User:Taw/Historical terminology for Central and Eastern Europe

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

Recently, conflict occured between some German-speaking and some Polish-speaking Wikipedians about terminology that should be used in Wikipedia articles about history of Central and Eastern Europe.

This page is intended as a place to discuss this issue and come to result that is, if not satisfactory, at least acceptable to all sides.

Here is draft of rules that, hopefully, will evolve into satisfactiory solution.

While this is subpage of Taw's page, Taw doesn't have any special priviledges over it.



TAW -- PLEASE STOP!!! I know that you are very frustrated. But before you start redirecting every German name to its Polish equivalent, stop and think -- are you doing this because you think it's the right thing to do for an English language Wikipedia, or because you think HJ went too far? My take is that it started out as the former, but is now the latter. I am an English-speaking historian. Kolberg is how I know that particular town. Stettin is also more familiar. So are Mainz and Trier, although a hundred years ago, historians regularly used the French Mayence and Treves. Why don't you take a day or two and chill, enjoy the holiday if appropriate, and then maybe see if people want to discuss what names English speakers are most likely to look for, before you just change everything? It would calm things down a lot. Right now, you seem to be getting drawn into a troll-like state of just reacting, and I know that you have contributed a lot of good stuff! --Santa

I have completely no clue what Kolberg is and I suppose that almost none of Polish-speaking people, including most of inhabitants of this city, would have any. From description and similarity in name, I suppose it's Kolobrzeg, but I can't say for sure. Such problematic names must go away and local names should be used instead. There are always alternative names and redirects form those people who would prefer German names. --User:Taw

Such problematic names must go away Now that's NPOV. GregLindahl
They must go away because they cause problems, and much better alternative exists. Where's the NPOV issue ? --User:Taw

The NPOV problem is that other people don't agree with your claims that "they cause problems" and "a much better alternative exist". You know, if you actually LISTENED to other people instead of just deleting their stuff, you might get along better with other people.

Instead of redirects, how about: (1) the page with the German name gets a stub like "The historical name for the modern FOO, used until 1945; the common modern English name is BAR", and (2) when discussing historical events, use the historical name and note the modern ones (both native and English) in parens. NPOV means that if there are multiple common names, you mention them ALL, not just the one preferred by the current inhabitants. Historical accuracy means that old names just don't go away. And Wikipedia etiquette means you should listen to other people instead of just deleting their text. GregLindahl

0) Do you think that it's not a problem if people living in the country have no clue what city is described ?

0) That's why I said USE ALL THE NAMES. That's the NPOV way of addressing the problem.
0) So what's the problem ? We seem to have the same opinion and you're still arguing. When I said go away I meant 'go away as names of articles' not 'go away from wikipedia'.
0) For a guy who often tells other people their usage of English is poor, you sure have poor usage of English. However, if you want to claim this new meaning, move on to (1).

1) What's the point of having single-sentence article if the same thing is explained in first sentence of target of redirect ? And I repeat - most of them are not historical names, just German names.

1) It's unlikely that the first sentence of the articles about every place that's ever been renamed will have a list of when and where it was called other names. And it doesn't matter if they're "german names" or "historical names".
1) Standard first sentence: Foo (also known as Bar and Quux) is (whatever).
1) That doesn't do it, Taw. It's good information to explain to everyone WHEN and by WHOM it was called Bar. That might as well go on a separate page with the name Bar. There, end of problem. (And gee, Taw, why didn't you bother to reply to this one? I guess you'd rather change topics to Chomsky.)
1) There is no problem with 1) as most of these articles contain alternative names with proper adnotations, and if one doesn't, names and adnotations can be added with no more work than would be neccessary for creating a stub. --User:Taw
1) If there no problem with (1), why did you just delete the new Danzig page? I never claimed to know all of the history of Danzig, but when you DELETE pages, they will never get fixed. Quit playing God. GregLindahl

2) Once again - most of them are German names, not historical names. BTW, what have I deleted recently other than lies by H. Jonat ? --User:Taw

2) I guess you forgot about deleting my text in the Chomsky article. Why do you think I am bothering to care about your behavior? GregLindahl
2) Oh no I haven't. I even spent some time searching for anything online that calls Noam Chomsky or his theories pseudoscientist. Couldn't find any. If you have better luck, talk:Noam Chomsky is open. --User:Taw
2) You just don't get it, do you? Just because YOU think no one holds an opinion does NOT mean you should delete it. Period. If you decide to quit being an asshole to other people, you can reinsert my statement. GregLindahl
2) It would be nice if you told us who except you holds that opinion. Because you didn't and I couldn't find it, I decided that such accusations are inappropriate. You're welcome to reinsert your statement if you can show that it has any basis. --User:Taw
2) That isn't YOUR role, Taw: think about where the burden of proof should lie, and how many people I implied held the view I stated. If you don't think my view extends beyond me, then you could state that. But no, you deleted it. That's not NPOV. And neither is your deleting articles in case (1). But apparently you saw a chance to stop bothering arguing about the merits of (1)... oh well. I think you'll learn someday.
2) This is a role of every Wikipedian, it's as mine as yours.


  • From Rules_to_consider: Write stuff that is true; check your facts. Don't write stuff that is false. You should write that P only if it is true that P; contraposing, if it is not true that P, you should not write that P. This might require that you check your alleged facts.
  • Be bold in updating pages
  • Burden of proof should lie on accuser of course, not defender.. --User:Taw
2) I hate to break it to you Taw, but deleting content is not the Wiki Way. Stop doing it. GregLindahl
2) I haven't deleted any content. I have deleted many other things, but never content. --User:Taw

There's your fundamental problem, Taw: If you think something isn't content, you are happy to delete it, even if other people think it is content. Your references explain why you're such a jerk: you know you're right, you know other people are wrong, and you are bold to delete their content. I can't imagine how you EVER think you can writen an NPOV article with an attitude like that. GregLindahl

From my point of view, there are three relevant questions to ask, all of which are important: (1) What do current residents of the city in question call it (its present "local" name), (2) what do English-speaking people generally call the city today, if there is a common English name (i.e., what name would appear on a present-day map of the region marketed to American and/or British travellers?), and (3) what have English-speaking historians traditionally called it, for the purposes of correlating older historical accounts?

After we've answered all those questions, I think the following is a reasonable approach:

  1. If there is an English name in current common use, that should be the title of the main article, and the article itself should contain the present local name prominently. I think "Venice" is a good example here, as is "Warsaw".
  2. If the city is not such an important part of English-speaking culture that the use of something other than its English name would be actually confusing, then go ahead and title the article by its present local name (or nearest transliteration), and prominently mention any other historical English names early in the text of article.
  3. Articles about the history of a city should use in the text the historical English name of the city that appears in the English-language historical source materials, though they may appear in an article titled by the city's local name if the English name isn't that common today.
  4. Likewise, articles about the historical events themselves should use the historical names, which will probably redirect to a page titled by the current local name.
  5. In all cases, whatever the article is titled, other names should redirect to it.
  6. If there are historical names of the city other than the current local name and the tranditional English name, those too should be mentioned, but less prominently. For example, the city traditionally--and presently--called "St. Petersberg" should mention that it was called "Leningrad" during Soviet rule, and "Petrograd" for a time.

In the specific cases of Kołobrzeg and Gdansk, I think maps of Poland marketed today to English-speaking people generally show "Kołobrzeg" and "Gdansk", though they often put "Danzig" in parentheses after the latter. English-speaking historical accounts generally use the German names. Sorry, Taw, but that's really the way it is. Therefore, I think the articles should be placed under the titles "Kolobrzeg" (without the slash, since we can't use the l-slash in titles) and "Gdansk", the first sentence of each of those articles should mention the English name (which is, unfortunately, the German name), the English/German title should be a redirect, and the text of those articles dealing with history should use the historical English names of Danzig and Kolberg, and articles about, for example, WWII should use those names as well, and putting them in brackets will cause the links to go to the articles titled Kolobrzeg and Gdansk, thus educating us narrow-minded English-speaking folk about the current state.

--User:Lee Daniel Crocker

Taw, you say you like my rules 1, 2, and 5. I can't imagine why anyone would object to 6 either I can't imagine, but you clearly don't like 3 and 4, which deal with historical usage of English names. This is not surprizing. It is an unfortunate fact of history that English-speaking accounts of the history of certain now-Polish regions have used the German names for cities. My questions to you, then, are these--and please be honest and look at this from the point of view of an English-speaking student researching a history paper in multiple sources: (1) Do you deny that English-language histories use terms like "The Warsaw uprising" and "The fortress of Kolberg"? Have you honestly researched English-language sources? and (2) Do you honestly think the average English-speaking encyclopedia user would be better off by not using the terms used in other history sources? I understand the political sensitivities here, Taw, but I really think you're letting then get in the way of our goal, which is to create a useful encyclopedia. So tell me why you object to my rules 3 and 4, and give me really good reasons why the encyclopedia would be better without them--not whether you or someone else just doesn't like them for political reasons. --LDC

You didn't explain if 6 means: once in main article about this place, or repetitively everywhere the place is mentioned. The former is quite obvious.

I'd like to mention that there are virtually none English-language primary sources about history of this region.

Options we have (for places that don't have well-known English name, like Warsaw):

  1. using different name for the same thing depending on epoch discussed plus a link to article under local name
  2. consistently using local names plus a link
  3. using both local and switched name plus a link. Which goes first and which into parens is mostly irrelevant

I'm for 2 in history section is articles about cities (where switching makes least sense) and 3 otherwise. --User:Taw

Taw, there would not be English language primary sources -- that's just dumb. But this is an English-language 'pedia, and you need to listen to the native English speakers, especially the historians and geographers, to know what's the right term. LDC is right on this. HJ has been told the same thing, and her refusal to listen is part of why this nonsense continues. Don't add to it.

I suspect if we don't attack each other or get too angry, we'll be able to work this out. The situation will never be wholly to anyone's satisfaction, but that's okay, as long as we continue to work together (and we don't have much choice about that, unless we just stop). I have faith in the goodwill of all of you, even if you are frustrated by the all-too apparent human frailty and obstinacy of others. --TheCunctator

There is another problem. I know quite a few things about history of Poznan, Gdansk, Kolobrzeg, Chelmno. But it is hard to me guess that Chelmno is Culm (I find out almost by accident) Kolberg is Kolobrzeg etc. So I would start article under new name, or don't know about old names.

This is also sensitive issue because of the past, which in that part of Europe is much more complicated than in West, and that we, Poles, generally don't like to use German or Russian names of Polish cities. Because they are not neutral to us, because they usually are used to imply that those cities aren't Polish, but German or Russian. Names were used here for almost 100 years as tools of propaganda, not mention WWII when all Polish cities were renamed and using of Polish names was forbidden. User:szopen

Hi szopen -- I can understand the non-neutrality problem for Poles -- unfortunately, a lot of those places are known to English-speakers mostly by German names, because English-language scholars (except people who specialize in Slavic things) more often researched in German. If the Polish name is listed in the first line as we have been doing, then it will come up in a search and there should be no problem. I fully sympathize with your feelings, and all I can say is that, since this is an English-language wikipedia, we should probably let English speakers who actually have a clue make final calls on the "correct" English name! Happy New Year! User:JHK

Changed "Chelm" to "Chelmno". Mruk

One of the goals of the three partitioning powers (Russia, Prussia, Austria) was to erase Polish language, Polish culture and Polish historical names of cities, regions etc, from the history of Eupope and from the "General Knowledge". They have greatly succeeded in many areas, using the fact that Poland was not on the map for a century and a half. Those times are long gone. Poland was able to reclaim it's territory and it's time for the "English-language scholars" to update their terminology. The point about "the fortress of Kolberg" is so dumb, it hurts. Think of the Battle of Stalingrad. Everybody knows what "Battle of Stalingrad" was. And that name should be used for the article about the battle. But the name of the city is Volgograd, and somebody, who demands, that "English language name" for the city should be Stalingrad, is not a scholar, but an ignorant and a moron. Same with Kolberg. "Fortress Kolberg", "Fortress Breslau" would be correct names for the articles, but not for articles about those Polish cities. It's year 2002. Festung Kolberg fell more than half a century ago! If "scholars" have problems with that, they should write it on a piece of paper, and read aloud every day, before they go to sleep, until they get it right! Space Cadet

It's hard to disagree with this line of reasoning, especially the point about Stalingrad! Greetings, Cadet. Welcome to Wikipedia! Mruk