to life, back to death, enough.) --Connel MacKenzie 08:53, 4 July 2007 (UTC)


Why were capitals not mentioned? I'd think that any State's two largest cities (if larger than the Capital) would also be shoo-ins. Note that by "State" I mean either a country, or a State of the USA. --Connel MacKenzie 08:56, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Why? Being capitals, or large, should not make them inherently worthy of inclusion despite their actual usage in the language. What we need are criteria that address the actual usages of the terms. Something like "placenames that are used without context in 3 peer-reviewed journals intended for the general reader (i.e.: the readership is not confined to any particular geographical audience, or any academic audience of a particular geographical specialty)." In English, this would exclude such non-English words like "Melekeok" (the capital of Palau) which is, in all the references on JSTOR, never introduced without a parenthetical explanation (Melekeok, the capital of Palau) unless Palau is already being discussed, and would include references to "San Francisco," "Versailles," and even miniscule, population-wise, places like "Jamestown" (not one of the two largest in the state, or a capital). I think this is (at least adequately) well demonstrated in the quote below.

Palau does not legally restrict its villages by class as does Yap [context]... A family in Angaur, for example, is deemed socially inferior to one in Melekeok, and the difference has the same significance here as the difference between a mining family in Kentucky and a Brahmin family in Boston. A chief from Angaur has as much chance of attaining headship of Palau's larger confederation as a governor from Wyoming has of becoming President of the Unites States, whereas the chiefs of Melekeok or Koreor have chances similar to governors of New York or Ohio. "Human Resources of Micronesia," Far Eastern Survey, pg. 4

Angaur, Melekeok, and Koreor are out, but this quote would help to attest Boston, Kentucky, Wyoming, New York, and Ohio, which are all used out of context, in the Far Eastern Survey, of all places. I also notice the author's decision to use "Kentucky," the average state, in analogy with "Boston", the well-known, historically significant city. These authorial decisions are important, and are based on the frequency of use and recognition of a placename in a language. We lose that if we create arbitrary guidelines that equate "Lexington" (Kentucky) and "Boston," or Paris and Melekeok. The policy needs to be based on actual usage, and therefore meaning, in the language. (Note that the guideline above is not necessarily a formal proposal, but a direction to go. It makes sense to me for English—though I didn't test out too many to see how places would stand—possibly less so for other languages.) Dmcdevit·t 10:10, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
This proposal is actually not geared towards cities at all - thought I'd knock out placenames in order of importance. Planets and continents and countries first. Cheers! bd2412 T 15:57, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
You are completely missing the point. Going by order of importance is arbitrary and makes no sense. Please read what I wrote. Dmcdevit·t 20:00, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Capital cities, at least in their normal spoken form, should all be included. Large and significant cities - over a million are also most likely to be searched by users. --Anatoli 03:56, 9 March 2010 (UTC)


I would add rivers to this list e.g. Amazon, Mississippi, Avon (but there again, I am in favour of allowing ALL placenames) SemperBlotto 09:06, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

I am in favour of ALL placenames as well. --Anatoli 03:58, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
I am also in favor of all placenames. --Yair rand 04:16, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
The current proposal doesn't go far enough. Exclusion of significant place names caused a lot of frustration in the past and we really need to think of compromises. Writing out a new vote or putting out a new proposal is very time consuming. If someone has the time and knows how, please expand this proposal. There were suggestions as to what kind of compromises we could have for the inclusion of real place names (excluding fictional):
  • All capital cities, no matter, how small or old.
  • Large cities - 0.5/1 mln, as a population limit. The size of the cities itself will make them significant and easy to find on maps and finding confirmation of existence.
  • Cities older than 150 years old and some historical or cultural significance, references would be required. E.g. Bonn is not so big but very significant, former capital, an old University city, etc.
  • Attributive usage should not be the main criterion, especially for place names from non-English speaking countries.
  • Major rivers, mountains/mountain ranges, territories, seas, lakes could be included - please define the criteria.

--Anatoli 04:28, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

What I don't understand is why can't the criteria for including placenames be the same as those for regular words? "Usage in permanently recorded media, conveying meaning, in at least three independent instances spanning at least a year" always worked for everything else, what's the whole problem? --Yair rand 05:40, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, these criteria don't depend on the meaning at all. The problem is that many dictionaries exclude proper nouns (even when they are words), and that many users are used to this habit. Another reason is that most dictionaries including proper nouns are encyclopedic, and we are not encyclopedic. But it's possible to deal with proper nouns (when they can be considered as words) linguistically. Lmaltier 06:38, 9 March 2010 (UTC)