Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2011 December 4

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December 4[edit]

Names of wars in the USA[edit]

While working with images I photographed yesterday of some war memorials, it occurred to me that we Americans generally speak of "The Mexican War" and "The Spanish-American War". I've never heard "Mexican-American War" except in contexts like Wikipedia, which obviously need to be more international, but "Spanish War" is something I've never heard except in archaic contexts. If you look at our articles on the subject, you'll see that "Mexican War" is given prominently in its intro, but "Spanish War" only appears in the name of an organization, the name of a military decoration, and the title of a book. Why the discrepancy? Nyttend (talk) 00:54, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Wars seems to get rather random names. It often comes down to whichever newspaper report happens to give it a name that catches on. Or perhaps now they are named in a Tweet. StuRat (talk) 01:00, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
The second is also known as the "War of 1898" (matching the "War of 1812")... AnonMoos (talk) 04:51, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I've only ever heard of them as the "Mexican-American" and "Spanish-American" wars. But it would sort of make sense to name the war after who you're fighting (ie French and Indian War). Hot Stop talk-contribs 04:53, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
'The Spanish War' in particular just wouldn't work, there have been so many. Anglo-Spanish War alone gives quite an impressive list. (talk) 09:00, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
The George M. Cohan song Yankee Doodle Boy mentions "the Spanish War" in one of its verses. It being 1904, the Spanish-American War of 1898 would have been the obvious reference. Not so obvious a century later. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:49, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Yea, wars typically have multiple names early on, but then settle down to just one or two names that stick. StuRat (talk) 20:12, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Buongiorno ?[edit]

Well, buonasera I guess ;) I was watching the funny Apple commercials in French (don't ask) and I came across this one - at 6:28 le bon monsieur PC says "buon giorno" in an attempt to communicate with the Japanese girl. I thought that was pretty funny and I assumed it was liberally adapted from the English original, which I assumed had Spanish (since after English Italian is the most-studied language in France). But the English commercial also has Italian, which I thought was strange, since in the US the most popular foreign languages are French and Spanish; italian occupies a very small share. Why did they have him say "Buongiorno" instead of "Hola" or "Bonjour"? Thanks. (talk) 06:16, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Didn't view any of the videos, but a few Italian words or phrases ("buon giorno", "arrivederci", "ciao", "capisci" [as "kapeesh"], "dolce vita", "che sarà sarà" [as "que sera sera"]) are fairly widely known in the United States. Italian is not a widely-taught classroom language, but in past decades there were many 1st or 2nd generation Italian immigrants. The movie Breaking Away has a famous fictionalized account of an American Italianophiliac... AnonMoos (talk) 08:19, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Are you sure that Italian is the second most studied language in France? --Cerlomin (talk) 14:30, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
It sounds more romantic, at least from the perspective of this English speaker. For a Frenchman, it might sound slightly more exotic than a standard "bonjour"? Clarityfiend (talk) 21:59, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Italian is more commonly studied than Spanish in a lot of other English-speaking countries. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 10:49, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Do you have a reference for that, PalaceGuard? If by "English-speaking countries" you mean what Braj Kachru calls the inner circle, then we have "the traditional bases of English: the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, anglophone Canada and South Africa, and some of the Caribbean territories". In which of these countries is Italian studied by more people than Spanish? Or are you thinking of the outer circle? That would be "countries where English is not the native tongue, but is important for historical reasons and plays a part in the nation's institutions, either as an official language or otherwise.... India, Nigeria, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, Tanzania, Kenya, non-Anglophone South Africa and Canada, etc." Do you have information on study patterns for these countries? Given that the worldwide population of people who speak Spanish is several times greater than that of Italian-speakers, I would have assumed that more people study Spanish. But, of course, that is just my assumption; I'd love to have some solid data. (As a side note, this question should have been moved to the Language Desk at birth.) BrainyBabe (talk) 17:04, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Follow-up: our article List of languages by number of native speakers, while acknowledging the inherent imprecision of its figures, gives 329-500 million Spanish speakers, pointing out that the language is one of the six official ones used at the United Nations; it gives Italian only 62 million. BrainyBabe (talk) 13:38, 7 December 2011 (UTC)
PalaceGuard008 posted this to my talkpage. I'll post this here, because it provides a good reference:
I was primarily speaking from anecdotal experience, but the phenomenon is well documented in academia. For one set of illustrative statistics for Australia as an example, see page 49 of this paper. As you can see, the difference between Italian and Spanish is by a factor of 10 or more throughout secondary school. My anecdotal experience, is that I have not even heard of Spanish being offered as a choice in a secondary school in Australia - the most common options are Japanese and French, with less common offerings being Italian, German and (increasingly) Chinese.
As I understand it, the popularity of Spanish in the United States can be largely attributed to its proximity to the large Spanish-speaking population of Latin America, and consequently the large number of Spanish-speaking people in the United States. I'm not sure what the situation is in the United Kingdom. However, in the Antipodes at least, Italian predominates (over Spanish) by a large margin as a foreign language in education - some explanations might be the large (or larger?) numbers of Italian migrants compared to Spanish, the cultural prominence of Italian in various fields (opera is one example that springs to mind), and perhaps some connection to the traditional place of Latin in school curriculums.
I am not an expert in this area, so please let me know if you have a contrary viewpoint.--PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 22:35, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
And I'll post a new question to the Language Ref Desk, to follow this up with more expert eyes. BrainyBabe (talk) 22:57, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
Le bon monsieur PC doesn't say "buon giorno", but bons journaux, a "typicaly" French manner to say "hello" in Italian. The funny part is that he isn't able to speak any foreign language. You can't get the same effect with "Hola" (Spanish) that is too close to holà (French). — AldoSyrt (talk) 17:24, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Why do so many Europeans hate Gypsies so much?[edit]

Why is it that no matter what country you go to in Europe, there is a universal dislike of Gypsies? -- (talk) 07:49, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

See Antiziganism. The short answer is: Because they're different. — Sebastian 08:01, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I really don't know that it's "universal", but think of a group traditionally somewhat socially isolated -- like Jews were in 19th-century Europe -- but with a lot less education, and it shouldn't be too hard to envision some of the reasons... AnonMoos (talk) 08:07, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Ok, but nowadays antisemitism is a major taboo in Europe, yet Gypsies are openly universally reviled. Is what they say about their culture (that they teach it's okay to steal/swindle/lie/disrespect non-gypsies) true?-- (talk) 08:24, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Also, what about all the stories of gypsies destroying government housing?-- (talk) 08:26, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Gypsies are not "openly universally reviled" in "Europe". Indeed, there is a romantic admiration for their lifestyle in much of western Europe. However, as all outsiders, they can be the target of prejudice and discrimination. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 08:37, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
In fact many English celebrities such as Bob Hoskins and Adam Ant have proudly boasted of their gypsy ancestry in various interviews. In Italy (where I live) there is admittedly a lot of prejudice against gypsies whom they refer to as Rom, even though zingari is the correct Italian name for gypsies.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 08:49, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
But isn't "zingari" (and "tzigane" in French) a derogatory term? Rom is their proper name. In any case, I assume there is so much prejudice because the most visible ones are dirty and smelly and begging or stealing from you...or so it seems to tourists and non-Europeans, at least. Adam Bishop (talk) 08:53, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes you are correct. Rom is the politically-correct term whereas zingaro has now been deprecated as offensive. Nevertheless, the prejudice remains.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:00, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
You're contradicting yourself there. If zingaro is now deprecated as offensive, it can't be the "correct Italian name". --Viennese Waltz 08:48, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
I am not contadicting myself. Check out an English-Italian dictionary. The Italian word for gypsy (male) is zingaro, whereas the Italian translation of a gypsy when it applies to a female is zingara. Rom is a very recent PC term. When I first arrived on sunny Italian shores, zingaro/ra was the only term in use. In point of fact there is a popular song which dates from 1969 entitled Zingara.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:03, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
What I am saying is that language is historically constructed. Take the word negro, for example. Our article states: "From the 18th century to the late 1960s, "negro" (later capitalized) was considered to be the proper English-language term for certain people of sub-Saharan African origin. The word "Negro" fell out of favor by the early 1970s in the United States after the Civil Rights movement." What the dictionary says is neither here nor there; what matters is currently acceptable usage. --Viennese Waltz 09:12, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Well most Italians use the word zingar0/ra apart from journalists and politicians, who have decided the term is offensive. My daughter's dictionary uses zingaro, and finally can we please end this non-productive and futile discourse as it's really leading nowhere? Thanks.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 13:58, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
While I agree that dictionaries are only history books, I'm not sure where finds a good source for currently acceptable usage. — John Harvey, Wizened Web Wizard Wannabe, Talk to me! 15:05, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

The reason is that in Western Europe a significant minority of them engage in petty crime and people are too lazy —or too stupid may I add— to avoid generalizing. --Cerlomin (talk) 14:38, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Stupid, I grant you. But far from laziness, it seems to me it takes a certain amount of mental energy to make the leap from "I was robbed (by a person who happened to be a gypsy)" to "All gypsies are robbers". If it had been a non-gypsy, there would not be any such thought as "All non-gypsies are robbers". -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 04:26, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
No, Jack, I think that's not so much our mental capacity, but rather our animal instincts. A friend of mine had a rescued dog who had been mistreated by men from a certain ethnicity. He was uncomfortable with men, and hostile towards men from that ethnicity. — Sebastian 06:17, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Is it "animal instincts" that connect the ethnicity of a perpetrator with their actions? No animal would or could ever do that. Nor would or could an animal bring in any other irrelevant attributes such as marital status, educational attainment, sexual orientation, handedness, visual acuity, number of children, linguistic ability, musical tastes, financial status, sporting abilities, blood type, or how much sleep they usually need. How absurd it would be to eternally hate all single women with doctorates who are destitute right-handed polyglots and have blood group AB negative, because such a person once attacked you. No less absurd is to blame an entire race of people for the actions of one of them. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 07:31, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
  • It should be noted that the term "gypsy" is somewhat confusingly overapplied, or at least, applied to multiple groups which do not share a cultural or linguisitc heritage. For example, in the UK both the Romanichal (UK-born Romani communities) and the Irish travellers are both named "Gypsies". The commonality between the two groups is that they are nomadic and insular, i.e. they move around a lot and keep to themselves, which may account for why a) they are confused and both called "Gypsy" and b) why they are so reviled among the wealthier and more settled elements of society. --Jayron32 06:32, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Generally speaking these prejudices are called Stigmata. They (and their linguistic formation) have been studied, among others, by Judith Butler. Two pieces of Literature pertaining to your topic might be these: Awosusi, Anita (Hg.) (1998): Stichwort: Zigeuner. Zur Stigmatisierung von Sinti und Roma in Lexika und Enzyklopädien or Fitzpatrick, Sheila; Gellately, Robert (1996): Introduktion to the practices of denunciation in modern European history. As for the IPs questions pertaining to stealing and destruction of government property: These are precisely what is meant by the word Stigma. You are speaking of a collective them in opposition to a righteous us. Of their (presupposed) culture or thievery. And as the Commitee of German Sinti and Roma state in their short discussion of History: "[...] The reality of Sinti and Roma lives must be sharply distinguished from Antiziganistic cliche [...]" --Abracus (talk) 12:17, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
At least in England and Wales, there is a distinction at the government level between 'gypsies' and 'travellers', both of which are defined as ethnicities for the purposes of hate crime legislation, and both groups are lumped together for the purposes of legislation such as the local requirement to provide sites and housing. To call all 'gypsies' Romani would be like calling all 'eskimo' Inuit, although obviously one should be sensitive to the connotations of words used. British Gypsies got quite cross (rightly, in my opinion) about the programme My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but one of their complaints was that it talked about Gypsies when showing Irish Travellers, and didn't clearly distinguish between the two. (I don't recall if a representative for any Irish Travellers got media coverage complaining) 'Gypsy' is not usually taken to refer to Irish Travellers unless the speaker doesn't know that Irish Travellers exist. (talk) 11:14, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

GK question -- Business , Brands, companies[edit]

What are the terms hot, white, black and grey associated with? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:44, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Without the context I can't be sure, but here are some guesses:
"Hot" has two slang meanings, a product that's popular and an individual item which was stolen and is now being resold.
"Black market" items are those which are illegal to sell. This includes illegal products, like drugs, and those which would be legal, if the seller was licensed to sell them.
"White market" items are legal and sold by retailers who are properly licensed to sell them.
"Grey market" is somewhere in-between. This might include items which are technically illegal but where the law isn't enforced. An unlicensed kids' lemonade stand might fall into this category. There might also be items which are legal under the letter of the law, but not the spirit. For example, drugs can be modified to no longer be illegal, then the law is changed to include those, then the drugs are changed again, etc. StuRat (talk) 20:25, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
In my experience, gray more refers to things like re-imports - products that are (usually) safe and legal, but obtained circumventing the normal market strategy of the maker, and hence potentially with limited warranty or service. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 23:13, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Yeah my experience is the same as StS and Grey market says more or less the same thing Nil Einne (talk) 04:28, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

List of 1996 Supreme Court of Canada decisions in Wikipedia[edit]

I went looking for the full citations of three cases and was delighted, though not surprised, to find them in a list of decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1996. However, I was surprised to find that following the name, e.g., R. v. Jones there occurs, in each citation both a comma and a semi-colon, one after the other. I was double checking a popular term for three particular cases, "the Van der Peet trilogy" while editing a Master's thesis for a law school. I read a good number of cases from the SCC and even took a short course at the start of my program on proper legal forms. I have never come across this usage before. Can someone explain it to me? Keep up the good work. Michael Posluns, Ph.D.,

I looks like the 1996 reasons of the Supreme Court of Canada article is something of a work-in-progress. Other lists in the same series, such as 2006 reasons of the Supreme Court of Canada, have had more effort spent on them, producing a more polished format. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 18:45, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Specifically, it looks as if the particular Wikipedia editor who contributed a lot of the Canadian Supreme Court lists (named PullUpYourSocks) has mostly retired from editing Wikipedia. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 18:50, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Monotheism & Old Testament[edit]

Does the Old Testament ever say explicitly that other gods exist? I don't remember God saying anything like "I'm going to kill this other god to make sure he does nothing stupid", but the wording seems to heavily suggest that other gods exist. God usually says "you will worship no other gods before me", not "there are no other gods before me"; he also says "I am a jealous god" (with respect to worship), not "I am the only god". -- (talk) 19:32, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

The Bible discusses idolatry in many places. (See;;;;
Wavelength (talk) 19:50, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
When Moses comes down the mountain, the first commandment is not to put "other gods" before Yahweh. At that time the Jews practiced henotheism. This is to say that the Jews worshiped Yahweh because he was their god, even if other people worshiped other gods. They didn't deny the existence of other gods, they just believed that Yahweh was their god. Greg Bard (talk) 20:17, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
<edit conflict>Not everyone agrees with that point about henotheism. A command to have no other gods is consistent with believing that the other gods are false ones and have no power. The Bible mentions many gods, Astarte, Molech, Baal, the Nile, the lamb in Egypt, Baal Peor etc. They exist and other nations worship them. Sometimes the Israelites do too. The Bible does not state whether those deities have any kind of power at all. --Dweller (talk) 20:33, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
There's also the case where Moses meets the Egyptian high priest, who changes his staff into snakes, then Moses changes his into a bigger snake that eats the others. This seems designed to show that the god of Moses is more powerful than the gods of the Egyptians, which carries with it the implicit acknowledgment that the gods of Egypt do exist. The other possible interpretation is that the Egyptian priests just pulled a magic trick, but, of course, this would bring suspicion on Moses for having done the same, since he was raised among them and might well know their secrets. StuRat (talk) 20:31, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Not necessarily. That's OR. The Bible calls the Egyptians "magicians", not priests. They can be seen to demonstrate that magic is not a proof of divinity. --Dweller (talk) 20:34, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
See to verse 40.
Wavelength (talk) 21:01, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Other gods aside, nobody even mentions Satan in Christianity and Islam? Or the angels even. Just because he's the supposed enemy doesn't make him any less a deity. He's supposed to battle with God in the end times... the fact that he can even challenge God makes the claim of omnipotence and omniscience a bit questionable. If he's not that powerful and is that much of a nuisance, he should've been squashed a long time ago - no original sin, no lakes of brimstone. The funny thing is, he has to exist for someone to get the blame. Otherwise, if there's nobody else but God, that makes God responsible for all the evil things as well as the good.

In Rabbinic Judaism this is actually the case. With Satan being an agent of God meant to test people's faith, an actual devil's advocate, in Catholic terms. But then again, there is no literal hell in Judaism.-- Obsidin Soul 22:01, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Is Satan a well-defined figure in the Old Testament (or even in the New)? It seems to me that the OT refers to many different adversaries of God--a snake, a dragon, the accuser of Job (though he was actually working for god), humans, etc, with no indication of any link between them. It's Christian tradition that lumps all of them together into one being with no Biblical basis.
Also, is the God of the OT really omnipotent and omniscient? He seems much more human than the popular conception of Christianity would have it. He gets angry, regrets his actions, changes his mind, can be bargained with, and he doesn't know a lot of things, like whether Job would be faithful if his possessions were taken away, or what Adam was up to in Eden. -- (talk) 23:30, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Wavelength (talk) 23:19, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
[The website is obsolete, but Wayback Machine has archives of "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" indexed at*/ Today the official website of Jehovah's Witnesses is, and that chapter of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? is at
Wavelength (talk) 20:53, 30 December 2014 (UTC)]
"The Bible clearly states: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) When you think about it, does that not make sense? This world reflects the personality of the invisible spirit creature who is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) Satan is hateful, deceptive, and cruel. So the world, under his influence, is full of hatred, deceit, and cruelty. That is one reason why there is so much suffering."
Isn't that exactly what I was making an observation on? That entire page basically blames all suffering on Satan alone, in essence giving him a power near equal that of God.-- Obsidin Soul 23:27, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
You said "he should've been squashed a long time ago", but that page says why he was not. Paragraph 19 says "humans were created with free will", so it does not blame all suffering on Satan alone.
Wavelength (talk) 00:02, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
LOL. Of course he was not. That was the whole point of the word "should". As in, God could have if he really wanted to, but he didn't. The question is why - either he didn't really care, he gave angels free will as well, or (the answer pertinent to the question of the OP) that Satan himself was also powerful enough not to be silenced so quickly by an omnipotent being. i.e. Satan was the second god in the Abrahamic religions. In fact the entire thing is amazingly anthropomorphic in how it's about a power struggle between two divine entities.
As for the blaming thing. It does really. That whole rather apologist page blathers on about how suffering is caused by acceding to Satan. Thereby washing God of the burden, and furthermore actually accusing you as being the cause for your own sufferings. Like a customer service rep cheerily telling you that the product description explicitly states that they aren't responsible for any injuries or deaths resulting from your improper use of their products and that they're sorry about your loss.
This reminds me of Job who lost everything on a bet between Satan and God. And his most redeeming quality was apparently that he was enough of an unfeeling callous monster that he was completely unfazed at having all his children being used for target practice. Tell that to an actual father of a child killed by a freak accident and chances are he'll go into a guilt trip so deep he'll end up being convinced he did something incredibly horrible to deserve such a thing (perhaps that last week when he ran a red light? That time in junior high that he had premarital sex?). Frankly, I like the "He moves in mysterious ways" explanation more. At least it doesn't apologize for anything.-- Obsidin Soul 01:16, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
But again, does it ever say in the OT that God is omnipotent? I'm wondering if this trait has any Biblical basis, or if it's an invention of Christian tradition. -- (talk) 01:41, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
No. At least not explicitly. There is the claim that El Shaddai means "God Almighty" but it does not hold up to scholarly scrutiny. The following illustrates the complete disparity of the Gods of the OT and NT more strikingly (aside from the obvious - bloodthirstiness becoming benevolent noninterference, local tribal God becoming universal):
"And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron." - Judges 1:19
"Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. " - Genesis 11:6
"And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" - Genesis 3:9
So... iron chariots are exceptions to omnipotence, God is afraid of humans united for a common cause, and he couldn't find Adam. Not exactly omnipotent and omniscient yet.-- Obsidin Soul 02:24, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
The question "Why did Jehovah not destroy Satan immediately?" is answered in paragraph 10 and the following paragraphs. Paragraph 10 says "Even Satan knows that there is no limit to Jehovah’s power." The issue is not about power, but about the right to rule. Job was very disturbed by his calamities, but he endured faithfully. (;;;
Wavelength (talk) 02:55, 5 December 2011 (UTC) and 02:57, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
But that's just the author's opinion, and has no Biblical basis. Where in the Bible does it say that "even Satan knows that there is no limit to Jehovah's power"? The author assumes that the serpent is Satan, which is dubious at best, considering that "Satan" doesn't even exist as a single well-defined figure in the Bible (especially not in OT). -- (talk) 08:10, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
So um... what's the difference between a power struggle and a struggle for the right to rule exactly?
And is Satan (whoever he or it may be) then beyond God's power? If he isn't, why is he still allowed to exist? The explanation of "free will" is very weak indeed considering that in Christianity and Islam the consequences of listening to Satan means eternal torture. God is basically committing a great cruelty by nonaction. Kind of like cops releasing a serial killer into the general public, and then not only ignoring the crimes that follow but actually jailing the surviving victims for being stupid enough to become victims. The point is even more salient for Job. Whether or not Job endured faithfully matters little - what matters is the fact that it was the sadistic infliction of great suffering on an innocent man fully condoned by the God of mercy. If Job, even for a teeny tiny bit, actually broke down and started questioning God (as any normal human being would do in light of the tragedies that happened to him), I'm guessing he would have been unceremoniously hauled off to hell. -- Obsidin Soul 09:04, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Obsidian Soul, your comments and questions are addressed at (mentioned earlier), and in my earlier comments and linked Bible passages.
For information about the identity of Satan the Devil, see
For information about whether God cares about us humans, see and
For information about Sheol and Hades, see
I have chosen not to spend additional time in formulating my own comments for this section.
Wavelength (talk) 20:08, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Many moons ago I studied the Genesis creation stories as part of my A level Religious Studies, and I remember learning that the phrase "Lord God" is how we translate the Hebrew phrase "Jehovah Elohim". Now the "Elohim" part is plural. The creation of man is also preceded by the phrase which the King James Version translates as "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness", which means that at this point there was more than one person in the Godhead. Whether all this has been superseded in the past 35 years I have no idea, though. --TammyMoet (talk) 11:22, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
The apologists say that the "we" is the Trinity. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:35, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Or, more simply, it's just a "royal we". Adam Bishop (talk) 02:19, 6 December 2011 (UTC)
Aha, there's the answer: God created man to curb His habit of talking to Himself. We are, in effect, His therapists. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:11, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Was there any attempt to link Constantinople to the myth of Rome's Trojan origins?[edit]

Was there any attempt to link Constantinople to the myth of Rome's Trojan origins? Both Constantinople and Troy were located in Asia minor, and Rome was supposedly the heir to the Trojan Empire. As put forward in Virgil's Aeneid. Was there ever an attempt to justify the move to the East with Rome's Trojan founder? Did the Byzantine Empire identify with Troy? --Gary123 (talk) 19:35, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Not really. According to Sozomen, Constantine did intend to build his new capital on the site of Troy, but God told him to rebuild Byzantium instead. Since Constantine was already Christian by then, and the empire was well on the way to becoming officially Christian, I don't think they identified with the pre-Christian religion/myths as much as they had previously. When the eastern empire became completely Hellenized, they identified with historical Greeks like Alexander, and mythical heroes like Achilles, rather than the Trojans. There are a couple of Byzantine epics from the Trojan perspective, but they're the exception. We have an article on Byzantine literature that talks about this a bit, but it seems to be from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, so I wouldn't put too much faith in it. The sources at the bottom of that article point to more up-to-date works. Also, I should add that it was more common for western Europeans to use the imagery of the Aeneid to depict themselves as the Trojans and the Byzantines as the untrustworthy Greeks. Adam Bishop (talk) 21:08, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Also note that Constantinople was not "located in Asia minor" but was located on the European side of the Bosporus. Deor (talk) 12:15, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Why academics don't contribute to Wikipedia[edit]

Hello all, I'm looking for a good summary of why editing Wikipedia is not an attractive proposition to academics. I remember reading one not too long ago but can't find anything very good from searching. It should cover points like:

  • No special status on Wikipedia/WP:RANDY
  • Have to learn complicated editing systems and policies
  • Doesn't advance career (i.e. tenure/publication record)
  • Time rich endeavour, while academics are time-poor
  • What is there is so bad it's not worth trying to improve in small doses

To be clear, I'm not asking for you to add to this list or start a debate, but for links to where this is well-covered already. Thanks in advance! Skomorokh 21:00, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

I question your premise. It seems to me that, while you might well be right in the social sciences, that we have entirely too many academics who edit our math and science articles, resulting in articles only readable by others in academia. StuRat (talk)
Why some academics do contribute.
  1. Bossy know-alls.
  2. Addictive.
  3. Get to read about new areas of knowledge. Itsmejudith (talk) 21:22, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Guys, thanks, but this is a reference desk, I'm looking for a reference to the arguments, not to engage in them here. Skomorokh 21:28, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

The best place to go to would be here: Wikipedia:Expert retention.AerobicFox (talk) 21:46, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
It takes a long time for a academic (?) to write good prose and find good references, only to find a few dozen fly-by-editors can reduce their work to gobbledegook. The word has now spread around learned would-be-editors, that WP is not worth the effort. Here is a resent discussion about 'article rot'. Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#A_heretical_idea:_.22closing_articles.22 Also, its the fly-by-editors in main, that I consider, can't be bothered to learn complicated editing systems and policies!

--Aspro (talk) 21:32, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

It is rather simple. Academics tend to be people who have dedicated their life to studying a specific area of knowledge and, as a result, know a lot about the area of knowledge. They come to Wikipedia and some random guy on the Internet who only knows a few tidbits of info from some magazine, a television show, and a couple Wikipedia articles is considered equal. If the random guy has a cool username instead of an IP address, he will be considered more informed than the academic. So, Wikipedia is seen as a place that rewards those who are simply willing to argue more than those are willing to study. How could that be attractive to academics? For an anecdote, I spend much of my time reviewing papers written by people (or groups of people) who have a PhD in Computer Science - or at least are nearly finished getting a PhD. I have to argue fine points about various topics from hardware to software and even some algorithm theory. I have to back my arguments with plenty of good resources and proofs. Then, I come to Wikipedia and some guy says that PHP is not a programming language. Why is he an expert? Because he claims to know Ruby. Joining this argument means that I must lower myself into an unreasonable argument with a person who is basing his side of the argument on ridiculous statements that have no basis in reality. What's my benefit? -- kainaw 21:35, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I think the "No special status" bit is overblown honestly. That's implying that academics are arrogant elitist twats in the first place. If an academic is anywhere near competent he could easily quash an upstart non-specialist (like yours truly) if a question arises on a topic - by providing reliable sources, very much the same thing we humble earthlings already do. After all, no one really expects them to do OR and actually publish articles on Wikipedia as they do on journals.
And like StuRat said, we do have quite a lot of academics in the hard sciences. Some more than others. Not enough, but hey, we never have enough contributors, academic or not, anyway. I think it's more because they don't really have the time to write, know the policies, and (especially) learn the conventions, coding, and formats.
You can't really expect a leading paleontologist (for example) to drop his work to do the work we volunteer for. They don't get credit for it, and there's so much more they should be doing.
Then there's also the problem with the mistaken comparison of Wikipedia with peer-reviewed sources. Wikipedia will never be a peer-reviewed source. Like paper encyclopedias, it's a tertiary source, which are not peer-reviewed and are not citable. That's like telling your students not to read the Encyclopedia Britannica because it's not a peer-reviewed source...
I also venture that the more hostile academics are in the soft sciences - particularly the more controversial ones like sociology, history, philosophy, economics, etc. which have academics that hold quite strong opinions and pet theories that are more often than not exactly the opposite of another in the same field. They're already POV warriors by default.
Wikipedia, however, is certainly viewed positively and used frequently by most of the academia and recommended to their students.
And P.S. A little googling for Wikipedia and Academics gives a lot of results already. -- Obsidin Soul 23:01, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
  • I don't "author" because there are pressing needs for original research in my field, and "authoring" on wikipedia directly competes with this. I review articles because this is a time efficient contribution for me, works a different part of my mind, and "has the back" of quality article writers. Fifelfoo (talk) 21:37, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
Fifelfoo, was it you who recently recommended a guidance essay for academics on the do's and don't's of editing WP? That might be what the OP is looking for. An unrelated point is that, depending on your field, it can be a helpful intellectual challenge to be forced to respond to random left-field queries from Randy in Boise. If you can't convince Randy, how are you going to convince the new bunch of undergraduates? Itsmejudith (talk) 22:32, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
The difference is that undergraduates tend to be people who are paying to learn something while Randy could easily be some guy who gets off on seeing how long he can maintain stupid arguments. -- kainaw 22:36, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I don't remember pointing to such an essay, but I do remember having read it recently. WP:EXPERT leads to a series of essays in the further reading, some quite extensive and field (natural science?) specific. You get undergraduates for 10+ weeks, and can provide a structured programme to inculcate knowledge and method. You get Randy for 10+ seconds, and Randy don't understand the least bit of method. It is certainly fun trying to explain the "Value" centric marxian analysis of capital from first principles, four times a week, when trying to write about a specific class's formation. Or, in other news, trying to explain to highly competent editors who aren't academic that discussion of evidence does not indicate presence of a theoretical construct (an encyclopaedic "subject") covering that evidence, unless the construct is specifically uncovered, explained and discussed. Fifelfoo (talk) 22:41, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
One swallow maketh not a summer, nor doth one exception shoot down a rule, but I know that at least one of the regular and frequent editors about the history of the American left is an academic historian. But in general, we're quoting academics rather than including them as editors, perhaps partly because of the rule against WP:Original research (including WP:Original synthesis), which is the one thing that a self-respecting scholar would take most pride in doing, or else be ashamed of doing insufficiently. —— Shakescene (talk) 22:44, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
I would be reluctant to draw that conclusion or make that generalization about the average academic. Any time an academic publishes a paper, they must write an introduction which is a well-referenced and concise summary of the state of knowledge relating to the paper's topic. Peer reviewers tend to get quite testy if an author fails to properly acknowledge and credit prior work. Many academics will also write (or even be invited to write) review articles, which are properly considered secondary sources and don't incorporate any 'original research' at all. These articles strive to comprehensively survey the relevant literature in an area, and to organize it in a clear and accessible manner.
While review articles in an academic journal will typically assume a higher level of background knowledge on the part of their reader, their purpose isn't far from what we ought to strive for in the construction of our encyclopedia articles. Most academics, in my experience, quite enjoy sharing their knowledge and talking about their fields, and many take quite a bit of (generally quiet) pride in writing a well-constructed review article. The major problem is – as Kainaw observes – in dealing with the small but loud and obnoxious minority of editors who have great stubbornness but limited competence. We have to deal with fringe advocates who like to match up blog postings with peer-reviewed scientific research, and who feel that Google hits are a measure of scientific accuracy. I've vented a bit about this problem on my user page: User:TenOfAllTrades#On competence. Skilled academics have outlets for their writing that don't make them put up with this constant low-level irritation from WP:RANDY, so many of them just decide not to bother with Wikipedia's shit. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 23:06, 4 December 2011 (UTC)
In case it isn't clear above, ToaT is mentioning two very common types of papers/articles that academics write. One is a survey. No original research. It is just a survey of everyone else's work. The other is the standard research paper. That is mostly original research. It should contain, in an introduction at least, a survey that supports the original research. I think that most people think academics only write original research, but there are many survey papers also. -- kainaw 02:27, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

I wouldn't say academics do not contribute. Where do you get this information from? WK is known as the unemployed PhD death match, just see the talk page of some science articles, and you'll realize how anal people can get about some proper terminology. Obviously, on the top of that, it's irrelevant who contributed to the Britney Spears article, but I'd say science articles are mostly written by people with some formal education in science. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:58, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

{ec}Some academics start contributing here because their students make use of Wikipedia and they feel that at least the articles that they use should have a reasonable level of content. It's kind of why I got involved (although I've not been an academic for almost 23 years), because so much was so bad (back in 2006) in the Earth Sciences generally. In the geology/geophysics area at the moment we have a pretty good set of active or onetime academics contributing, although a few have left after difficult encounters with established editors. One world-renowned seismologist started by producing a well-written and comprehensive (but at the time unsourced) draft of a new article on one his user sub-pages only to have someone nominate it for deletion almost immediately as OR. Eventually it was kept and properly referenced and is now in article space. Also he uploaded a series of images to illustrate the article and had most of them deleted, because he intially had great difficulty in understanding what license he should be using. He did persevere for a while, but has not been active for several months. I'm not entirely surprised after being hit with multiple templates on his user page, although I very much hope that he will be back. Mikenorton (talk) 15:01, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Were Monaco or part of Switzerland ever part of an Arab caliphate?[edit]

In the comments to a Sporcle quiz about modern countries occupying the territory of former Arab Caliphates, the question came up of whether Monaco or (at least part of) Switzerland occupies such territory. The evidence I could glean from Google references, Wikipedia and other general sources was maddeningly inconclusive, especially about Monaco, never definitively saying that the Saracens had occupied Monaco at the same time they suggested that they had been expelled by the first of the Grimaldi family that has reigned over Monaco for the last six centuries.

Here is the discussion we had at Sporcle:

¶ carbon_rod: Nov 25th, 2011 at 18:29 GMT

Wasn't Monaco also held for a time by the Arabs?
¶ shakescene: Nov 27th, 2011 at 05:01 GMT A cursory Google search is maddeningly elusive about whether and when the Saracens held Monaco, with some public domain sources hidden in tiny incomplete snippets. Wikipedia's articles on the History of Monaco, the Saracens and the history of Islam in Southern Italy are similarly indirect (e.g. the Saracens "were finally expelled" around A.D. 975 without specifying in particular how, whether or when they arrived in the first place.) The Saracens (from al-Andalus) certainly surrounded Monaco, and it seems extremely likely to me that they occupied Monaco, too, but it's just not very clear from the sources I could dig up. The clearest one, quite hostile to the Saracens (perhaps justifiably, I don't know) is The History of Monaco, Past and Present, by H. Pemberton (1867), which you can view, search and download in full for free from Google Books. That one seems pretty definite that the Saracens controlled Monaco (in fact the coast from Monaco to St. Tropez from their fortress at Fraxinet) until driven out of Provence by the Grimaldis (Prince Rainier's ancestors). My guess is that you should include Monaco as a full answer, rather than a bonus, but the whole question is a little fuzzy, as I'm sure many of the other countries are.
¶ shakescene: Nov 27th, 2011 at 05:05 GMT For a less hostile view of "The Saracens of St. Tropez" see this article from Saudi Aramco World:
¶ shakescene: Nov 27th, 2011 at 08:10 GMT After reading the story about the Saracens of the Provençal coast, I see that they reached the Alpine passes (including what was later called St. Bernard's pass, after one of the men who expelled them) and might possibly have occupied part of what is now Switzerland. So further investigation might indicate, if such an occupation was more than fleeting or transitory, adding Switzerland to the Ummayad Caliphate of Córdoba.
¶ zeppelinoid [the quiz's creator] : Dec 3rd, 2011 at 17:41 GMT

@carbon_rod & shakescene: I am unable to locate any source suggesting that Monaco was ever part of the Caliphate. It would appear that the south west part of the Franch Mediterranean coast was part of the Ummayyad and Abbasid Caliphates and that throughout this period there were incursions along the whole of the south coast by both land and sea. It is also reasonable to assume that there were permanent settlements as far East as the Alps but this is not tantamount to providing proof that the territory of modern Monaco was ever under the permanent or even temporary control of the Caliphate. Accordingly, I have decided to add Monaco and Switzerland as bonus answers only.

Is there any clarification that other Wikipedians can offer on this point? Would it be worth asking at French-language Wikipédie, or (more likely) asking someone who writes better French and is more familiar with fr:Wikipedia's slightly-different structure? —— Shakescene (talk) 23:10, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

History of Monaco says that the area was under constant conflict between the Lombards and the Franks during the early middle ages, and says that "the Saracens were expelled in 975", implying that yes, at least for Monaco, it was under nominal Muslim control, at least briefly. I don't know what level of control this was, or if this counts as "under the control of the Caliphate". I would have thought that, after the Battle of Tours that all Muslims had been expelled from the area occupied by Modern France, but clearly they still held parts of the Mediterranean coast for some centuries after that, at least sporadically. History of Switzerland mentions numerous peoples during the Middle Ages, when there had been Muslims in Western Europe, but does not mention any Muslim settlers. --Jayron32 00:37, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Fraxinetum between Marseilles and Monaco
Monaco didn't even exist at the period Shakescene was referencing. The only Caliphate holding in the area was the small naval fortress, Fraxinetum, founded by Andalusi sailors, pirates, and merchants. It was a little bit south of Monaco as well, in modern Provence. And yeah, all sources I could find make it clear that their forays into the Alps were simply that - raids, not the establishment of permanent settlements. Their forces were too small, and while they were technically under the jurisdiction of Cordoba, they were more or less independent from the Caliphate. One of the "republics" that were established in the same way (and not officially by Caliphate action).
It seemed that the King of Italy, Hugh of Provence, was the one who tolerated their forays into the Alps and Switzerland (Swabia) for strategic reasons. It was only when a monk was captured and ransomed from the Alpine passes that the Count of Provence, William I of Provence, and various other counts in the area finally got together to attacked Fraxinetum in the Battle of Tourtour. The latter implies that apart from Fraxinetum, Christian forces did indeed hold sovereignty for the surrounding areas.-- Obsidin Soul 00:46, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Hm... on the other hand, History of Provence#The Expulsion of the Saracens from Provence states that "William became known as the "William the Liberator." He distributed the lands taken from the Saracens between Toulon and Nice to his entourage." The area between Toulon and Nice is far south where Monaco is. However the Embassy of Monaco website in Washington has an account of the lands north. It says "Monaco was ravaged by Saracens and barbarian tribes. After the Saracens were expelled in 975, the depopulated area was reclaimed by the Ligurians.". And this says that Menton, north of Monaco and Fraxinetum, remained uninhabited after the Saracen expulsion until the 11th century, and then it was resettled by the Count of Ventimiglia. So hmm... yes, I think the area where Monaco is today (including Menton), was settled (or at least emptied of its original inhabitants) by Saracens.
But again Faxinetum itself was a city-state republic, not unlike neighboring Christian cities at the time. It was supported but not controlled by the Umayyad Caliph of Cordoba.-- Obsidin Soul 09:53, 5 December 2011 (UTC)