Wiktionary talk:Votes/pl-2010-03/Including particular individuals

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Particular individuals?[edit]

I don't understand. Unlike Wikipedia, we don't include individuals, nor things, nor animals, nor places, etc., we only include words. If something can be considered as a word, it should be included, whatever its meaning. Of course, placenames, surnames, etc. created by an obscure writer for an obscure fiction work, should be excluded, because they cannot be considered as real words of the language. But names should be included when they can be considered as words of the language: real surnames or names (when they are a word: Churchill, Confucius, Pericles, La Fayette..., but Winston Churchill is 2 words), and fictional names when they are important enough in the cultural background of language speakers to be considered as having entered the language (e.g. Batman).

I don't understand the space-free criterion either. It's normally easy to make the difference between what is a word, even if it includes spaces (e.g. New York) and what is composed of several words (e.g. Winston Churchill).

Actually, CFI implicitly assume that proper nouns are excluded by default, except when there is a particular reason to include them. While this is the principle adpted by most paper dictionaries (and they have reasons to do so), this means that linguistic data (especially pronunciation) about proper nouns are often difficult to find, and I think that their inclusion here is a major added value of the project. Lmaltier 22:43, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

Wiktionary currently does include sense-lines or definition lines for some particular individuals. Wiktionary includes not only words as syntactic entities but also their senses, semantic entities. Alongside concept senses or class senses, Wiktionary also includes some particular individuals as senses of certain proper nouns. The proposal makes an explicit allowance for inclusion of sense-lines or definition lines of two rather narrow groups of particular individuals.
Some particular human individuals who right now do have a dedicated sense-line or definition line in Wiktionary:
  • Aeschylus - A Greek dramatic poet (525 BC - 456 BC); Aeschylus was the earliest of the three greatest Greek tragedians.
  • Anaxagoras - An ancient Greek philosopher (c. 500 BC – 428 BC) from Clazomenae, who is famous for introducing the cosmological concept of Nous (mind), as an ordering force.
  • Aristotle - An ancient Greek philosopher (382–322 BC), student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great.
  • Churchill - Winston Churchill, English statesman and author.
  • Confucius - Western name of Kong Qiu (孔丘), an influential Chinese philosopher who lived 551 BCE – 479 BCE.
  • Darwin - Charles Darwin (1809–1882), British naturalist and founder of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
  • Democritus - A Greek philosopher (c.460-c.370 BC). The originator of the atomic theory together with his teacher Leucippus.
  • Einstein - Albert Einstein, the world-famous 20th Century theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity.
  • Euripides - A Greek tragedian (c. 480–406 BCE); Euripides was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens.
  • Galileo - Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), an Italian thinker and key figure in the scientific revolution who improved the telescope, made astronomical observations, and put forward the basic principle of relativity in physics.
  • Goethe - Johann Wolfgang Goethe, a German writer
  • Hippocrates - A Greek physician, circa 5th century BC, sometimes called the "father of medicine."
  • Hitler - German Chancellor between 1928 and 1945 - sent for verification
  • Keats - John Keats, English poet.
  • Lenin - Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, a Russian revolutionary and politician.
  • Leonardo - Leonardo da Vinci, Italian polymath.
  • Mao Zedong - A revolutionary leader, particularly a communist, socialist, or major reformist. Sometimes used figuratively in non-political contexts.
  • Marx - Karl Marx - should be expanded
  • Michelangelo - A 15th and 16th century Italian artist, full name Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni
  • Newton - Sir Isaac Newton, English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, alchemist, and natural philosopher
  • Parmenides - An Ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, in southern Italy. Founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy.
  • Pericles - A Greek politician that lived during the ancient and the classical times. - sent for verification
  • Plato - Greek philosopher, 427-347 BC, follower of Socrates.
  • Pythagoras - An Ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher
  • Socrates - A Classical Greek philosopher.
  • Sophocles - A Greek dramatic poet (ca.495 BC – 406 BC); Sophocles was one of the three greatest Greek tragedians.
  • Stalin - Joseph Stalin, Bolshevik revolutionary
  • Xenocrates - An Ancient Greek philosopher, mathematician, and the second leader (scholarch) of the Platonic Academy from 339 to 314 BCE.
  • Xenophanes - A Greek given name; most often used in reference to the pre-Socratic philosopher Xenophanes of Colophon. By extension, a profound or transformative religious thinker.
  • Xenophon - Athenian historian and philosopher born 427 BCE and author of the Anabasis and Memorabilia. He was a pupil of Socrates and became a general during the Persian wars.
  • Xerxes - several kings
  • Zoilus - An ancient Greek rhetorician, philosopher, who harshly criticized Homer's poems.
--Dan Polansky 10:48, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

I think that defining these names as the names of particular individuals in normal in most of above cases, except for Churchill, Darwin, Goethe, Hitler, Keats, Marx, Newton, as they simply are surnames, and thus shared by nature by many people (just as the noun dog is shared by all dogs, while Snoopy is only the name of a particular individual, and therefore a real proper noun). The case of Mao Zedong is special, I'm not sure. I am open to your proposal in the case of surnames with derived words (the linguistic interest of including the individual as a definition line being linked to these derived words, not to notability), but the most important thing is that CFI must allow the inclusion of all words, whatever their use (attributive or not), including Confucius, Churchill, Paris, Long Island, Nile or New York, with their actual meaning. I'm against any mention of an attibutive use as aa criterion, first because this criterion is much too language-specific, and because any person or place name may be used attributively in English. Lmaltier 12:44, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

If you think that any personal name can be used attributively in English, try finding attributive uses for "Socrates" and "Plato"; I have failed.
I think that even with my proposals accepted the stated inclusion rules of CFI are going to be overexclusive in the main, while possibly overinclusive in some segments. That is why I have emphasized the unability of the new inclusion rules to exclude anything. But as long as the proposal is unaccepted, the only rule governing the inclusion of particular individuals is the attributive-use one, so all the guys you want to get included get excluded by DCDuring invoking the attributive-use rule. You may keep invoking that you want "all words in all languages", but that has so far convinced only few as an argument for including sense lines for "Socrates" and "Plato", and the simplistic slogan nature of the phrase is apparent, as we include proverbs, which are not words if you ask me, and neither are the letters of Greek alphabet words.
Try proposing a specific formulation for inclusion of a sense-line of a particular individual that you would like to see in CFI. Recall that the formulation has to deal with sense-lines rather than merely with entry headwords, so "a name should be included if ..." does not address the inclusion of sense-lines. --Dan Polansky 13:51, 7 March 2010 (UTC)

I have added a few items to the list. --Dan Polansky 11:43, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

One item added. --Dan Polansky 14:16, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Two items added. --Dan Polansky 08:57, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

What does including specific individuals accomplish?[edit]

Really, what would be gained by this? The definition would just be encyclopedic, there would be no etymology, the pronunciation and translations would be the same of the given name/surname's pronunciation and translations, there obviously can't be any usage notes, synonyms, or antonyms. How do these fit into a dictionary, and what could be useful about this addition? --Yair rand 00:19, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree if you think to Churchill, etc. as particular individuals. In most cases, they should not be included as separate senses in a language dictionary (there may be exceptions when it's useful from a linguistic point of view, and the proposal might help to deal with such exceptions). But your arguments don't apply to Pericles, Confucius, etc. Lmaltier 06:31, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I'm surprised that Pericles and Confucius don't have name senses. They are names, correct? Regardless of whether they're still used, or whether they work in the current standard of given name/surname, they are still names. --Yair rand 07:28, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
Was Confucius ever anyone's given name? Maybe 孔夫 (or something) was, but I don't know if Confucius ever was. I don't know if it deserves a given-name entry. (Recall that we don't include transliterations.) That said, it is the name (not in the given-name sense of name but in the sense that butter is the name of butter) of a specific individual.​—msh210 16:59, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
They are names, but they don't belong to any existing POS here, except proper nouns. Lmaltier 20:17, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm finding a lot of GB hits for "Confucius"+some common surnames, and for "Pericles" followed by various surnames, so I'm assuming that they are correct given names used in English. --Yair rand 23:16, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
Then, I was wrong, they should be added. But the usual meanings should be kept. Lmaltier 06:29, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
Why? Any pronunciation, translations, or etymology would be identical. What would be the point of adding senses to name entries referring to specific people with that name? Any name can be used to refer to a specific individual with that name. Why should names of famous people be considered separate senses? --Yair rand 06:49, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
The aim of the proposal is to include some meanings of proper nouns, as dictionaries are good with meanings. I for one want to see under "Confucius" something like the current "Western name of Kong Qiu (孔丘), an influential Chinese philosopher who lived 551 BCE – 479 BCE", as that is the meaning of the term "Confucius" in most of the uses of the term, and a dictionary is above all supposed to contain meanings of terms, answering the questions of the form "What the heck is Confucius?", but not "What is the biography and most important works of Confucius?". --Dan Polansky 08:45, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
Confucius is a name. Period. It can refer to anyone named Confucius, just as Dan can refer to anyone by that name. We don't need to list off the people who happen to hold that name, as it accomplishes nothing useful that a dictionary is supposed to accomplish. If someone wants to find out which particularly famous people happen to hold that name, they should go to Wikipedia, not here. The answer to "What the heck is Confucius?" is what we currently have as the second sense: a male given name. Obama might happen to be most commonly used in reference to w:Barack Obama, but that doesn't mean that the word itself has been changed or given further meaning. --Yair rand 08:55, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
The term "Confucius" refers in most of its uses to a particular philosopher, and that is even more true of "Confucian", which should not be defined as "Of or related to an individual with the given name 'Confucius'". That is, "Confucian" and "Confucianism" should refer to the particular individual, which should thereby get included under "Confucius". There are significant differences between "Confucius" and "Dan" captured in the proposed inclusion criteria: there is no "Danian" philosophy and no "Danism", or so I hope. I think that "given name" is an inadequate answer to the question "What is Confucius". We can give more useful answer to the question "What is Confucius" without turning Wiktionary into a broadly biographical dictionary. Given we refer to a particular individual in an adjective, we may allow the inclusion of the very same individual under his name.--Dan Polansky 09:12, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
Put differently, the proposed action 2 prevents that a particular individual is referred to in an adjective, but not under his own name. It does not increase the total number of particular individuals referred to in Wiktionary; it only ensures that the individuals are referred to in both adjectives and their names. --Dan Polansky 09:29, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

The meaning of Confucius as an individual should be kept, not because this name generally refers to him (this is not a good reason, I think), but because it's the normal, original meaning. This word was created for him. The fact that it's sometimes used as a given name should not be a reason to exclude this meaning. It's the same for Adam and many other names. On the other hand, Winston Churchill just got his surname from his parents. This fact is not of a linguistic nature at all. Lmaltier 17:05, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

An etymology may refer to both a specific person and to their name. So, for example, Kafkaesque may refer to an article about the person of w:Franz Kafka (which already exists in Wikipedia), and an entry about his family name, Kafka (which is already allowed by CFI#Given and family names). Dictionary entries are about terms, including names, but not about people. Adding a “people entry” only dilutes the Wikisphere by creating an additional, content-poor node. Michael Z. 2010-03-05 00:42 z

"An English given name" actually means two different things: 1. The name of an English-speaking person, recorded on his birth certificate; 2. the English term for a foreign historical person whose real name was something quite different. Some names are both (Alexander, Theodore), but when the name mainly refers to non-English, historical persons, it should be mentioned. I've been adding "of mostly historical use", or usage notes to such names. When it mainly refers to one individual, with recorded attributive use, a separate definition is correct. We have definitions for given names as biblical/mythological/fictional characters, but a template and category for historical persons has long been missing. I'm not sure if Dan Polansky's solution is the best one, but the problem does exist, Dan didn't make it up.
However, defining people by their actual surnames or given names ( Elvis ) has always seemed wrong to me. Churchill already means everybody named Churchill, why repeat it? Wouldn't it be enough to define it as "A surname, notably of the British statesman w:Winston Churchill", or add a usage note? When the name and the famous person are both German, such as Goethe, shouldn't the definition be in the German section?
Searching b.g.c. for Confucius Smith I got 58 hits of the type "in contrast to Confucius, Smith says". It's better to use websites like Ancestry.com ( advanced search, exact match).--Makaokalani 17:19, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
Responding to the example of "Churchill": the term "Churchillian" (google books:"Churchillian") refers to Winston Churchill, and that should be made clear by a general dictionary in the entry for "Churchillian" rather than defining "Churchillian" as "of or related to any person with the surname 'Churchill'. And when a particular person is in this way included in the adjective, he or she should IMHO also be included in the surname--here "Churchill", as the existence of the adjective used in this way makes it highly likely that the surname has entered lexicon as standing for that particular person, apart from being a generic surname. That is as concerns the proposed action 2--inclusion by adjective. As regards the proposed action 3--inclusion by figurativeness: if someone writes "the Churchill of Poland" (I don't know who that might be, anyway), I want a general dictionary to help to decode the text, which the definition of "Churchill" as "surname" does not achieve, while an encyclopedic article for "Churchill" is unneeded for decoding "the Churchill of Poland". --Dan Polansky 18:56, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
“The Churchill of Poland” is an encyclopedic reference, not the use of a word in the English language. As evidence, I offer “the Winston Churchill of Poland,” which carries the identical meaning. Most such usages are meaningless to anyone that doesn't have some familiarity of with the specific details of the subject's life. We could just as well say “the Dan Polansky of Arabic Wiktionary” to compare some person to you personally, rather than invoke some widely-understood meaning of your name. Michael Z. 2010-03-05 21:07 z
I agree with you, this is a general rule of the language, not worth definition lines (a link to Wikipedia in See also is more appropriate). I would prefer a proposal accepting all words, including proper nouns when they can be called words, and excluding definitions defining particular persons except when this is the normal definition (e.g. for Confucius), but excluding the inclusion of encyclopedic data such as birthdates in the definition in such cases. Words should be addressed linguistically. I'm convinced that such a simple proposal could be adopted. Lmaltier 07:35, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
Mzajac, I think you are asking a different question from that which I am asking when considering the inclusion of a sense line or a definition line. You ask, is it encyclopedic? I ask, does it help decoding and encoding while fitting into the dictionary format?
I think it only proper that Wiktionary becomes what is sometimes called "encyclopedic dictionary" rather than purely philological dictionary or language dictionary, as long as it only contains definitions of senses and identification of particular individuals including places rather than containing facts about the individuals and subjects that go beyond their identification. By identification I mean a short, one-sentence answer to the question "what is it". An example of encyclopedic dictionary is the Century Dictionary, which I am using as a source of etymologies. Inclusion of pictures and images is typical of an encyclopedic dictionary rather than a purely language or philological one, as is the extensive inclusion of Latin names of species.
I find it inacceptable if Wiktionary excludes "Nile", or if it fails to define its meaning as the particular river, regardless of whether "Nile" is used attributively or not. I find it insufficient for Wiktionary to define "Nile" only as "a geographic name". While this does not directly bear on my current proposal, this requirement of including "Nile" makes it impossible to make Wiktionary a purely language or philological dictionary, as does the requirement of including pictures and names of species, genera and other taxonomic entities. I find the requirement of non-encyclopedic purity of Wiktionary undesirable on the whole. Instead, Wiktionary should be designed with the practical concern of helping decoding and encoding. --Dan Polansky 11:41, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I fully agree that we have to define what the word Nile refers to. But this does not make Wiktionary an encyclopedic dictionary. We should not become an encyclopedic dictionary (a typical example of an encyclopedic dictionary, with both linguistic and encyclopedic data, is Petit Larousse for French, the part dedicated to proper nouns being almost 100% encyclopedic (unfortunately)). The definition explaining what a word means is a part common to a language dictionary and an encyclopedia (in my opinion, this should be the only common part). Refusing to mention where the river named Nile is would be like refusing to define cat more than an animal. Readers should be able to understand what a word means by reading its definition. Lmaltier 15:57, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to see names included for their onomastic and etymological value. Of course in such entries the object of a name would have to be identified.
But I am absolutely against making this in any way an “encyclopedic dictionary.” This category of reference was invented purely for marketing reasons, to make a dictionary more convenient and appealing to those who couldn't afford to buy a set of encyclopedias. “Encyclopedic” content is not dictionary content, and every iota of energy put into it waters down the dictionary and inadequately duplicates the efforts of Wikipedia editors. Do we think that adding thousands of inane entries like Daisy Duck (“The girlfriend of Donald Duck”) gives anyone insight into language? Adding “encyclopedic” content makes the dictionary worse.
I very much want to include these kinds of names, but I won't support any proposal unless it makes absolutely clear that we would include only entries of lexicographical value, and omit any kind of “encyclopedic” appendages. Michael Z. 2010-03-06 17:17 z
Sorry, I forgot an important not. I agree with you. No, we should not become an encyclopedic dictionary. What makes a dictionary encyclopedic is either the contents of entries, or the fact of accepting entries which are not words (such as Winston Churchill or List of counties in Indiana). If we limit entries to words, and exclude encyclopedic contents (except the definitions, of course), there is no problem. Lmaltier 17:26, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
(unindent) Lmaltier, I think you are using a different concept of "encyclopedic dictionary" than I am. The concept of "encyclopedic dictionary" that I am using is the one used by the article "Dictionary" in Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911, and exemplified by Century Dictionary, 1911. What I am saying is that non-encyclopedic purism in Wiktionary is mistaken, and that at least some particular individuals should be given as dedicated senses in Wiktionary.
I think that "encyclopedic" is a vague term that poorly delineates what should and what should not appear in a general dictionary. I think the primary function of a general dictionary should be to help decode and encode, be it between a language and mentalese, or be it between two languages; I deem etymology and pronunciation to be secondary features of a dictionary. And it is the decoding value of giving senses to certain particular individuals that is indisputable, especially if the individuals are listed not merely with purely encyclopedic information such as exact birthdates are but are listed with these features and qualities of these individuals that are likely to be invoked whenever the individual is invoked figuratively, meaning non-literally, and that assign the individuals to broad classes of individuals such as "philosopher" or "poet".
Mzajac, re "Of course in such entries the object of a name would have to be identified" - that is one of the main stakes in this vote: whether senses for particular objects or individuals should be allowed in such entries as "Democritus", "Socrates", "Plato", "Pericles" or "Xenophanes", or whether "Xenophanes" is either omitted altogether or defined merely as "given name". Some people were applying the current CFI in such a way that if "Plato" cannot be demonstrated to be used attributively in the grammatical sense of "attributive", the sense for the particular Greek individual should be omitted, which to me seems wholly undesirable.
Re "... and omit any kind of “encyclopedic”". There is nothing perfectly clear and unambiguous about "lexicographical value" and "encyclopedic value", to me anyway. I understand that some facts are clearly only-encyclopedic in that they do not help decoding and encoding; examples include exact dates of birth, lists of works of authors, or extensive, several-paragraph information about geographic entities. I understand "decoding value" and "encoding value". The requirement of omitting any and every trace of what may be called encyclopedic is what I call non-encyclopedic purism, and I am strongly opposed to it. --Dan Polansky 11:04, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
It is a dictionary. Its function is lexicography lexicology: at the core, to define words, in a language. (Although this one incorporates many other functions. It's not just a general dictionary – it's many dictionaries: technical, translating, learners', etymological, historical, etc.)
But it is too much of a stretch to include every figurative nuance or metaphor ever invoked by a word, every person ever identified by a name, or every gesture, facial expression or grunt, every expression of body language or interpretive dance. These are not universal attributes of words, not common to them in some language, but specific instances of expression. I may have used john a 100 times with 100 shades of meaning, or John to refer to 100 individuals, but these don't belong in the dictionary. Michael Z. 2010-03-07 17:18 z
The function of dictionary is not lexicography: lexicography is the art and science of building dictionaries, and the function of dictionary is not the art of science of building dictionaries. At some point, you are going to enlighten us with the discovery that the sleeping effect of opium is caused by a dormitive principle. --Dan Polansky 08:43, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Awesome, you spotted my boo-boo. Corrected. Nothing wrong with my argument, then? Michael Z. 2010-03-13 19:41 z
"The function of dictonary is lexicology" is as broken as your previous attempt, as it gets rendered as "The function of dictionary is the part of linguistics that studies words, their nature and meaning, ...". Actually, "lexicography" comes closer to "dictionary" than "lexicology". The relation between "dictionary" and "lexicography" lies in the opposite direction: lexicography's function is to make and study the making of language dictionaries. --Dan Polansky 09:29, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
You nailed it: this project is about “words, their nature and meaning,” not about people or places. The dictionary is not a biographical who's who, a gazetteer listing, or an atlas of minimaps. Michael Z. 2010-03-19 15:44 z


Why space-free? This would leave out, for example, w:de Sade, and favour w:Jeff VanderMeer over w:Simon van der Meer for no reason that I can think of. Michael Z. 2010-03-05 00:27 z

The proposed rules have no power of excluding anything that would otherwise be included; they state new conditions that are sufficient for inclusion of sense-lines. The requirement of space-freeness makes the rules tighter, and thus hopefully more acceptable to those voters who are afraid of including too much into Wiktionary. If the community of editors wishes to accept the proposed inclusion rules not only in their current reading but even without the "space-free" requirement, it can do so in another vote, whose drafting will be particularly easy: "remove 'space-free' from the sentence so-and-so'. --Dan Polansky 08:42, 5 March 2010 (UTC)


I'm unclear on the specifics. This needs some examples that would pass and fail under this criterion. Does “figuratively” include “metaphorically?” Michael Z. 2010-03-05 00:44 z

Figuratively includes metaphorically, as metaphor is one of figures, together with metonymy, synecdoche, and others. --Dan Polansky 08:20, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
Can you illustrate this by examples? Michael Z. 2010-03-05 18:40 z

Attributive use[edit]

I have trouble with this proposal, in addition to my concerns about welcoming encyclopedic content. This proposal both adds to the “attributive-use” rule and is partly defined by it, as “an analogue of the preexisting rule of attributive use.” The problem is that the current attributive-use rule is poorly defined and controversial.

A name should be included if it is used attributively, with a widely understood meaning

I infer the rule's intent as encouraging the inclusion of words which have a widely understood meaning independent of specific knowledge of their eponym. For example, including casanova, because it is used by people who have never heard of Giovanni Jacopo Casanova. But this rule is being used, misused in my opinion, to include thousands of entries like Snoopy, Wookiee, Yoda, etc.

I find it hard to support any supplement to the attributive-use rule while that rule remains unclear and controversial. Michael Z. 2010-03-06 19:10 z

You are responding not to the body text of the proposal or the "Voting on" part, but to a note on the proposal. The clarity of the proposed rules is independent of the clarity of the attributive-use rule. The vote contains a specific statement of new rules. That statement in no way depends on the attributive-use rule.
I understand that you are likely to oppose this proposal. You have proposed the deletion of topical categories for their being "too encyclopedic", which is a paradigm example of what I call non-encyclopedic purism, roughly expressed in the slogan "delete all content that shows some traces of being encyclopedic, at all costs". --Dan Polansky 11:24, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
I may be misrepresenting you. Let me ask:
  • (a) What sense lines for particular individuals including particular places would you include in Wiktionary, if any? I mean the sense lines and not the names; so to enter "Nile—a geographic name" is to include the name "Nile" while excluding the river of Nile, in contrast to "Nile—A long African river flowing through Khartoum and Cairo in Africa into the Mediterranean Sea.".
  • (b) Would you include under "Nile" a reference to the particular African river?
  • (c) Would you include under "Egypt" a reference to the particular country?
  • (d) Would you include under "Plato" a reference to the particular person?
  • (e) Would you include under "Michelangelo" a reference to the particular person?
  • (f) How would you define "Nile", if at all?
  • (g) How would you define "Plato", if at all?
--Dan Polansky 12:01, 7 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure that any acceptable answers would be compromise positions, but they would have to set some reasonable limits. The current CFI for specific entities is vague and too wide open to interpretation.
But what I'm saying is that we need to agree on a basic principal for proper names and clarify the existing regulation first. Adding more related rules will just make it harder to fix this problem in the CFI. Michael Z. 2010-03-07 17:53 z
I am asking this: How would you answer the questions (a) - (g) if you were the sole ruler and regulator of Wiktionary, the sole maker of CFI? Are there at least some of these questions for which you have a firm answer? Can you indicate those questions where you are not sure? Is it with all the questions that you are not sure what to answer? --Dan Polansky 07:34, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
Your question is academic. We have to deal with consensus and discussion, with the requirement to vote for changes to guidelines, and with the range of interpretations by which editors might put a guideline into practice.
If I were Managing Editor and King of Wiki, I would start by surveying other dictionaries, write a set of inclusion principals, then draft a policy based on them. I'd create word lists, look at rough drafts of the definitions, and refine the policy based on the results. Finally, I'd rely on my own judgment in keeping or dropping headwords and senses.
Of course I'd look at the corpora and Google Books to see if there are other uses. Is Nile a colour? Is Michelangelo a commonly-used figurative term for an artistic person?
Specifically, I'd guess I'd include a set of place names, especially if they contribute to compounds like Nile crocodile, but drop the personal names. I'd define these minimally, like “a large river in Africa,” and design a distinctive link style from the sense line to the encyclopedia article. I'd consider just linking to Wikipedia from sense lines, without any definition. Michael Z. 2010-03-08 20:32 z
These questions are not merely academic in the sense of having nothing to do with the practical problem of policy design. Inclusion principles can only be tested if you have an idea about what you want to do in particular cases; otherwise you can oppose all kinds of proposals on the simple ground that you are not even sure whether you want to get the river of Nile included. The question (a) is simply a request for a policy proposal, relevant to practical policy design by definition.
You probably mean "principles" AKA rules of action rather than "principals". --Dan Polansky 21:35, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

river of Nile[edit]

The poll is about individuals, i. e. about living beings, but the last section mentions the river of Nile - the river of Nile should be excluded from the "Nile" entry. I thought this is not about geographical objects, is it? The uſer hight Bogorm converſation 18:53, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

The poll is about all individuals including geographic entities or geographic objects. The way I have used the term "individual", it is a generic term for anything that is not a class, including trees and stones, rather than being constrained to human individuals or to living beings. You may read the poll about "individuals" as about "particular entities" or "particular objects", if this terminology is clearer to you. --Dan Polansky
If you want to exclude all human individuals while keeping some sense-lines for particular places, then you would vote support for including some individuals with a note that you want all human individuals excluded including Plato. The purpose of the poll is to clarify the broader positions of Wiktionary editors on the inclusion of sense-lines of particular individuals or specific entities if you will. --Dan Polansky 19:32, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Poll to result in what?[edit]

I assume the poll is just for information only, since the vote page doesn't mention any actions to be taken. Or are we to understand that a successful vote for either “should have” or “should be no” would authorize mass editing of entries? This should be made clear.

Also, the poll doesn't have a place for anyone who believes both “At least some individuals [...] should have a dedicated sense-line in the entry under their name” and “in particular, the river of Nile should be excluded.” Michael Z. 2010-03-10 14:49 z

The result of the poll cannot be used for mass editing of entries. The poll should serve as a basis for future votes, and serve to confirm the hypothesis that Wiktionary editors do want to get some individuals included in dedicated sense-lines. If this hypothesis gets confirmed, it will follow that a delineation or demarcation of included particular individuals from those excluded will have to be sought, defeating the claim that the inclusion of even a fraction of particular individuals is unworthy of Wiktionary, and "too encyclopedic".
You are right that someone could want to have some individuals included, but the river of Nile excluded. I have found it unlikely. In that case, the person would vote to neither of the poll options, or post a clarifying comment.
Comments that state positions on particular cases, and those that post candidate rules for CFI are welcome. --Dan Polansky 15:16, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I am such a person (who wants specific "individuals", as this vote calls them, included, and Nile, the river, excluded, unless Nile is used in a way the current CFI specify as inclusible, or perhaps in a way similar to the current CFI of brand names. Something like that). Some specific "individuals" I want included are the Fifth and Morse theory.​—msh210 16:34, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Point taken. There is a host of other name-bearing individuals or "specific entities" than people and places, including the languages of English and Spanish, the Earth, the Moon, the Milky Way, the stars of Betelgeuse and Proxima Centauri; and maybe Pythagorean theorem, the cardinal number aleph-null, depending on how you read "name". In any case, a distinction would probably need to be made between "individual" and "name-bearing individual", and even then it is not clear whether people would agree that the English language is a name-bearing individual, and whether "Pythagorean theorem" is a name. This is really a complex issue. --Dan Polansky 08:33, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, well we can define each sense of moon/Moon, without “defining” each of the 180 moons in the solar system. We can define the words Betelgeuse, alpha, proxima, and Centauri without mass-adding entries for the 1,200 Bayer and 3,000 Flamsteed-catalogue stars. We define Pythagorean and theorem, but does a dictionary require entries for several thousand theorems? Shall we “define” 200,000 named and numbered asteroids? (And for goodness' sake, let's not get started on notability criteria.)
The dictionary is for terms of the languages, Wikipedia is for all the things existent. Michael Z. 2010-03-12 21:14 z
Language dictionary is also for meanings, not only for terms. The Moon, the Earth and the Sun are individual things, last time I checked, so even you, Mzajac, have to admit some individual things into Wiktionary, violating your non-encyclopedic-purist thesis that all sense-lines for individual objects should be excluded.
Your narrow conception of language dictionary is not shared by Merriam and Webster online, which includes sense-lines for particular places in "London". Neither is it shared by A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, Murray, James Augustus Henry, 1837-1915, which includes "Belgium" with an identification of the place rather than merely as "geographical name". But you know better the only right scope of a language dictionary. And you don't need to prove anything; it suffices that you say so. And sure, topical categories should be deleted as too encyclopedic. Give me a break. --Dan Polansky 08:24, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
You're ignoring the difference between “meanings” or senses of terms, and their referents (the things they represent).
Of course I can't “prove” my opinion that Wikipedia shouldn't be converted into an encyclopedic dictionary. And, going by our CFI, it currently isn't – although many individual editors have aped their “college” dictionaries by adding proper names, the consensus among those of us who vote on the guidelines has so far resisted introducing such a change. Michael Z. 2010-03-13 20:18 z
But Wikipedia is an encyclopedy. And Wiktionary is a language dictionary. The difference is clear enough: we study words, Wikipedia studies things they represent (or people, animals, concepts, etc.), the only possible common part being the definition. We should never think that defining what a word means is too encyclopedic, the meaning of a word is something important here. But we should not provide data on all indivivual dogs, or all individual persons or places, only on the word dog, on the names or surnames, toponyms, etc. Lmaltier 21:42, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Tell me, Mzajac:
  • (a) In "the Sun", is "The star at the center of our solar system, represented in astronomy and astrology by ☉" a reference or a sense?
  • (b) In "the Moon", is "The Earth's moon; the sole natural satellite of the Earth, represented in astronomy and astrology by ☾" a reference or a sense?
I assume that you are using the specialist terminology "sense" and "reference" as translations for the Fregean "Sinn" and "Bedeutung". --Dan Polansky
Uh, Sun and Moon with capital letters only refer to the specific sun and moon of Earth. (?) --Yair rand 18:00, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Sun and moon: but the former is merely “often capitalized,” and the latter not necessarily labelled so. That's neither here nor there, the sense of “the sun” only has one referent, so it is used as a proper noun, and it is probably best defined with reference to the referent. But Paris, Pericles, and Michael are proper nouns with more referents. (What's Frege?Michael Z. 2010-03-17 20:42 z
That is perfectly correct. I just want to hear that from Mzajac. I want to hear that dictionaries include not only Frege:senses but also some Frege:references or Frege:referents. --Dan Polansky 20:27, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Having slept on it, I have recalled that Frege implies that proper names do have a Frege:sense. This is implied in his discussion of "Mark Twain" and "Samuel Clemens" - these two terms have distinct Frege:senses but the same Frege:reference.
The issue is too complex to admit unsupported statements of the sort that proper names have no senses corresponding to individual things, places and people.
In the following quotation, Mill implies that proper names do have senses:
--Dan Polansky 07:53, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
For the record, I think it's clear that (for example) “Mzajac” and “Msh210” are two totally different senses of the name Michael. The relation of the common signifier to each signified is arbitrary; there's no common property of these two Michaels that makes them both be named “Michael”. (The reverse is true — as a result of their shared name, they now have the common property IS-NAMED-MICHAEL, thereby admitting the use of the common noun Michael(s) (person(s) named Michael) — but that is a consequence of their naming, so does not justify considering Michael to have a single sense that covers both.) However, I cannot conceive of including a separate sense line for each person ever named Michael, for three reasons:
  1. There are too many for that to be possible, feasible, or useful.
  2. Even if there weren't too many — say, only fifteen real people and five fictional characters had ever had that name — I still don't think it would be useful. This being a dictionary, you look up the name to find out where it comes from, how it's pronounced, and so on, not to find out all the people who have ever been named it.
  3. I think there's an inherent awkwardness in attempting to define a name by attempting to describe a specific person who has held that name. That just doesn't seem to be the purpose of a dictionary.
It seems like you agree with my #1, but only partially with my #2, and not at all with my #3. Mzajac, by contrast, seems to agree very strongly with my #3 — even more than I do, actually. And I'm not sure how we can ever address this disagreement through argumentation, since it seems like a pretty basic one. :-/
RuakhTALK 12:57, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
For me, it's clear that Mjazac is no more a specific sense of Michael than a particular dog a separate sense of the word dog. The sense of Michael is a masculine first name, one of the finite set of available first names. But the person named Pericles is the sense of the word (this word would not exist without him). Lmaltier 19:54, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
But Michael doesn't mean "a masculine first name", it is a masculine first name. It means, in one of its many senses, Mzajac. "A masculine first name" is a decent non-gloss definition of Michael, just as "Plural of set" is a decent non-gloss definition of sets, but the former is no more a sense of Michael than the latter is of sets. And anyway, there are plenty of Pericleses aside from the one you mention, including his son and various dogs; perhaps the name originates with him, but then, Michael also has an originator. —RuakhTALK 20:27, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Michael (as a word) has no other sense than to be a first name (+ of course, the religious sense as a proper noun), just like dogs... (see above). I don't think that, at Pericles' time, there was a set of available names in which you could pick a personal name. I think that a name was associated to one person, just as a placename is associated with one place, even if several persons or several places may share the same name. Lmaltier 20:36, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, antecedents of Michael have been in continuous use for at least 4,300 years (being attested in Eblaite from at least 2300 BCE[1]), so even if Pericles was the very last man to be named so freely, we're still missing at least 1,800 years' worth of individuals named Michael from before names became a finite set. —RuakhTALK 21:05, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
When a name was a traditional name, I agree that it's worth a mention only as this traditional name, not a mention for each person sharing this name: it's about the same case as first names, and it's up to Wikipedia to list the most notable of them. I think everybody can agree on this point. But this case should not be generalized, many names are individual (e.g. Adam became a first name, but mentioning it only as a first name would miss the sense as the first man, which is very different). If this is a bad example, I'm sure you can find plenty of better ones. And some names were very clearly designed specifically for one person, and are used only with this sense (e.g. Charlemagne); Why should we refuse to provide this single sense for this word? Lmaltier 22:21, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
We do prefer to go by usage, rather than prescrption (what a word or name was “designed” for). See w:Charlemagne (disambiguation). That the name was coined for a particular person certainly belongs in the etymology. CFI doesn't clearly indicate that there should be a “sense” for this person. Michael Z. 2010-03-18 02:04 z
Current CFI, no, but it's a discussion on future CFI. Lmaltier 06:54, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
See also w:Perikles (given name). If a Pericles is the first Pericles, then he warrants mention in the etymology, but not a “sense.” Michael Z. 2010-03-17 20:42 z
I wholly agree with the whole Ruakh's paragraph. In particular, I wholly agree with this: '"A masculine first name" is a decent non-gloss definition of Michael, just as "Plural of set" is a decent non-gloss definition of sets, but the former is no more a sense of Michael than the latter is of sets."' If I understood correctly, neither Mill nor Frege deny senses to proper nouns and proper names. And you see, my sentence does not mean this: "If I understood correctly, neither a male given name nor a male given name deny senses to proper nouns and proper names." ;) --Dan Polansky 06:54, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
What are Mill and Frege? Michael Z. 2010-03-18 19:47 z
See w:John Stuart Mill and w:Gottlob Frege. —RuakhTALK 01:56, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
(unindent) Mzajac, on "Mill", I will repeat here the quotation that I have posted above:
On "Frege", you have claimed that I don't distinguish "sense" and "reference". I don't know where you take this distinction from, but I have estimated that you mean the Fregean sense and Fregean reference, in German "Sinn" and "Bedeutung". If you don't know who Frege is, I do not know where you are coming from with "sense" and "reference", and it is probably about time that you provide links to durably archived sources and definitions for your terminology before you start imposing this stipulated terminology on the present discussion. There is a bit confusing article W:Sense and reference, which seems to suggest that "sense" and "reference" are Fregean "Sinn" and "Bedeutung", but with Wikipedia you never know how reliable it is. Some searches for you: google books:Frege "sense and reference", google books:"sense and reference". --Dan Polansky 09:16, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
I wrote referent (pl. referents) where I meant referent, and reference where I meant reference. Michael Z. 2010-03-19 15:51 z
Okay, I am sorry. I should have payed attention to "referent" in contrast to "reference". You have said that I fail to distinguish "sense" and "referent". And you probably did not mean Fregean "sense" and "reference". Then, where do you take this terminology from? What quotations or links to scholarly sources do you have to prove your claim that proper names have no senses? --Dan Polansky 13:11, 20 March 2010 (UTC)