Talk:List of colonial governors of Dahomey

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Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: move approved. Consensus has established that "colonial governor" is a better fit than "colonial head" in these instances. Editors are free to move the below articles to the new names. If there are technical problems, request assistance at Wikipedia:RM#Requesting_technical_moves. Aervanath (talk) 17:03, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

List of colonial heads of Benin (Dahomey)List of colonial governors of Dahomey – 22:45, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

– The term "colonial head" is a Wikipedianism that has no place in the real world. As such, we should avoid it. I understand that it is designed to get around the problem of referring to a bunch of folks with different titles under just one of them, but I think the word "governor" is perfectly general enough, and certainly better English. The proposed moves above are not all symmetrical: in some cases I have elided the "colonial" (which is at least as troublesome in many cases as the word "governor") and in other I have altered the name of the place to fit the time period. If anybody think sit best to separate some or all of these proposed moves, I have no problem with that. Srnec (talk) 21:47, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Nonsense - "colonial head" is an appropriate general term of a variety of official titles of the person heading the administration of a colony. To provide a list of incumbents as a list of "governors", for instance, where some held that title and some did not is misleading and unencyclopedic. JohnArmagh (talk) 22:30, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
I get 384 results at GoogleBooks for "colonial head of". Almost none of them fit the format used here "colonial head of [place]". They are all 'colonial head-of-something', not 'colonial-head of somewhere'. I stand by what I said "governor" is both a specific title and a generic one, but "colonial head" is nonsense. There are 471,000 results for "colonial governor of", almost all of the form "colonial governor of [colony]". Srnec (talk) 22:58, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
A colony is a "something", not a place. To use any specific political office as a title lacks conformity. Essentially all lists of incumbents of geo-political entities can (and in my view should) be given under "List of colonial heads" for non-independent entities, "List of heads of state" and "List of heads of government" for sovereign entities, and "List of rulers" for entities for which "head of state" is less appropriate. JohnArmagh (talk) 07:01, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I see your argument, I sympathize, but I am afraid I can't endorse it. "Colonial head" is indeed awkward. But "colonial governor" is far too specific. I shudder at the thought of the thousand quarrels among pedants about changing specific pages (Governor vs. Governor-General vs. Viceroy vs. Captain-major, etc.) and the gradual but inevitable loss of uniformity of title. Walrasiad (talk) 06:24, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
So the lack of uniformity in reality is a reason to impose uniformity here? Srnec (talk) 23:56, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. A governor is a governor. Replacing it with a wiki euphemism is an error. --Kittybrewster 12:21, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. A governor is a governor. An administrator is an administrator. A resident-general is a resident-general. Etc. etc. etc...... And when they all appear in a single list then is it not a list of governors, or administrators or resident-generals. And it is not a euphemism - it is an umbrella term, facilitating a consistent approach. JohnArmagh (talk) 17:33, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
  • It is a made-up term. The word governor, however, is an umbrella term in general use. According to our sister project, it refers to "the leader of a region or state that is a member of a federation or an empire". It is ridiculous to be so picky about using the term "governor" only when it was actually the title used officially, but not to care that the term "Benin" was never officially used for the colony, which wasn't even always called "Dahomey"! Srnec (talk) 23:03, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
A specious argument. The colony was never named Benin, but the current sovereign state of Benin is a direct continuation of the colony named Dahomey and the independent state which initially retained that name. JohnArmagh (talk) 10:08, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Not at all. You argue, "These men were not all officially governors, so how can the title imply that they were?" I argue, "This colony was not officially Benin, so how can the title imply that it was?" The office of governor is as much a continuation of prior offices with different titles as the republic of Benin is of the colony of Dahomey. You're inconsistent. Srnec (talk) 23:18, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
Your argument is specious because whilst it is possible to have an umbrella term for the holder of an office, it is not possible to have an umbrella term for the identification of a geo-political entity which changes its official name. Take the instance of the Central African Republic. If you had a list of "Heads of presidents" then you have to introduce a separate list for the period where it was an "Empire", despite the fact that the country was identical other than in official name. Using the umbrella term "Heads of state" obviates that problem - even though the title List of heads of state of the Central African Republic and Central African Empire is more cumbersome. JohnArmagh (talk) 11:26, 11 November 2011 (UTC)
No, it is not possible to have an umbrella term for the holders of several related offices unless there is such a term in English. In this case, there isn't. No officeholder is ever referred to as "head of Dahomey", colonial or otherwise. (Of course, we could come up with an umbrella term, like "polity/region now known as Benin", for the place, but that would be pedantic and cumbersome, much like the currently widespread use of "colonial head".) Srnec (talk) 20:06, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
It is irrelevant whether the umbrella term is used in any specific instance. What is relevant is that it could be used generally. And just as "head of state" is never used for, for instance, the president of the United States, it would be appropriate to use that term. And "colonial head" has a better ring to it than "head of colony". JohnArmagh (talk) 20:41, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
No, it could not be used because the word "head" is never used that way. I don't know what world you live in, but the president of the United States is universally recognised as "head of state" and there are many instances of reliable sources using that term to describe him. To anybody who actually reads, "colonial head" sounds quirky at best. Srnec (talk) 06:50, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, as your discussion has reduced to the level of ad hominem condescention you have clearly nothing but your own subjective opinion to advance your argument. Such small-mindedness has no place in Wikipedia. JohnArmagh (talk) 12:15, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
You know full well I advanced my argument with more than just personal opinion, so this comment is nothing but gamesmanship. Srnec (talk) 21:54, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
And your argument is likewise reduced to mere sabre-rattling. JohnArmagh (talk) 22:02, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Even you don't believe that, otherwise you would have provided at least one off-Wiki usage paralleling this one. But you haven't. Because there isn't. Srnec (talk) 22:16, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Hm. Hadn't realized that was so prevalent already. In that case, insisting on "head" is really just being pedantic. You change me from weakly oppose to weakly support. Walrasiad (talk) 07:03, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Pedantry has nothing to do with it. It is an attempt (clearly lacking in support) to introduce some conformity into this area of Wikipedia. It is bad enough that the lists of incumbents vary in format to such a great extent - according to the whims of the author(s). At least a consistent naming convention would give at least some pretence at a coherent approach. Clearly it is a vain hope and such consistency as might be expected of a properly-written encyclopaedic work is destined to be forever beyond Wikipedia. JohnArmagh (talk) 12:35, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
I ask again, why does a complete lack of conformity in reality lead you to believe we need it here? Why do you think every colony, protectorate or part of an empire needs to be treated identically? Were they identical? I'll be happy when invented non-English expressions like "colonial head" are forever beyond Wikipedia. Srnec (talk) 21:54, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
In what way is "colonial head" a non-English expression? It comprises two fairly common English words in an arrangement which should be comprehensible to anyone of a moderate education. JohnArmagh (talk) 22:13, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Who's name-calling now? I'll be the kettle, you can be the pot.
"Colonial head" is not a standard expression in English, nor is "head of [insert name of colony here]" (albeit it is used, rarely, especially in older books, when colonies were less territorially defined). The term "colonial head of government" makes perfect sense. So does the expression "colonial governor" or "colonial ruler". The form "head of government of colonial Dahomey" or "colonial head of government of Dahomey" would be acceptable English, but cumbersome. The real problem is that this is easily remedied by switching to "governor", which you seem to believe cannot be an umbrella term. Why not? Srnec (talk) 22:25, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
In any case, despite the differences between polities, where there is one designated person "in charge" then they can be, and often are, referred to as "head". And a colony, as defined in an English dictionary is a group of people who leave their native country to form in a new land a settlement subject to, or connected with, the parent nation. On that basis any geopolitical entity subject to another is essentially a colony. "Colonial", as defined in an English dictionary is of, concerning, or pertaining to a colony or colonies: the colonial policies of France. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable and rational to refer to the person "in charge" of a colony as a "colonial head". Just because you personally find the formula to be an anathema does not make it unreasonable or irrational. JohnArmagh (talk) 22:13, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Colonial head is recognizable to readers, unambiguous, and consistent with usage in reliable English-language sources (WP:AT of course). Governor is naturally interpretted to mean that all of these were part of a colonial system that used the title Governor, which many were not, so it's not recognizable to readers at all. I admit I haven't consulted any sources; Colonial head is a standard English construction, as noted by others above, and IMO the onus of proof is on those who wish to move to ...Governors... to show that reliable sources use that term to cover these other administrators. Produce this evidence and there may be a case; Without it there isn't. Andrewa (talk) 00:48, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
I can find sources that call Julien Schmaltz a governor (even our article does), but the Senegal list says he was a commandant. I'm not searching further; it would be pointless.
According to this review in The International Journal of African Historical Studies of David Henige's Colonial Governors from the Fifteenth Century to the Present: A Comprehensive List, that book "has attempted to designate the precise title of the chief administrative officers, such as director general, captain general, and viceroy; when this is not possible, the term governor is used in the generic sense." In this review in Historische Zeitschrift we read that "Der Begriff der Kolonie ist glücklicherweise weit gefasst, so dass auch Gebiete mit formalrechtlich nicht-kolonialem Status aufgeführt werden" (The term colony is fortunately broad, so that areas with no formal legal colonial status are listed). This is a point I raised above: why is it not okay to use "governor" broadly, but okay to use "colonial" broadly? Srnec (talk) 01:39, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
At the end of the day, whichever way this goes, there are far more important issues to deal with. My objection is not against the word "governor" per se, nor its use as an umbrella term, but rather that its use as an umbrella term is undermined by its common, but not universal, use as a specific title. If "governor" is indeed intended to be used as an umbrella term it would have to be used for lists where none of the listed incumbents were officially titled "governor" - and this will doubtless lead to debates whether lists of officials with the title "adminstrator" are changed from "List of governors of..." to "List of administrators of....", with the same scenario being played out for residents-general and every other list according to the title of the incumbent - ending up with lists of individuals with essentially the same function in respect of their polity appearing under a disparate variery of page titles. I believe this to be unnecesary and unhelpful, as well as encyclopaedically inconsistent. JohnArmagh (talk) 07:34, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
No, it would not "have to be used for lists where none of the listed incumbents were officially titled 'governor'". We have List of French residents-general in Morocco, for example. We only need an umbrella term where there is really more than one title (and not just a few variations before one got settled on, but really different periods with different titles). I believe you are wrong that most of these figures had "essentially the same function in respect of their polity". A resident-general or a viceroy do no necessarily behave anything like a governor or kommissar, much less like each other. All of these colonies varied extensively in their constitution. What does Virginia have in common with Ruanda-Urundi, or Italian East Africa with French Cambodia? The colonies we're talking about go from a string of coastal forts, to a benign protectorate, to a European plantation overseas, to a League of Nations mandate, to a vast empire (India) within another vast empire. With such variety, why do we need uniformity? Srnec (talk) 15:55, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
The only reason there is a List of French residents-general in Morocco is because it was recently renamed. Cursory examination will reveal that until recently the page was List of colonial heads of French Morocco, which remains the far more consistent title. My argument is that the "boss" is the boss and can be referred to generally as the boss irrespective of the finer points of his role (i.e. exectutive or non-executive) and irrespective of his actual specific title and irrespective of the nature or function of the company JohnArmagh (talk) 20:40, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Our article on Governor makes it abundantly clear that all sorts of official leaders are referred to as governors. Additionally, I am confident that most sources also use this umbrella term in a lower case form. I am very surprised that this has not come up in the discussion above but being a military man, head has a distinct meaning to me, a meaning not necessarily intended in these articles. Are these lists of bedazzled Thrones? --Mike Cline (talk) 15:35, 20 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Support per Mike Cline - a very good point. Arbitrarily0 (talk) 03:39, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment -- I was going to vote "oppose", because a lot of the officers had other titles. In some cases, I suspect that the officer named had a lesser title becuase he was subject to a more senior officer. I am not sure that "head" is satisfactory, but "rulers" would imply a spurious degree of sovereignty. A resident was at least in theory a diplomatic representative of the appointing power, though in a Protectorate it might be closer to a governor. Peterkingiron (talk) 17:16, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment: In cases where the office has had more than one title it makes sense to use an umbrella term, and I have no preference on "governor" vs "colonial head". However, in cases where the office has only had one specific title, that title should be used in the name of the article instead of imposing an umbrella term for the sake of consistency. Article names are based on what things are called in the real world, which are often inconsistent. For example, since Poland has had both kings and presidents, it makes sense to use an umbrella term in List of heads of state of Poland, but List of heads of state of Finland would be too general since the head of state has always been a president. Jafeluv (talk) 21:31, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.