Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Spelling/Archive 6

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Contents

Tagging pages - Read this first[edit]

This section summarises a proposal for handling national varieties of English in WP. Please read this first, then discuss below and vote.

The Problems[edit]

If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with some of the following issues

1. Spelling inconsistencies within and across articles. This makes
1.1. WP look unprofessional
1.2. some people "trip" on alternative spellings
2. Resources wasted "correcting" spellings
3. Resources wasted "correcting back" spellings (either after some time, and so on forever, or immediately, potentially starting arguments or edit wars)
4. Resources wasted arguing over, and trying to interpret the current guidelines, which are failing to solve the above problems.

If you are not convinced, load this page and this page, and search for "spell". Now that is what I call a waste of resources (human and mecha). More examples available on request.

The proposal[edit]

A series of templates will be defined, in the form {{en:humour}}. Once that is done, editors will write variant words in the following way

I have no sense of {{en:humour}} because I'm a pizza.

A "locale" setting will be added to user profiles, which allows them to specify their preferred variety. Based on that setting, the above will be rendered as

I have no sense of humour because I'm a pizza.

for a "UK" user and as

I have no sense of humor because I'm a pizza.

for a "US" user. That way, everyone gets to read WP articles with their favourite spelling style. It will be like having two (or more) WP editions, that are always automatically in sync—i.e., unlike the editions for lanuages other than English, they will not be affected by forking.

The dynamics of the proposal[edit]

With this mechanism in place it is very unlikely that a casual reader changes a variant word to his preferred spelling, because as soon as they see the template, they think about it twice, possibly learn about yet another benefit of being logged in, and if they care so much about these things they will propagate this idiom in other articles and for other words. People would learn by example and WP would converge gradually to a superior equilibrium, starting from the current state.

This mechanism can be extended easily to other varieties of the English language either immediately or when/if the need arises.

There would be an equilibrium which is the one and only correct equilibrium, which will please everyone, and which every good-intentioned wikipedian will actively contribute to reach. As opposed to the current chaotic situation whereby there are opposing forces trying to pull the spelling to "their" side, and the WP in this sense will never reach an equilibrium.

Using such templates would be a guideline. As with many guidelines, some editors (most, I would say) will be unaware of it, and write "naturally". Note that this will make articles strictly no worse than the current situation. Then the anal guy comes around and spots the oh-my-god-horrible "misspelling". Being anal, he or she is aware of the guidelines, and therefore corrects it accordingly. Everybody happy, the end.

Again, if you forget to stick to the rules (genuinely or deliberately), it's not a problem, because most people won't notice or won't care, while the anal guys above will correct it immediately to the correct version. And they will do it only once.

Open issues (food for thought)[edit]

Q: How would the title of an article be handled?
A: Good point. Not worse than it is now, but ideas are welcome.

Other features[edit]

This mechanism could be useful for other languages (e.g. Portuguese and Spanish) that have similar spelling idiosyncrasies.

Also it may turn out handy for other similar issues that some people feel strongly about, such as spelling of "God/G-d/god".

QA[edit]

Note: Although many people clearly oppose this proposal without having read this section, to be fair some of the points below have actually been introduced after specific comments from opposing editors.

Q1: {{en:humour}} or {{en:humor}}?
A1: Since this code will be seen only by editors, it doesn't really matter. We could allow both to mean the same thing. If you fear that people will continue edit wars on {{en:humour}} vs {{en:humor}}, which I think is very unlikely and anyway much less important, then we can apply the current spelling rules to the tags (e.g. UK spelling in UK articles, leave the original spelling, etc).

Q2: How do we avoid the "UK Labor Party"?
A2: When talking about the UK Labour Party, you would write it as is, like you do now. Anybody manually correcting it as "Labor Party" or relying on "{{en:Labour}} Party" is clearly a mistake.

Q3: What happens to users that are not logged in or that haven't set the locale preference?
A3: Users' locale can be determined using their IP address.

Q4: Can we use automation (bots, automatic rendering without explicit tagging, etc) to get to the equilibrium faster?
A4: I don't think it's a good idea. Instances like "Labour Party" would be messed up, and I think it's more important not to break what's currently correct than automating the changes. I think trying to automate the transition is missing the point made in the "dynamics" section.
Finally, consider words like "license" (verb) vs "licence" (noun) in the UK dialect. How do you make that distinction automatically? (Thanks to NFH the argument)

Q5: Wouldn't this make Wikitext totally unreadable and a chore to edit?
A5: No. Please explain how this

I have a poor sense of {{en::humor}} because I'm a pizza.

is so much more unreadable and difficult to edit than this

I have a poor sense of humor—I'm a pizza after all. (P. Margherita)

In other words, let's assume that — didn't exist, and someone in the W3C came up and said: hey, wouldn't it be great if we added — to HTML? Would you oppose the move because it would make HTML totally unreadable and a chore to edit?

Q5.1: Would this make Wikitext more readable and easier to edit?
A5.1: Of course not. It will be strictly less readable. However, in my opinion, it will be only slightly less readable. After all, the syntax of the proposal is among the simplest instances of templates, which make regular appearance in our articles.
Anyway, ponder this. How many new editors would be deterred by such a {{en:monstrosity}} to the extent that they would choose not to contribute? Because this is what really matters, isn't it?
As for ease of editing, how many keystrokes and mouse clicks would be wasted in the average editing session? Keep in mind that one needs not use the templates when editing. (Although I don't think this will change the estimate much.)

Q6: I can read all flavours of English just fine. Isn't this proposal useless?
A6: No. See "The Problems" subsection above.

Q7: Isn't this gonna put strain on our servers?
A7: No. All is required is parsing the templates, looking up a user preference and looking up the right spelling in a static map in memory. Compare this to the all-important "Skin" feature.

Q8: Isn't this gonna take a long time to implement?
A8: This is besides the point. We are not asking you to do it, simply to express your view on the proposal. If there is an agreement that this would be a welcome feature, it will be prioritised.

Q9: What about other grammatical/punctuation variations?
A9: I think we should stick to spellings to start with, for the following reasons:

  1. It's much simpler
  2. It would be much easier to convince people that this is a good idea

In other words, I think that anything more complicated than "downtown" vs. "city centre" should not be done just yet.

Q10: I'd still like to read about US topics in US spelling and UK topics in UK spelling.
A10: We can leave local spellings throughout a local article as per current guidelines. Or we can add a {{context:UK}} or {{context:US}} at the top of "local" articles/sections and users can choose to let this template override the localisation templates. This setting could be turned on by default.

Q11: My idea is along the same lines, but it's better.
A11: Excellent, we'd love to hear about it! The proposal above is only tentative, and some variants are already being discussed (e.g. MOIO vs MABIO below). But don't forget to vote!

Q12: Do you realise how many tags must be put in place?
A12: Yes, but that doesn't need to happen overnight, and in fact it doesn't need to happen at all. Let's assume that — didn't exist, and someone in the W3C came up and said: hey, wouldn't it be great if we added — to HTML? Would you oppose the move because of the sheer amount of dashes on the web that would need to change?

Q13: Some words have two possible spellings in a specific locale—e.g. dialog/dialogue in US. Wouldn't people fight over which one to choose for that locale?
A13: It would be very easy to allow users to specify personal settings for each word, that would override their locale of choice.

Q14: But I like inconsistencies!
A14: Interesting. Well, that's easy to achieve, we can provide an en:random option among the various locales.

PizzaMargherita 09:09, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Votes on tagging pages proposal[edit]

"A feature like this would be welcome in the English Wikipedia."

  • Strongly agree - Er... yes, I agree with myself. :) My view is summarised in the Read this first above. PizzaMargherita 14:34, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Agree. It's inclusive, recognises dialectic boundaries, avoids some of the ambiguity of the current guidelines and is harmless if it ends up hardly being used, as it isn't a necessary syntax. I also don't think it will be as ugly in the markup as some people seem to predict; one reason for that being that I guess it will rarely crop up (e.g. I can't see any parts of this paragraph where it could be used), and another reason being that it's reasonably slim-line. --Splidje 11:00, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Agree I like the idea, but only if the implementation at least has some kind of automatic tagging, possibly in the form of a checkbox when editing a page. I am also in favour of exploring an alternate implementation (MOIO, see below) further. Jared Grainger 18:29, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly disagree. The current system works okay, and this proposal, if implemented, would be a huge server resource hog. BlankVerse 16:11, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Mildly oppose. Thank you for putting so much effort into explaining your proposal. I can understand your reasoning, but I disagree. Here is why I oppose the proposal:
  1. I don't like the idea of splitting Wikipedia into two (or more) viewing modes. There is only one English language and there should only be one Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an international project and having different spellings coexist in that project gives it an international flavour.
  2. There are many spelling variations that can be used in both British and American English (dialog(ue), travel(l)er, realize(-ise), fetus/foetus, per cent or percent, theatre/theater and so on...) What about Canadian spelling? In order to make everyone happy, you'd have to devise a system that enables every user to create his own individual system of spelling.
  3. There would never be consensus about the "default view". I'd guess that more than 90% of all Wikipedia users are not logged in. What will they see? Using tags will shift the current spelling controversies to a higher level of abstraction. Now, people argue about what spellings to use in a article. Using tags, they will argue about how these tags will be interpreted.
  4. Assuming (on average) five spelling variants per article, roughly five million tags must be put into place! Did you realize that? I think resources should rather be used to write new and improve already existing articles. I know that many people care about spelling, but all in all, it's a minor issue.
  5. Spelling is just the tip of the iceberg of linguistic variations. What about punctuation, grammar, lexical differences?
  6. There is one rule concerning spelling that has gained general consensus: Articles related to a certain English-speaking country should bear that country's spelling. For instance: London -> UK spelling. There would be strong resistance among the editors of such articles to changing all British spellings like behaviour to {en:behavior} just in order to allow a small minority of users to read the article in their favourite spelling. Nobbie 13:20, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Burden on resources and on editors wading through the edit screen, for minimal benefit. Problems going beyond spelling, such as "she is in hospital" and the like. Too many options where more than one spelling is used within one geographical region, even if another region doesn't use one of them. Would create more arguments than it avoids. Gene Nygaard 16:45, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose the manual tagging method. It's a really nice concept, but not worth the effort. I've not seen spelling partisans creating problems, and in my few months here, less than half a dozen well-meaning editors who honestly thought they were correcting typos. I strongly oppose the automated method, because there is no excuse for knowingly introducing errors where none previously existed. NickelShoe 01:01, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose, but very cool idea, I'd be interested in the programming. But... I actually like the Wikipedia spelling chaos, you learn a lot about the English language this way (not just spelling). I think Wikipedia makes many people realize how variegated (<- get it?) the English language is! NeutralLang 20:46, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Support - I've changed my mind. I'm not sure if it can be done (it's an awfully complex task...), but I've thought about it and in principle I agree that it's a good idea. Sorry about my first remark, I didn't give much thought to it... NeutralLang 21:22, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose makes editing far harder, with not nearly enough gain to counterbalance this. DES (talk) 18:12, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. This is great — it's a proper solution, not some feeble compromise. Solutions are brilliant once you find them, compromises degrade Wikipedia. Syntax can be thought about, but I have faith that that's already been done in depth and the chosen is good. I don't believe this will have an adverse effect on editing. There will only be improvement during the transition period — a move away from consistency is not needed in this particular issue in order to gain consistency. Neonumbers 05:52, 31 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Mildly oppose. This seems like a good effort at coming up with a solution, but I think the inability to address the grammar and usage differences will result in rather odd rendering. I'm thinking about a sentence like "The {{en:UK}} Labour government were dissatisfied with organized {{en:labour}}'s efforts to protect the {{en:dole}} of pensioners in hospital" being rendered as, "The U.K. Labour government were dissatisfied with organized labor's efforts to protect the unemployment insurance of pensioners in hospital." That's a hodgepodge of American and Commonwealth English that kind of makes my head spin (and incidentally reads perfectly correctly in one dialect and has a non-sequitur in the other). At least now, my mind can click into "reading American" or "reading Commonwealth" and keep going. I hope that the default (which I will certainly leave turned on if this is implemented) is "leave the spelling as-is"—which of course will probably cause the edit disputes to continue as people change {{en:color}} to {{en:colour}} and back... What's the mapping for {{en:rubber}} going to be, by the way? --TreyHarris 07:58, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This creates a large workload for Wikimedia developers, template maintainers, and article editors, but would solve only a very minor problem. Spelling errors used to really disrupt the flow of my reading, but after years of browsing Usenet and the WWW, I don't even notice spelling mistakes any more. National spelling variations are even less noticeable (with a few exceptions like curb/kerb, tire/tyre). I am sure the large majority of Wikipedia's users don't care and don't notice, so why should we add so much to our workload for so little gain? Readers aren't going to set up an account and log in so they can see tweaked spellings. As long as each article has consistent spelling (of the national variety appropriate to the subject, if applicable), that's good enough. Indefatigable 16:35, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly support. I think getting a solution to the spelling problem would move us a long way toward the goal of a consistent professional style. I'd like to take issue with a lot of the contrived examples where poor substitutions might occur. Once we have broken the back of the problem (spelling) we can start to ask editors to be careful in which words they choose where the spelling isn't the issue. In other words, we can ask Americans editors to use "apple juice" where they would say "cider" and Commonwealth editors to say "alcoholic cider". We can make compromises on a lot of the other issues as well and find a middle ground. I suspect that the difficulty with finding a middle group is primarily because of the black-and-white us-versus-them nature of spelling differences. Another example: Americans say either named for or named after, in New Zealand it's exclusively named for. Since Americans have a choice, they can choose the one that applies most internationally. Ben Arnold 00:48, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Nice idea, but I think it would have a negative effect by perpetuating people's beliefs in the 'rightness' of their own spelling, and causing them to 'correct' 'misspellings' on untagged pages. I think it is better if people can learn that other spellings exist. British books published in America are always 'translated' into American spellings and idioms, so Americans are often see mistakes when they encounter 'untranslated' British writing. In contrast, American books published in Britain are not 'translated', so Brits usually have a better awareness of the different conventions of different countries. I think the British approach is better as it makes you more aware of diversity. The Singing Badger 18:23, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly support. At first I liked the idea of having "British English for articles about Britain, American English for articles about the U.S.", but that only provides guidance in a minority of articles. Obviously we would not need to go out and tag every occurence of a problem word in every article, but at least this would silence the endless debates on articles like "color" and "grey". My only concerns are, again, for article titles, and for non-logged-in users who still might care. I also think, that if we implement this, a personalization feature is absolutely necessary. Lesgles (talk) 21:05, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose - Needless waste of editor time and overcomplication of code. Wasn't this site an easy-to-edit wiki at one time? — Omegatron 21:01, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose per Omegatron. My constitution is strong enough with being exposed to the occasional Americanism. Markyour words 16:50, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly Agree Brilliant idea. Problems like "in hospital" vs. "in the hospital" can of course be solved via a similar mechanism. Thanks for being so smart! I was actually about to offer an alternative to the Dialect Problem: the creation of a "Global Dialect" standard. Less wacky than it might sound. But your idea is a better solution. (Actually, we could create a global dialect and have that be another localizable setting.) Hyperborean 19:48, 22 February 2006 (UTC). 18:41, 2006 February 22 (UTC)
  • Support Great idea so long as it's restricted to spelling. I wouldn't want to see attempts to substitute different words between dialects in such a way, that would change the tone of articles too much. Nick 22:55, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose There would be benefits to such a feature; however, I believe the costs far outweigh them: editor time (already consumed by regular editing and dialectic changes), overcomplicated coding, server limitations, and perhaps overcomplicated editing. This would likely result in a different sort of dialectic melange than currently. And all of this presupposes that there's something wrong with the status quo, with editors judiciously discussing and implementing dialectic renditions – this is a wiki, after all? And if guidelines are insufficient for some reason, they should be massaged or accepted. This seems a make-work project and, in effect, is a Wp version of the Quebec "tongue troopers". E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 10:22, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. I'm a little worried about making things over-technical, but of course editors won't have to use the templates; they can be added by others (just as now we have to correct additions to articles in the "wrong" variety of English). If editors already judiciously discussed these matters, I'd be more inclined to a weak oppose, but all too often supporters of one variety simply blindly insist on it. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 11:53, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support. This would greatly improve the readability and user-friendliness of the encyclopaedia. It would allow the resource to acknowledge both the wishes of Commonwealth and American speakers and cater to both of them simply and invisibly. Also consider the possiblity of language variations done by DEFAULT on all terms except those in quotes or with a special "not subject to dialect" tag, which would make the editors' jobs easier, there being generally less of the latter than of the former in articles. It is a beautiful solution to an otherwise endless, circular and bitter discussion based on such trivial matters as habit and education. For the titles, I propose that if a user searches for "colour" or types in the Colour address of the link, it would show Colour as the title and colour in the article, whereas if they'd searched the other form, the other form would be presented in the title and article. A little "alternative spelling:" tag can be put in where "redirected from:" is now for those articles, so viewers know what's going on. Arrenlex 06:19, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support. In short, I strongly support this for the reasons given by PizzaMargherita and many other supporters here. An encyclopaedia is about knowledge. In its present format, Wikipedia presents knowlege but propagates confusion over spellings. It would be far better to refer readers to articles on spelling diversity in the English language rather than risk spreading spelling inconsistencies in the audience. Alias Flood 05:16, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support. I thought of exactly such a system for WP a few months ago myself, but never mentioned it. I'm pleased that someone else has come up with the same idea. A lot of English people strongly object, when reading their own national language, to having American spelling imposed on them (and I am aware that many Americans can be equally upset by the inverse), and this tagging would go some way to address this issue. In this way, if an editor objects to the spelling of a particular word, they can amend it with a tag, thus making everyone happy - no more revert wars over spelling. I'm against using bots, as you only have to look at words like "license" (verb) vs "licence" (noun) where US English uses "license" for both the verb and the noun. It would be difficult for bots to make such a distinction between different parts of speech. NFH 16:17, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. I don't think this would be any bigger a deal than having dates customised to suit local preferences, which is what already happens. --Susurrus 07:26, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support. This would not only prevent a lot of pointless edit wars and discussion, but would make Wikipedia easier to read for everyone. As to The Singing Badger's comment, US books are not translated into British English because that is changing the authors original work. It seems strange that it does not work like that both ways. Since Wikipedia articles cannot been seen in the same literary light, and are anyway the work of multiple authors I think it's better to make the translation. Mojo-chan 22:15, 14 May 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Nobbie and E Pluribus Anthony. I enjoy the diversity and (relative) simplicity of the current method. Plus the argument would just move to "why is the default ..... ?". -Quiddity 19:07, 15 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Weak Support Though I definately believe that we should use predominantly international spellings rather than American ones to represent a worldwide view, I can see the force of the argument that wikis should be easy to edit. But could you have some kind of bot which automatically implemented this sort of thing? Flage 02:12, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongest possible support This is an absolute must! It would remove at a stroke one of the most contentious and time wasting issues related to Wikipedia. It would also put the project ahead of any comparable facility. It would make Wikipedia a truly international phenomenon that didn't impose one set of cultural values - typically "The American Way" - on someone else's culture. Arcturus 17:29, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. While I respect the time that has gone into crafting this proposal, it is making a mountain out of a molehill and will encourage people to waste more time on spelling...now we'll have people expending effort going through others' edits to replace "humor" or "humour" with {en:humor}. People who read information from a variety of sources are continually seeing the inconsistencies of UK and US spelling and survive just fine; so shall we. The fact that we are internally "inconsistent" does not look "unprofessional" as the proposal suggests, but pragmatic. Just let's stop warring about it and spend our time building an encyclopedia. OK, rant off, and appreciation for a thoughtful attempt at solving "the problem", merely no real problem exists. Martinp 14:52, 5 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Nobbie. Subsurd 06:06, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support - as far as I can see, the only justification for opposing is that it may be extra work - editors who don't want that estra work don't have to do it. It solves the problem of non-familiar users messing up spelling and has no actual drawbacks whatsoever, since editors don't have to participate in it if they prefer not to. Some of use rather enjoy an article that is well written, and bad spelling just makes reading less pleasent. WilyD 00:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support WLD 07:18, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongest Possible Support This is really great idea and all your reasons (Above) make perfect sense. raptor 07:37, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support My support was only mildly in favor when I first read this. As I read through some other comments I waffled a bit, much like NeutralLang, to the mildly opposed variety, since it does seem a rather unimportant issue. I too, as other posters, personally enjoy reading different {{en:flavours}}, and would set my own preferences to {{en:random}}! But I believe that it is an issue that bothers people; it does lead to edit disputes and even revert wars; it can be solved through technical means; and so, it should. Further, I agree with your claim (and Ben Arnold's point) that it will improve WP professionalism, as well as putting WP further ahead of the curve, as Arcturus comments. And to those naysayers, I echo Μελ Ετητης — “If you think it's a waste of time, just don't waste your time on it, and let others do as they feel.” PizzaMargherita, sign me up to help! Eliyahu S Talk 15:27, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Support Being English, I'm sick of having to read the American spellings of English words, it just irritates me how American English seems to be accepted as being ok for all English speaking people. Having pages displayed in Real English would be such a welcome change. WorMzy 22:11, 23/09/06 (BST/GMT)
  • Strongly support It'll cause lot less tension and we wouldn't have time-wasting debates on articles like colour. Also we can make a new bot, which can add the brackets, so we wouldn't have to waste much time. Sum1else 00:08, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
    I don't think this proposal helps with any debate about article titles. An article still would have to be at a single title, with redirects from others. Michael Z. 2006-10-24 00:16 Z
  • Weak support It will be effective, but I fear it will require a lot of editing time. --The monkeyhate 16:13, 4 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. I support this proposal. Beobach972 05:15, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support. Sounds brilliant, and I'm sure it'll stop a lot of edit wars. It might take a while to be phased in but I'm sure it will gain widespread support with editors. Shaizakopf 21:44, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support. I have created a working implementation at Template:sp. I hope that this is an acceptable solution. Dtrebbien 16:21, 5 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose (very conditionally). The condition is: if Dtrebbien's solution, which includes "non-American English" as a default, is part of the implementation. 1) Ain't no such thing as "Non-American English"; 2) Minor though it may seem, this will piss people off and simply displace the spelling wars (though it also will partly reduce them). But, a solution with no fixed default that will be read as anti-American I would strongly support. (Note: I'm not American.) --Truth About Spelling 21:47, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
Hi Truth About Spelling, I know that there is no such thing as "non-American English". There is, however, a "non-American English spelling", which is what I wrote on the documentation.
Also, from a programming viewpoint (I do quite a bit of programming), it is imperative to have some sort of default spelling. What happens when a new dialect code appears, for example? They might see nothing were it not for a default spelling.
« D. Trebbien (talk) 2007 May 20 14:47 (UTC)
I completely understand the programming constraints here, and understand as well that you're not trying to "take sides". Still, defaulting to "non-American" will be felt as "anti-American" by many. If there's a way to avoid that (and perhaps there isn't), that would be ideal. For example, some kind of "international English" (like Western Plains Canadian spelling -- color, organize, centre) might be a reasonably non-controversial default. By the way, I meant something broad by "...no such thing as 'Non-American English'": there's no unified dialectic, spelling, etc., that is non-American. Ergo, unless something international is chosen (like Shakespeare's original spellings, or "Western Plains Canadian" spelling), "non-American" will mean British. That will piss people off. One of the points of a good tagging proposal is not to piss people off. --Truth About Spelling 20:23, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm. I see what you are saying. I think that I will emphasize that the point is to choose a default spelling such that it minimizes the total number of characters needed to localize a spelling. For example, both {{sp|color|GB=colour|CA=colour|AU=colour|NZ=colour}} and {{sp|colour|US=color}} do the same thing, but the second is shorter. Thus the second should be used.
I am afraid that an "international English" would offend others, too. I will change the docs sometime to emphasize efficiency.
« D. Trebbien (talk) 2007 May 21 00:18 (UTC)
Well the only recently published dictionary of 'International English' that I can find is the Cambridge International Dictionary. I don't know how 'accepted' this dictionary is by the various countries/regions of the world or by any established international organization such as the UN, but the fact that it is a Cambridge dictionary implies to me The Queens English. There would probably be a lot of dispute by and amongst many English speaking peoples whether this is, or should be, a standard for the entire world. So in reality Wiki either picks a side (American, Englandish, any other dialect with a published dictionary), does nothing (unprofessional), or trys to come up with something on its own. There is a danger in this efficiency model in that it effectively establishes another dialect (WikiEnglish if you will) and makes it a default standard for this encyclopedia. The decision to simply pick the spelling of least letters will still produce some mixed results here and there; just with different words, and you are still going to have to figure what to do about words that have the same number of letters. I really like the idea of locale tags. I've just been recently improving an 'A' class article that uses two different spellings for atleast three different words. This is poor, but since the article is fairly established and non-controversial (a former featured article), I'm not sure which way to 'correct' things so that a fundamental quality, such as the spelling of words actually being used in the article, is consistent. Locale tags would make issues like this embarrassment go away. --Daydreamer302000 10:40, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
What are you talking about? Cambridge University Press doesn't publish an "International English" dictionary. I recall there used to be a "Cambridge International Dictionary of English," but it was discontinued a few years ago. However The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, by Australian linguist Pam Peters, is really "international" in scope. The Cambridge folks also use a huge International Corpus of both British and American English. —JackLumber /tɔk/ 02:02, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongly agree Anything that prevents silly edit wars is a thing to be encouraged. This is an elegant solution and can only serve to make Wikipedia more polished. It should also allay nationalistic feelings -- nobody need read the "wrong" kind of spelling. :) laddiebuck 02:42, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose per all of the above. —JackLumber /tɔk/ 13:26, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongy agree without something like this wikipedia is USELESS! I would suggest that we change the page titles to allow alternate spellings e.g. use the pipe | to join words.. E.g. the US only color and everyone else colour becomes colour|color and the media wiki is altered to treat these as aliases for the same page. Definitely like the idea of tagging the text. Bots can get created to find articles that need fixing.. With users checking on the usage to handle the exceptions (e.g. names of organisations). What's the process for getting this moving? As I say: wikipedia is broken and useless until this has been fixed. "Whatever was there first", or "whatever country the page belongs to" is wrong and stupid. What's correct in one variant is a spelling mistake in another. I think though that we should have some rules that default the language preference based on some sort of IP to country lookup. Or force everyone to choose if that's too hard. This NEEDS to be fixed guys, even if you don't like the idea - wikipedia is broken without some equivalent functionality (and it can't be automatic: too many cases where it would be broken) NathanLee 17:45, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose per Nobbie and TreyHarris. Far more trouble than it's worth, and it won't solve all the "problems" anyway. -- Avenue 10:01, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support I can read most variations well, but it's very to hard to read a paragraph with 3 different variations in the same sentence. Also, if we put in this standardization, no one will have a hissy fit over their favorite article being spelled wrong. Mhavril39 06:24, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Strongly Agree This acknowledges that there are many flavours of English and celebrates the diversity of the english language, promoting WP's use around the world. -- PotiPotato 11:28, 30 November 2007 (AEST)

Tagging pages - Discussion[edit]

Please note, the top part of these comments precedes the proposal above. PizzaMargherita 11:25, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Is it feasible to create some templates to tag every pages (by en-GB, en-AU, en-GB-oed, en-US, en-CA.....). It is more convenient for editors. So that pages can be kept more consistence. - Cheung1304 19:27, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

There seems to be a discussion about tags on the talk page of Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style Nobbie 13:48, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Proposed templates: Template:BrE, Template:AmE, Template:CaE, etc. Cheung1304 03:45, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

We shouldn't mark articles as only being editable by Britons, Americans, Canadians, etc. This is a very divisive proposal that would only add to Wikistress and edit wars, jguk 23:36, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)
This isn't the right approach. Articles should avoid containing editorial information; that's what the Talk: pages are for. Another approach would be to use HTML comments <!-- comments -->, but I'm not sure it's necessary. — Matt Crypto 11:47, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
A comment saying <!-- This page is written using (country) English. Do not change the spelling or style to that of another dialect. --> would be sufficient. For example, there could be comments in the coding for the pages on Chicago, Illinois and White House warning people that changing the text on those pages from American English to British English is a no-no. --/ɛvɪs/ 20:16, Mar 23, 2005 (UTC)
To use Kenneth Williams' last words, what's the bloody point? jguk 20:36, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
<rant>Beause people like you think we all come from England. Some of us however, LIVE IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE. You don't need to overrun this site with british words that the general public cannot understand. </rant> 209.2.60.75 20:12, 3 October 2005 (UTC)


Maybe you'd be interested to know that I also live in the Western hemisphere? :) jguk 20:33, 3 October 2005 (UTC)

Hmmm, I think only one country in the western hemisphere uses US spelling, the rest (that have English as an official lenguage) use English. I'd be worried about any general public that reads so poorly that it cannot understand English spelling, but would understand US spelling. Pete.Hurd 20:42, 3 October 2005 (UTC)
I haven't seen any Canadian Tyre stores. Have you? It's a little more complicated than U.S. and UK, and parts of the UK also have strange things not shared by all of the UK. Gene Nygaard 05:08, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

This is quite an interesting problem, as it is pretty much totally about style. If dialects are/could be classified as above - en-GB, en-AU etc. - then we have a set of defined dialects. The Wikipedia approach to whole different languages is to have a whole separate set of articles for each language (meaning differing content on Welsh pages to English pages; so someone in Wales could be looking at a totally different article to their neighbour. Good thing? - separate issue). It would be overkill to apply this same approach to different dialects within a langauge, as the only differences are spelling, grammar and phrasing. Therefore, there could be a tag to give a section of text alternatives in each dialect, e.g. [ [ dialect:en-GB|The colours he favoured were considered humourous to her.|en-US|The colors he favored were considered humorous to her. ] ]. Of course this also requires the abililty for a reader to select their preferred dialect; does anyone know if such information is already available in locales etc.? I suppose if a user's language is en and their country is GB then it could be assumed their dialect choice is en-GB. What do people think? Is there a place where ideas such as this can be put forward? --Splidje 12:57, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

I think this makes a lot of sense. See my proposal here and here.
Nobody really liked it, but then again nobody gave any good reasons why we shouldn't do it.
In essence: this
I have a poor sense of {{EN::humor}} because I'm a pizza.
would render as this
I have a poor sense of humor because I'm a pizza.
or this
I have a poor sense of humour because I'm a pizza.
depending on user preferences. If we want to get fancy, we could even allow personalised dialects, i.e. one may set up my own Pizza dialect where template "humor" renders as "homour" (UK) but "color" renders as "color" (US). PizzaMargherita 21:03, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
I don't think it's even worth striving for. I'd sooner put up with some variation in spelling rather than having the additional complications in editing, in reading the edit screen, and especially all the clutter that will show up on my watchlist and on recent changes as everybody rushes to add all those silly tags. Plus the strong likelihood of several different robots running amok because they have been poorly designed in an attempt to automate that. Gene Nygaard 05:08, 8 December 2005 (UTC)
All of these points have been addressed in the discussions linked above, which I encourage you to read.
If clutter in your watchlist is your primary concern, fear not, for that could only decrease. This would be a consequence of the existence of a stable equilibrium. In fact one of the issues that this proposal is trying to address is edit wars on spelling.
As for complications in reading and editing wikitext, do you really think that this
I have a poor sense of {{EN::humor}} because I'm a pizza.
is any more complicated than this?
I have a poor sense of humor&mdash;I'm a pizza after all. (P.&nbsp;Margherita)
Finally, I don't think there's any need for robots. Everything is explained in the links. PizzaMargherita 22:49, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

I (DerekP) think this would be a waste of time because the use of alternative spellings for English language words is not an issue that is causing real problems in the world; except to people who fuss over non-important issues. If we have tagging, then every word should have to be tagged just in case there is an alternative that the author doesn't know about yet.

{{EN::I}} {{EN::have}} {{EN::a}} {{EN::poor}} {{EN::sense}} {{EN::of}}
{{EN::humor}} {{EN::because}} {{EN::I'm}} {{EN::a}} {{EN::pizza}}.
 

In short, why bother wasting time and effort over small issues before the big issues are dealt with?

And by the way, should that be

{{EN:humor}}

or

{{EN:humour}}

or either?


DerekP 02:12, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

"the use of alternative spellings for English language words is not an issue that is causing real problems in the world." - I agree that war and hunger are more serious problems, and I accept that they should be dealt with first, but you can't deny that spelling diversity is wasting a lot of time and resources ("correcting", "correcting back", discussing, etc), and that spellings are inconsistent across articles, often within articles.
"every word should have to be tagged" - No, it shouldn't. I'll try to summarise and clarify the proposal in a standalone section.
"should that be
{{EN:humor}}
or
{{EN:humour}}
or either?" - Strange that, spelling inconsistencies in articles are not a problem, but the convention adopted in the template itself (seen only by editors) is. Ok, in that case my answer is that both templates will be introduced and will yield to exactly the same result. PizzaMargherita 17:54, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Strongly disagree. The current system works okay, and this proposal, if implemented, would be a huge server resource hog. BlankVerse 16:11, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Ok, so you are saying that: 1. the problems I have listed exist only in my head and 2. Q and A number 7 are utter rubbish. Fair enough, but can you please explain why? Thanks. PizzaMargherita 16:32, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't think the MABIO method would take much in the way of resources. There would only be a handful of additional tags per article and the dictionary is unlikely to change very often, meaning that it can be cached or inlined into the code. The MOIO method would be somewhat inefficient if improperly implemented (i.e. scanning every word every time the article is viewed), but all that needs to be done is to scan the text when it is saved and mark all the dialect words. Then it is comparable to MABIO in efficiency. This also brings another possible implementation idea to mind: put a checkbox that automatically scans the article and tags dialect words.Jared Grainger 17:59, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

In response to Splidje's original question: yes this would be complete overkill, a waste of programmers' time, would complicate wikitext and become a big inconvenience for all editors. Articles will end up in a worse mix of English dialects, as they will end up half-dialectified, while most editors try to work around, ignore, or remove the dialect tags littering them.

If you really want to work on the software, it's probably best to develop an extension to Mediawiki, and discuss it there. I will oppose adding anything like this to English Wikipedia.

Unobtrusively tagging articles as suggested at the very top of this discussion might be a good idea. But why don't we all go improve some articles instead of generating more words about this proposal? Michael Z. 2006-01-8 18:28 Z

"complete overkill" - see QA7, please articulate your argument if you disagree. Any technical feasibility study is more that welcome at this stage, whatever its outcome. On the other hand, opposing the proposal simply saying "It won't work" or "If it passes I'm not gonna comply" is not very constructive.
"a waste of programmers' time" - see QA8
"would complicate wikitext and become a big inconvenience for all editors" - see QA5
"Articles will end up in a worse mix of English dialects, as they will end up half-dialectified" - No, that is the current state. Please explain how the situation will be worse. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 18:47, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Complete overkill in that it complicates wikitext. I can't look at an article and just type an addition, without risking it becoming a mix of dialects when someone views it. There are already too many different whiz-bang templates cluttering wikitext, without adding this one which has to be mixed in everywhere. Who's going to take on the task of patrolling Wikipedia, searching out out "tire tread" vs. "I tire easily" and adding the English dialect templates to the right ones? Michael Z. 2006-01-8 22:52 Z
I must insist: you can't tell me that the proposed templates will make the wikitext (which only editors see) more unreadable than it is already. Is "&nbsp;" readable? Maybe not, but sometimes using it is the one and only right thing to do. We should write what we mean: "{en:humour}" means "humour—this word is written in two ways depending on the locale", whereas "Labour Party" means "Labour Party".
"I can't look at an article and just type an addition, without risking it becoming a mix of dialects when someone views it." - I agree, but the same can be said about the present situation, which is strictly worse than the proposed one.
"Who's going to take on the task of patrolling Wikipedia, searching out out "tire tread" vs. "I tire easily" and adding the English dialect templates to the right ones?" - Please note that there is no need to actively and exaustively perform this task. Please read the dynamics of the proposal. The answer to your question is: it will be the same people who are creating these problems in the first place that will do that, along with every good Wikipedian that bumps into such an occurrence. Much in the same way you correct a typo in a random article when you are reading it. I think that a question like "Who's going to patrol Wikipedia?" could have been justified in 2001, but now it sounds a bit silly. PizzaMargherita 23:45, 8 January 2006 (UTC)


  • Mildly oppose. Thank you for putting so much effort into explaining your proposal. I can understand your reasoning, but I disagree. Here is why I oppose the proposal:
  1. I don't like the idea of splitting Wikipedia into two (or more) viewing modes. There is only one English language and there should only be one Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an international project and having different spellings coexist in that project gives it an international flavour.
  2. There are many spelling variations that can be used in both British and American English (dialog(ue), travel(l)er, realize(-ise), fetus/foetus, per cent or percent, theatre/theater and so on...) What about Canadian spelling? In order to make everyone happy, you'd have to devise a system that enables every user to create his own individual system of spelling.
  3. There would never be consensus about the "default view". I'd guess that more than 90% of all Wikipedia users are not logged in. What will they see? Using tags will shift the current spelling controversies to a higher level of abstraction. Now, people argue about what spellings to use in a article. Using tags, they will argue about how these tags will be interpreted.
  4. Assuming (on average) five spelling variants per article, roughly five million tags must be put into place! Did you realize that? I think resources should rather be used to write new and improve already existing articles. I know that many people care about spelling, but all in all, it's a minor issue.
  5. Spelling is just the tip of the iceberg of linguistic variations. What about punctuation, grammar, lexical differences?
  6. There is one rule concerning spelling that has gained general consensus: Articles related to a certain English-speaking country should bear that country's spelling. For instance: London -> UK spelling. There would be strong resistance among the editors of such articles to changing all British spellings like behaviour to {en:behavior} just in order to allow a small minority of users to read the article in their favourite spelling. Nobbie 13:20, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your civil feedback. Here are my replies:
  1. One language, one Wikipedia. Many dialects, many editions. The content stays automatically in sync. Having different spellings coexist in the same article or across articles makes it inconsistent and prone to endless loops of spell-fixes.
  2. Canadian spelling, Indian spelling, Nigerian spelling, all catered for. It would be very easy to give the user the possibility to have personal settings for each word that would override their locale of choice.
  3. See QA3. IP addresses. Easy. Now I'm sure somebody is gonna come up and say: "But wouldn't this be violating the constitutional rights of people who use anonymous proxies?"
  4. Five million tags must be put into place, but as I pointed out
    • it doesn't need to happen overnight
    • it doesn't need to happen at all.
"It's a minor issue." - I agree, but some people don't feel that way, and they are the ones who will put in the five million tags. See dynamics section.
5. See QA9. It doesn't make sense to reject a solution only because it's partial, unless of course you can offer a solution to a more general problem. This is a valid solution to a part of the problem, so I don't accept this argument.
6. See QA10.
PizzaMargherita 00:52, 14 January 2006 (UTC)


  • Oppose. Burden on resources and on editors wading through the edit screen, for minimal benefit. Problems going beyond spelling, such as "she is in hospital" and the like. Too many options where more than one spelling is used within one geographical region, even if another region doesn't use one of them. Would create more arguments than it avoids. Gene Nygaard 16:45, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments.
"Burden on resources" - Please be more specific. Storage? The current situation is worse, because there is no clear equilibrium to which to converge, and so spelling styles can (and do) cycle, see The Problems section. Server cycles? See QA7. Developers? See QA8.
"and on editors" - See QA5.
"Problems going beyond spelling, such as "she is in hospital" and the like." - See QA9.
"Too many options where more than one spelling is used within one geographical region" - See above. I'll integrate this and my answer in the QA section.
PizzaMargherita 01:20, 14 January 2006 (UTC)


  • Oppose the manual tagging method. It's a really nice concept, but not worth the effort. I've not seen spelling partisans creating problems [...] NickelShoe 01:01, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments.
"It's a really nice concept, but not worth the effort." - Sorry, poor argument. See QA8.
"I've not seen spelling partisans creating problems" - Wanna laugh? Load this page and this page, and search for "spell". Now that is what I call a waste of resources (human and mecha).
PizzaMargherita 01:20, 14 January 2006 (UTC)


  • Strongly oppose makes editing far harder, with not nearly enough gain to counterbalance this. DES (talk) 18:12, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. Please see QA5. PizzaMargherita 08:01, 17 February 2006 (UTC)


  • Mildly oppose. This seems like a good effort at coming up with a solution, but I think the inability to address the grammar and usage differences will result in rather odd rendering. I'm thinking about a sentence like "The {{en:UK}} Labour government were dissatisfied with organized {{en:labour}}'s efforts to protect the {{en:dole}} of pensioners in hospital" being rendered as, "The U.K. Labour government were dissatisfied with organized labor's efforts to protect the unemployment insurance of pensioners in hospital." That's a hodgepodge of American and Commonwealth English that kind of makes my head spin (and incidentally reads perfectly correctly in one dialect and has a non-sequitur in the other). At least now, my mind can click into "reading American" or "reading Commonwealth" and keep going. I hope that the default (which I will certainly leave turned on if this is implemented) is "leave the spelling as-is"—which of course will probably cause the edit disputes to continue as people change {{en:color}} to {{en:colour}} and back... What's the mapping for {{en:rubber}} going to be, by the way? --TreyHarris 07:58, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments. Please see QA10.
"It will probably cause the edit disputes to continue as people change {{en:color}} to {{en:colour}} and back..."
  1. This will probably not happen in my opinion, only a few vandals will bother. Tell you what, for the tags we can adopt the rules that we currently have for text. I'll add this to QA1.
  2. Even if it does happen, WP will be in a strictly better shape than it is now. I sustain, in a much better shape. PizzaMargherita 08:01, 17 February 2006 (UTC)


  • Oppose. This creates a large workload for Wikimedia developers, template maintainers, and article editors, but would solve only a very minor problem. Spelling errors used to really disrupt the flow of my reading, but after years of browsing Usenet and the WWW, I don't even notice spelling mistakes any more. National spelling variations are even less noticeable (with a few exceptions like curb/kerb, tire/tyre). I am sure the large majority of Wikipedia's users don't care and don't notice, so why should we add so much to our workload for so little gain? Readers aren't going to set up an account and log in so they can see tweaked spellings. As long as each article has consistent spelling (of the national variety appropriate to the subject, if applicable), that's good enough. Indefatigable 16:35, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments.
"This creates a large workload for Wikimedia developers". Please see QA8.
"I am sure the large majority of Wikipedia's users don't care and don't notice". What makes you think that?
"Readers aren't going to set up an account and log in so they can see tweaked spellings." That is not necessary. See QA3 (IP addresses). PizzaMargherita 08:01, 17 February 2006 (UTC)


  • Oppose. Nice idea, but I think it would have a negative effect by perpetuating people's beliefs in the 'rightness' of their own spelling, and causing them to 'correct' 'misspellings' on untagged pages. I think it is better if people can learn that other spellings exist. British books published in America are always 'translated' into American spellings and idioms, so Americans are often see mistakes when they encounter 'untranslated' British writing. In contrast, American books published in Britain are not 'translated', so Brits usually have a better awareness of the different conventions of different countries. I think the British approach is better as it makes you more aware of diversity. The Singing Badger 18:23, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments.
"causing them to 'correct' 'misspellings' on untagged pages." That's what's happening now. With this mechanism in place there finally is a correct (note no quotes) way to write these words, so when that happens, instead of engaging in an edit war, you would simply use a neutral tag.
"I think it is better if people can learn that other spellings exist." This proposal does allow that. Please see QA10 and QA14, which I just added. PizzaMargherita 09:23, 18 February 2006 (UTC)


  • Strongly oppose - Needless waste of editor time and overcomplication of code. Wasn't this site an easy-to-edit wiki at one time? — Omegatron 21:01, 21 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments, see QA5. PizzaMargherita 18:19, 25 February 2006 (UTC)


User Markyour words, for some reason, doesn't want me to quote his vote. (1) (2). However, I would like to reply to it, if I may.

Thanks for your comments, see QA5. PizzaMargherita 18:19, 25 February 2006 (UTC)


  • Weak oppose There would be benefits to such a feature; however, I believe the costs far outweigh them: editor time (already consumed by regular editing and dialectic changes), overcomplicated coding, server limitations, and perhaps overcomplicated editing. This would likely result in a different sort of dialectic melange than currently. And all of this presupposes that there's something wrong with the status quo, with editors judiciously discussing and implementing dialectic renditions – this is a wiki, after all? And if guidelines are insufficient for some reason, they should be massaged or accepted. This seems a make-work project and, in effect, is a Wp version of the Quebec "tongue troopers". E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 10:22, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments.
"editor time (already consumed by regular editing and dialectic changes)"—I'm not sure I understand what you mean. If you mean that with the proposal editors will have to waste time changing local spellings to the neutral counterpart, I invite you to read QA12 and the dynamics of the proposal.
"overcomplicated coding"—I'm not sure I understand what you mean. But see QA8.
"server limitations"—I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Anyway just in case see QA7.
"overcomplicated editing"—I think I understand this one. See QA5.
"And all of this presupposes that there's something wrong with the status quo"—There are quite a few problems with the status quo, see the problems section.
"editors judiciously discussing and implementing dialectic renditions"—...and never reaching a consensus. Every other topic in the MoS talk page is a dispute about "dialectic renditions", and the current guidelines are in a shambles.
"And if guidelines are insufficient for some reason, they should be massaged or accepted"—Good. A lot of people are clearly not accepting them and continue to "correct" the spellings. If you have a "massaging" proposal I'd be interested to hear it.
"This seems a make-work project and, in effect, is a Wp version of the Quebec "tongue troopers"."—I invite you to read the dynamics of the proposal. The way I see it, the spelling bigots are the "tongue troopers", and with this proposal, they will be part of the solution.
PizzaMargherita 22:10, 20 March 2006 (UTC)


  • Strongly support. At first I liked the idea of having "British English for articles about Britain, American English for articles about the U.S.", but that only provides guidance in a minority of articles. Obviously we would not need to go out and tag every occurence of a problem word in every article, but at least this would silence the endless debates on articles like "color" and "grey". My only concerns are, again, for article titles, and for non-logged-in users who still might care. I also think, that if we implement this, a personalization feature is absolutely necessary. Lesgles (talk) 21:05, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
    The rules currently in place would silence the endless debates just fine if people followed them. Implementing this proposal would cause a host of problems of its own. — Omegatron 02:59, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
    Hi. My conception of this proposal is that it wouldn't cause as many problems as one might think. Here is how I imagine it would work: many editors would simply not bother with the tags, which is completely natural. But in pages where a spelling dispute came up, this would provide an easy solution, which would solve the dispute forever and leave the discussion page clear of page-long arguments over which spelling is better. Spelling is a much more divisive issue than it would first appear. When I am looking at a Wikipedia and I see "colour", I think "Why don't they use the more logical spelling? Even Fowler agrees with me!" I know that many Canadians, Britons, etc., when I use the spelling "color' in an article, probably think "Why did those Americans have to change the good old spelling? It was fine as it is!" Simple rules just do not seem to work in this respect. Lesgles (talk) 03:27, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
    Exactly. The rules work fine. The problem is with people who think that their variant of English is "correct" and refuse to follow the rules. — Omegatron 05:20, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
    No, you were right the first time. The rules would work fine. (Actually they are provably inconsistent and confusing, so I would question that as well.) A rule or a law should not be judged by how well it would work if people followed it, but by how well it does solve the problem. In this respect, the current rules are a failure. PizzaMargherita 06:42, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
    Precisely. The rules most certainly do not "work fine" at all. There is an obvious history to this problem: many of the very first editors (this can almost be regarded as Wikipedia's "pre-history") were Americans. Intially, then, there was American spelling where it might not have been appropriate. Now, there are far more Commonwealth/European editors, and many of them are rampantly changing spellings to Commonwealth spellings where it is clearly not appropriate. Those, like myself, who believe in "mild English spelling reform" (this includes not just Americans) become less motivated to create content when they know, for example, that a Web page about China or Israel is going to be changed to Commonwealth spelling (because of increasing anti-U.S. sentiment or whatever it is that is driving these people to change spellings inappropriately. Hyperborean 16:20, 10 April 2006 (UTC).


  • Strongly Support. This would greatly improve the readability and user-friendliness of the encyclopaedia. It would allow the resource to acknowledge both the wishes of Commonwealth and American speakers and cater to both of them simply and invisibly. Also consider the possiblity of language variations done by DEFAULT on all terms except those in quotes or with a special "not subject to dialect" tag, which would make the editors' jobs easier, there being generally less of the latter than of the former in articles. It is a beautiful solution to an otherwise endless, circular and bitter discussion based on such trivial matters as habit and education. For the titles, I propose that if a user searches for "colour" or types in the Colour address of the link, it would show Colour as the title and colour in the article, whereas if they'd searched the other form, the other form would be presented in the title and article. A little "alternative spelling:" tag can be put in where "redirected from:" is now for those articles, so viewers know what's going on. Arrenlex 06:19, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
    {{en:marking}} {{en:up}} {{en:text}} {{en:as}} {{en:proposed}} {{en:would}} {{en:be}} {{en:neither}} {{en:simple}} {{en:nor}} {{en:invisible}} — Omegatron 02:59, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
    If you really think that this is how wikitext is going to look like, then your vote is based on a complete misunderstanding of the proposal—or you are being deliberately misleading. I have some overdue comments to add, and questions to answer to, which will hopefully clarify this. Also please let's limit inline comments and use the discussion section below. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 06:31, 7 April 2006 (UTC)
Arrenlex, thanks for your comments.
"consider the possiblity of language variations done by DEFAULT on all terms except those in quotes or [...]"—Please see the MOIO (Mark Only Invariant Occurrences) variant below and QA4 (new formulation).
As for the titles, the question is not just "what should we do?" (whose answer I agree it's pretty much what you suggested), but also how to achieve it. Consider that titles already present some idiosyncrasies, so I don't expect this to be a trivial problem. PizzaMargherita 21:31, 18 April 2006 (UTC)


Q5[edit]

Q5: Wouldn't this make Wikitext totally unreadable and a chore to edit?
A5: Please explain how this...
The response A5 is a non-sequitor which doesn't address the question of wikitext clutter at all:
  1. It doesn't answer 'yes' or 'no', but asks a rhetorical question in response.
  2. It ignores the fact that &mdash; and even &nbsp; can be entered and edited as literal text. Example, entered directly from my standard Mac keyboard: "I have a poor sense of humor—I'm a pizza after all. (P. Margherita)".
  3. It makes the ridiculous assumption that wikitext is as complex as HTML code. Wikitext is simple text editing for non-experts, while HTML is a structured markup meant for machine processing, whose usage is guided by a complex specification;. Here's an example illustrating why holding up HTML is an irrelevant strawman argument:
a moderately complex wikitext fragment, from AAA:
== Entertainment ==
 
 ;Arts
 * [[Aces of ANSI Art]] an organized body of artists dedicated to creating ANSI art, 1989–1991
 * [[Adult album alternative]], a radio format
 * [[Against All Authority]] (''-AAA-''), an American DIY ska-punk band
Equivalent HTML code:
<div class="editsection" style="float:right;margin-left:5px;">[<a href="/w/index.php?title=AAA&action=edit&section=2" title="Edit section: Entertainment">edit</a>]</div>
 <p><a name="Entertainment" id="Entertainment"></a></p>
 <h2>Entertainment</h2>
 <dl>
 <dt>Arts</dt>
 </dl>
 <ul>
 <li><a href="/wiki/Aces_of_ANSI_Art" title="Aces of ANSI Art">Aces of ANSI Art</a> an organized body of artists dedicated to creating ANSI art, 1989–1991</li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/Adult_album_alternative" title="Adult album alternative">Adult album alternative</a>, a radio format</li>
 <li><a href="/wiki/Against_All_Authority" title="Against All Authority">Against All Authority</a> (<i>-AAA-</i>), an American DIY ska-punk band</li>
Gee, do you think anyone would get uptight about adding &mdash; to the HTML spec? Michael Z. 2006-03-24 23:11 Z
  1. Fixed.
  2. Not true for nbsp, or at least my browser does not understand it and it splits the two words. Anyway, I don't believe that the majority of people enter mdash as a literal. Do you?
  3. That's funny, because &nbsp; appears four times in your signature. Anyway, your argument, if anything, strengthens my point, because if HTML is much harder to read and write/remember than the templates I'm proposing (and I couldn't agree more), then surely we should get rid of all HTML from the articles, which I don't see anybody campaigning for.
Please keep your cool. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 07:53, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
1. Well, you added "no", but haven't explained how this would not be the case. In fact, adding so much more markup to words would make the text less readable, and more of a chore to edit.
2. Literal non-breaking spaces are preserved in the database, and returned in the editing field. As far as I can tell, neither literal non-breaking spaces nor the typed-out &nbsp; entity currently makes it into an article's HTML text (I first typed the &nbsp;s into my sig before en Wikipedia supported Unicode, and as far as I remember, they never worked, anyway). I left them there because after Unicode was first adopted, Unicode non-breaking spaces used to be broken by editing in a few browsers, but I think Wikipedia's interface has fixed that now.
I have no idea if your browser support the literal Unicode non-breaking space in UTF-8 pages (Safari does).
In fact, I do type non-breaking spaces ( ), en dashes ( – ), em dashes ( —, shift-alt-hyphen on the Mac), typographic quotation marks ( “...” ‘...’ ) and apostrophes ( ’ ) from the keyboard when it seems appropriate to enter them. I'm sure the majority don't, but there's a set of easy-to-remember keyboard combinations for any Mac user who would like to.
3. This does not strengthen your point. Adding more markup in the text would necessarily make readability/editability of wikitext suffer; it would make it more like HTML.
I think I'm pretty cool about this, but I think the response to Q5 still makes a demonstrably incorrect statement, or at least asks a question carefully chosen to avoid addressing the issue. At best, you could claim that the reduced readability/editability of wikitext would be an acceptable trade-off for the benefits of the proposed extension. It is certainly false that readability/editability would remain exactly the same or be improved.
A fair question would be:
Q5: Wouldn't this reduce the readability of wikitext, and make editing more work?
Regards. Michael Z. 2006-03-27 00:30 Z
You ask me to explain why the answer to Q5 (as it is formulated) is negative. I must say that it is so obvious to me that words fail me. I appreciate that "the burden is on me to change the status quo", but I admit defeat, I cannot break it down any more than this.
But maybe you can help me see the light. Can you please come up with a scenario whereby new editors would be deterred by such a {{en:monstrosity}} to the extent that they would choose not to contribute? Or could you please estimate how many keystrokes and mouse clicks would be wasted in the average editing session? Keep in mind that one needs not use the templates when editing. (Although I don't think this will change your estimate much.)
I would like to point out that the syntax of the proposal is among the simplest instances of templates, which make regular appearance in our articles. And in fact it is very similar in its looks to wikilinks or external links. I venture saying, these templates probably look even simpler. Of course I would never dare comparing them to hyperlinks in usefulness, but do you think that wikilinks are "totally unreadable and a chore to edit"? On the contrary, I'm pretty sure that most newbies immediately grasp their meaning and behaviour without the need of reading one line of documentation. And even if they don't, even if they fuck up real bad, we all know that more expert editors can quickly fix their mess, so they can learn by example.
As for HTML, I recognise that I didn't do my homework properly. I just checked, and my browser doesn't render correctly &nbsp; either(!) So you are absolutely right about that one. But I don't think that this affects the central point in the slightest. Let's see if I can explain myself more clearly. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you accept that a) WP articles contain HTML code, b) that HTML code is generally less readable than the syntax of the proposal, and c) that nobody is considering the unreadability and unmanageability of HTML code a reason good enough to get rid of it in WP articles. It follows that we should not oppose this proposal on the grounds that it's unreadable. Unless of course, one thinks that the inconvenience in editing outweights the benefits. If this is your opinion I respect it, but I, and many others, remain to be convinced. PizzaMargherita 22:39, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I simply thought that the response to Q5 was inadequate, along with comments elsewhere saying that all objections to the proposal had been addressed and accusing critics of ignoring that. Here I am, not ignoring it.
The response to Q5 completely ignores that there is some downside or trade-off as part of the proposal. The proposal could be taken more seriously if 1) such a trade-off were acknowledged by the proponents rather than merely shrugged off, and 2) if there were one or more concrete demonstrations of its effects, rather than lots of unsubstantiated assertions.
Some ideas for demonstrations:
  • Pick ten random articles, and count the words and phrases, and number of occurrences of each, which would be enclosed in language tags.
  • Pick a short article with as many "international" English words as possible, and mark up the wikitext, demonstrating how much or little clutter the markup would add, and giving an indication as to whether the choice of terms would be controversial or not.
  • List a dozen short articles which would require no language tags at all, demonstrating that in many cases there would be no effect.
This proposal is currently a lot of unsubstantiated opinions about vapourware. Why not bring it up to the level of real vapourware? Michael Z. 2006-03-28 17:45 Z
I've finally got around to add an additional question, Q5.1, which explicitly acknowledges the existence of a trade-off.
Please note however that the original Q5 was not "carefully chosen to avoid addressing the issue". On the contrary, it is almost a word-by-word quotation of a critique that had been put forward (and addressed) some time ago. In that sense, I still think that the answer is very adequate. As is my claim that most critics (you possibly being the only exception) despite having had all their concerns addressed, don't seem to be prepared to continue the discussion on the merits and shortcomings of the proposal.
Thank you for the suggestions you make. I think you are right, it's time to get something more concrete done, also given that there are now a few people that have expressed interest. Please bear with me (volunteers welcome). PizzaMargherita 21:00, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Preferences[edit]

I, for one, will concern myself with how it looks to the thousands of readers who are not logged in, who do not have preferences set--and will argue if someone wakes this sleeping dog up by pointing it out to me by making such an addition of the markup, where I might let it slide otherwise (actually, I often don't notice varieties of English spellings any more). And, I do like a good argument now and then. Gene Nygaard 17:43, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

Please see QA3. Now you're going to tell me that we'll have problems with the myriads of readers behind an anonymising proxy, right? PizzaMargherita 18:38, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
For one thing, that isn't what Q3 said up until a few minutes ago. Now much of this discussion on this page is going to be misleading, because it is based on what Q3 and A3 used to be.
Second, even if you could determine users' locales accurately, that doesn't guarantee you can determine their personal preferences therefrom. Gene Nygaard 19:17, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
As anybody can see, the previous version of QA3 was merely a diluted form of its current version (as the edit comment suggests), and anyway it still countered your argument. At any rate, as I have specified at the top of the QA section, this proposal is constantly changing, also (but not in this case) thanks to the constructive criticism of opposing users like yourself. It is not my intention to mislead anyone, and I trust that neither is yours.
With your second point, what you are basically saying that the members of expatriate communities that do not hold an account would not be able to read articles in their native (or otherwise favourite) dialect. Well, first of all, I challenge you to prove that it would be a worse situation than the current one, where one simply doesn't have that choice. And secondly, if they don't use an account, they won't be able to set any other preference either. And I don't see a lot of people without an account complaining about the fact that they can't have, for example, a watchlist. We'll simply add this feature to the list of benefits of having an account.
Thanks for your feedback, please keep it coming. In particular, you may want to follow up my other replies to your comments above. PizzaMargherita 20:32, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

MABIO vs MOIO[edit]

In this subsection I have moved discussions about an alternative implementation. PizzaMargherita 11:25, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Ok, I suppose a central database of dialectic versions of words would eliminate redundancy. However, there are two opposite approaches to referencing this database. Either the tagging is done on every word that is to be rendered by the "dialect engine", or the tagging is done on every word to be skipped by the engine - e.g.
... was a member of the UK {{nodialect:Labour}} party.
The former approach allows for a more efficient rendering algorithm which just has to be called on finding a tag, but means people have to tag every instance of every word in every article (redundancy); the latter approach means quite a simple job for editors, as all they have to do is exclude the odd word, but it means the algorithm needs to sweep through every word in an article and look up matches in the database. --Splidje 10:10, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
I see what you mean. I prefer the former approach, because I think the latter is more difficult to implement and it's less explicit in what it does. I don't think the former is such a burden for editors. Also, the latter wouldn't prevent somebody that is unuware of the mechanism to change one spelling to another, with no net effect on the article. I mean, with the latter approach, writing "colour" or "color" doesn't change the end result (provided one has set the locale in the preferences), and so there is still no equilibrium to speak of.
Anyway I think now the real problem is to get enough people to agree that some form of tagging for dialects would be welcome. Then we can worry about the details. PizzaMargherita 12:06, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
True. How does one go about doing that? Does wikipedia / mediawiki (this is a property of the software) have a mechanism for rallying support behind something? --Splidje 13:33, 13 December 2005 (UTC)


Regarding the discussion about two possible methods of implementation, I believe that only marking words that should have their spelling "forced" is preferable because it is much simpler for the editors.

Advantages:

  • Every article is automatically affected.
  • No need to worry about which marking words with variable spelling.
  • Editors can use their preferred spelling without worrying about it. They can write colour or color when they edit but it will appear in the dialect of the user when it is displayed.
    • In fact, this makes the feature mostly transparent as each editor edits and views in his/her preferred dialect. Many of them won't even realize it! This is especially good for new editors. It also reduces conflict.
  • The spelling in an article will always be consistent.
  • Only the most die-hard "spelling partisan" will go to the trouble of explicitly forcing every word to be in his/her preferred spelling.


Disadvantages:

  • Some words that should only appear using a particular spelling would be inadvertently changed, although I'd imagine most of these words would be capitalized or tagged to begin with and could be automatically ignored.
    • This fact might go unnoticed by some editors because of the transparent conversion.

An option to show spelling variations in the preview would be useful for catching any problems with this system.


Disadvantages of the other method (explicitly marking words with variable spelling):

  • There are many spelling variations and keeping track of and marking them all is a chore. The editing process becomes much more complicated.
  • Many people will not even be aware of such a feature, or simply won't bother marking their words.
    • Because of the above two points, many articles will still have inconsistent spelling.
  • Spelling partisans won't cooperate anyway.
  • Every article needs to be updated. This is a monumental task.

Advantages:

  • Where it matters (i.e. when a word MUST be spelled a particular way) the spelling in articles stays the same unless someone manually edits them.

Finally, some more thoughts on the subject in general: Although writing about U.S. subjects in American English (for example) might seem like a good standard for selecting a spelling dialect, it really doesn't benefit the reader. Most people would prefer to read words in the way they are accustomed to seeing them, regardless of the subject matter. The advantage of having selectable dialects is that every reader gets to view the page as they prefer to see it. It also allows people to read an article using unusual (for them) spelling in case they feel it makes the article more colouful or they are interested in what the differences are. I don't think it's that difficult to implement and automatic dialect selection based on IP address is easy. Jared Grainger 06:38, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Hi Jared, thanks for your thoughts. I agree with many things you say, but I think you missed an important point. The "mark-only-invariant-occurrences" (MOIO) implementation (e.g. UK {nodialect:Labour} Party) does not lend itself to a gradual introduction. I.e. when it's introduced, a lot of pages that do not have the "nodialect" tagging will instantly change from correct to broken. Ok, on the other hand a lot of the articles will instantly change from "debatable" to "consistent", but I don't think it's worth it, and it would be a drastic change that, like with robots, I think it's better to avoid. With the other "mark-all-but-invariant-occurrences" (MABIO), the WP will naturally evolve from the current state to a better one. And as I think you mentioned, in the MOIO scenario, if a UK editor writes "Labour party" without tags, s/he doesn't realise that it's a problem, because that's what he would read back. However, all non-UK readers would see "Labor Party", which is not just debatable, it is plain wrong.
Anyway, as I said, what this proposal needs now is support. Once we have that, we can start looking into the implementation in more detail. PizzaMargherita 11:57, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
As I said above, the software could be set to ignore words in certain styles (e.g. capitalized, tagged, italics) which would probably take care of 99% of the problems. The multi-dialect preview option would also help in this regard. I believe the advantages of MOIO clearly outweigh those of MABIO if the main problem of MOIO (words that must be invariant, which is also MABIO's main advantage) can be resolved. Would you agree on that point?
Additional research into words that must be invariant would be useful.
Regardless of how it is implemented, I am in favour of some way of converting dialectsJared Grainger 17:59, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
As I said, I'll be happy to continue this debate on the particulars of the implementation once we have a general agreement that 1. we have a problem and 2. it's a problem worth solving. I think some people are in denial right now. Once again thanks for your ideas, keep them coming. PizzaMargherita 19:11, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Well then, perhaps you should start a another poll directly above your original one. Something like "Show your support for or against the displaying of pages in the user's dialect, assuming the details can be worked out before it is implemented." That would probably get more people to vote since it leaves the technical issues aside. Then they can proceed to the more specific poll if they feel they understand the technical issues well enough. Jared Grainger 19:32, 8 January 2006 (UTC)


In response to Splidje's original question: yes this would be complete overkill, a waste of programmers' time, would complicate wikitext and become a big inconvenience for all editors. Articles will end up in a worse mix of English dialects, as they will end up half-dialectified, while most editors try to work around, ignore, or remove the dialect tags littering them.

If you really want to work on the software, it's probably best to develop an extension to Mediawiki, and discuss it there. I will oppose adding anything like this to English Wikipedia.

Unobtrusively tagging articles as suggested at the very top of this discussion might be a good idea. But why don't we all go improve some articles instead of generating more words about this proposal? Michael Z. 2006-01-8 18:28 Z

This is what I expected to hear eventually. The programmers have spoken and they don't want to bother with it. Oh well, no use discussing it any further I guess....
However, you didn't comment on the "transparent" MOIO method. What are your thoughts about that implementation method (besides the fact that you don't like the idea in general), Mr. Z programmer? Jared Grainger 19:00, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Am I Mr. Z programmer? If by transparent, you mean that all text gets automatically converted, that would a very bad idea. How does the server determine reliably whether some text is a direct quotation or a proper name, or not? Single quotation marks, double quotation marks, and italics can all be used to mark quotations, and for other uses. How does the server know which sense of "tire" or "curb" is being used? Michael Z. 2006-01-8 22:52 Z
I think Michael hit the nail on the head here, it looks like any automation is potentially troublesome due to homographs. PizzaMargherita 23:45, 8 January 2006 (UTC)


Micheal, you might not have read what I (Jared Grainger) wrote about this above. The idea is that the software ignores anything "special," such as capitalized words, italics, words in quotes, etc. which would probably be correct the vast majority of the time.

The few problems that arise with homonyms can be corrected with tags whenever someone spots them and the editing page could optionally display dialect words and their alternatives to quickly check this when editing old stuff or writing new stuff. True, a few errors will crop up in older articles but they will be edited away with time and it's not like the articles out there are flawless anyway.

Your example about tire/tyre being used as a verb would make an interesting case study. How many times is tire ambiguosuly used as a verb in WP? I'd guess that most articles are written in the past tense, so they'd be tired but tyred isn't a real word. Some made up examples:

  • He grew tired of the war...
  • ...was quoted as saying "this tires me."

Neither of those would cause a problem with software that was properly written because tired wouldn't be in its dictionary and it would notice that tires is surround by quote marks.

To test this further, I searched wikipedia with Google for "tire" and scanned the summary text of the first 100 matches for possible problems. Here are some direct excerpts:

  • Tire irons are also...
  • The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company...
  • Canadian Tire is a Canadian retail...
  • Tyre (tire) characteristics...
  • ...such as tire (tiri-) [an article on Elvish]
  • ...when the eye's photoreceptors, primarily those known as cone cells, "tire" from the over stimulation...
  • ...words like tire and jail ... [talking about differences between dialects]

Note the Google summaries don't include italics so there were one or two that looked like they would have caused a problem but were actually italicized in the article.

  • tire was only used as a verb once, and it was in quotes
  • Most editors correcly italicized words when referring to the word itself (e.g. tyre is spelled tire in the U.S.)
  • Tire was always capitalized when used as the name of a company


The only problem I saw was when the word was at the beginning of a sentence (and therefore capitalized) but again, software could easily handle this situation as there's no proper name composed of the single word Tire (i.e. it's always "Tire Kingdom" or something like that). Therefore, dialect words that are capitalized at the beginning of a sentence and are not followed by another capitalized word (e.g. Tire chains are a...) would be treated as a simple dialect word.

In conclusion, out of 100 articles, I only saw one instance where my software design would have made a mistake: "tyre (tire)." Regardless of the user's dialect settings, this would be simple to spot and correct. They'll see "tyre (tyre)" or "tire (tire)" and realize that it's an old article and will remove the (tyre)/(tire part. A tag isn't even required in this case.

I also did a quick check on tires before posting this and the results were similar. I only checked the first 50, but I only found one problem phrase: "tires ('tyres' in the UK)."

So there is some data that supports my belief that simple software rules will work almost all of the time and that the few mistakes that slip through will be easily spotted and corrected with a single tag.

Can anyone find a word that is commonly used in WP in situations that would be erroneous depending on the dialect? Remember, it doesn't count if...

  • it has special formatting
  • it is part of a quote
  • it meets the criteria I mentioned above for words at the beginning of a sentece.

...because my software design would skip such words.

I get the impression that there are a lot of closed minds involved in this debate, but I always try to keep an open mind. So if anyone can find a major flaw in my idea that cannot be easily remedied with simple software I will be the first to abandon it. Jared Grainger 01:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm mildly in favour of automation, but only as an optional editing tool for new material, and in a MABIO framework. In other words, as I think you said, when one is editing we can have a checkbox saying "scan the diff for variant words and mark them for me if they don't have special formatting", and in the preview they could be shown marked, or something. So if I write "Joe did some labour for the Labour Party", and I choose to check the checkbox (i.e. nothing automatic is happening behind my back, which I would be against), then the preview would show "Joe did some {en:labour} for the Labour Party". On the other hand, if you write "Labor has been underpaid." and use the tool, the tool mis-identifies this occurrence as an invariant. At that point, the only option for the editor is to explicitly type 7 more characters: "{en:Labor} has been underpaid." Even so, frankly I'm not convinced that saving typing 7 characters/occurrence is worth the effort and if it deserves to clutter the edit page with a third checkbox. PizzaMargherita 07:56, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
First of all, you apparently aren't reading what I write because I wrote a whole paragraph explaing why capitalized words at the beginning of are easy to fix in nearly every case.
Secondly, you're talking about automation but only in your framework (MABIO) from your POV and then you start disparaging it, leading to reader confusion about my method (MOIO).
Thirdly, "clutter the edit page with a third checkbox???" I'm sorry, but I find this ridiculous. I offered this idea as a compromise of sorts because I believe your view has some merit, even though I find it inferior to mine.
BTW, thanks for taking care of all the chores of moving stuff around and reorganizing. Jared Grainger 20:45, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


  • "the vast majority of the time"
  • "True, a few errors will crop up"
  • "out of 100 articles . . . I only saw one instance"
  • "I only found one problem phrase"
  • "will work almost all of the time"
That just doesn't seem good enough to me. The software you envision will work right, say, 99.9% of the time. You also say that it "ignores anything 'special,'", so in some percentage of cases it will not change a dialectic word when it ought to (to name one example, when quotation marks indicate a translation instead of a quotation). So the software would change the dialect of articles, with some failures and some false positives. Plus some articles will be only partly tagged for dialect. Plus others will be untagged. Plus wikitext gets peppered with a new template, and to set these correctly editors have to be familiar with several English dialects and understand the complex logic by which the template fails.
Wikipedia's English gets less consistent. Editing plain text becomes more complex. Editors get to argue about what is correct U.S. English, and U.K. English, and Canadian English, and Indian English . . . What benefit do we get for this cost?
Let me put this another way: I'm Canadian. For every Canadian editor dialectifying articles, there are probably ten writing them. For every Canadian editor writing, there are probably twenty writing articles using other English dialects. The dialectifier can tag maybe 0.01% of all articles? Cost of added dialect tags in running text: more than zero. Benefit to me: practically zero. Resulting cost/benefit ratio of this scheme: practically infinite.
Or another way: you say your software idea will almost never change the sense of a sentence. That's not good enough. I'd rather read an article which is simply written in New Zealand English, than one that's 99.99% reliably machine-converted to Canadian English. I don't want the server changing the sense of a sentence or paragraph ever!
Or another: can somebody point to an example of such software that works well? Michael Z. 2006-01-9 08:03 Z



  • "the vast majority of the time"
  • "True, a few errors will crop up"
  • "out of 100 articles . . . I only saw one instance"
  • "I only found one problem phrase"
  • "will work almost all of the time"
That just doesn't seem good enough to me. The software you envision will work right, say, 99.9% of the time. You also say that it "ignores anything 'special,'", so in some percentage of cases it will not change a dialectic word when it ought to (to name one example, when quotation marks indicate a translation instead of a quotation). So the software would change the dialect of articles, with some failures and some false positives. Plus some articles will be only partly tagged for dialect. Plus others will be untagged. Plus wikitext gets peppered with a new template, and to set these correctly editors have to be familiar with several English dialects and understand the complex logic by which the template fails.


I think maybe you're confusing the two methods. My method (Christened MOIO by Pizza) doesn't use much in the way of tags or templates except when necessary to force a word to be ignored by the automatic conversion. (internal "tags" can be used for processing efficiency but this is completely transparent to the editors/readers.) In my research, as shown above, NO tags would have been required because the only "mistake" it would have made was when someone was attempting to show the difference in dialects (e.g. some wrote "tyre (tire)") Such phrases are obsolete with dialect conversion and can be removed. Any kind of tags or special editing considerations would be very rarely necessary in my design. Jared Grainger 20:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


Wikipedia's English gets less consistent. Editing plain text becomes more complex. Editors get to argue about what is correct U.S. English, and U.K. English, and Canadian English, and Indian English . . . What benefit do we get for this cost?
Well, I disagree that consistency would decrease and that and editing plain text would become more complex. With transparent conversion the user writes plain text (simple) and the reader see it in his dialect (consistent, unlike now where there are many different dialects and sometimes mixtures). In the event of a dialectical error, which should be rare in my estimation, someone adds a tag to force the word to be ignored by the dialect engine. I'm sure you'll disagree, but I can't help that.
However, I don't understand why you think this would cause more arguments about correct forms of English. Could you please explain, preferably with an example of some sort?
What benefit do we get for this cost?
Well, here are the benefits as I perceive them:
  • Almost a complete end to conflicts over spelling
  • Consistent spelling over all of WP, not just consistent within an article.
  • More comfortable reading for users
  • Articles look more professional (some people think dialects of other countries are "crude").
  • People are less likely to be "turned off" by "misspelled" words
  • The ability to view an article in a different spelling dialect for fun or educational purposes. I can learn about many different spelling dialects just by switching the page. Maybe I'm planning a trip or moving to another country and want to get used to alternate spellings.
And the disadvantages:
  • Additional resources required
  • Errors will be introduced into articles
All other disadvantages (complexity, etc.) stem from these errors. If the number of errors is small enough, and they can be handled easily enough, then I believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Jared Grainger 20:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


Let me put this another way: I'm Canadian. For every Canadian editor dialectifying articles, there are probably ten writing them. For every Canadian editor writing, there are probably twenty writing articles using other English dialects. The dialectifier can tag maybe 0.01% of all articles? Cost of added dialect tags in running text: more than zero. Benefit to me: practically zero. Resulting cost/benefit ratio of this scheme: practically infinite.
Or another way: you say your software idea will almost never change the sense of a sentence. That's not good enough. I'd rather read an article which is simply written in New Zealand English, than one that's 99.99% reliably machine-converted to Canadian English. I don't want the server changing the sense of a sentence or paragraph ever!
Okay, that's fair enough. Clearly our opinions are irreconcilable. I believe that consistency, reducing conflicts over spelling dialects and making reading more comfortable is worth the possibility of a few errors.
I would like to point out that spelling variations rarely affect the meaning and even when it does happen it's almost inconceivable that the meaning would really be changed. The result might be technically incorrect, but should still be understandable. I believe that far more errors in grammer, spelling, and meaning are produced by humans in the course of writing an article than would be produced by transparent conversion of spelling dialects. But again, that's just my opinion and obviously you disagree.
But here's something different: I don't know of any words that are likely to cause serious problems for my software design, but what do you think about a limited scope version for "very safe" words? I highly doubt there would be any problems with words like capitalisation and capitalization. Would this meet your expectations of 100% accuracy? Jared Grainger 20:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


Or another: can somebody point to an example of such software that works well? Michael Z. 2006-01-9 08:03 Z
Would that change your mind? There may be programs out there or a simple prototype program could be written. Would you be in favour of transparent conversions if a demo that "works well" could be found/produced? What about you, Pizza? Jared Grainger 20:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


I'm increasingly of the idea that any attempt to automate tagging (be it with robots or MOIO) is not only risky, but it's also missing the nature of the problems we are trying to solve. As I see it, the overall goal is not to make WP spelling consistent overnight. The goal is to set a point of equilibrium to which everybody can help converge to (if it makes any sense at all to speak of equilibrium in WP), at the same time settling all dialect disputes instantly. PizzaMargherita 12:08, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I already discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the two methods above so I won't reiterate them here. Your idea isn't bad, and it would definately help somewhat, but I don't think it's the best solution and it could backfire.
You aim for gradual acceptance, but what if your MABIO tags are introduced and subsequently become unpopular? A year later they might even become "deprecated" and discouraged from use, only provided for backwards compatability.
With my method, the articles don't even need to be "unrolled" if MOIO falls into disfavour; only the article rendering software needs to be disabled because all spelling conversions are done automatically and the original text with the original spelling is still there! Only the rare invariant tags would remain in a few articles. Jared Grainger 20:07, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
When discussing efficiency, which I think would be another problem (real or perceived) for MOIO, you suggested:
The MOIO method would be somewhat inefficient if improperly implemented (i.e. scanning every word every time the article is viewed), but all that needs to be done is to scan the text when it is saved and mark all the dialect words.
Now, this suggestion is what I would call computer-aided MABIO, which I don't oppose. On the other hand, I agree with Michael that any demonstrably fallible automation (which pure MOIO, your research tells us, clearly is) should not happen, or at least not unbeknownst to the editor - hence the optional checkbox.
As I explained when replying to Michael, the possibility of adding "tags" for efficiency is transparent and completely internal so that not every word needs to be checked when converting dialects purely for efficiency reasons. No human would ever see those "tags."


As for either implementation "falling into disfavour", MOIO would be affected in the same way as MABIO, because as you say you would be left with invariant tags. For both implementations, however, the "problem" can be immediately resolved with robots, because the wikitext at that point is tagged, and there can be no replacement errors. PizzaMargherita 20:39, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
You are correct.

This brings to mind another advantage of my method: it can be easily deployed on a "trial basis" covering as few or as many articles as desired and just as quickly unrolled.

Imagine this sceneario: one day a new item appears in eveyone's preference allowing them to test the new "transparent spelling dialect conversion" feature, along with a wiki explaining it. People who don't want to use it don't have to change their preferences as it will be disabled by default and unregistered users won't even have the option. Those people still see articles in the dialect in which they were originally written. Comments are gathered over time and the community gives their feedback on the new system.

The beautiful part is that it is all done in software and doesn't affect the original articles. Rolling it back would be instant (just disable the option in user's preferences) and no work would be lost because people didn't have to manually tag articles in the first place, as with the MABIO method OK, the effort required to create a handful of invariant-word tags would be wasted but that's nothing comparing to losing thousands of tags on every dialect word that the MABIO method requires if it needs to be rolled-back.

How can you deny that this is a good idea? Especially when you add in all the other advantages/disadvantages I wrote about earlier. These points can be added to my list:

MOIO

  • Disabled by default
  • Covers every article automatically
  • More consensus/community friendly. Everyone has a chance to try it and comment about it
  • Passive, people can continue edit as normal without participating in the system.


MABIO

  • No way to let users "try before they buy" -- tags must be implemented first and many articles must be changed before people have a chance to sample the system.
  • Active participation required on the part of all editors or the results get in a muddle.
  • If it fails, everyone who spent their time tagging dialect words will feel cheated.

If after reading the above, the two other people involved in this discussion continue to insist that "provably fallible software is bad regardless of the success rate" and "we need to gradually reach equilibrium" and no one else joins in the discussion then I will give up. Jared Grainger 21:38, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Conditional text to support primary and secondary languages[edit]

It has been a controversy on how national variations of English spellings should be used in the wikipedia. Despite the manual of style guidelines, contributers continue to engage in edit wars. I was wondering why the wikipedia developers don't implement some kind of sub-language support as some kind of templates. The concept of sub-language support is used for quite sometime in Microsoft Windows and in JAVA resource management. It shouldn't be too hard to add the support to the server when the HTML is generated and get this issue over with for good. The users can specify what their first and second choice of sublanguage is. The rule of thumb is to always use a matched preferred spelling; if no match, try second preference; if no match again, always fall back to the US English because it is the most widely used spelling on the Internet right now. For example, the following wikipedia text will be shown differently according to user preference:

{en_US:Armor|en_UK:Armour} is {en_US:spelled|en_UK:spelt} armor in the US and armour in the UK.

For a US user, with preference set to US/US, it shows the first matched US English

Armor is spelled armor in the US and armour in the UK.

For a UK user, with preference set to UK/UK, it shows the first matched UK English

Armour is spelt armor in the US and armour in the UK.

For a Canadian user, with prefrence set to Canadian/UK, it shows the second matched UK English

Armour is spelt armor in the US and armour in the UK.

For an New Zealand user, with preference to be New Zealand/Australia, it shows the default US English

Armor is spelled armor in the US and armour in the UK.

I understand this suggestion may open a new can of worms because now many articles may grow double in size because of the multiple conditional spelling variations. However, this usage is purely optional. I beleive only the most controversial topics would receive a multi-lingual treatment by the contributors. Likewise, not every article became a spelling edit battleground. So I guess it will not be as bad as the edit war situations. Any comment?

My alternative suggestion is not quite the same as the tagging proposal on the top of this talk page because there is no need to look up the variations from a multi-lingual dictionary nor database, ie. no surprises when the database could be mismanaged or corrupted and no additional maintenance tasks required. The different spellings are stored in-line in the template and are in total control of the contributors. They can be maintained just like any other contents on the page.

In my example, I only showed the use of sublanguage, I didn't show the use of the primary language. One example would be {en:fjord|en_NZ:fiord}, where the default spelling is specified along with the only exception. In this example, all the common spellings can be lumped under the primary "en" code, only the New Zealand exception is added under its own sublanguage code "en_NZ". Kowloonese 23:21, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Hi Kowloonese, thanks for your ideas. Funnily enough, that's how my proposal started. As you say, it does not require DB lookups—although I don't quite understand how WP would work out that Canadian English maps to Armour/spelt in your example. However, I think that the potential explosion of wikitext, when taking into account the various sublanguages (the ones you mention is not the complete list), would make it more difficult to gain widespread acceptance. I mean, some people at the moment are (in my opinion unreasonably) opposing the "tagging" proposal because it's a "burden [...] on editors wading through the edit screen", it "makes editing far harder", it's a "large workload for [...] article editors", a "needless waste of editor time", and "overcomplicated editing".
As for which dialect should be the default, I suspect your solution (US) would meet strong criticism. Consider that most readers do not have an account, let alone their preferences set. See QA3 for my suggestion. PizzaMargherita 08:35, 19 April 2006 (UTC)
In my proposal, each user can have first and second preference. In my Canadian example, the user set Canada/UK as his preferences, hence he got the second match for UK English because Canadian English was not available in the template.
I guess it is quite obvious that US English is the Internet English out-numbering other variants by a big margin, though it does not imply US Engish is the proper English that depends on opinion. But if you need to pick a default, the Internet English would be the best choice because of its current widespread usage.
In my proposal, the editors have the option to specify the primary spelling, which will be the default even for people who do not log in. e.g.
{en:Labour|en_US:Labor} Party should be {en:spelled|en_UK:spelt} Labour Party because it is a British entity.
US users will see
Labor Party should be spelled Labour Party because it is a British entity.
UK users will see
Labour Party should be spelt Labour Party because it is a British entity.
unlogged in users will see
Labour Party should be spelled Labour Party because it is a British entity.
To minimize the wiki-text explosion, perhaps a more compacted syntax can be used, e.g.
{en:Labour|US,NZ,CA:Labor}
the most common spelling is specified as the primary and default (en) spelling, only the exceptions are listed by their country codes. Another option is to tie most countries into either the UK or the US spelling group. The two major spelling groups will address most of the common situations hence the text explosion would be limited to 2X in most cases. Other exceptions can still be handled by listing each country separately as shown above. Actually, the intention of my proposal is not to make every single article multi-lingual, that would guarantee the text explosion. The bias of using one spelling vs. another should still be following current guidelines, use the native spelling e.g. a British topic article should use UK spelling, a US topic article should use US spelling, a New Zealand topic article should use NZ spelling etc. Only when an edit war starts on certain common topics, the template would provide a solution to resolve the conflicts. The extent of the text explosion should be proportional to the extent of edit wars, otherwise everything should stay status quo. Kowloonese 20:16, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Tagging pages: Default spellings in non-English speaking countries[edit]

If a non-logged-in user comes to Wikipedia from a country (determined by IP) whose primary language is not English, what should the default spelling be? I would suggest International English, whish is mostly based on British English except that it uses -ize instead of -ise (both are actually acceptable in BE, but -ise is taught in schools).

Good point, I never thought of that. Your suggestion seems very sensible. PizzaMargherita 05:24, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
For the record, "International English" has so many different meanings that it's useless. The most common spelling system used among non-native English speakers is American. This is mostly because of (non-Hong Kong) China, Japan, the Koreas, South American, Russia, and, generally, Eastern Europe. But most (though not the vast majority) of Western Europeans use British spelling right now (though this changes partly depending on how much they believe British foreign policy is better than American foreign policy), and nearly all of Africa, and all of the England's former colonies. It's actually not far from 50-50, but the majority use American spelling. (As for the actual language used -- that is, pronunciation and vocabulary, "International English" is overwhelmingly American.) I would recommend having the default be American English, not simply because it's more widely used internationally, but because it's more suited to non-native speakers. After all, this was the whole point of Ben Franklin's and Noah Webster's reforms. When you, for example, take away the -ous from rigorous, you should get the spelling of the noun, rigor, which you do with American (and Shakespearean) spelling. And when adding -ing, you should double the final consonant only when the last syllable is stressed. This helps people with pronunciation. Etc., etc. (Note, though: British punctuation is better suited for international use than American. Wiki policy got that right!) Hyperborean 07:45, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Detractors point out that the Franklin/Webster's reform had no respect for etymology, which could indeed help foreign learners. Rationality is in the eye of the beholder. Your comments about International English having no clear definition (making it useless for our purpose) are noted. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 09:15, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I didn't precisely say it was rational, but I agree that a lot of Webster's suggestions were absurd. Fortunately, most of the absurd suggestions were not taken up by Americans, and most spelling reform advocates agree that current American spelling (combined with current British punctuation) is the best option for "mild" spelling reform. But, anyway, I don't mean to be polemical, just wanted to correct the other person's anglo-centric error. As for a concrete suggestion, perhaps we could do a Google search for usage using the site:X switch to help figure this out? For example, searching /color site:se/ and /colour site:se/, and comparing the results? (Though /color site:mx/ would of course skew the results towards American English! So we'd have to be careful. With Spanish-speaking countries we'd have to use other words -- "center"/"centre", for ex.) Again, thanks for your efforts with this proposal. I think it's a great idea! Hyperborean 09:39, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Ok, thanks. So how about this: we keep Google hits as a general guideline for what would anyway be a manual process. And we will probably not want to create a profile for each country, we just associate IP areas to existing varieties of English (e.g. Mexico -> American English, France -> British English), as opposed to a more fine-grained scheme: (Mexico, en:foetus)->fetus, (France, en:diarrhoea)->diarrhoea. PizzaMargherita 11:16, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Excellent idea. There should probably also be a little box somewhere indicating what the default preferences are for a particular user (IP address), with the option of changing the default. Having the option of changing the default without someone actually logging in might be difficult, but if it's so important for someone living in Mexico to read Wikipedia articles in British English, or for someone in France to read them in American English (or Canadian or whatever), forcing them to log in/establish an account doesn't seem like asking too much. Hyperborean 12:08, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia rule?[edit]

This is in the Manual of Style… so what’s the rule for deciding which spellings to use?

The guidelines are here. Also see the "Tagging Pages" proposal above. PizzaMargherita 10:02, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

IANA language tag[edit]

Can this be defined on the project page? Maurreen 07:40, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

See [1] and IANA. Language tags are used frequently in HTML files. "en" is the tag for English (all varieties).
Used in en.wikipedia.org, for example. Nobbie 10:41, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

U.S.[edit]

I'm not sure "the official standard of the U.S. administration" is the best phrasing. How about "used by the U.S. government"? Maurreen 07:42, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The US government uses spellings that most common people don't use such as aline for align, so it's hard to say.Cameron Nedland 20:38, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Name of article[edit]

This should not be a subpage of the Manual of Style, as it is just guidance on what spellings are predominant in different territories. In fact, I tend to think it should be in the main article namespace, rather than the Wikipedia namespace. I can't think of a snappy name though: Comparison of spellings in different forms of standard English does not really have a ring to it. Kind regards, jguk 12:58, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I'll suggest this again, as it was never intended that this page should become an opportunity to get into nationalistic arguments on spelling. I propose moving this page to Comparison of spellings in different forms of standard English in the main namespace. Any comments? jguk 20:38, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
That's ok with me. I created this page and put it into the Wikipedia namespace because I was "inspired" by the discussion on the talk page. The name you propose is... um. I can't think of a better name, either. Nobbie 16:41, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Australian spelling[edit]

Not sure where the creator of the spelling chart got his information for standard Australian spelling. I have fixed the Australian spellings for English words. – AxSkov 08:54, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Other things[edit]

Shouldn't this page have

  • whether countries call the little dot at the end of sentences a period or a full stop?
  • the names for the letter Z (zee, zed)?
  • whether people say "spelled" or "spelt" (and similar differences)?
  • whether the past participle for get is got and/or gotten (both are used in American English)?
  • the date orders used by countries (such as March 23, 2005 or 23 March 2005 for the date I posted this)?
  • whether groups are referred to as singular or plural entities ("The company is having its anniversary party" or "The company are having their anniversary party")?

This page could use to be more thorough. The American and British English differences page would be a good template, but I'd like a page comparing more than two dialects. --/ɛvɪs/ 20:09, Mar 23, 2005 (UTC)

Aluminium/Aluminum[edit]

Just a clarification here... do the normal British/U.S. English rules apply in the case of aluminium vs. aluminum, considering that aluminium is the internationally recognised spelling preferred by the IUPAC?

I ask because there is a minor dispute concerning this on the PowerBook page, for a product made by a company founded in the U.S., with an international market (Apple). I can see why one spelling must be arbitrarily selected where it is explicitly British vs U.S. spellings, but this is an example where there is a more "neutral" spelling. Any comments? StuartH 06:00, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps like sulfur. — Instantnood 17:29, August 22, 2005 (UTC)
Should we just vote on it?Cameron Nedland 14:46, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

I don't really see why the U.S. spelling shouldn't be used in this case; it's not going to confuse anyone (and presumably it's wikilinked). As it is the U.S. spelling, and concerns a U.S. product, why should na exception be made here? "More neutral" just seems to mean "used by more than just the British" — but there are lots of such spellings. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:14, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Strangely enough it will confuse non-american's. This is possibly why Apple take this into account when marketing it as aluminum to the US and aluminium to the rest of the world it seems. However, the only overriding concern here to me would be the fact that it is based in the US. Ansell 06:16, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Spell article titles according to most google hits?[edit]

Is there a policy for US/British spelling of article titles when one spelling yields many more hits than the other spelling? (This is regarding a discussion at Talk:Behavioural genetics; the US spelling (behavioral) has 5.5 times the number of google hits) --Nectar T 08:09, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia policy is explicit in allowing all forms of standard English - that is, British spellings are permissible. The corollary of this is that we do not use the number of google hits (alone) to decide these things, as google always prefers American spellings and American usage over other standard forms of English, jguk 20:30, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
One problem with that is that the 5.5 times as many internet users searching for the dominant spelling will not come across the Wikipedia article. That is, for every 100 people searching for this topic, less than 20 would find the Wikipedia article.--Nectar T 08:03, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not for the exclusive use of US citizens, why pass a rule to exclude the rest of the world. Redirects will show whatever the other spelling is, this is a non-problem. As a professional scientist working in this area I get used to searching in an intelligent way, I'd guess that half the scientific literature uses the English spelling. If we were pass a decree that US spelling was the official spelling of wikipedia then the rest of the world would be given the finger. I don't like that. Pete.Hurd 19:12, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Where a word can be spelt in different ways - or where different worlds are used for the same thing (courgette (wikipedia entry 12th on google.com) v zucchini (wikipedia entry 7th on google.com), etc.) - then WP policy says we make use of a redirect, which helps search engines find things anyway, jguk 19:41, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

These are the right arguments, but in this case the spelling not used doesn't show up within Google's top 110 entries (I stopped there). A page being invisible to 80% of google searchers is a practical problem, as is a page being invisible to 20% of google searchers. (These numbers assume the groups using different spellings create web pages at the same rate). I wonder if some day WP software can be made to host the same page with titles in both dialects etc. (Google gives weight to a page's title).--Nectar T 03:42, 5 October 2005 (UTC)
There should be a redirect in all cases. WilyD 00:06, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia can't expect to be top of the list for every single article - and our article on behavioural genetics is only three paragraphs long, so that many of the higher-rated articles on google are far more illuminating on the subject than the wikipedia article - so I'm not concerned about the google-rating on this one. Hopefully the WP article will improve over time, at which point its google rating will probably improve greatly too, jguk 19:32, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm unclear on why this policy isn't in place? I don't think that User:Pete Hurd's objection is really relevant to User:Nectarflowed's proposal. Counting google hits from both Google.com, google.co.uk (and presumably any other relevant English language international googles) allows you to avoid cultural bias. Google is one of the most comprehensive indexes of all the pages on the internet, and should not have any kind of spelling bias in this regard. --DDG 22:32, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
The first contributor rule is fine. — Omegatron 23:46, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Plants/Animals - American or International English?[edit]

The article for rose has had a few reverts of the spelling for color/colour. The discussion for that particular issue is here: Talk:Rose#American_vs._British_spelling, but it is a wider issue from what I can see. The only guidelines that I have found are this page and Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#National_varieties_of_English. Neither really cover which is the prefered spelling for a fairly neutral topic like plants. Iris (plant), Poinsettia, and Rhododendron use British English, but Azalea, Orchid, and Tulip use American English. There isn't much rhyme or reason and the lack of a clear guideline is a drag. Please comment. Cacophony 03:21, 23 September 2005 (UTC)


Let me suggest that sticking to the rule of following the original article's spelling convention is a lot easier than thousands of parallel debates about which alternative is more logical for each of many many many different topics across wikipedia. If I were emperor I'd make a different rule, but there are good reasons that I won't become emperor. Pete.Hurd 04:13, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

æ and œ[edit]

I would have called this topic "ligatures", but someone somewhere on WP[1] was whining that æ and œ aren't ligatures because ligatures are a typographical union whereas these are orthographical ones. Whatever they are, can we clear up a point that came up in Talk:Hors d'œuvre and again in Talk:Pi? Editors are objecting to spellings using these ligated vowels on the grounds that (my paraphrase) they're obsolete spellings that would only be used by someone pushing wacky prescriptivism.

This would be true in the world of US spelling. However, I don't think these editors realised that it is not at all true in the UK: the ligated spellings are still the only ones listed by the OED. (cambridge.org, however, which tends to get cited on WP because it's free online, spells without ligation). Could we add an explicit note—at least acknowledging that usage differs transatlantically, whatever we conclude about what's best for WP—to the MoS on this point? —Blotwell 07:58, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Wacky prescriptivism indeed. As I've mentioned elsewhere, if it's good enough for Encyclopædia Britannica why not for Wikipedia? I'm all for the use of æ and œ. Jimp 04:07, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
Having looked around for a specific opinion from OUP on modern usage, I eventually found one in the OED entry for (the letter) æ:
In many modern books the digraph æ is regularly resolved as ae; when this is done, dissyllabic ae ought to be printed: thus either ægis, aereal, or aegis, aëreal; but simple ae is often used in both.
That ought is undeniably prescriptive, but I'm tempted to agree with them. (It's my impression that the diæresis in this context is mostly (old-fashioned) American usage, but I'd love to see someone campaigning for more diæreses on WP.) —Blotwell 07:30, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
If OED is regarded as an authority on commonwealth spelling it seems very strange that editors constantly reject the ending "-ize" as an Americanism given that OED endorses that ending over "-ise" in most instances.Zebulin (talk) 07:17, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
  1. ^ Talk:List_of_words_that_may_be_spelled_with_a_ligature
Britannica's usage is a mere brand-recognition and other marketing purposes gimmick, giving it a fakey antique flavor. Their article on the general subject is under encyclopaedia (in my 1979 edition), which itself is one of the few British spellings retained to give it some British flavor. Gene Nygaard 14:26, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
In Wp, I see no reason to diverge from prescriptions in the OED (as above). Moreover, the variant encyclopædia (with ligature), though rare, is not limited to Encyclopædia Britannica and is used in several other encyclopedic brands.
This was a topic of mild contention at the encyclopedia article, with an edit warrior arguing that the ligature was nothing more than archaic, etc.; ultimately, the article lead was edited and section/note added to reflect the various renditions and communicate usage (including the OED note above). E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 09:48, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
Hm, the Encyclopædia Britannica's web site seems to only use that spelling for its trademark, and encyclopedia everywhere else. Anyone know if the current OED still uses spellings with æ? Michael Z. 2006-03-30 21:56 Z
Here is what the OED says about the spelling: "The spelling with æ has been preserved from becoming obs. by the fact that many of the works so called have Latin titles, as Encyclopædia Britannica, Londinensis, etc." Lesgles (talk) 02:07, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
But is it still true that "the ligated spellings are still the only ones listed by the OED", as someone asserted above? Or are spellings containing æ only listed as alternate spellings? Michael Z. 2006-03-31 03:18 Z
As far as I can tell, whenever the OED uses the "ae" spelling, it is printed as a digraph or ligature. But the OED does not always use the ae/æ spelling: in the case of "medieval", for example, the "e" spelling is the only form given in the headword. I think people tend to forget that there has been a gradual trend towards simplification of æ to e throughout history. Forms such as "phænomenon" and "ædify" are now completely obsolete. Lesgles (talk) 05:05, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Some bad spelling in the list on the front page[edit]

I have corrected the spewlling of vice and volume for UK and Austrlaia, after referring to appropriate dictionaries. Where did those odd spellings come from, especially volumne ? Suspect sublte vandalism, as I hope whoever seriously put up the list did not make such mistakes.--Richardb43 06:29, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Volumne is very strange. It is listed as a spelling in the O.E.D. (along with velome, wollome, etc.), but I'd like to see some evidence for its current use before we choose to keep it up there. As for "vice", I'm guessing it's "vice" everywhere except for "vise" (tool) in Am. E., but I don't have a New Zealand dictionary on hand to check. Lesgles (talk) 21:37, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
I checked on "vice" in the New Zealand Oxford Paperback Dictionary (Deverson, 1998), and fixed the entry in our list. -- Avenue 12:46, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Use of Sources[edit]

An anonymous user (203.94.135.134) just pointed out that "ageing" is, according Webster's, an acceptable American spelling. Just checked, and, sure enough, that's what Webster's says. But this makes me wonder whether at least one of our sources might be out of date. I have read about aging extensively, and not once have I seen "agEing" used by an American author (and it's falling out of favor with other researchers). It would strike most Americans as just as wrong as "useing." Googling /ageing site:uchicago.edu/, and comparing this with a googling of /aging site:uchicago.edu/ suggests that "ageing" is so infrequent in the U.S. right now (except when it appears in the titles of articles written by non-Americans/-Canadians) that it should probably be regarded as wrong. (A similar strategy can be used with /aging site:ox.ac.uk/.) I wonder whether we should adopt a different strategy here. Hyperborean 08:38, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree that we should be a bit more expansive with our dictionary references here in order to maximize the accuracy of our listings; for the US spellings, for example, I'd consider the American Heritage Dictionary a more reliable guide to U.S. spellings than Merriam-Webster is. I would support removing "ageing" from the U.S. column altogether. I am also curious about some of the organizational choices here: why are they listed in the order "Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK & Ireland, United States, Commonwealth"? That seems rather counterintuitive. If we're not going to simply go alphabetical, wouldn't it make more sense to list them in the order "Commonwealth, UK & Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, United States", thus roughly denoting their chart divergences? I'd also strongly consider merging "Commonwealth" and "UK & Ireland" in the current list, considering that they're by far the most similar of the listed entries: the sole distinction between them in their current state is that the UK & Ireland apparently doesn't consider "installment" a valid secondary spelling, and Commonwealth does, which, even if an accurate and significant distinction, would be better denoted with an asterisk or something than with a whole extra column. I also recommend eliminating the current inconsistent use of commas by having a new row for every different word, even for the different meanings or usages of license/licence, practice/practise, and program/programme, just as we've done with vise/vice. Also, I'm pretty sure that "grey" is an accepted spelling in American English, even though it's less commonplace than "gray". -Silence 08:58, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Let's give others a chance to comment. If no one objects, I'll remove "ageing" from the U.S. column. About org'l choices: Good question! My guess is that the logic was something like: "alphabetical aside from closely related spelling systems," and then Commonwealth got tacked on at the end. In other words: Australia, Canada, U.K., U.S. is alphabetical, and N.Z. was (rightly or wrongly, I can't judge) placed near its "cousin." Still, I agree, it's a bit odd. I also agree with your other suggestions about organizing this. (About "grey," see next.) Hyperborean 2006.05.29 10:04 (UTC)

Gray/Grey[edit]

Silence pointed out that "grey" is an accepted spelling in American English. I agree, but the matter is tricky, since many (sorry, can't find sources right now) use grey in American English to refer more to mood than to a shade between white and black. "The sky was gray" means the sky wasn't blue, it was gray; "a grey day" emphasizes that the day is somber (though the sky may well also have been gray on that day). Hyperborean 2006.05.29 (UTC)

According to both M-W & AHD, grey is a _minor_ variant ("also...") and travelling is a _major_ variant ("or..."), which is why I listed travelling but not grey. As for that alleged distinction, dictionaries don't support it (yet), so I can't see why this page should. JackLumber, 15:01, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Your (implicit) contention that lack of dictionary support should be determinative is perfectly reasonable, though it's not clear to me that we must rely solely on dictionary support. (See "Use of Sources" above.) I'm uncertain enough about how widespread the American usage (with alternate meaning or not) of grey is that I wouldn't push for its inclusion as an acceptable spelling with an alternative meaning. But in some cases, such as terms with rapidly changing usage (terms related to the Internet or new technology, for ex.), I do think that dictionaries shouldn't be the all-determining when questions of usage arise. Googling with the "site:X" switch can, for example, be very useful. Hyperborean 2006.05.29, 15:30 (UTC)
No, it would be misleading at best. For instance, site:gov acclimatised yields 212 results. A word like foobar (which ain't even a word) gets 3,500,000 hits. We sure can factor in more than one source, but we can't do OR. Lexicographers do this kind of research for you, based on corpus data, and dictionaries are constantly updated. An alternate meaning for grey would matter little as far as an encyclopedia is concerned, since it would be at home only in fictional writing. JackLumber, 19:19, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
"Misleading at best? No; but potentially misleading: I agree completely. Use of the "site" switch with Google would have to be done carefully. Obviously, that "care" is exactly what lexicographers tend to be good at, and if the results of their efforts weren't always at least several years old, we could safely rely on them, and them alone. In any event, in the case of "grey," I'm convinced it shouldn't be listed with an alt. meaning. Hyperborean 2006.05.29, 21:59 (UTC)
  • "According to both M-W & AHD, grey is a _minor_ variant ("also...") and travelling is a _major_ variant" - "Travelling" may be more common than "grey" in American English, but the distinction between those two words (and a few others, like ax/axe) and most of the other non-AmE English words is that most American English speakers wouldn't recognize it as a foreign spelling. That's been my experience, anyway; dictionary.com notes grey as a "Variant of gray.", whereas it lists ageing as a "(Chiefly British) Variant of aging.", programme as a "(Chiefly British) Variant of program.", colour as a "(Chiefly British) Variant of color.", etc. This suggests to me that even though "grey" is not as common as "gray" in American English, few Americans, if any, would recognize "grey" as an archaism or product of another dialect of English, much like most Americans wouldn't consider "axe" at all unusual (whereas spellings like "kerb", "artefact", "gaol", "tyre", etc. come across as completely alien to most Americans). To clarify the analogy: in AmE, "grey" is to "gray" as "plough" is to "plow". Most people won't even realize that one is the American spelling and one is the British one, much less which one is which. Likewise for "disc" vs. "disk". For a list like this, we should distinguish between dialectal word variants that would cause speakers of one dialect or another to raise their eyebrows or become confused, and variants that are relatively trivial and accepted. -Silence 15:14, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Support Silence above — I've seen "grey", used "grey", and never noticed any objection to its use. It's not called out as a Britishism in dictionaries, and appears to be quite common: Dictionary.com lists grey as "grey /greɪ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[grey] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, -er, -est, noun, verb (used with object), verb (used without object) gray1" (from the Random House Unabridged Dictionary); the American Heritage Dictionary lists "gray 1 also grey"; WordNet, by Princeton University, defines grey as "grey adjective 1. of an achromatic color of any lightness intermediate between the extremes of white and black; 'the little grey cells'; 'gray flannel suit'; 'a man with greyish hair'" and more. What's the standard for accepting this as a US word? —Ryan McDaniel (talk) 14:38, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, first off, gray and grey are two different spellings of the same word. Whereas different words may have the same spelling (e.g. tear). But that's another story.
The sources regard the variant spelling grey as an "also" variant (see here); currently, such variants are left out for the sake of simplicity. This doesn't mean things cannot change in the future. Hey, it's a wiki.
Webster's New World College Dictionary ("the official dictionary of the Associated Press"...) lists gray as a chiefly British variant.
Both gray and grey have been used for centuries (and both are found in proper names); both are historically and etymologically acceptable. The current US/UK distribution pattern is relatively recent.
Jack(Lumber) 19:03, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Canadian Oxford Dictionary[edit]

[discussion moved from user talk:Mzajac —MZ]

Regarding the MoS(sp.) page. I've noticed that you have added some extra spellings to that of the other spellings in the Canadian column — ie colour, color; theatre, theater. I have a few questions with regards to this:

  1. By doing this do you wish to have a mixture of spellings in Canadian articles?
  2. Or do you want to show the views of one Canadian dictionary?
  3. Could you show me an example of an entry in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary?
  4. So how common do you think the variant spellings — ie color, theater, etc — are in Canada?
  5. Are these spellings commonly found in Canadian publications?

203.164.184.60 14:33, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

By listing these in the table, I have documented what is presented in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, probably the most authoritative documentary source about Canadian English. I don't think it's fair to call this the 'views' of one dictionary—Oxford has the largest permanent staff of lexicographers in Canada of any dictionary, and they document how English is used in various publications and other media in the country, rather than offering a view of how it ought to be used. For example, while we would probably consider 'colour' to be the correct Canadian spelling, and infer from the Oxford's listing that it is the most-used in Canada, we can't deny that 'color' is also significantly used. My understanding is that the Gage Canadian Dictionary also always lists Canadian spellings first, but other "Canadian" dictionaries are not of such high quality.
The Canadian Oxford documents the fact that a mixture of spellings is used in Canada (this is a characteristic of Canadian English, resulting from the dual British Loyalist and Anglo-Canadian history of the language. p. xii: ". . . the double standard. Wherever British and North American practices differ from one another in vocabulary, pronunciation or spelling, Canadians usually tolerate both. . . . different regions sometimes maintain different norms, as, for instance, Ontarians prefer the spellings colour and neighbour, but Albertans prefer color and neighbor.").
By copying the dictionary's data here, I don't say anything about spelling I wish to have in Canadian articles. Personally, in all of the examples I've seen, I believe the Canadian Oxford's primary headword is the best representative of Canadian English. Although different Canadian writers and publishers may use their own standards of spelling, or no standards at all, 'mixing it up' in Wikipedia would be bad style. Nevertheless, this chart is presented as a list of accepted spellings according to the cited sources, so that's what its content should be. Preferred spelling is easily inferred by the listed order of the spellings.
The dictionary entries don't say much about how common the spellings are, but they list the most common first, followed by other common spellings (when a secondary spelling falls more than three headwords away from the most common spelling, it has its own headword which just says something like "variant spelling of HEADWORD"). In the table I have left out additional spellings bearing labels like U.S. or chiefly British (p. xiv: "Such [restrictive] labels indicate only that the variants are very infrequent in Canadian practice, not that they are unacceptable"). Michael Z. 2006-05-31 05:42 Z

I have a proposal[edit]

Here I believe is a good compromise between the various systems for the use on Wikipedia that will make everyone at least content if not happy.

1. Use the shorter forms so:

aging color dialog fulfil instal instalment judgment (for law, otherwise judgement) labor program (for computer, otherwise programme) traveling yogurt ax glamor neuron carburetor filet

2. Use z instead of s when it sounds like [z] so:

analyze organization

3. Use re instead of er unless to distinguish different related ideas so:

centre manœuvre theater (building) theatre (art)

4. Use s instead of c for [s] sound unless to distinguish parts of speech or different meanings so:

defense lisence(n) lisense(v) practice(n) practise(v) vise (tool) vice (fault) practise(v) practice(n)

5. Use ey instead of ay so:

grey

6. Use i instead of j so:

fiord

7. Use kerb instead of curb

8. Use ligatures in words that have them so:

manœuvre (see rule 3) fœtus encyclopædia archæology Cæsar

9. Use k instead of c unless to distinguish so:

skeptic disk (for computer, otherwise disc)

10. Use y instead of i or ie for vowels so:

spyder vampyre tyre færy (see rule 8)

11. Use enquiry for request of information and inquiry for for investigation.

12. Use split or hyphenated words so:

per cent counter-attack any more all rite (see rule 21)

13. Use xion instead of ction so:

connexion reflexion

14. Use jail instead of gaol.

15. Use ck or k instead of que so:

mask check

16. Use diareses as in The Newyorker so:

reëlect coöperate

17. Use Commonwealth quotations so:

'I think he said "Jon" to that boy'

18. Use behove instead of behoove.

19. Use shivaree instead of chivari.

20. Use accents and diacritics so:

coupé (except a bowl or cup: coupe) paper-mâché

21. Don't use gh so:

laf thru draft tho nite altho thoro thoroly enuf hiccup plow dawter

22. Use Commonwealth grammar for irregular verb tenses so (I'm American so if I make a mistake just fix it):

spelt spoilt learnt

23. Use scientific spellings so:

sulfur aluminium

Cameron Nedland 22:04, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Cameron, in all honesty, we had several similar proposal like this before, and they never worked because people are unwilling to compromise on spelling. Even the current set of rules is a compromise (and frankly it's less arbitrary than yours), but it still doesn't work. Anyway thanks for your effort. PizzaMargherita 08:36, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
This proposal is hardly a compromise, it's more like a mass adoption, with a few minor exceptions, of American English. Arcturus 20:59, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Okay I changed it some, sorry. Please yell at me again if it still seems one-sided.Cameron Nedland 22:38, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
I appreciate the idea, but frankly I think this won't work. Because this would be a way of spelling exclusively used on Wikipedia; people would have to learn this spelling just to contribute on this site. In real life they would go back to British/Oxford/American English again, because "Wikipedia spelling" isn't regarded as correct in any organization. Impractical, if you ask me. MrTroy 13:15, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

Canadian programmes[edit]

I know nothing about the subject, but I think it's about time to bring the matter in the talk page. Could user 203.94.135.134 please state what their source is? Also please let's assume good faith and not discriminate against anonymous users. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 18:28, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

By the way, I think the Oxford Guide to Canadian English Usage mentions that programme is used more often in Canada to mean a theatre programme, while program is more common for other uses. I read this at the book store last week, so I'm sorry that I don't have the reference. Michael Z. 2006-08-01 05:59 Z

British English with -ise[edit]

This seems rather descriptive to me, isn't there a proper name for it? Like the "-ize spelling" is called Oxford Spelling? MrTroy 13:15, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

I think it is called "standard" spelling. The website clearly says "English" when I select the language, so everything should be spelt in English - eg: colour. Miller-pede 13:09, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

the British govt use this, yes, sure; but 'recommend'? -- source please... Omicron18 15:13, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Recommend is the correct spelling according to all the major British English dictionaries. --Veratien 18:39, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Most of the major dictionaries of British English, such as those published by Oxford University Press, Penguin and Collins, all list the '-ize' spellings first, so those are the 'recommended' spellings in Britain, and are used in most printed British encyclopaedias (those published by Penguin, Hutchinson, Philips etc.). Ukeu 13:58, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

overseas users with poor spelling[edit]

What is the politest way to tell someone that it would be best if they used spell-check before submitting their contributions? I have been dabbing a lot of links to India/Pakistan-related articles lately, and about 60% suffer, not from lack or quality of content, but from poor spelling and grammar (OK, and the occasional POV problem). I will provide an example of something I was going to post on a "repeat offender's" talk page, but I'm scared that I will come across as condescending or patronising.

Hey there, I noticed you've been writing a lot of articles on the bar region. The articles, while admittedly still stubs, are quite helpful. However, I have a tiny request — can you please use spellcheck? I am Indian, so I know that some people have trouble with English spellings if it isn't their mother tongue. I have learned that Google Toolbar is really good for spellcheck if you write articles straight into the Edit page instead of writing it in a word processor first (although sometimes it fails to recognise some fairly common words!).
Also, please make sure you pipe your links when you link to Punjab, as this is a disambiguation page, and generally speaking, links shouldn't point directly to it.
In the meantime, I hope you keep writing more new articles, you have done a really nice job! Please don't take offence at any of my remarks above... this is what Wikipedia is all about, collaboration of ideas, helping each other learn and improve! I know that you are doing your best to contribute to the encyclopedia and spread your knowledge, but just little things like using spellcheck make articles look so much more professional. :) If you find me doing anything wrong, feel free to point it out as well!
Cheers, ~~~~

Any thoughts? Am I being paranoid? riana_dzastatce • 06:26, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Your proposed post looks fine to me, but I would only use it for those who make more than say 5 spelling mistakes in an article. This is to allow for the inevitable finger trouble, from which I suffer as much as anyone. Murray Langton 14:54, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Mmm, trust me, this isn't just slippery fingers. It's a mixture of just general bad spelling (there's, theirs; where, wear), as well as a great deal of "Indian grammar". Well, thanks very much for your insight! I'll wait a little tiny bit longer though... see if anyone else objects. If not, someone's getting an angry orange box. riana_dzastatce • 15:24, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Note that Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#National_varieties_of_English explicitly supports the use of something called Indian English for India-related articles. I am expressing no opinion on whether this is an appropriate policy. —Blotwell 19:07, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
I understand. However, I feel that there's a considerable difference between "bad English" and "Indian English". Ok, so maybe I won't tell the user, and just quietly clean it up. Perhaps that's a little less obtrusive? riana_dzastatce • 05:18, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
I would tell the user. Your proposed approach is as soft as it gets—in fact, so soft it sounds like you are taking the piss at times. The occasional misspelling is tolerable, but some people (including native speakers) don't bother looking up words they are not sure about. As you say, it's a matter of seconds, and I would add it's a matter of respect for the readers and other editors. Some even hide their laziness behind an alleged dyslexia, which I find very irritating, because as far as I know dyslexia does not prevent you from making good use of a dictionary or a spell checker. That said, you can't do much about grammar-related mistakes, or anyway mistakes that a spell checker cannot catch. You just have to fix them and shut up I'm afraid. (Case in point, "it's" vs "its". Honestly, how hard is it to get it right? *sigh*) PizzaMargherita 05:33, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Haha, where does it sound like I'm taking the piss? What would you write? [edit] OK, I sort of see what you mean. To hell with it, I'll post it. Who knows, it may have no effect. But it will do wonders for my mind. Hmph... I'm far too addicted to this place. :) riana_dzastatce • 06:31, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Hi there. Just thought I'd chime in and say that I do not think you are being "paranoid" at all. Non-native speakers of English (note: many from the Indian Subcontinent should, of course, be regarded as native speakers) are astonishly sensitive about their English. I've worked quite a bit as a translator, and am often faced with the question, "Would it be easier if I wrote directly in English, and then you could correct my (few) mistakes?" Even after I greatly tone down the initial reaction that forms in my head -- "You've got to be kidding me!!!" -- what I say ("Well, you're English is astonishingly good! But...") always ends up being hurtful. --Cultural Freedom 2006-07-26 11:20 (UTC)
Yeh, I see what you mean. I'm asking all this because I feel that {{SpellCheck}} could probably be construed as even more insulting. I know I would prefer a proper message to a subst'd template. Well, thanks very much for all your suggestions, I have just posted the message onto the user's page, so hopefully s/he'll take it into consideration. Thank you all! riana_dzastatce • 11:39, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Turns out the user took it extremely politely, and seemed to actually be quite grateful for my suggestion. :) People aren't so bad, after all. Thank you for all your suggestions. riana_dzastatce • 11:12, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Commonwealth English[edit]

The article on Commonwealth English tell us it's a collective term for all English dialects spoken in countries of the Commonwealth. So, does it make sense to include a column on C.E. in this article? I don't think so. Each country of the Commonwealth has its own spelling preferences, they can't be grouped into a column. MrTroy 15:33, 9 August 2006 (CEST)

Commonwealth English is not a spoken language, but a common way of spelling, with the exception of Canada, and Ireland (not a member but spells the same as all the other members of the Commonwealth). If you ever pick up an article or book written in one of these nations (member of the Commonwealth), you'll be hard pressed to distinguish the spelling between one nation to the next. Therefore the use of it as a collective term does make sense. 203.94.135.134 23:38, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
No, it doesn't, at least in this article. The Commonwealth column is unsourced, and is bound to remain so—there's no Commonwealth authority that makes the rules. Each Commonwealth nation has its own spelling system—and the Commonwealth column is redundant anyway, since it's basically indistinguishable from the British column, and possible differences are just plain OR. JackLumber. 21:28, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Then perhaps we can comment it out, because I don't believe it should be removed entirely. 203.94.135.134 03:12, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
I have commented out the Commonwealth column, if further discussion is needed, pls do it here rather than revert or delete column. 203.94.135.134 22:56, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Fjord vs fiord in British English[edit]

I've switched fiord and fjord in the British English column. Whilst fiord is listed in the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary as being correct, I have spoken to three English teachers and a PhD, and they all say that fjord is the correct spelling. The OED is quite often at odds with standard English spellings, and this is such a case. [1] --Veratien 20:03, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

No this spelling came from a Chambers dictionary, which is used as the primary reference here. Actually both spellings are *correct*, just one is primary to the other, depending on the source you look at. 203.94.135.134 23:19, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
I came to the discussion page with the same idea. I (being an Irishman) have never seen fiord in my life. Fjord is far more common -- certainly in Ireland, and I would have thought in England too. Older renditions of Irish cities/towns such as Waterford (Vadrefjord) as Wexford (Waesfjord) are always spelled with a 'j'. I have literally never come across 'fiord'. It is a shame that we are sticking to a standard (the Chambers dictionary) that appears to be incorrect on this one! Merlante 18:26, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
I didn't actually realise there was a Chambers dictionary; all the references I've made are to the 2nd Edition OED, Cambridge's online version and Collins. As with Merlante, I have never seen fjord until I read this article, hence why I looked it up. I think in this case it needs to be ignored and 'fjord' listed in preference, since it's much more common. "Pining for the fjords" is quite a popular phrase in the UK thanks to Monty Python, and it's almost always written using that spelling. --Veratien 13:02, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
I would have thought that the Oxford dictionary would be the standard for British English. It seems like a small thing, but if Chambers is wrong about 'fjord' then maybe we are using a bad standard! Merlante 16:11, 1 September 2006 (UTC)
I've just looked up the word 'fiord' on the online version of the Chambers Dictionary and it gives: "fjord or fiord noun a long narrow ...", which indicates that 'fjord' has primacy over 'fiord', but the spellings of both variants are correct, neither is wrong. So perhaps the user was using an older edition of the dictionary or that the newer edition doesn't match the online reference. Personally I prefer the spelling 'fiord' as it seems a more English spelling.
I must add that Chambers is not a "bad standard", I think the other dictionaries are worse. For example — according to their online versions — the word 'yoghurt': Chambers prefers the spelling 'yoghurt' first and 'yogurt' second, whereas all the other dictionaries prefer 'yogurt' first and 'yoghurt' second, Cambridge Collins OED. Unfortunately they all prefer the suffix -ize over -ise — which I think is poor — as -ise, for the most part, is considered standard British and Irish spelling, rather than -ize. I think Chambers is more attuned to British and Irish Englishes than the other dictionaries! 203.220.171.229 04:55, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
I prefer 'fjord' because it follows a tradition in English of taking words wholesale from other languages and not trying to Englishise them, e.g. deja vu, shadenfreude, etc. These spellings are not at all 'English'. It is one of the hallmarks of English that it is so tolerant of foreign spelling and pronunciation. Although you could argue that fiord is somehow more English, doing a quick search on a unix text dictionary indicates that there are no other words starting with 'fio', in this dictionary at least, so 'fio' is equally as exceptional as 'fjo', except that 'fjord' at least makes sense in a historical context.
Personally, again as an Irishman, I would prefer 'yoghurt'. But I agree with you on the 'ise' versus 'ize' thing. I think I read somewhere, on wikipedia, that this is a particular Oxfordism. However, I had thought that Oxford English was the main standard in England. Merlante 11:40, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Oxford has a habit of clinging to old ways. Whilst -ize is the correct form etymologically, it is not correct in English English. They're fighting a losing battle in which they refuse to surrender. --Veratien 01:26, 4 September 2006 (UTC)
It may not be your preference, but it's nonsense to say that it's incorrect. 86.155.66.63 (talk) 23:10, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Why do people fight Oxford on "ize"? Is it a pronunciation issue?Zebulin (talk) 23:31, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Because many British people mistakenly think that "-ize is American and -ise is English." Actually, the guy who first used the suffix on a regular basis spelled it -ize. Jack(Lumber) 20:11, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Collins search for fjord and fiord lists fiord as a variant of fjord. Cambridge also lists it as 'fjord, fiord'.

Adding entries to spelling chart?[edit]

I wanted to add an entry for specialty / speciality to the spelling chart, but as I don't know the variations for all countries, nor do I have ready access to all of the reference works cited, I am wondering what tod do. Is it permissible/acceptable to add entries to some of the columns in the spelling chart, and leave others blank for other spelling mavens (boffins?) to come along and fill? --Eliyahu S Talk 15:59, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I've certainly done that in the past (just fill in two or three columns), and others have come along and filled in the blanks. (I must admit I've never heard of the spelling 'specialty' - I trust that you can provide a suitable reference for it.) Murray Langton 05:43, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
In the Canadian Oxford, speciality is listed as a variant spelling of specialty. The main headword doesn't even mention the alternate spelling. This is consistent with my experience.  Michael Z. 2006-09-15 07:38 Z
Just the opposite of Murray Langton, I can honestly say I've never heard of the spelling speciality. I trust that you can provide a suitable reference for it. Gene Nygaard 21:24, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
'speciality' reference: Concise Oxford Dictionary (8th edition 1990). In BCA copy (reprinted 1991) page 1167, right-hand column, second entry from the bottom. 'specialty' is on page 1168 'US = speciality'. Murray Langton 21:56, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
Now go look at Webster's Third New International Dictionary, where it appears that in U.S. usage, specialty and speciality are generally two different words, with some overlap in spelling variants. Gene Nygaard 23:18, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

pled vs pleaded[edit]

pled vs pleaded. which is correct (for wikipedia) Geedubber 23:53, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Practical note about "-exion" endings[edit]

I may be odd in my personal practice, but I always use the "-exion" form, rather than "-ection". This "habit" is more for practical reasons than from principle: it is one character less to type!

So: reflexion, inflexion, deflexion - some look odder then others, but all are easier on the typist.

Hair Commodore 21:30, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

There's also the word "correxion", which I have yet to see in a dictionary - but is that a reason not to spell it so? (Answers on a postcard, please ... and, by the way, where do I find an ironic font on this system?) Hair Commodore 18:13, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

dynamic look up system[edit]

How about a look up system inside the mediawiki software? Similar to the method that we use on the date formating tags, why not a similar loop up system around words? Maybe we could incorporate the wikitionary project as the page to link to when resolving words? ZacBowlingtalk 12:29, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

To explain the idea better, you could tag the offending word "{{spell|colour}}". It would link to wikitionary with the version the author put in the article (because the caching servers couldn't really do anything with special by giving different output to different people). However anyone logged in would be able to set their preference like we do with the date formating. If you set EN-US then you see "color". I'm not going into the technical specifications on how to go about it but its a cool idea.... ZacBowlingtalk 12:38, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Theater/theatre[edit]

The examples given about the spellling of theater/theatre and where and when they are used are not correct. I'd suggest they either be corrected citing sources, or to avoid unproductive disputes simply deleted. Any comments? W.C. 10:36, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

I've ammended this item to reflect actual usage, citing examples and giving sources. The former entry seemed merely to be one person's unsupported opinion. W.C. 16:40, 21 February 2007 (UTC)


Spelling: Jewellery VS. Jewelry[edit]

Dear Editors: I am emailing about the Jewellery category. I personally have no issue with the fact that we have 2 different spelllings on WP - both English and American - as I am aware there are 2 different spellings and for me, it is not a problem. However, I do feel we are having a siginifcant issue here on WP about the English VS. American spelling and I feel I have a good case to revert to the American Spelling. So - here it is. I am a graduate student at Bard here in US. I have read and researched literally hundreds of published titles on this topic. To that aim, I am endeavoring to beef up this category and help WP. However, in the act of reading many titles over many years, I have come to conclude that the American spelling is more dominent in published works on this topic. I don't have a reasoning behind why, I just know that it is so. Because of this, I feel it is neccesary to switch back to the American spelling. Even though in OED, it is jewellery, in every major book on this topic with the exception a few published in UK, it is spelled jewelry. For example - see what is known as "the bible on jewelry," the title is: Jewelry Concepts & Technology by Oppi Untracht. The spelling used is jewelry. Another example: On Amazon, you type in both. For jewelry there are 83,868 Results, for Jewellery, there are 61,300,000 Results - that is a significant difference in published works. I am more than happy to provide a complete bibliography if need be, but in the interest of being user friendly, I ask that you consider this and let me know what you think. Thanks, Archie, archimartinArchiemartin

Interesting argument but that's not how it's done here: see WP:ENGVAR. Jimp 03:34, 14 May 2007 (UTC)
No, that is indeed how it is, or can be, done here. To Archiemartin: simply make your case on the Jewelery/Jewellery talk page. Many spellings have been changed that way. For example, theatre started out as theater, but -- WP:ENGVAR be damned -- a bunch of people called a vote, and it was changed to theatre. Sounds like you have a good case to make. Anti-Americanism, orthographic and otherwise, runs very, very strong here, so the goodness of your case might not matter, but give it a try! Best, --Truth About Spelling 07:15, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
You've already raised this at least twice as Village Pump proposals. Since the spelling hasn't changed, I suspect you did not get a consensus to change on those occasions. What has changed to make you think you can achieve consensus now? WLDtalk|edits 10:26, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
...I forgot - Truth About Spelling's advice is good - take it up on the article's talk page. WLDtalk|edits 10:35, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Meter vs Metre[edit]

Which revision in the Phoropter article [2] has the preferred spelling? --ÆAUSSIEevilÆ 22:34, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

The general rule is not to go changing from one standard to another, i.e. to stick with whatever came first. In this case that would seem to be the US spelling.[3] Jimp 04:17, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Forums vs. Fora[edit]

This matter was brought up at Talk:Forum (legal), and we could use some more opinions.

It would also be good, perhaps, to have a centralized MOS page for such issues. Λυδαcιτγ 05:13, 7 March 2007 (UTC)


Spelling variable[edit]

The following section has been moved from "Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style".

This edit replaces "color" with "{{{spelling|color}}}". Is there such a thing? I can't find any reference to it in the MoS or Help pages, though I've seen something like it proposed before. (That wikisyntax defines it as a 'variable', right? the triplebrackets markup aren't discussed at help:variable, but it's acting like a 'default/variable' set...) Thanks for any light you can shed on this :) --Quiddity 06:41, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps I can shed a little light on it ... since I did it. Some of these colour stubs have titles and text with Commonwealth spelling (i.e. colour and/or grey). However, the little note at the bottom informing us that it was a stub had, until yesterday, been using the US spelling color. I made the edit mentioned above and also edited Template:colour-stub. Instead of being a redirect to Template:color-stub the former now transcludes the latter with the parameter set to spelling=colour. Thus allowing editors to use Template:colour-stub and get spelling consistant with the article's text and title.
Is there such a thing? There is now ... no, this isn't really anything new. Have a look at Template:infobox color or Template:web colors. Jimp 00:55, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

At the moment, the original post has the spelling "color" for both its examples. Seems like the Americans should get to use the abbreviated American spelling of words and the Brits should get to use their fancy spellings.  ;) Does wikipedia replace one for the other? As a side note, the Oxford English Dictionary and most top linguists actually prefer the "-ize" ending for any word that has a Greek root, even in British English. Cain47 06:20, 13 February 2007 (UTC)Cain47

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean by "the original post has the spelling 'color' for both its examples." Perhaps you refer to the fact that both Template:infobox color and Template:web colors originally had the spelling color. Yes, and they were both adjusted to allow for the fancy spelling of the word. Getting used to each other's spellings is all well and good but this is a question of consistancy. Let the Americans get used to fancy spellings and let the Brits (Aussies, Kiwis, Paddies, Canucks, etc.) get used abbreviated ones but let's not ask anyone to have to bear mixed spelling.
Good writing style is to choose one standard of spelling and stick with it. Wikipedia's manual of style follows this practice. The general rule of thumb (when there is no better reason to prefer one particular spelling) is to stick with an article's original spelling. This, however, does not ... indeed cannot ... extend to templates for to use a template with the spelling color in an article otherwise with the spelling colour would be to go against this rule. Jimp 04:31, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

A related (but seperate) idea[edit]

On a related note ... what do people thing of this other idea? It is quite similar in that it's using triplebrackets markup as a default/variable set. I've made two examples just to save the explaining but in brief here's how it works. On the page Slate gray I've used {{{grey|gray}}} and {{{colour|color}}}. The page Slate grey transcludes Slate gray with the parameters set as grey=grey and colour=colour. This way Slate grey shows the article in Commonwealth spelling but is will remain in synch with Slate gray. I've done a similar thing with Davy's grey and Davy's gray except the other way around.
I realise that this solution might not be perfect but if we implimented it, it might help to end a few edit/page-move wars and the type of endless page move proposals we see on the talk pages of articles such as Orange (colour) and Aluminium. Of course, if consensus gives this idea the thumbs down, the pages Slate grey and Davy's gray can just be made into/reverted to being redirects. However, this is a different idea from the Template:color-stub one so let's not have this a both or neither thing. Jimp 00:55, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Been there, done that. 83.67.217.254 07:30, 9 February 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps better categorised as "been somewhere similar, done something similar". I had the proposal you mention in the back of my mind when I thought of this one. What I'm suggesting is somewhat different though. Different, in fact complimentary. That {{en:humour}}less pizza asks "How would the title of an article be handled?" I've got an answer. Jimp 05:28, 14 February 2007 (UTC)


Spelling ise/ize[edit]

AFAICT "For example, in the Commonwealth, with the exception of Canada, the suffix -ise is the preferred variant over -ize." is untrue, anyway according to Fowler's Modern English. Cambridge University Press, as well as many academic users in Cambridge have always preferred "ize". --BozMo talk 11:16, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Can someone clarify, are there places where "ize" is considered a spelling error? In the UK, "ize" and "ise" are typically both permitted. So this argument is of a different nature to the color/colour one. On the grounds of WP:ENGVAR, opportunities for commonality, is "ize" the best spelling for wikipedia? Sam Staton 10:40, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
technically yes -ize should always be used as it's the universal variant. However it is increasingly mistaken for an Americanism so any effort to use it universally would just trigger edit warring I'm sure.Zebulin (talk) 07:13, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

A help page for all![edit]

This page is about spelling from different places that use English as a first language, not about 'American vs Britain'. There are other pages dedicated to the subject of 'America vs Britain'. And I think it is quite arrogant to just include America and Britain, and forget about the rest of the English speaking-world! This is a help page for all readers and editors, to be inclusive not exclusive. --203.220.170.126 07:26, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

We just say "UK" instead of "Commonwealth countries (except for Canada) and Republic of Ireland" so as not to make the page look goofy and unreadable. A single line such as Throughout this section, the variants here regarded as "British" are also used in Australia (in most cases) and in Canada (in many cases), as well as in the other Commonwealth countries and in Ireland will suffice. After all, UK spelling is _the_ reference norm and should be treated as such. —JackLumber /tɔk/ 17:58, 20 May 2007 (UTC)
Since when and who decided? --203.220.171.11 13:28, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

neutral[edit]

Should American English, British English, or another English be used in articles that don't relate specifically to any English-speaking country? For example, in the article about the mineral Hornblende, both luster and lustre are used. I know that this article should use one uniform dialect, but which one is most appropriate for a neutral article?--RockRNC 22:09, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Sounds like a definite candidate for the "whichever it was originally written in" approach. -Riedquat 17:00, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

A program which can do this quickly?[edit]

I need to change an article which has been written in American English to British English. This is due to the article using measurments such a kilometre instead of mile and we would like this fixed before pushing for FA status. Problem is, this article is fairly large and I would like to know if there are programs available which will automatically make the change for me. Anybody know? Gamer Junkie 09:37, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Don't worry about it. Express your concern on the talk page, then write in your native US tongue. Then someone will revert it, and you should unrevert and say, "Hi, vandal. Instead of reverting it, change it to UK yourself." They will reply, "OK, gluttonous, pit-faced, bigoted American. I'll AGF." About a year later, most of it will be gone so you won't need the program.
http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.htm
http://www.bg-map.com/us-uk.html
http://english2american.com/
The style guide resolves heated disputes. Don't be afraid to contribute even if you don't speak the dialect. Erudecorp 09:34, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Etymology[edit]

Does etymology matter? It's a big question, not mentioned in Style, often mentioned in disputes, never answered.

  1. Etymology affects meaning.
  2. Etymology nails words so they float that much less in a void of confusion and semantic chaos.
  3. Ignore all rules. Forget voting and world-wide consistency and amazing panaceas of solutions. It's just spelling. Throw out spell-policing that steals from the quality of the site rather than good content spelled oddly.
  4. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. Etymology is more verifiable, or at least easier. "All my neighbors say it," doesn't count. And the governments and their people don't care how each other spell.
  5. Many words and roots have synonyms. We don't have to use -ize or -ection. Skirt around the bad root. Use Germanic (native English) when possible. Try Basic English. You can quote people directly.
  6. en.wikipedia.org is in contemporary English (versus older forms). But that doesn't mean history is irrelevant. Where a word came from affects its definition. Researched popularity is past, not present. How popular a word is as you read a dictionary is not how popular it was when the dictionary was written. Basing prescription on current popularity is impossible (without impossibly accurate foresight). Too strict to be a practical rule.
  7. English changes as we speak. How we speak affects how it will be spoken. How our predecessors spoke affects how we speak. Influence always flows from past to future. How can past-use be less important than present-use, if past-use caused present-use? How can the past be irrelevant to the present, if the past made the present? Are causes not a concern of an encyclopedia? Is the thing that made something not usually cited in an article on it?
  8. Should an article about 1611CE be written in that dialect? If it was started by someone from then?
  9. Written etymologies aren't always right and can be guesses. But that doesn't matter.
  10. English reforms don't all respect etymology, and can be based on wrong etymology.
  11. French gave us Latin. That spelling is preserved in English. In American, certain Latin spellings were renewed (e.g. color). In Latin, old words were sometimes severely warped upon entering Latin.
  12. dead metaphor, historical linguistics, linguistic prescription, stylistics (linguistics)
  13. Americans half use and can read English spellings. Many came from the UK. That's why they speak English.

Is popularity imporant?

McDonald's is popular. Does that give them weight? Democracy is popular. Is that what makes it right? Do you really want the majority of folk to decide what's right? Can they agree upon a single answer? It's not how this site works.

Erudecorp 13:15, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Gramme archaic?[edit]

Since when is gramme archaic? It's just a British variant. Without a ref for this absurd claim it should be removed forthwith.Malick78 21:17, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Vice (fault)[edit]

Is there a need for this row? If there is a row displaying the fact that all spellings of the word vice (as a fault) are the same in all variations of the language, then surely there should be rows that displays the fact that almost every other word in both dictionaries are spelt the same. As long as the row that has parenthesis with tool inside, there's no need for the other word definition. Magnitude Zero 09:21, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

was this correct?[edit]

I just corrected the page on the 1994 baseball strike in the US for spelling. It refers to many "Labor" problems, which is true as in the US (where most baseball teams are) they did have "Labor" problems, but it also refers to the Ontario (Canada) "Labor board". Ontario does not have a Labor board, it has a Labour board. I corrected it as such, but this would seem to contradict with the precident of having a uniform spelling across the page. IMO what I did was right for the simple reasons I outlined above. Anyone disagree? Nickjbor (talk) 11:39, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

  • I'd say you were right. :) Malick78 (talk) 16:56, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Why argue? The answer is obvious![edit]

Given that there are 1,000,000,000 English speakers, and only 30% of those speak USAmerican "English"[citation needed], we should use proper/British English on all articles not majorly related to American businesses, people, places and things. That's the most reasonable conclusion. 24.80.89.208 01:32, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Bloody ace mate. Erudecorp ? * 04:07, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
You guys gotta be kiddin' me. Either that, or you're nuts. Check out the pie chart. Only 16.9% of native English speakers are speakers of your proper/British English; which means you're talking baloney. But lo and behold, Mr. 24.80.89.208 is Canadian, eh? Why ain't I surprised? Jack(Lumber) 23:41, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
That pie chart doesn't exactly cover everything - what about Indian English? Or Pakistani? Or Kenyan...? Though they aren't necessarily the no.1 official languages in those countries, they are spoken as a joint first language by a large number of people, enough to warrant redrawing that pie chart. Basically, the 'other' section is far too small. Perhaps the original person's comment really meant: 'GB English is the middle language for all variants of English, and would therefore be a fair compromise for maximum intelligibility'. :)) Maybe? Malick78 (talk) 10:07, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
The pie chart regards the speakers you mention as 2nd language speakers. Of course, the reason why the Canuck's comment doesn't make sense is that formal written English varies too little to even be a problem. But English as spoken as a second language in India, Pakistan, or East Africa, for example, can be jarringly different from the English of Southern England, with respect to some grammatical features, word choice, phonology, etc. Some East African varieties have just five or six vowels; British RP has, like, 20! Jack(Lumber) 15:16, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Proposed changes[edit]

Hello, I just made some changes, and I was surprised that they were quickly reverted (by Malick78). I didn't realize they would be controversial, but perhaps they were too extreme. Some explanation.

  • The statement "For example, in the UK and Australia, -ise is far more common than -ize" is impossible to verify. (NB I am English.) I don't want to put "citation needed". I propose to write "is more common" instead of "is far more common". OK ?
  • I don't understand why there is an ise/ize comment also in the footnote to the table. It is mentioned above and then there is a whole section about it. It is quite clear how to find more information. I propose to remove this from the footnote.
  • Why do we need to say that "shew" is archaic? Should we list all archaic words? Is "shew" a common misspelling in the U.S. -- has this ever been a problem on wikipedia? If not, I propose to remove the sentence about shew being archaic, since I don't think it serves any purpose.

Look forward to hearing back! all the best Sam Staton (talk) 20:33, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

  • As I read it, "For example, in the UK and Australia, '-ise' is far more common than '-ize' " was included specifically within "English spelling comparison chart" as an example of how to read the chart: "When two variants appear, the one listed first is more widely used." It isn't a statement of fact here, and it doesn't need a citation. It will, of course, work just as well with the "far more" removed, as User:Sam Staton suggests.
  • Shew: Having been exposed to (and even consciously used) mandarin english for much of my working life, I can vouchsafe (there you go!) that shew is still occasionally used in the real world (apologise for the WP:OR). Here, however, the WP manual recommendations are obviously being observed—all the examples I found were in quotations. Does this mean that the having the word in the guide is serving its purpose? Seriously, though, it is now so rare that deleting it should not cause a problem: nobody now regards it as an acceptable everyday variant. "Connexion" (subject of an earlier comment from User:Sam Staton) has almost gone the same way, although this article suggests that it is making something of a comeback. Perhaps it should stay. --Old Moonraker (talk) 21:55, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Re: ise vs. ize: That exact wording "far more common" has been used by Oxford lexicographers themselves in their dictionaries; grab a copy of the New Oxford or the Compact Oxford and check out the explanatory notes. Jack(Lumber) 23:31, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Thank you all for your comments and references. I hope I have clarified things now. I used the first line of the table in the explanation of the order of listings. It was strange to use "-ise" for this because "organisation" is half-way down the table. I hope that it is not too verbose now. I hope I also clarified the table footnote. Note that, in OED English, it's not enough just to say "use -ize instead of -ise"; e.g. "advertise" is correct in the OED.

If connexion is considered archaic in the US (are there references?), please feel free to put that back in the list. If someone wants to include the wording "far more common" in the section about international standards, please go ahead. (I couldn't find a New or Compact Oxford here. I couldn't find the phrase in any of my editions of the Concise Oxford, though, nor in the OED online.) Sam Staton (talk) 11:38, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

As far as I know, the only word that is always spelled with ise in the UK and ize in the U.S. is prise (as in prise open), although in American English it is more common to say pry open (pry in this sense is a backformation from prise, originally misinterpreted as a 3rd person, and is unrelated to the "inquire" sense. </offtopic>) All American dictionaries list connexion as a British variant. Collins and Chambers too list -ize spellings first with the caveat that the -ise variants are more frequent. Jack(Lumber) 15:09, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

British v. U.S. synonyms, hunting methods, etc.[edit]

Characteristic U.S. U.K.
Name Pheasant or ring-necked pheasant Common Pheasant
Male Rooster but sometimes cockconsidered archaic Cock or male
Female Hen Hen

Above is an example. This is not simply color v. colour. The words used are different. Nobody in the U.S. that I know of says "common pheasant." Anyway, who "wins" in such situations? Or, how do you handle this without making the article completely ridiculous. TableManners (talk) 03:27, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

I think you have to go with the terminology that the article was first written with, unless there are some grounds for doing otherwise. See e.g. Autumn. You should explain the language differences in the first paragraph of the article, though. When two words mean subtly different things in different languages, it can still be worked out nicely, see e.g. Candy. For what it's worth, I'm from the UK and I didn't realize the "common pheasant" was so called. I'm not an ornithologist, though. Sam Staton (talk) 11:50, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

RfC: A proposal to make spelling use clearer[edit]

We have a reasonably clear policy regarding spelling, but what is to me very unclear is what spelling a particular article is using. In my experience it is often a mixture of both. I often see people changing spelling (e.g. 'ageing' to 'aging'), but I don't actually know what spelling the article is supposed to be using in the first place. I propose that we adopt a measure I have been using myself, which is to state in a hidden comment at the top of every article 'This article uses X spelling', so it's clear to all editors what spelling the article is using. Richard001 (talk) 23:05, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

A few of us do that, Richard. I do it myself. See my expanded version of the hidden comment at the top of Australia:

<!-- PLEASE USE AUSTRALIAN ENGLISH THROUGHOUT, i.e., use centre not center, neighbour not neighbor, and maximise the use of -is- rather than -iz-. Other style: the serial comma is used by default; and the dash style is unspaced em dash, not spaced em dash or spaced en dash (see [[WP:MOS]]). Maintain consistency of style, suppressing personal preferences.-->

– Noetica♬♩Talk 02:57, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
But shouldn't we make it an 'official' guideline, so it isn't just you, me and a few others doing it from time to time? Richard001 (talk) 07:04, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
I like the idea, as I'm an Australian English user myself. A solution would have to keep in mind, though, that editors use section edits, so a comment at the top may not be read. Maybe adding article language using a template that adds it to the left column, similar to how interwiki links are placed. --Breno talk 23:22, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that's certainly a problem, but at least they would have somewhere to go if they weren't sure. People are still going to 'correct' spellings, and as you say, there might be an even better way of doing it, but it would be a good start. Something in the language fields that identifies the article like Language: American English that even readers can see would probably be a good solution, though would no doubt require changing the wiki software we're running on itself. Richard001 (talk) 05:10, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I think we should state and perhaps question a few assumptions. Which variants of English are permitted in WP: is there a list? Whose duty or right is it to decide the variant used for a particular article? (Obviously the answer is a role rather than a user's name.) Whilst it's helpful in practice for each article to be in one variant, in theory it can be in any subset of our list of permitted variants. This can cause problems when the subset contains more or less than one variant:
  • Some articles happen to be valid in multiple variants, because they use few words which vary. A stub which reads "A car has four tyres" is valid in Australian, UK and some other variants. In which variant do we expand the article? We can rule out variants like US English where "tyre" isn't a word, but it's unclear whether to continue the article in Australian or UK English. Someone must make an arbitrary decision.
  • Other articles are not valid in any variant because of inconsistencies. The next version of our stub, "A car has four tyres and can be any color", doesn't have perfect spelling in any variant I can think of. It's unclear whether to correct the article to tyres/colour or to tires/color, and which variant of English it would then be in. (We may be able to rule out Canadian on the grounds that moving to tires/colour would require more changes than the alternatives.)
Of course these are silly examples - any sensible editor would rewrite the article in his own preferred variant of English rather then expanding the pathetic stub - but I do think they illustrate valid points. Certes (talk) 16:50, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
I presume most currently used versions of English are acceptable, though older versions like Middle English are obviously not. As for which spelling to use, it's fairly arbitrary and not that important. Our policy in a nutshell is just to go with what the article used to begin with. If it is indeterminate, or it used an even mix from the outset, we should just pick something (probably whatever spelling we use ourselves) and stick with it, as we do when starting an article. Those are interesting points, though remember we are just discussing whether spelling should be made clear to editors here. If we can agree on that, it can be added as a suggestion or guideline to the content page. Richard001 (talk) 04:08, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Analog/analogue (in the context of analog(ue) signals; analog(ue) vs. digital)[edit]

I'm fairly sure analog is at least as common in this context in British English as analogue. Looking at some online sources, Britannica uses analog consistently, as far as I can see. The Times clearly favors analogue, while The Daily Telegraph seems to favor it as well, but a bit less consistently.

So this is less a case of switching from British to American, than a case of switching from a spelling acceptable only in British English to a spelling acceptable in both British and American English. It's kind of like program, in that in the technical context (e.g., "computer program") British speakers often use the same spelling as Americans (although here, not as consistently as with program). It makes more sense to use a spelling that's common in all dialects, where one exists. See, in particular, Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Opportunities for commonality: "Wikipedia tries to find words that are common to all varieties of English."

Is this objectionable? Analogue electronics is written entirely using analogue, which is in contrast to practically every other article on the topic. Analogue filter, Analogue switch, and Analogue television in the United Kingdom/Analogue terrestrial television in the United Kingdom seem to be the only other articles whose names start with analogue, in the sense of circuitry or signals. In contrast, we have: Analog, Analog-to-digital conversion with SAR, Analog-to-digital converter, Analog chip, Analog clock with digital display, Analog computer, Analog delay line, Analog device, Analog ear, Analog high-definition television system, Analog hole, Analog modeling synthesizer, Analog multiplier, Analog photography, Analog recording, Analog resistive touchscreen, Analog robot, Analog sampled filter, Analog sequencer, Analog signal, Analog signal processing, Analog signature analysis, Analog sound vs. digital sound, Analog stick, and seven more starting with Analog in this sense. While number of articles is not itself a reason to switch, it makes it seem as though our non-American contributors prefer analog as well, unless Americans are a large majority of the contributors to electronics articles (which I doubt). —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 20:28, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Are you sure about this one? Britannica has become very Americanized, and seems to use American spelling now. Richard001 (talk) 06:57, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
OED Online has analog as AE and analogue as BE. They're normally pretty up to date so I guess the -log form hasn't been entirely adopted yet. Interestingly, Merriam Webster Unlimited has analogue as the root and analog as the variant, for all meanings. The commonality is in analogue not analog. --ROGER DAVIES talk 07:39, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
Why do you doubt that Americans may be a large majority of the contributors to electronics articles? It wouldn't surprise me. I don't really agree with the whole argument that since we accept both spellings and you/they accept only one we all should stick to that, we may well accept that one but prefer the other. Jɪmp 17:12, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
American_and_British_English_spelling_differences#-ogue.2C_-og. Jack(Lumber) 14:56, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Using browser preference[edit]

Okay, I'm a bit slow. This is the first time I've seen this page. I've read through it and I notice that the proposal for the use of variable substitution templates to deliver the user's preferred version of english seems to be about 2 years old and of unclear status. Is it still active, or is it dead?

I note that the biggest obstacle to acceptance of that proposal, aside from potential server load, was the question of what version a non-logged in user will get. Most modern browsers allow the user to select their preferred language as an ordered list. I'm guessing that it is not currently available in the mediawiki software, but if the mediawiki software either already has the ability to pass this through as a variable, or had this function added, surely this would solve this particular issue. Logged in users could "Fill in from browser" as is already done with time zone offsets, or could manually enter a different list. If a user doesn't set it in their prefs, it should simply be used from the browser. --AliceJMarkham (talk) 11:20, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

I stopped reading after "Okay, I'm a bit slow." Erudecorp ? * 05:16, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
The Chinese Wikipedia has tabs that allow a user to select which variant of written Chinese they want. I would have thought this would be a huge server load as there are many changed characters, more than the number of differences in English spelling. Couldn't something like that be implemented here, one tab for US-English and another for Everywhere-else-style-English, governed by a big list of word changes, for example it sees "favorite" and changes it into "favourite"? This would let all users have a choice, not just registered ones with access to a preferences menu. Also, couldn't style choice be automatically determined by IP? --Joowwww (talk) 20:42, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Userbox, watchlist . . .[edit]

Neologisms like userbox and watchlist and username are found in no dictionary. Why are they used, and shouldn't they be corrected? Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 13:29, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Those aren't true neologisms. Wiktionary has them: User, box, watch, list, & name. Erudecorp ? * 05:16, 21 February 2008 (UTC)