Wiktionary talk:Votes/pl-2010-10/Treatment of toneless pinyin other than syllables

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

If anyone want to tweak the wording, please do. This opens in about 24 hours from now. Mglovesfun (talk) 12:14, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Discussion about this vote[edit]

This vote should better be postponed by a week or so, to enable discussion. I recall no discussion in Beer parlour, nor an announcement in Beer parlour of this vote. This vote is not listed in WT:Votes anywhere, neither in the list of "Proposed votes", nor in the list of current votes. --Dan Polansky 12:35, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

I have notified of the vote in Beer parlour. --Dan Polansky 12:47, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Is this a joke? We've been debating this for years. Mglovesfun (talk) 10:02, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, when you start a new vote, you should notify of it in Beer parlour, right? You did not notify of it.
If this has been debated for years, please be so kind and post hyperlinks to the debates. --Dan Polansky 11:32, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

It is your vote; if you decide to remove a discussion, so be it. But I find the discussion wholly relevant, so here it is:

  • Wikt rei-artur3.svg Talk:ojo, August 2008, discussion about Japanese romanization romaji

--Dan Polansky


The wording of the vote probably needs more attention.

The heading says "Treatment of toneless pinyin other than syllables", implying a distinction between "toneless pinyin syllables" and "toneless pinyin non-syllables". But the body text quantifies over all pinyin, whether syllable or non-syllable: "Not allowing toneless pinyin in the main namespace as entries." This would have to read like "Forbidding toneless pinyin non-syllables from the main namespace", or the like. --Dan Polansky 12:41, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

I will oppose just for this sloppiness of wording: if the vote is only about what is called "pinyin words", that should be clear from the body text of the vote, not only from the heading. The vote does not even mention the phrase "pinyin word". --Dan Polansky 06:47, 31 October 2010 (UTC)


I am missing examples of toneless pinyin syllables and toneless pinyin non-syllables. I don't know how many they are. I wonder how the corresponding toned pinyin non-syllables look like. --Dan Polansky 12:43, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

See Index:Chinese Pinyin for "Chinese character entries in Wiktionary".

An example entry from the index, from Index:Chinese_Pinyin/q:

Are there any toned pinyin non-syllables in Wiktionary; if so, where are they? --Dan Polansky 14:14, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm guessing the non-syllable parts of fen#Mandarin would get moved to the proper Pinyin? (Which doesn't have any definition at all right now.)--Prosfilaes 22:41, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
Did you read the proposal thoroughly enough? This has nothing to do with syllables - it's all about toneless pinyin words. ---> Tooironic 23:10, 30 October 2010 (UTC)
I think that is what he is referring to. Fen has both the toneless syllable definition, and a separate noun definition, in other words as a toneless pinyin word. bd2412 T 02:42, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Some toneless and toned pinyin non-syllables (words?) in Wiktionary, found in Category:Mandarin nouns (all entries in this table have bluelinks):

Toneless word? Toned word? Meaning
anmianyao ānmiányào sleeping pill; a hypnotic
gongzuo gōngzuò work; job
mafan máfán trouble
miantiao miàntiáo noodles
shehui shèhuì society
yaofang yàofáng pharmacy; dispensary
yaofang (2) yàofāng prescription
tianliang tiānliáng conscience
tianliang tiānliàng dawn, daybreak
yingtao yīngtáo cherry
zhen zhēn needle

--Dan Polansky 06:35, 31 October 2010 (UTC)


Are toneness pinyin words attestable? That is, are toneless pinyin words used to convey meaning rather than merely being quoted for pedagogical or analytic purposes? (Thanks to Visviva for the phrasing used in the second question.) --Dan Polansky 07:16, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Yes, see below. Cheers! bd2412 T 19:40, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

More questions: Is toned pinyin attestable in use? Is it easily attestable? Are there example toned pinyin words in Wiktionary with quotations that attest them? --Dan Polansky 12:02, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Like the vast majority of words in Wiktionary, it is fairly certain that no one has yet bothered to add citations. However, I would be stunned to find a pinyin tone that is not sufficiently attested. Entire books were written in this style in late nineteenth century. Cheers! bd2412 T 19:56, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Okay, so far I have seen not a single attestation of a toneless pinyin word in Wiktionary. If I send, say, "yaofang" for RFV, what attestations do you provide? Do you have to rely on pictures of street signs and restaurant menus? --Dan Polansky 21:02, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
That's an issue separate from this vote SFAICT. All words/terms have to be attestable, that's beyond the remit of this vote. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:08, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
A separate issue or not, attestability of toneless pinyin words affects my decision in the vote: if toneless pinyin words are unattestable, we do not really need this vote other than as a confirmation that they get granted no exception from CFI; if they are attestable, I will find it hard to support in the vote. --Dan Polansky 22:12, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Oops, sorry I was referring to syllables, not words. Of course, the individual syllables are, generally, also words, but for a combination like "yaofang", while there clearly are uses in print for which at least some would appear to meet our CFI, I would expect at least three non-mention citations in the entry to sustain its inclusion. bd2412 T 21:22, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I can use Google books, thanks ;). The question is, which of the hits for "yaofang" would you try to sell as use-attestations? --Dan Polansky 22:09, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I add my impression: I have found no printed continuous text written in toneless pinyin in which the string "yaofang" would occur. Toneless pinyin words (or "combinations"?) are often found in English texts, in italics. Google search often finds toned version when I am searching for a toneless one. --Dan Polansky 22:21, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I would say that these three, [1], [2], [3], each of which uses the term as part of a phrase (a book title), and not as a standalone term. Apparently, the Beiji qianjin yaofang (Essential prescriptions worth a thousand pieces of gold) was a big hit in the old days. bd2412 T 23:52, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
The three quotations are of toneless pinyin in English text. Wouldn't they come on par with Russian romanization used in English text? I do not know the state of discussion on romanizations, but I vaguely recall Wiktionary does not include them. In any case, not a single complete sentence written in toneless Pinyin has been attested so far for "yaofang", let alone a complete sentence in a complete paragraph written in toneless Pinyin. --Dan Polansky 07:10, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Words and syllables[edit]

Let us now presume that toneless pinyin is unattestable in use--that it is attestable merely as mentioned, which does not suffice for Wiktionary criteria for inclusion.

How is it that toneless pinyin syllables get an exception and get included, while toneless pinyin words do not get this exception? --Dan Polansky 11:54, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

  • Actually, toneless pinyin is quite attestable - you can't pass a street sign in China without seeing it, nor look at most Chinese restaurant menus. There are, of course, also books in print containing toneless versions of every conceivable tone. [4], [5], [6], [7]. All of these syllables stand for words, but it is impossible to tell which words absent context because they are missing the necessary tones. The entries are thus comparable to our entry for tee, with the sense of "The name of the Latin script letter T/t". We include "tee" because there is certainly some work in print using it in this sense. For example, here is a book referencing someone "being made a see-you-en-tee of". This would be a citation for "tee", but is not by itself a reason to have an entry on "see-you-en-tee". bd2412 T 19:26, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Of course transliterations or transcriptions would be attestable (otherwise why create them?) but they are not how the language is supposed to be written (hence "transcription"). The fact is that literate Chinese speakers almost never write in Pinyin and essentially Pinyin is only for kids or foreigners or for pronunciation clarification. Native speakers find even "toned" Pinyin like [8] barely readable (see talk page), so why should we bother including something that even native speakers would have trouble recognising?

There are a whole bunch of transcription schemes devised for various languages written in non-Latin scripts, not only into Latin alphabet, also into Cyrillic, Arabic etc., are we going to include them all? Being national standard or ISO recognised does not imply it is worthy of inclusion, such as the ISO transliteration for Korean, unless - Wiktionary accepts all kinds of transliterations. Finally regarding toneless Pinyin - this is just ridiculous. We don't have Vietnamese entries without diacritics and say this is a "non-standard spelling" of something else, although this is quite commonly how Vietnamese is written on the Internet. And Pinyin is not even how Chinese is normally written. Wjcd 23:34, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

For example, chu2le yong4 biao1zhun3 de pin1yin1 xie3 zhong1wen2 zhi1wai4, woˇ haiˊ keˇyiˇ zheˋme, ㄏㄨㄛˋㄓㄜˇ ㄓㄜˋㄇㄜ ㄒㄧㄝˇ, huo4che3 che4me hsieh3, хо˥˩чжэ˩˧ чжэ˥˩мэ˩ се˩˧. Wjcd 23:54, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Re "Of course transliterations or transcriptions would be attestable": Prove it. Prove that toneless pinyin combinations or words are attestable per WT:ELE#Attestability. I have seen no proof so far. --Dan Polansky 12:08, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
I was saying that even though Pinyin is attestable (here is the proof), it should not be included. Let alone toneless Pinyin. Wjcd 02:11, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
Your search shows hits of "拼音读物" rather than of pinyin, so I don't quite get what you have intended with your search. Your search certainly does not attest any pinyin spelling. Per WT:CFI#Attestation, to be attested, pinyin must be used (as opposed to mentioned) in durably archived sources, such as printed books or Usenet newsgroups. --Dan Polansky 17:09, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
拼音读物 means Pinyin publications and other resources for kids. Chinese kids grow up learning Pinyin and reading those stuff. They are widely available in any major bookstores in China. Wjcd 22:31, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
(<) Can I see any of these Pinyin publications online? Anyway, thanks for this input. Are you saying that, in China, I can buy printed books that are wholly written in toneless Pinyin? --Dan Polansky 22:39, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
[9] Pinyin means Pinyin with tones by default. Tonal marks are as important as initials and finals. Wjcd 23:00, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
(<) Thank you for the link, showing text in toned pinyin. If indeed books such as the one shown online in the link are available in print, this would suggest that toned pinyin would be attestable, even if not by searching through Google books.
But again, can I buy printed books that are wholly written in toneless Pinyin? Or is it the case that only toned pinyin is attestable while toneless pinyin is unattestable? --Dan Polansky 23:09, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
Again the presence of these kinds of transcripted publications does not imply that transcriptions or transliterations are inclusion-worthy. There are whole books printed either with transcriptions annotated or solely in transcriptions for non-Latin written languages, primarily aimed at the learner populations of those languages, but the thing is Wiktionary is not supposed to be a learner's book, and the whole presence of Pinyin entries especially toneless Pinyin entries is making this place increasingly resemble the latter, because in an actual Chinese-English dictionary these would be non-existent. Wjcd 05:00, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
Why shouldn't Wiktionary be useful for learners? Actual bilingual dictionaries tend to be profoundly limited by their lack of paper, an issue that Wiktionary doesn't have. I don't know how useful Pinyin, toneless or not, is to our users, but that should be the issue, not mimicking paper dictionaries.--Prosfilaes 10:57, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
Re "... in an actual Chinese-English dictionary these [Pinyin entries] would be non-existent":
Here are two Chinese-English dictionaries that use toned pinyin as Chinese headwords, and alphabetize the entries by toned pinyin:
--Dan Polansky 11:12, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
These are not Pinyin-English dictionaries with Chinese annotations or mixed Chinese character/Pinyin-English dictionaries but rather Chinese-English dictionaries sorted using Pinyin. Notice how they listed homonyms under different sections. Wjcd 11:32, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
I don't get what you are speaking of, especially the point with homonyms; you would have to give examples and be specific. The headwords are in Pinyin; the order of presentation in these dictionaries is first Pinyin, then Chinese characters. In any case, these two dictionaries show that there is a market for reference works that have toned Pinyin as a lookup key rather than merely as a value associated with the lookup key. --Dan Polansky 13:18, 6 November 2010 (UTC)


Requests for verification of toneless pinyin:

I have just sent Xinniankuaile to RFV. --Dan Polansky 08:15, 1 November 2010 (UTC)


... should have begun by now. ---> Tooironic 01:16, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Correct. This vote has been open for five days and no one has voted yet. How strange. --Yair rand (talk) 02:13, 8 November 2010 (UTC)