Wikipedia:Naming conventions (languages)

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Convention: Articles on languages can be titled with the bare name of the language where this is unambiguous (e.g. Bokmal) or where the language is unquestionably the primary topic for the name (e.g. Latin). In other cases, an article title with the natural disambiguator "... language" is preferred (e.g. English language). Where a name is shared between a language and the corresponding ethnic or national group, as is the case with most such names in English, experience shows that a search for which of these has "primary" status is most often futile. Therefore, barring exceptional circumstances, a pair of disambiguated article titles of the format "X language"/"X people" is generally recommended.

Programming languages should be disambiguated with the suffix "(programming language)" if the name is not sufficiently unambiguous. For example, VBScript does not need clarification, while Python (programming language) does.


In the examples above, we would place a redirect to Latin at Latin language and verify that Persian language is listed on the Persian disambiguation page. Similarly, we would place a redirect to VBScript at VBScript (programming language) and VBScript programming language. This will accommodate writers using alternative and older naming conventions. If the ISO 639-3 code for the language appears under a different header at Ethnologue, either a different spelling or a different name altogether, make that a redirect as well. Similarly, if the spelling or name changes between editions of Ethnologue, all should have redirects. Country specification is placed between parentheses, and 'language' added, so ISO Kom (Cameroon) should have at least a redirect at Kom language (Cameroon): this is the default format used by several lists of languages and ISO codes. If more than one ISO code or name has been assigned, as is common when Ethnologue treats as separate languages those considered to be dialects of a single language by reliable sources, or when spurious codes/names are retired, place redirects under these as well.

Languages and their speakers
Person Motswana
People Batswana
Language Setswana
Country Botswana

Where a common name exists in English for both a people and their language, and neither is unquestionably the primary topic, a title based on that term, with explicit disambiguation, is preferred for both articles, as with Chinese people and Chinese language. This is especially so when borrowed native forms involve different prefixes or are otherwise not transparently related, as with Tswana people and Tswana language, with redirects placed at Batswana and Setswana, respectively. If an English plural form (distinct from the singular name) exists, it may be used for the article about the people, as at Russians with a redirect from Russian people. If no primary topic exists, a disambiguation page containing links to both articles (and other ambiguous articles) should be created at the base name, as with English or Tagalog.

The template {{Infobox ethnonym}} may be used to list the various native forms, as at right for Tswana.

Language families

Language families and groups of languages are pluralized, thus Sino-Tibetan languages. Normally, a redirect from the singular to the plural title is appropriate, as at Sino-Tibetan language, but in some cases this would be incorrect: Compare Kalenjin languages (the family) and Kalenjin language (a specific Kalenjin language), where the phrase "a Kalenjin language" requires the plural form in the link:   a [[Kalenjin languages|Kalenjin language]].   X languages is preferred over X language family because it leaves the actual nature of the grouping (genetic, geographic, or otherwise) an open question, which saves us from nit-picking about the article title in the case of controversial families, or whether the article covers a 'branch', 'group', 'subfamily', etc.

Dialects, registers, and other varieties

The word "language" is used for varieties which have standard forms, per common usage, even if they are not distinct languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, as for example Serbian language and Croatian language alongside Serbo-Croatian language, or Indonesian language and Malaysian language alongside Malay language.

The term dialect should only be used for distinct but mutually intelligible varieties of a language, such as the Suzhou dialect of Wu Chinese, or Bukusu dialect (Luhya). For local differences in pronunciation, accent is preferred. Varieties can be named by prepending a modifier to the name of the parent language, as at Standard German and African American Vernacular English. This is useful when there is disagreement as to whether a variety is an accent or a dialect, as at Estuary English, or a dialect or a separate language, as at Egyptian Arabic and Mandarin Chinese, or whether it constitutes a single dialect or several, as at Southern American English.

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