Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Singapore-related articles

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Order of languages[edit]

I believe Wikipedia MOS requires that the English name goes first, but the order of other languages in infoboxes, leads or wherever is AFAIK undefined. A few options:

  1. Alphabetical by language name in English (and, coincidentally, number of speakers in Sg): English, Chinese, Malay, Tamil
  2. Alphabetical by ISO language code: English, Malay (ms), Tamil (ta), Chinese (zh)
  3. English, national language of Singapore, other official languages: English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil

I, personally, don't really give a shit and would be happy with any of those. Jpatokal (talk) 20:41, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Why not delete the entire article? Then it will all be solved. People using the airport who speak English have no business reading about it anyway. Maybe there should only be articles on Wikipedia in the official languages to show proper respect for the official languages. English is a disrespectful unofficial language after all. It is probably offensive to many to have an article in the offensive language of English about such an important cultural icon.--Filll (talk) 01:46, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
I have no idea what that rant was about, but FYI, English is one of Singapore's official languages. Jpatokal (talk) 08:07, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Sorting of articles about Sikh people[edit]

While editing the article "Choor Singh", it occurred to me that the following points should be added to this guideline:

  • If a Sikh person's surname is "Singh" or "Kaur", the article about the person should be sorted by the person's first name. For instance, the article "Choor Singh" should be sorted according to "Choor" and not "Singh".
  • If a Sikh person has a surname in addition to "Singh" or "Kaur", the article about the person should be sorted according to that surname. For instance, the article "Choor Singh Sidhu" should be sorted according to "Sidhu".

Thoughts? — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:56, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Official names "when appropriate"?[edit]

The current MOS says that all four official names should be listed "when appropriate". The consensus to date has, more or less, been that they're always appropriate... but User:Nicholas Tan disagrees and has been removing them from articles where other names are just pure translations, eg. National Neuroscience Institute.

My view: the other languages are "appropriate" if they have historical significance or differ in meaning from the English. For example, the name Singapore itself has a complex history, and it's interesting that "United Overseas Bank" is 大华银行 "Great China Bank" in Chinese. But for word-for-word modern translations like NNI, it doesn't really add any value at all to know what the name is in Chinese/Malay/Tamil, and space in the lead is too valuable to waste on trivia. Jpatokal (talk) 04:26, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

Are you proposing a modification of the wording of the guideline? — Cheers, JackLee talk 04:50, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm proposing a clarification of what "when appropriate" means. Jpatokal (talk) 01:23, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Hey, sorry for not coming accross this earlier. What I see as appropriate is if the business has exclusive or main service to the Chinese community of Singapore only. For instance United Overseas Bank has Chinese characters in their own name, signifying that it has significant ties to the Chinese community. However, if we look at other articles like Tampines Bus Interchange, it has no cultural reference to the Chinese community, but rather the Singapore community and thus since this is English Wikipedia, does not have a place in the main section. Other native names (Chinese, Malay, Tamil) should, at most, be relegated to side boxes, and included as much as possible. For articles that have to do more with international corporations, such as Universal Studios Singapore, there is no reason whatsoever to include any other names, other than the English one. The Chinese language in Singapore has no advantage over the Malay, or Tamil languages, and this is English Wikipedia. As for order of languages, it should be English, the main and working language of the country, Malay, our national language, followed by Chinese and Tamil


Nicholas Tan (Where am I wrong?) 06:37, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

I think that would often be a difficult test to apply. For instance, I would dispute that the United Overseas Bank is a business that provides services exclusively or mainly to the Chinese community of Singapore. That might have been the case when the bank was first established, but it is certainly not so today. Can we think of a better way to define when it would be "appropriate" to include the names of an institution or place in Chinese, Malay and Tamil? Or should the matter be left to individual editors to work out on a case-by-case basis on the talk pages of articles (in other words, no change to the present wording of the policy)? — Cheers, JackLee talk 09:46, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it would be a very difficult test to apply. However, that is how the Wikipedia for Singapore unfortunately turned out to be, with Chinese appearing as if it were the second language of Singapore, which it is technically not, but rather on the same tier as Tamil and Malay. Personally, it would do a lot to uniformity if we could add the other two languages to other articles but then again, I can't write in either Malay or Tamil. However, I must point out to you a quote from MM Lee's book in which he explicitly states that English is our working language and the Straits Times which read that (Singapore) has a predominantly English-speaking society, in which case I agree with you for United Overseas Bank, which does the vast majority of its business in the English language. What I am trying to basically say here is that we need uniformity, and if we include Chinese, except if the article it states for is mainly for the Chinese community, such as Nanyang University, then Chinese can be used exclusively. I just have a problem, especially with articles like the Development Bank of Singapore, and Sim Lim Square having the Chinese translation only as it implies that Singapore only speaks two languages, which it does not. But I must stress to you that Singapore is an English-speaking society, unlike places like Hong Kong, and I encourage you to look into that. An excellent example of adding all 4 languages I found is on the Nanyang Technological University page. Nicholas Tan (talk) 17:03, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Wikipedia is a work in progress; just because an article only has the name of, say, a place in English and Chinese doesn't mean that the Malay and Tamil names for it cannot be added later on by editors fluent in those languages. The fact that the article currently lacks the latter names is not really a reason for removing the Chinese name also. Yes, it may be a good idea to add the {{Chinese}} or {{SG neighbourhood}} templates to such articles. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:38, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. I think "exclusive or main service to the Chinese community" is completely unworkable as a test. Why not differentiate simply on whether the Chinese name differs in meaning from the English name? Jpatokal (talk) 01:23, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Ok, that sounds good. What I was more going after was the fact that articles were more giving a sense that Singapore only had 2 languages, which it doesn't, and that English is a minority languge, which it is not. So I would support listing it if the Chinese name differs from the English name, there is just no real need to attach Chinese (or Malay or Tamil for that matter) names to places like the National Cancer Centre. Remember this is English Wikipedia and the I guess the ultimate question boils down to if they only knew English, could they fully function in the place the article is talking about and not only can they, but they would be at a disadvantage if they did not speak it in most cases.
Nicholas Tan (talk) 03:44, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
In that case, could one of you please propose a draft rewording to the policy? — Cheers, JackLee talk 06:47, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

Draft rewording of policy[edit]

Ok, here is my proposal.

In general, do not use any other languages other than English, since this is English Wikipedia. If there is a historic background to the name like Ang Mo Kio or Pasir Ris, explain it in the eptymology.

People's names should also include their native languages, such as Lee Kuan Yew, Honorary GCMG, Honorary CH (Chinese: 李光耀; pinyin: Lǐ Guāngyào; POJ: Lí Kng-iāu) and Sellapan Ramanathan (Tamil: செல்லப்பன் ராமநாதன்; born July 3, 1924). However, if the person does not have a name in their native language, do not do something like this Benson Fong (Chinese: , pinyin: Kuàng Bǐngxióng).

Remember, using native spelling of names on Wikipedia was used to aid the translation of a place that was not an English-speaking location, and since S'pore is an English speaking country, even in places such as Sim Lim Square, you see the place reading Sim Lim Square, not 森林商业中心. It is of no value of the English speaking reader to know what the other translations of a place is so do not put it. Imagine what it would be like if the people in South Africa put all 20 official languages in each page.

However, for culture-specific places, like Chinese High School, Nanyang University, and the Armenian Church, add the native translation on the infobox or in brackets (I personally prefer the infobox as it reduces clutter). For a good example of what I am saying, look at articles in the Canadian state of New Brunswick, where French and English are the official languages.


Nicholas Tan (talk) 01:38, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

That's a badly written essay, not a policy, and it disagrees with what we and you yourself said earlier. For places like Sim Lim, where the name is Chinese, the original name should naturally be included.
Here's my shot at it:
"In the lead section of Singapore-related articles (such as articles about Singaporean festivals), the article title in English in boldface should be followed by translations of the title in parentheses into one or more of the official languages of Singapore, if one or more of the following conditions are met:
a) the name is in or derives from a language other than English, eg. Sim Lim Square (Chinese: 森林商业中心) or Sellapan Ramanathan (Tamil: செல்லப்பன் ராமநாதன்)
b) the name has a significantly different meaning in another language, eg. United Overseas Bank (Chinese: 大华银行, "Great China Bank")
c) English-language reliable sources regularly use other names, eg. Pedra Blanca (Malay: Pulau Batu Puteh)
In addition, Japanese names may be used for World War II-related topics. Derivations from any of other languages, eg. Hindi: धोबी घाट for "Dhoby Ghaut", are best covered outside the lead." Jpatokal (talk) 10:42, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
I prefer Jpatokal's reformulation as it is clearer. However, "Pedra Branca" is not a good example as even Malay-language sources in Singapore use the term "Pedra Branca". Only the Malaysians use "Batu Puteh": see "Pedra Branca, Singapore#Name". I also think there is no need to refer to people's names, because I don't think there is any disagreement that including names in other scripts is appropriate. — Cheers, JackLee talk 19:12, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
Well the draft I made previously was after looking through what you guys had to say and also looked at what other articles from places with more than English as its official language. My only question is where do we draw the line? If Sim Lim includes the Chinese name, as does Nanyang Technological University, and Tan Tock Seng Hospital? That's my only concern on that part. As for things like UOB, just pointing out that if you write it like this United Overseas Bank (Chinese: 大华银行, "Great China Bank"), the reader could mistaken 大华银行 to mean "United Overseas Bank", so it might be better to carry it outside the lead, along with as Jpatokal suggested, धोबी घाट for "Dhoby Ghaut", Japanese names, and of course, the Armenian Church.
Nicholas Tan (talk) 22:45, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
I would say yes, since the names of Nanyang Technological University and Tan Tock Seng Hospital are derived from Chinese names, it is helpful for these names to be indicated in Chinese script. Similarly, I would not object if an editor wished to indicate "धोबी घाट" after "Dhoby Ghaut" provided the Hindi script is explained. But it may not be necessary to provide the name of, say, Tan Tock Seng hospital in Malay and Tamil as well. As for Jpatokal's example, I would have thought that by stating "United Overseas Bank (Chinese: 大华银行, "Great China Bank")" it was quite clear that the English translation of "大华银行" was "Great China Bank". (By the way, I'm not sure what you mean about the Armenian Church. What other languages do you think the name should or should not be indicated in?)
Here's another thought. Do you think that an exception should be made for major buildings (e.g., Parliament of Singapore) and MRT and LRT stations? Perhaps the names of such prominent buildings ought to be set out in the four official langauges. — Cheers, JackLee talk 06:39, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I would not object to the four languages being used in any suitable infobox, as long as they're not cluttering the lead.
Re: Pedra Blanca, this was extensively discussed on its talk page; basically, Wikipedia has a NPOV and not a Singapore POV, so if Malaysian reliable sources use Batu Puteh consistently (and they do), then that name must be noted here as well. I agree that this may not be the best example, but this particular case of non-English names being used in English is fairly rare anyway. Jpatokal (talk) 12:36, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Pedra Branca is not a good example to use in this policy because the use of the Malay language name "Batu Puteh" seems not only to be a linguistic but also a political choice. Adding it after the English name (i.e., "Pedra Branca (Malay: Batu Puteh)" gives the incorrect impression that Malay speakers everywhere use the name, which does not appear to be the case in Singapore. That is why the issue of the island's name was dealt with in a separate section, where the matter was fully explained. I'm sure we can come up with a less confusing and contentious example. — Cheers, JackLee talk 13:15, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Sorry in reference to the Armenian Church, the current article has its translation in Armenian and Chinese (the latter which I think is totally unnecessary). It reads currently "The Armenian Church (full name: Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator; simplified Chinese: 亚米尼亚教堂; pinyin: Yàmǐníyà Jiàotáng; Armenian: Սուրբ Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչի Եկեղեցի – Surb Grigor Lusavorichi Yekeghetsi)" Nicholas Tan (talk) 16:34, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you that in the case of the Armenian Church the other names are unnecessary. In particular, unless the name in Armenian has actually been applied to the church in Singapore (I don't know whether it has or not), there seems little reason to include it. — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:46, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

← So, Nicholas, do you have any suggestions as regards Jpatokal's proposed amendment to the policy? — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:46, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

No, I do not have any more suggestions as to Jpatokal's proposed amendments. My only question would be (and it could just be because I am reading this wrongly) it appears that he suggests that things like "Hindi: धोबी घाट for "Dhoby Ghaut", are best covered outside the lead", but in the case of "United Overseas Bank (Chinese: 大华银行, "Great China Bank")" it should be covered in the lead. My question is would it be better to include native names in the lead itself like UOB is in Jpatokal's proposal or in an etymology section. The latter by the way, is done in the main article of Singapore itself. Cheers, Nicholas Tan (talk) 19:04, 18 November 2009 (UTC)


For the longest time, having all four official languages represented in the lead paragraph of Singapore-related articles has been there, primary in accordance to similar initiatives in numerous other articles relevant to other countries where they exist official languages other than English. While arguments to maintain this format has been generally well argued and taken for granted, the arguments against it is usually based purely on personal aesthetics preferences.

The wording of the template is as such, because while it is expected that all four languages should be presented in the article, they need not necessarily be in the lead paragraph if there exists a template to present this information. It has no relation to the content or context of the article, as the above discussion seem to be skewed towards.

Allow me to address some of the pertinent issues:

  • Some users above has attempted to associate items according to race to justify inclusion of specific languages. This is a contrived and even dangerous path to take, the very thing the Singapore government is trying to guard against, and which happens to align also to Wikipedia's NPOV policy. Wikipedia is not an exercise for any one race to claim ownership over any entity, and it is worrisome to see people trying to associate national-level institutions (such as a public hospital like Tan Tock Seng) with a particular race just because the founder was Chinese and that it was first built to serve the Chinese community, nevermind that it has since grown to serve Singaporeans from all walks of life. Or that of Dhoby Ghaut, as if it should be Indianised because of its name, even thou it was an area equally significant (if not more so) to non Indian Singaporeans, especially with the area's rich history of schools and churches, all of which are not exactly and specifically Indian. Wikipedia is not paper, and it is a perfect avenue to represent names in all four languages as they are intended in major institutions around Singapore. Just look at the entrance of each school in Singapore for evidence. It is not there for nothing.
  • I further contend the notion that "using native spelling of names on Wikipedia was used to aid the translation of a place that was not an English-speaking location". First, those names are there not to "aid translation", but simply to present the name of a location as the locals may call it. Second, English may be the current lingua franca amongst the younger and more educated Singaporeans, but it is by no means a common language for large segments of the heartlanders, neither is it ever a native language for over 95% of Singaporeans. Calling Singapore a "English-speaking location" assumes we are comparable to the UK, US, Australia, Canada or NZ, but we simply do not belong to that exclusive club. Singapore is more akin to countries like India and the Philippines, where English is widely spoken but does not supplant local languages and dialects. The significance of this, is that Singapore, for most part of its history, has not been English-speaking, and much of its placenames and institutions has had far richer histories ingrained in languages other than English, and it is certainly of value to researchers, academics, social scientists, and just about the general public to know how they may be known in other languages.
  • Finally, the logistical and technical issues raised. I see some saying this is the English wikipedia, thus names in other languages should be reserved for articles in respective non-English articles. I now realistically ask: do we have equivalent articles for all our English language sg-related articles in the three other languages for this to happen? Second, of using extreme examples like South Africa to speak against listing all four official Singaporean languages. Realistically, it is not wise to do so, and the current solution has been to only list the language most dominant or official in the said locality of a geographical location, for instance. Hence this is why Johannesburg has only the Afrikaans pronunciation, and Mumbai only has Marathi script because Marathi is official in the state of Maharashtra where Mumbai is located. In Singapore, we do not have official location-specific language statuses, nor do we have officially-recognised language-dominant areas on a national level. Listing four languages is not logistically or technically impossible, nor will it necessarily present a horrifying long sundry list of names.

I write the above obviously to support my view of keeping the status quo, but I do recognise there is room for improvement especially in terms of wording to minimise ambiguities. I would urge other contributors above to consider the contexts of and reasoning for the current situation before attempting to bring about changes for the sake of it, especially when I sense that some of those advocating changes does not appear to fully appreciate or condone the diverse multi-cultural characteristic of this country when trying to roll out a one-size-fits-all solution. Lets not let good intentions be eroded in favour of convenience.--Huaiwei (talk) 21:51, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

MoS naming style[edit]

There is currently an ongoing discussion about the future of this and others MoS naming style. Please consider the issues raised in the discussion and vote if you wish GnevinAWB (talk) 20:58, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

RFC which could affect this MOS[edit]

It has been proposed this MOS be moved to Wikipedia:Subject style guide . Please comment at the RFC GnevinAWB (talk) 20:54, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

RFC: restructuring of the Manual of Style[edit]

Editors may be interested in this RFC, along with the discussion of its implementation:

Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS?

It's big; and it promises huge improvements. Great if everyone can be involved. NoeticaTea? 00:49, 25 June 2011 (UTC)