Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Linguistics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the talk page for WikiProject Linguistics. This is the hub of the Wikipedian linguist community; like the coffee machine in the office, this page is where people get together, share news, and discuss what they are doing. Feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, and keep everyone updated on your progress. New talk goes at the bottom, and remember to sign and date your comments by typing four tildes (~~~~). Thanks!


I am in the process of improving the main article for our project. All help and assistance will be appreciated. Specifically I have an inquiry on the talk page about whether we should explicitly restrict the scope of the article to cover only natural human language, and relegate programming languages and animal communication to another article. Also I need expert eyes on the section on syntax. And on the sections on classification, typology and areal linguistics.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 15:16, 14 August 2012

Evolutionary linguistics article[edit]

My name is Nicholas Yates and I am taking a linguistics course at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA called Language and Species. I am part of a group that is working on improving the quality and accuracy of the Wikipedia article entitled Evolutionary Linguistics. If there are any other users who use this page, I am interested in hearing their thoughts about the areas in which they feel it could use some improvement?-Yatnic25 12:21 PM, 8 February 2013 (PST)

Leaflet For Wikiproject Linguistics At Wikimania 2014[edit]

Hi all,

My name is Adi Khajuria and I am helping out with Wikimania 2014 in London.

One of our initiatives is to create leaflets to increase the discoverability of various wikimedia projects, and showcase the breadth of activity within wikimedia. Any kind of project can have a physical paper leaflet designed - for free - as a tool to help recruit new contributors. These leaflets will be printed at Wikimania 2014, and the designs can be re-used in the future at other events and locations.

This is particularly aimed at highlighting less discoverable but successful projects, e.g:

• Active Wikiprojects: Wikiproject Medicine, WikiProject Video Games, Wikiproject Film

• Tech projects/Tools, which may be looking for either users or developers.

• Less known major projects: Wikinews, Wikidata, Wikivoyage, etc.

• Wiki Loves Parliaments, Wiki Loves Monuments, Wiki Loves ____

• Wikimedia thematic organisations, Wikiwomen’s Collaborative, The Signpost

For more information or to sign up for one for your project, go to:
Project leaflets
Adikhajuria (talk) 10:40, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Requested move of "Pussy"[edit]

I have proposed that Pussy be renamed and moved to Pussy (word). Discussion is at Talk:Pussy#Requested move. Cnilep (talk) 00:09, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

en:Languages in censuses[edit]

I invite you to help write Languages this article.--Kaiyr (talk) 13:50, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

N-v-t distinction[edit]

The page N-v-t distinction was recently created by User:Dr M. Cook. It cites two sources, papers by Manuela Cook. I've never heard of the theory, and I suspect it may be an attempt by the author to promote an as-yet not very noted theory. Any input or expansion is welcome, or if the theory is not notable the page might be deleted or merged to T–V distinction. Cnilep (talk) 23:33, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

I've noted and removed citations of those papers added by 'Dr M. Cook' to Sociology of language, Language change, Power (social and political), and Critical discourse analysis. The user also added the sources to T–V distinction; I didn't remove those, since they actually seem relevant there. Cnilep (talk) 23:52, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 23:55, 14 June 2014 (UTC)

Does anyone know about the American Journal of Linguistics? I haven't heard anything about that journal, but its publisher, Scientific & Academic Publishing, is accused of predatory open-access publishing. The publisher is on Beall's list, though the individual journal is not. One of the citations that Dr M. Cook added to T–V distinction is a paper in that journal; I wonder if there are other, similarly questionable citations in other Wikipedia articles. Cnilep (talk) 06:02, 22 June 2014 (UTC)

Discussion about "she" for ships[edit]

There's a discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#A much gentler proposal about changing the Manual of Style to deprecate the use of "she" for ships. As it concerns the intersection of grammatical gender with actual gender, I thought some of you might be interested. --John (talk) 08:59, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

Language phonology and orthography articles[edit]

I think we need to sort out what goes in each language's phonology, orthography, and alphabet articles. Many languages (e.g. Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Slovak, Slovene, Albanian, Maltese, Lithuanian, Estonian) either have no orthography article or have a redirect to their alphabet article. It seems to me that Orthography ought to focus on sound–spelling correspondences (unlike the Hungarian orthography article), while Alphabet should be more like a list of characters in the language's alphabet. The ideal content of a Phonology article seems fairly self-evident, but a large part of the Albanian phonology section deals with sound–spelling correspondences, and the vowels are displayed only in list form. This is not as bad as Afrikaans phonology, where the vowel section consists of a list of phones (not phonemes!).

A lot of the IPA keys need work too, but I think when there's a decent Phonology article, doing the IPA key should be fairly simple. (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 00:42, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

I'm not convinced that languages need an alphabet article. Most languages share an alphabet with a bunch of other languages (e.g. the Latin alphabet, the Cyrillic alphabet, the Arabic alphabet), so we only need one Latin alphabet article (for example) and not separate articles on English alphabet, French alphabet, German alphabet, Swahili alphabet, and so forth. Language-specific letters of the alphabet can be discussed in the "Foo orthography" article. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 14:00, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I don't really think it's necessary either; I mentioned it because as it is right now, such articles are more common than Orthography articles. Perhaps Alphabet articles with no corresponding Orthography should eventually be retitled "Orthography" and in most cases repurposed as well. (BTW, for convenience, I'm using capitalized Orthography, Phonology, etc. to refer to [name of language] orthography, phonology, etc. articles.) (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 15:23, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree that it's better to merge the "alphabet" articles into the "orthography" articles. CodeCat (talk) 17:13, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
Looking at Alphabet articles, I see a couple of things that may not be within the scope of Orthography: letter names and pronunciation thereof, and spelling alphabets. If we keep separate tables for alphabet and sound–spelling correspondences, the things I mentioned might fit in the former; otherwise I'm not sure what to do with them. (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 17:33, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
The names of letters are still used to spell out words, so they relate to orthography in that sense. CodeCat (talk) 00:29, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
There's a bit of confusion. The term "orthography" is not generally used in graphemic studies because of its prescriptive nature. The word "alphabet" refers to a specific kind of writing system. A writing system is constituted by a set of graphic units (graphemes) and a list of rules that map the graphic units to the phonological units (phonemes and/or phones). Thus, the Latin alphabet is the specific writing system of Latin. What is in common with other languages is what is called "script": the latin script. Different writing systems use the latin script (its original version or an extended version): so the Italian alphabet, the English alphabet, the French alphabet and so on all use the same script, with is the Latin script. A script is thus simply a set of graphs, deprived of their phonological content: then <a> is just the graph (or letter) "a", with no reference to the sounds it may represent. In a language-specific writing system article there should be the set of graphemes with the correspondences "grapheme-phoneme" and other kind of rules that states the distribution of certain graphemes (certain kind of distributions of graphemes are the way they are just because the phonemes in that language are distributed that way so it is useless to state them all in the writing system article too). SynConlanger (talk) 04:21, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

I have been going through and redoing/merging orthography and alphabet articles. So far I've done French, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian; I had just done Polish when Matthiaspaul (talk · contribs) reverted, saying "Reverted large-scale removal of contents and cross-article rearrangements without prior discussion or consensus to do so". Perhaps I'll pause this until further discussion. (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 00:11, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

"Swedish alphabet" has been moved to "Swedish orthography". I'm going to move it back, because it's not an orthography article. The only thing orthographic is the various spellings of the sje sound, but that hardly constitutes Swedish orthography. As an alphabet article, it has a bit extra appended, but as an orthography article it's seriously deficient. — kwami (talk) 08:52, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I stress again that there shouldn't be any difference between "alphabet" pages and "orthography" pages, since the discipline that studies that, graphemics, doesn't make that kind of difference (Coulmas, Florian. Typology of Writing Systems. Vol. 10.2, in Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikations- wissenschaft, di Walter de Gruyter, 1380-1387. Berlin, New York, 1994. Coulmas, Florian. Writing Systems: an Introduction to Their Linguistic Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003. Harris, Roy. Semiotic Aspects of Writing. Vol. 10.1, in Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikations- wissenschaft, di Walter de Gruyter, 41-48. Berlin New York, 1994.). SynConlanger (talk) 09:45, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I think if possible, that article should be expanded, if someone has sufficent information about Swedish orthography (I don't), and moved back. Several others of the pages I moved also need expansion. pʰeːnuːmuː →‎ pʰiːnyːmyː → ‎ɸinimi → ‎fiɲimi 15:23, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Having found resources online, I added a section about sound–spelling correspondences. I have now moved the article back to Swedish orthography. pʰeːnuːmuː →‎ pʰiːnyːmyː → ‎ɸinimi → ‎fiɲimi 23:39, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd prefer we err toward orthography rather than alphabet articles, as the latter also includes things like punctuation and capitalization rules. Tezero (talk) 00:29, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

Phonological history of English: Tendency to gloss over conflicting accounts[edit]

I have gained the impression that the whole suite of articles about the phonological history of English is marred by a widespread failure to acknowledge the fact that different authors simply don't agree about many points in the development. This does not even only concern negligible minor details but even quite substantial issues regarding the sequence of changes, etc. I have observed an unfortunate tendency to gloss over these differences on Wikipedia and act as if each version were but a variation on a theme, and to enforce artificial harmony where none exists. The result is confusion, with articles constantly contradicting each other and worse, even contradicting themselves internally. I must remind people of the policies of WP:OR and WP:SYNTH, whose wisdom may be underappreciated. While there appears to be a consensus (more or less) about some points such as the pronunciation of Late Middle English, it's simply a fact that issues like the precise way the Great Vowel Shift unfolded to eventually arrive at the modern dialects are solved differently by different authors, and the logical approach is to acknowledge these differences and describe the different solutions side by side.

Clearly, there is no general consensus, no grand unified narrative as of yet in the field that we could simply follow and present to the reader, which sucks for us and considerably complicates things but we can't help it. The current state of confusion where one passage states A as plain fact and the next passage B, another article says C and the table gives a fourth variant D, a third article has a table and a chart presenting two additional variants, and each completely ignores the obvious disagreement with the others, is much worse. The desire to portray a single consistent picture is understandable but simply not possible as the blatantly failed attempts demonstrate. (This would not happen if Wikipedia only followed a single model and ignored any dissenting authors, or if we had our own synthesis, like on Wiktionary, but articles clearly cite different authors with differing accounts.)

In part, this is probably due to the fact that even the authors themselves tend to ignore the fact that other authors differ: it's not even as much as "my model A is correct, model B given by my esteemed colleague is wrong", but simply "here's how it happened: A" while the colleague equally confidently asserts "here's how it happened: B" (the model may not even be given explicitly, only assumed), and if you have read only a single book and aren't familiar with the other authors' works you can't have a clue that there is disagreement. It's not only like that in Anglistics, it seems to be far more widespread, especially in Germanic studies. I wish authors would just be more explicit about the models they follow; usually you have to puzzle them together all on your own. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 07:40, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, it's seemed to me like many of the articles use too few sources regarding the historical sound changes; several rely almost entirely on Barber. I've looked at Barber, and he doesn't seem to leave much room for alternative explanations (besides being focused on southeast England and largely ignoring more conservative varieties in the British Isles). His explanation about the fate of EModE /ʊɪ/ (or /ʊi/, or /ui/–another problem), namely that it merged with /aɪ~ai/ and was later displaced by variations inspired a spelling pronunciation, makes me wonder. I'm not saying he's wrong, but the rarity of one phoneme merging with another and then unmerging due to spelling (to such an extent that no trace of the merger can be found) leaves me somewhat doubtful. (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 17:26, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

Assessment of Ethnologue[edit]

Hi. I'd like an assessment of Ethnologue. Thanks. Chris Troutman (talk) 08:08, 20 July 2014 (UTC)

For Linguistics I ranked it C-class; what's there is pretty good, in that it's mostly sourced, and with reliable sources (though it might rely a bit too much on primary ones), but it's incomplete as it lacks information about the publication's history/internal workings and its reception/popularity in the linguistic community. I also ranked it as High-importance as it's pretty vital to an understanding of linguistics, particularly the online linguistic community, but only in the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I'm open to either of these ratings being challenged; in particular, I think it could reasonably be Top- rather than High-importance given some other articles in those categories. You know, it's not forbidden to rate articles yourself based on where you feel they stand, although of course asking is okay, too. Tezero (talk) 20:07, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Lithuanian IPA key: example words needed[edit]

I have just created Help:IPA for Lithuanian, because it seemed like a major gap in Wikipedia's IPA keys. As I have no knowledge of the language other than what I've read online, I would appreciate it if someone would add Lithuanian example words to the chart. (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 19:16, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

Problem with IPA for Swedish[edit]

It would be nice to have a table of IPA for Swedish. We don't have that, instead we have a table of IPA for Swedish and Norwegian combined. I'm sure that is interesting to some people, but it's not really as good as a table of IPA for Swedish. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:54, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

We have Help:IPA for Swedish and Norwegian which does have Swedish and Norwegian subcategories for the instances where the languages differ. It may be helpful to have separate tables, but the Swedish-specific information is there. --Mark viking (talk) 21:03, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Scope of this project vs. the Languages one[edit]

You may want to chime in here. Tezero (talk) 15:29, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Formatting of IPA keys[edit]

I recently made several changes to Help:IPA for Maltese, including a switch to the two-column format (one column for consonants and one for vowels) which is used in most IPA keys. (talk · contribs) undid my format change, with the comment "(no tables for layout)". I redid the change, arguing that using tables is standard for IPA keys. reverted, saying "doesn't matter if it's standard, it's still bad practice (and so is row headings). see wp:otherstuff, wp:accessibility". He also undid a similar change I had made to Help:IPA for Korean last month. I understand his reasoning, but I have a few questions:

  1. How come he only changed the keys where I had changed the format, and not the countless others that use tables?
  2. If it's bad practice, does that mean all the other IPA keys shouldn't do it?
  3. Is there some other way to put the consonant and vowel tables side-by-side? It looks better that way.
  4. Pardon my ignorance, but what are row headings and how are they relevant?

pʰeːnuːmuː →‎ pʰiːnyːmyː → ‎ɸinimi → ‎fiɲimi 17:27, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't know the answer to any of these questions; I'm just a linguist and more interested in the content of pages like those than their presentation. Maybe the folks over at WP:WPACCESS could tell you how to make the pages more visually appealing for sighted users while not losing accessibility for blind users. Maybe they could also tell you what row headings are and why they're bad practice. WP:Village pump (technical) might be able to help too. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 11:15, 6 August 2014 (UTC)


I consulted my brother, and he came up with the following solution:

<div style="width: 48%; display: inline-block; margin-right: auto;">

[insert consonant table]

<div style="float: right; width: 48%;">

[insert vowel table]

<br />

[insert next table, repeating as necessary]


This should solve accessibility problems and still look about the same. See Help:IPA for Japanese, the first page on which this format has been installed. pʰeːnuːmuː →‎ pʰiːnyːmyː → ‎ɸinimi → ‎fiɲimi 19:05, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

The above solution works for desktop browsers, but makes the page (almost) completely unusable for mobile devices.
I brought up this issue to the folks at the Village Pump, and they suggested using the {{div col}} template. I have an example of it in action on my sandbox.
There is one issue, in that the columns must be the same size (which might be awkward on pages like the IPA for Irish). Is that okay with everybody, or do you need a different solution? Quidmore (talk) 22:03, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, that'll work for most pages, but not for Irish, Russian, Ukrainian, and any others that have palatalized and unpalatalized consonants in separate columns. pʰeːnuːmuː →‎ pʰiːnyːmyː → ‎ɸinimi → ‎fiɲimi 03:42, 16 August 2014 (UTC)

Universal Networking Language[edit]

Are there any plans to integrate UNL with Wikipedia articles? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Greg.collver (talkcontribs) 21:51, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Language template TfD[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussions elsewhere

Several {{Lang-xx-YY}} templates have been nomintead for deletion. Participants here may be interested in those TfDs, pro or con.

See also: The nominator raised related issues in a number of other forums (most of these deal with {{lang-xx-YY}} templates in particular, while the one at WT:NOT is more general):

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:11, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

ISO_639_name_en-XX templates not populating categories[edit]

Template:ISO 639 name en-GB and Template:ISO 639 name en-US are not populating their categories the way they are supposed to and the way that Template:ISO 639 name de, etc., do. The categories are totally empty. Anyone know why and how to fix?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:41, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

The problem is that {{Lang}} assumes the variant is not English. For example, {{ISO 639 name en-GB}} calls {{Lang|en-GB|...}}, which is trying to populate Category:Articles containing British English-language text, which doesn't exist, so it places Category:Articles containing non-English-language text, instead. We will either need to move the category Category:Articles containing explicitly cited British English-language text to Category:Articles containing British English-language text or fix {{Lang}} to use "explicitly cited" in English sublanguages, as well. (It currently only does so for en or eng codes, so English dialect categories should not contain "explicitly cited" unless this is changed.) —PC-XT+ 04:58, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
To fix {{Lang}}, the #switch could possibly test the characters before "-", instead of the whole value. —PC-XT+ 05:07, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
I currently have an example implementation at User:PC-XT/sandbox/temp that appears to be working. —PC-XT+ 05:36, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for working on this. I believe the intent is that they all be at "explicitly cited" categories. The only legit uses for these templates are in words-as-words cases, e.g. comparing British and US phrases, spellings or names for things, in tables and glossaries and such. It would never be used to mark up a whole article, for example, as being in British (or whatever) English. I.e., millions of pages are "Articles containing Briths English-language text", but we don't mark them up as that and we don't care; we only care when BrEng text is being cited explicitly as such. Sorry if I'm belabo[u]ring the point; just trying to be clear, so that changes aren't made that needs to be re-done differently. PS: It's desirable that any case of {{lang|en-XX}} or {{lang-en-XX}} do this categorization. I'm don't think there are or would later predictably be others. The unpredictable part is what ENGVARs get such templates. There aren't any for en-IE or en-NZ, for example, but that could change in a hour or in 3 years, but it likely to happen eventually.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:36, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
PS: I played with your sandbox code, but wasn't able to get it to generate any categories; maybe I need a nap or some coffee. ;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:45, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification! It's always good to document intention to keep everyone on the same goal. I don't consider that belabo[u]ring. ;) I don't really think that the categories should be renamed. I was mostly describing the problem, and would prefer fixing the template issue. {{Lang}} will only categorize mainspace pages. I used Show Preview to test it in articles. I just modified my sandbox version so testcases will work in userspace, instead, but that will need to be reverted if it is to be used in an EPR or something. (I think it's also generally bad form to leave article categories pointing to userspace very long, so I'll revert it myself, hopefully before too long.) If the ISO 639 name template doesn't exist, it currently inserts code, but that could be changed, as well. (We'd have to decide how to fail gracefully.) —PC-XT+ 00:50, 21 August 2014 (UTC) 00:58, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm reverting the testcases, so this will again only work in mainspace. The testcases can still be viewed at Special:PermanentLink/622131175, but it will no longer actually include the page in the categories shown. Feel free to revert and play with it, if you like. It will also work again in mainspace Show Preview tests, now. —PC-XT+ 03:53, 22 August 2014 (UTC) 03:57, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

suffix endings that signify part of speech[edit]

Rdbooker12 (talk) 03:58, 24 August 2014 (UTC) Roland Booker --

I visited the wiki to learn more about how English signifies part-of-speech in a sentence functionally and with

suffix flags. There isn't any information. Is this an oversight? I read the NOUN page closely, but could find only its shortcomings in this area. I thought about fixing the lack, but decided to confirm that there was not an effort to retire this information to the past. So I visited the other part-of-speech pages and noted that the lexical topics were (inadequately) covered, but functional topics were absent. I checked the suffix page and found that it was seriously deficient. I am only 62, so English can't have changed that much since I was taught to read in the 2nd-6th grades. Practically everything I learned then is lost to the past as regards source, but I have confirmed that the use of the words continues to be documented by various dictionary entries.

 For nouns, I remember the following noun-forming suffixes which may modify the stem word:
  lemon -ade,  mile -age, deny -al, American -an, contrive -ance, assist -ant, beg -ar, dull -ard, etc.
 For verbs, I remember verb-forming suffixes like person -ify, length -en, atom -ize, imperson -ate, etc.
 For adjectives: eat -able, person -al, sparta -an, resist -ant, etc.
 For adverbs: up -wards, cross -ways, clock -wise, happy -ly, etc.
 Then there are words like iron which can function as a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb.

All these usages are common in English, but the whole topic is completely absent from wiki. So should I add the missing information, or am I hopelessly out of date?

Suffixes also can be grouped by the language they came from. I've also found the coverage lacking. How many sources can we find? And how many kinds? Just textbooks? —PC-XT+ 06:58, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
The best sources I know of are Marchand (1960) and Bauer, Lieber & Plag (2013). But, is this really appropriate for an encyclopedia? It seems like it would fit better in a dictionary or grammar resource. It looks like wikitionary has separate entries for affixes (like this one) -- maybe that's where it should go? --Rmalouf (talk) 16:43, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
That makes sense. We could link there from part-of-speech articles, if the information would be helpful as an external aid. —PC-XT+ 18:34, 26 August 2014 (UTC)