Wikipedia talk:Babel/Archive 1

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How well do I know it?

This category page should include definitions of basic, intermediate, and advanced.msh210 15:09, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The distinctions are a bit arbitrary I suppose. Commons (where this idea started) gives this guide:
  • 1 stands for basic knowledge: the ability to understand and answer simple questions in the language.
  • 2 stands for intermediate knowledge.
  • 3 stands for advanced or fluent knowledge: the ability to correct spelling and grammar errors in the language.
You can read more about the whole thing at Commons:Babel. I'll add these definitions to the page for now. If you can think of a better way of defining them that'd be great. — Trilobite (Talk) 16:09, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

What if I know a "foreign" language (English) better than my "native" language (Chinese)? Perhaps "native" and "level-3" should be merged together, the same that's done on Commons. -- ran (talk) 19:46, Apr 16, 2005 (UTC)

I think we need to clarify what "Native speaker" means, since a lot of people (children of immigrants, for example) know "foreign" languages much better than their "maternal" or "native" languages. Simply asking if a language is "native" to someone may not be a good gauge of how proficient they are in it.

I'm going to change the descriptions of the "native" label on Wikipedia:Babel. All comments are welcome. :) -- ran (talk) 13:44, Apr 17, 2005 (UTC)

I guess it should be obvious, but the article talks about spoken language and we are of course reading and writing, not speaking here. I might almost get away with 'th-1' when speaking to someone and with some time when reading, but I can't write. Similarly I may be no-2 for reading and speaking but I wouldn't trust my spelling. I guess that what we're interested in is written performance in the language. KayEss | talk 06:50, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'm thinking more on similar questions - are the levels primarilly about reading or writing? The question is important, as there are quite a lot of languages that are so similar, that if you know one of them, you might understand all of them, even at a very-close-to-native-level, but you might not be able to write a single sentence (caused by non-existent grammar and spelling knowledges) - you'd just use your own language, and hope whoever you're writing to is okay with that too.

For an example - I'm myself Swede - take the scandinavian wikipedias. There is quite a lot of flow of information even between them - even if you perhaps can't really write in the article, you might be able to check facts etc, and help with images etc. Sometimes content is copied over in the 'wrong' language and translated afterwards. Another example is plattdütsch - as I am a de-3 (living and studying in northern Germany at the moment, and platt being similar to both german and the scandinavian languages) I can understand it at level 1 too. But I would answer in german...

What is the right level to indicate? Right now, the answer is "none". I expect norwegians and danes to understand me, just because I know swedish natively...

TERdON 03:25, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

Well, since I'm better at the language I wasn't raised in (in this case, the language I was raised in was Malay, and I speak and write fluent, almost-native English), I'm going to put myself as en-4 (not a native speaker, but damn well as fluent as one) and ms-3 (oh, the spirits of my ancestors are rolling, they are...). Tell me if I'm wrong ;)--T-Boy 08:22, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

-- See also "Two native languages?" here at bottom. -- Tonymec 16:54, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Works for me. I'll err on the side of caution and keep it at en-4. Thanks! --T-Boy 17:47, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

It doesn't work for me. I speak good Japanese and can write the language, yet I would consider myself able 'to modify articles and to participate in discussions'. I'm not sure I'd be happy to write articles myself. Yet when I chose this option I came out as someone who 'knew a certain amount of Japanese'. This is ridiculous. When I went one up the the scale, I became a 'fluent speaker'. But I rather shudder at this characterisation: 'or advanced or fluent understanding (the ability to write articles in this language without difficulties, minor errors may occur'. There is a mismatch between the description on which the numbering is based and the way that is expressed on the user page.

Bathrobe 08:02, 29 August 2005 (UTC)

Language box

Proposal: What about introducing few more templates? :o) Namely language box template, so it's just one template to call in user page and all user languages are ready formatted. I copied the idea from spanish wiki and here how it would look: User talk:TarmoK/Babel-5 (for 5 languages). So by calling template (template number will define how many languages) user inserts as parameters the language codes.

this approach will require to make n-number templates, one template for every number of languages, i.e. "Babel-1", "Babel-2" etc. I think up to 10 should be more than sufficient. --TarmoK 09:37, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I also thought 10 was a good number to stop at, but believe it or not there is someone with 11 templates on their page! I have gone up to 15 to cater for the real polyglots. — Trilobite (Talk) 07:12, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Well I think if there's someone who has more than these templates "make possible", can create suitable template, just by coping one of the current one, it's easy to expand.
As I see you have copied one template from Spanish wiki and multiplied it. Great work, now we can hope it is (a bit) easier to see these language boxes. Unfortunately I have to point out that, their version needs a little bit improvements HTML-wise, like the width which is somewhere around 250px not 242px, and I think it will be "lighter" (HTML-wise) just to put all language boxes to one cell, as table width would "force" them anyway to "pile up". I didn't start to make changes as there maybe be more opinions about how it should look. In Meta there's a bit different way "coded" it. (I made my example based on example there, and updated code according my taste, but as it's my work I can't propose this look :o) --TarmoK 20:32, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I've made a few changes to Babel-5 (as an example, so that all of them don't have to be changed again and again) and you're right that it's fine to put them all in one cell. That one contains less HTML now. I suppose to be sure when we've got it right we need feedback from people with different browsers. The changes I've made don't affect its appearance in my browser (Firefox running on Windows XP). — Trilobite (Talk) 12:01, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I should be en-5 because I'm better than just a native speaker. I know how to use the Subjunctive mood correctly. My spelling is usually correct. There, I am better at writing English than 80% of all native English speakers.Iopq 23:44, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

english translation in category intro

Proposal: I think there should be also in English what language is in question. As this is wikpedia in English, I think we should have also english "translation" in language categories introductions. It's not much useful for example for non-French speaker to "read" in French that "these users speak French". s/he won't understand it. (s/he can figure out the language from the language code, though.) I made "example" in Estonian main category: Category:User et. --TarmoK 09:52, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Yes this is a good idea, I hadn't noticed that problem. I will try and track down all the relevant category pages and add the translations. — Trilobite (Talk) 06:17, 10 Apr 2005 (UTC)
It might not be a bad idea to even put those on the boxes themselves. Or at least something like (French, intermediate) or something. — Knowledge Seeker 04:29, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I think it should definately all be in English. violet/riga (t) 14:51, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Imho the user-page templates should be bilingual, and, to conserve space, as terse as feasible.msh210 05:37, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)
What about replacing these "sentences" in the boxes with something short, e.g. "Intermediate level of English", i.e. Level on language + word level + Language name (which order, somebody else can descide) and this in both languages, english and language in question. This way we can ease the problem that the text is too long, doesn't fit etc. Also in my opinion is more easier to understand.
Unother suggestion realted to this is that the babel box could have title saying that this box is about language skills. for example "Language skill box with Babel templates:" instead of just "Wikipedia:Babel". (to see example, you can look for my user page) --TarmoK 21:22, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Translators available

Does this project not duplicate Wikipedia:Translators available?msh210 16:06, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Surpasses it. Wikipedia:Translators available = brontosaurus.

Babel Standards Organization (BSO?)

Has it been decided:

  • What the standard dimensions of these buttons should be? Some tags are taller or wider than others, and it isn't aesthetically pleasing if multiple buttons appear together.
  • What the standard font size should be? I originally had all the Persian templates use a 10pt font, to make the characters easier to read, but this contributed to the excessive overall dimensions (see above).
  • Should an English translation of the native-language message appear below, separated by a horizontal line? Some of the tags do this, others do not. Again, this contributes to size discrepancies, a major aesthetic issue for people trying to display these tags in a sidebar on their userpages (e.g. mine).

Maybe the Dictators Administrators can come up with some kind of system and vote on it? (Maybe that will distract them from nominating my pages for deletion, hmmm...) --Jpbrenna 18:41, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This Dictator suggests that any user can nominate pages for deletion and that any user can come up with systems and vote on them. But he has the following comments: I thought that the buttons were all the same size. At least the few I've seen. I don't know about the font size. I am in favor of having an English translation on all the pages. — Knowledge Seeker 05:24, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I have created {{User en-0}} and its category. This is for people that don't speak English but are contributing in other ways, like with maps or photos, and must depend on machine translation. I did something similar (manually) on my German user page. --SPUI (talk) 02:52, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Excellent idea. I occasionally add Commons images to other Wikipedias whose languages I don't understand at all, and I'd love to have a template like this to use. — Knowledge Seeker 05:27, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
these templates should be only in appropriate language wikipedias, i.e. no german in German wiki, no japanese in Japanese wiki. Sort of way for "foreigners" in wiki to show to "locals" the limited knowledge of local language. --TarmoK 30 June 2005 12:16 (UTC)
{{user en-0}} is a great idea. Some points, though:
  • We should not have other languages with -0 templates on en.wikipedia. (That should be obvious, but I just thought I'd point it out.)
  • category:user en-0 should not be a subcategory (which it is now) of user en, as (a) the latter indicates that it's for those who know English and (b) people looking at the list at category:user en will assume everyone on it knows English. Rather, user en-0 should me a direct subcat of user languages.
  • We should add en-0 to the list.msh210 15:51, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

User-0 templates

Do we really need User-0 templates for languages other than English? For example, I could just as well put every one of those on my user page other than English and Spanish, creating unnessary clutter. I think it should be assumed that if a language is missing from a user's babel, it should be assumed that they cannot communicate in that language. You 20:44, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)

No, we don't. This has already been noted above. --cesarb 21:58, 2 Jun 2005 (UTC)
User-0 templates are good if you for example contribute a lot to Israel-related articles and want to be honest about "but I don't speak any Hebrew" or "I speak a little Hebrew but no Arabic". --Salleman 28 June 2005 21:51 (UTC)
Well, in this case, when you really would want to point out this, then ~i guess it's ok to have set of this kind of templates, but they should be not included to babel categories ...just my opinion
In case these templates are made, then the text should be in english (and maybe also in related language, to keep unified look with other babel templates) ... and in general all these templates should have english aside of local language, as english is "user interface" language here, it's not much "help" to "read" something in polish or korean, when only way to understand is the code on the left --TarmoK 30 June 2005 12:16 (UTC)
The french template fr-0 was already there. I use it on my User Page to indicate that I can understand french with considerable difficulty, and can ask people how they are doing. Maybe the first part "This user does not understand language XXX" should be dropped in favour of "This user can grasp the language with considerable difficulty".
I agree that it wouldn´t make sense to list all the languages one has never heard of (Dzongkha, Kannada, Tajik, no clue about (Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic), or see some recognisable strucure (Germanic Languages, Roman Languages).
  • REQUEST: remove the first part of the XX-0 description, keeping only the piece between the brackets. Add the usage information to the page.
I added the nl-0 template.
maybe the text should be english for all languages.
Zanaq 4 July 2005 20:12 (UTC)
If you can actually read and write French at an elementary level "with considerable difficulty," as you say, you should be using Template:User fr-1. --Quuxplusone 17:20, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

It certainly is ridiculous to have templates like Template:User ja-0. It's like those people who get tattoos in foreign languages because they think it looks cool, and then find out weeks later that what the tattoo really says is "Ha ha, this idiot can't read his own tattoo," or something. The whole point of the template, currently, is that nobody who uses it actually understands it!

Besides, I don't speak Basque or Scots Gaelic. Let's hurry up and create those templates so I can add them to my vanity (I mean, user) page! --Quuxplusone 17:20, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

I feel that the xx-0 template is actually quite useful for things such as Salleman stated, or the Babel page itself such as a Canadian from British Columbia who doesn't speak any French. I also like the idea for the second use as stated in the Babel page, e.g., I have studied the phonology and grammar of Old English, but wouldn't really be able to understand it without considerable searching through a dictionary. But I would still say zero and not non-existant (e.g., Cherokee) because I could understand it using a dictionary, and wouldn't also have to try to decipher the grammar. (It would be like asking someone who knew absolutely nothing about English to look up the word 'went' in an English-Native Tongue dinctionary. They would have to know that 'went' was the preterite of 'to go' to get anywhere with their translation.) Of course, I have been unsuccessful in making the Old English-Zero template work--perphaps it's not been created? I think the xx-0 would be especially useful for dead languages. Kaibab 03:22, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

A new category

May I suggest a Wikipedia:Knowledge?, that indicate our level of knowledege as babel the languages we know


I added the templates to Wikipedia:Template_messages/User_namespace (not all of them, though). -- grm_wnr Esc 18:20, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Template formating

I was going to add no-2's template but realised that I wasn't sure what the correct format was. There seems to be some colour coding going on, but I'm not sure what the colours mean and if the other templates use them properly. Can somebody write about the colour coding and what should be in the template so we have some instruction to mark their correctness against? KayEss | talk 03:03, 5 May 2005 (UTC)

this: Wikipedia:Template_messages/User_namespace#Single languages will probably answer your questions --TarmoK 20:23, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

How to get it working on other-language user-pages

I've put the recommended bit of typing on my Userpage here, where it shows a coloured box as expected, and on my Userpages at de:, eo:, and mi:, where it doesn't. What do I do to get it displaying properly on those too? (I have read all of the instructions, I think, but something is evidently not evident enough) Robin Patterson 22:11, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Those Wikipedias will have to start a Babel page, then start templates for each of the languages. It's not as bad as it sounds, just lots of copy & paste and making sure you have the pages titled correctly. Touch base with the admins first so they don't freak out when you start all these pages. --Jpbrenna 04:37, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
Thank you - I think. "Start a Babel page" could mean all sorts of things. Where precisely can I see one to copy? Would I really be moving in a useful direction if I simply made a copy of [[1]]? (Even that page doesn't say how one then starts templates.) Robin Patterson 20:23, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
I think this originated on WikiCommons. So at one point they had to have started this page here, and then started copying some of the stuff. Starting templates is easy -- I've done it. The markup will be the same on all Wikis, it's just the text that you'll have to translate. But that comes after you've started the categories. Why don't we start a Babel page on the French or German sites (you pick) with just one category: English. Then we can add German and French, and you can put the tags on your userpage there. It won't take long before people start filing in to add other languages and improve it. I'll help with the formatting issues, but you'll have to do the translating since I know very little French or German.--Jpbrenna 20:40, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

(Starting back at left-hand margin so as not to overdo the indenting)
Thanks for coming back and explaining more! With encouragement and guidance from you and my friend Klemen_Kocjancic, we are making progress. GERMAN sems to be OK! But on "fr" my 5-language code displayed only the first three last time I looked. Doubtless someone who knows more French than you or I will fix that soon. Nothing showing on "la", so maybe I'll sort that out if nobody else does. Must first go carefully through my new mi:Wikipedia:Babel to see what must be changed soon and what ought to be improved one day...

I hope this discussion will help others who were wondering as I was but didn't know how or where to ask. Kind regards - Robin Patterson 06:39, 13 May 2005 (UTC)


Instead of saying "This user is...", shouldn't the templates say "I am a..." (since they will be used primarily on user pages)? тəті 16:13, May 15, 2005 (UTC)

I'm saying "This registered member is ..." (or an equivalent in the language concerned) - Robin Patterson 20:20, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Capital letters

Before I go changing most of the templates: is there any specific reason why many of the templates do not capitalise the initial letter of the languages mentioned? I understand why the two letter codes are in lower-case, but not the actual text itself. Rje 18:02, May 15, 2005 (UTC)

  • The templates are in the concerned language; and in many languages (but not in English and in some other Germanic languages) language names are not capitalized. So: "Cette personne parle français" (lowercase) but "This user speaks English" (language name capitalised) and "Dieser Benutzer hat [...] Deutschkenntnisse" (all nouns capitalised). Tonymec 05:27, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Template colours

People have created new language templates with colours reflecting country flags. I think this is a bad idea, because the language and the country don't always match. Several languages are used in many countries, many coutries use several languages etc. By using flag colours you tell Swiss Wikipedians speaking French as their native language that they are French! -Hapsiainen 13:35, May 17, 2005 (UTC)

  • Agreed. Even if someone devises a template-category combo for, e.g., American English, it would not be a good idea, as even American English is spoken in more than one country.msh210 17:18, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
I agree, bad idea. It would just create a huge mess -- especially with languages spoken in former European colonies. You'd have dozens for Spanish, French and English. If you want to display national pride, put your nation's flag in a conspicuous spot on your userpage.--Jpbrenna 17:52, 17 May 2005 (UTC)


Specifically for English, and possibly for other languages, I think the templates and categories should allow for dialects. I'm thinking primarily of English here: I might some time need to contact someone fluent in, e.g., New Zealand English, and these templates and categories should allow for that. We'd thus have en-US, en-GB, en-NZ, etc. What think you all?msh210 17:18, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

You don't need separate tags for that. The dialects of languages like English, Spanish and Arabic are mutually intelligible. It's not impossible for a Briton or an American to become "fluent" in New Zealand English. Take a Castilian Spanish speaker and plop him down in Argentina, and he'll pick up the slang and realize that you pronounce "ll" as "j" in no time. It might be harder for, say, a native Chicagoan to figure out what a Scotsman is saying, but I still regard it as a dialect of English, not a separate language. Now for Kurdish, or some of the Low Countries languages where you have dialect continua, you could make a case for having a separate category - and Frisian already does, while most people would look for a Kurmanji speaker under Kurdish.
I think having these national dialect tags would just complicate matters too much. Pretty soon you'll have subnational, regional dialect and sociolect tags being proposed next: "California surfer dude American English", "Sheep drover Australian English", "Newfoundland codfisherman Canadian English" and "Working-clas Irish-Catholic-turned professor at a Midwestern American university Boston English." And despite my occasionally inability to fathom what my father or some of my friends from California are saying (As a boy, I was always perplexed when the old man told me to "get some padayduhs" and peel them for my mother), I really don't think we should start creating language tags for them. How many drovers and codfisherman are logging into Wikipedia? They're too busy working. You think Crocodile Dundee is checking the Wikipedia:Babel page with his Blackberry while he boils his breakfast?
Face it, even an entirely uneducated Aussie or New Zealander has no problem conversing with a Briton or American. Most Wikipedia users probably have at least some secondary education or are knowledgeable autodidacts familiar with some of the peculiarties of other dialects of English. We just don't need need these tags. --Jpbrenna 18:53, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

I agree with your slippery-slope argument. Including en-NZ may well lead to en-x-California-surfer-dude. So perhaps you're right that it's better not to include any such. Otoh, I wish there were some way to identify those who might be able to help me "translate" (quotation marks indicating that the word is used reservedly and knowingly incorrectly) from NZ English. Any alternative ideas?msh210 19:08, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

You might try the mini-lexicon here: New_Zealand_English.
or even try Wikipedia:New_Zealand_Wikipedians'_notice_board - Robin Patterson 20:26, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I strongly disagree sith the slippery-slope argument. To use regional codes is a finite extention. On Wikt:Wiktionary, it is a constantly recurring problem that UK'ers think they know GenAm. --Connel MacKenzie 18:37, Jun 23, 2005 (UTC)
Since these templates are to facilitate communication, we needn't distinguish between dialects. --MarSch 08:46, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Actually the difference between en-US and en-GB is more than just the difference between two dialects. Both are "standards" of the English language and follow different spelling and grammar rules, as well as different vocabularies. In de-DE and de-AT this is a smaller problem, but still existant.
The problem can be ignored for non-native speakers, tho, as that tends to create even more problems -- in Europe schools traditionally teach en-GB, but pop-culture (e.g. music and the internet) usually water that down with en-US: the result being a sort-of "European English" representing a mix of both variations.
I think the difference is still too subtle as that it absolutely HAS to be noted and usually the user pages give enough information as that one can guess which variation the user speaks and writes.
Since Wikipedia EN has a policy on en-GB vs. en-US already and most other Wikipedias where this became a notable issue probably adopted similar conventions, I don't think this is particularily important in the first place. -- Ashmodai 09:28, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Hawaiian Pidgin, anyone?

Hawaiian Pidgin stay plenny difren from da kine normal English. I tink you goin need fo change da rules skosh.--Endroit 04:17, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

PS: Let me know if you can create a template for Hawaiian Pidgin... mahalo.--Endroit 04:20, 27 November 2005 (UTC)
PPS: The ISO/DIS 639-3 code for Hawaiian Pidgin is: HWC.--Endroit 04:58, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

creoles, natural languages, and dialects

i. The languages list is currently divided into "natural languages," "language-related," and "other." A number of the languages listed as 'natural' are in fact creoles:

--I propose that either the languages list be reorganized: 1. natural languages, 2. creoles, 3. related, 4. other; or that "natural languages" be replaced with "languages."

In what way are creoles not natural languages? Separating them from "natural languages" is misleading, to say the least. I assume you're confusing creoles with pidgins? I agree, though, that a reorganization is needed, considering that some of the languages under "natural languages" are patently not natural languages--I speak mainly of constructed languages. EldKatt (Talk) 15:51, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

ii. While the list of dialects of a given language cannot be set, there are some dialects --not too encompassing and not too narrow-- that can be said to be useful in situations like this. The "Selected list of articles on dialects" at the bottom of the "dialects" page has a useful list of such dialects for Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Persian, Portugese, Serbo-Croatian, Sicilian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish. Given those suggestions, it should be possible to choose some dialects to include. Should this be done?

  • One argument made against the inclusion of dialects is the slippery slope problem. With an understanding of the considerations made by linguists (see, again, dialect) this can be warded off.
  • Another argument is that dialect speakers also speak standard forms of their language. This is by no means necessarily true... Indeed, those people who are sufficiently exposed to a dialect to become fluent in it may well be people whose environment does not expose them to the standard form (not to say that being fluent in a dialect entails non-fluency in the standard variety). As far as mutual intelligibility goes, which would allow those dialect speakers not familiar with the standard language to "figure it out," this is also not guaranteed (e.g. Highland English, which is based on Scottish English with liberal borrowings from (a particular dialect of) Gaelic, is worlds apart what you might hear on Fox News).
  • The Babel project serves two functions: it brings together/helps out users based on language; it also gives us a picture of who uses wikipedia. This is, after all, en.wikipedia, and the en-0 level has as of this writing only 28 users. Yet we don't cut the levels down to "fluent" and "near fluent," as we would if the only purpose was to help non-speakers read pages. While the first cause is certainly the more noble, the second may (in this world of online multilingual dictionaires) turn out to be the more driving.

--I propose that major dialects be added to the list (1. nat's, 1.b. dialects, 2. creoles...) with the inclusion of a reminder that users list not those (many) dialects which they could understand, and not those they might pretend to speak in when joking around with friends, but those which they actually run across regularly. Dialects could be incorporated into the Babel box as a sub-entry below the standard language. As the opinions voiced thus far are primarily anti-dialects, another option would be to let a "spoken languages" userbox ("Who would have thought? 407 users of wikipedia speak Manx English!") grow out of the Babel project, with Babel remaining as a strictly-standard-language "languages I can field questions in" tool. Eitch 13:25, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

More use of templates

In Japanese Babel, some templates are used for showing of many languages in the Babel page(Template:Babels), category pages for each languages(Template:Category user language, 1, 2, 3, N), templates for each languages(Template:User language-1, 2, 3, N), and designed to simplify the editing and to save size of pages.(Examples of use: ja:Wikipedia:バベル, Category:User en, Template:User en-1.) How about introducing these in English Wikipedia? Enirac Sum 13:31, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Renaming/moving the "Tagalog (Filipino)" language to "Filipino"

Tagalog has ceased to be the national language of the Philippines albeit being spoken as a dialect in Southern Luzon. It is generally accepted by Filipinos (as supported by academics from major universities such as Ateneo, La Salle and UP) that Filipino is based on Tagalog. Loan words from various languages and dialects (ex. siomai {dumpling, Chinese}; imam {muslim cleric, Tausug}; gahum {hegemony, Cebuano}) make Filipino distinct from Tagalog.

In practice, these terms are used interchangably here in Manila. I am a Tagalog myself and really don't mind. It is a fact however that Filipinos in other provinces (such as those in Cebu, Davao and even nearby Pampanga) refer to our lingua franca as Filipino, and NOT simply Tagalog. That is to add that it is the official stand of the state, in accordance with our basic law (1987 Constitution states that Filipino, and not Tagalog, nor Pilipino, is the national language).

You may also find the article Languages_of_the_Philippines useful. Thanks!

Mark 21:25, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

If there is a difference between Filipino and Tagalog, then they ought to remain in their own articles. They are in their own articles because there is no one opinion on the definition of Filipino, as there is no definition provided for in the 1987 Constitution. I know for a fact that Filipinos in Cebu and other provinces DO NOT refer to the language as Filipino, but Tagalog, except in school when the name of the subject is clearly Filipino. Tagalog did not cease to be a national language of the Philippines because the Filipino language is still Tagalog (in a sense). On another argument, Tagalog did not cease to be the national language because it never was declared officially as one in the Philippines at all (being officially called Pilipino or Filipino).
Sorry, but there are loan words in every language and a handful cannot make it a different language, especially if the loan words are in use in Manila (a native Tagalog-speaking area). While they might not be in use some years ago, I believe all Tagalog speakers refer to siomai as siomai, and an imam as imam. English itself even uses siomai and imam! This doesn't make it Filipino, the same way the sentence "I savored filet mignon at the soiree" CAN still be considered American English. No one considers that sentence as in a different language as compared to "I enjoyed steak at the party." There's a mere difference in word choice, and no native English speaker is going to mistake it for French. French-influenced maybe. --Wng 08:41, May 28, 2005 (UTC)

I just happened to see another discussion about this in the [Tagalog Wikipedia] and see their point (some of which you also share, I believe). Though I have reservations on some of the points you have made in your reply, you have convinced me that Filipino and Tagalog ought to remain in their own articles. Thanks a lot for your help Wng :) --Mark 10:57, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

Native or not

The project page instructs me to put "xx if you're a native speaker or have a grasp of the language comparable to a native speaker", so I put xx for the relevant languages. However, what appears on my page is text saying that I am actually a native speaker in all those languages. That's not quite right. If I try putting xx-4, it doesn't work for all languages. — Chameleon 19:07, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

IIUC, level 4 is a new addition. The templates and categories for it are progressively being made. For instance, when I first built my user page a few days ago, there was no eo-4 template. Now there is (and I didn't even make it). If you put xx-4 in the Babel entry on your user page, and it results in a "missing link" instead of a template, then you can either create the template and category yourself; or if you are not bold enough, you can ask that someone help you do it. -- Tonymec 03:55, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

Skills other than languages

I may be alone on this one, but I think it could be handy to be able to extend this template model to other skills outside spoken language. For example, ability to use computer programming languages or to play musical instruments. While this might not be as directly 'useful' as the current system is in facilitating multilingual communication between users, it would allow people to set out their non-lingual skills in a concise way on personal pages. Perhaps it could also be extended to subjects in which people feel they have a particular expertise or interest? Obviously for the sake of practicality the interest/expertise categories would have to be reasonably broad to avoid having a separate tag for every article! This would probably be better as a project distinct from Babel - I'd be happy to do some groundwork if people think it's a good idea. Hit my talk page if you like. -- Yummifruitbat 01:44, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

I've added some examples for 'Piano' under User_piano to illustrate, as well as one in context on my user page. Comments? -- Yummifruitbat 02:32, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

Computer skills, yes, maybe, but piano skills have no obvious relevance to the interaction between WP users. Isn't the Wikipedia:Wikipedians area the best for that sort of thing? (Caution - its "Other listings" section says: "... We encourage you to spend your time categorizing our encyclopedic content, rather than categorizing yourself!") Robin Patterson 23:06, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It should be pointed out first that I have no opinion at all as to if or how this should be implemented, but I disagree somewhat with your bolded statement. It has potential relevance to the interaction between WP users in the same way as languages or computer skills: it makes it possible to find users with expertise in a particular area. I don't think this is any less relevant. EldKatt (Talk) 18:45, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps one or more generic Babel templates could be created that would allow someone to pipe in various parameters. For example {{g-babel-1|C++|the computer language C++}} would result in: "C++ -1 | This user has a basic knowledge of the computer language C++". BlankVerse 12:03, 3 Jun 2005 (UTC)
BanyanTree contacted me on the talk page of my IP after he noticed some of the example templates I'd created. This from my reply:
"Although I had started with musical instruments, my aim was to produce a system similar to the language one which would enable Wikipedians to highlight their interests and proficiencies in a concise way on their user pages. I don't believe this is entirely unnecessary from an encyclopaedic point of view - it would facilitate communication between users about articles in which they have a particular interest; or perhaps might be able to contribute valuable knowledge. For example, a user tagging articles as stubs, finding one about a composer of music for the violin, might be able to bring up the User_violin category, and find someone with an interest in the instrument who would be happy to expand the article. As a secondary function, these templates would also make it easy for people to find like-minded users, and then see what they'd contributed to - an interesting way of broadening one's horizons by inviting exploration of parts of Wikipedia one might not otherwise have visited. I freely admit that the way I've set out the templates I've made so far is probably non-optimal; if the consensus is that I'm causing an unnecessary mess, I'll happily stop and concentrate my efforts on other aspects of Wikipedia. I planned to stop at the 5 categories I've made so far anyway, and to see what people's reactions were."
BlankVerse: That sounds like a good idea, although the disadvantage is that you lose commonality between pages; the use of categories which is central to my suggestion would be difficult to implement without a set format or code for each skill. Hope all that makes sense anyway! -- Yummifruitbat 12:08, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Robin:Wikipedia:Wikipedians hadn't occurred to me but you've got a point. Having said that, adding yourself to a list of Wikipedians with x skill isn't a lot different from popping a template into your user page which does it for you, except that the latter (arguably) looks prettier (which might encourage people to do it). -- Yummifruitbat 12:20, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

green colour

I know this sounds extremely odd, but I would like the green colour of the babel (which is on many user pages) modified. There are three/four colours which make me sick (slightly nauseous infact, and I have no clue why...) Would anyone have any objections if the HTML colour code is modified slightly?  =Nichalp (Talk)= 07:47, Jun 1, 2005 (UTC)

  • are you saing that I make you sick? I've green eyes. I think the colour is fine! Blue make me sick cause my father's eyes are blue (also the colour of cold and distance). Keep it green, the colour of hope. Hope to understand has much people as you can. -Pedro 22:37, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)
  • Nichalp may have a valid point there - didn't say "no green". I suggest we invite Nichalp to produce an acceptable sort of green (but I agree that green is best in principle - hope, "Go", ecology...) Robin Patterson 23:12, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)
    • I'm not against green -- its my favourite colour. I'm against this particular shade.  =Nichalp (Talk)= 05:58, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)
  • Wouldn't the best way to avoid problems be to use a class attribute and add the color definitions to Monobook.css? This way, it could easily be overridden by a user stylesheet (and plus the code would get smaller and all the color definitions would be in the same place). And even if the definitions aren't moved to Monobook.css, adding a class to the templates would allow the use of a !important CSS declaration on the user stylesheet to override the colors on the style attribute.

Olive gree, dark green, light green, any other green other than this will do.  =Nichalp (Talk)= 10:32, Jun 2, 2005 (UTC)

How about this:?

<div style="float:left;border:solid #CAF850 1px;margin:1px">
<table cellspacing="0" style="width:238px;background:#B9E855"><tr >
<td style="width:45px;height:45px;background:#A3D76B;text-align:center;
font-size:14pt">'''en'''</td >
<td style="font-size:8pt;padding:4pt;line-height:1.25em">
These users are '''[[:Category:User en-N|native]]''' speakers of 
'''[[:Category:User en|English]]'''.</td >
</tr ></table ></div >

 =Nichalp (Talk)= 13:55, Jun 3, 2005 (UTC)


We are still told that "subst" helps the servers. But when I faithfully followed the instruction, some of my templates didn't work; and my knowledgeable colleagues have made them work by removing the "subst". Would the people concerned for the servers please explain exactly what a good alternative would have been? Then maybe I can follow the server-saving method in the many more templates I may have to create. Robin Patterson 23:16, 1 Jun 2005 (UTC)

language noticeboards?

Recently I've seen a few questions on the VP and reference desk regarding translations to or from English. To deal with this it would be handy to have a noticeboard as a central reference point for e.g. German speakers, rather than picking on a random e.g. German speaker. Indeed the latest one is someone wanting to know the names of different components of an atomic bomb - I'd be very lucky to pick someone who knows this first time. Thryduulf 15:39, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)

How does one create the graphical template for lesser known indian languages

I'm quite proficient in 3 indian languages, unfortunately only hindi has the appropriate category and the corresponding graphical sign. for tamil and telugu and many other languages they are missing. how does it get created and if it's easy enough can someone elucidate me on the process so that i can create the suitable images for them. also what color structures should be used?

If no one responds to this fine, but remember this isn't the last time no one is responding to obscure information request. i've tried to get information on other topics but the systemic bias is continuing for some reason.--Idleguy 03:30, Jun 5, 2005 (UTC)

Creating extra templates is pretty easy, although they should only be used for distinct languages rather than dialects (see above under Dialects). Tamil and Telegu are both worthy candidates though. Here's what you need to do:
  • Find the ISO 639 Alpha-2 code for each language. This is used to name each set of templates.
  • Start a new template by typing its name in the search box (eg. for basic Tamil, 'Template:User ta-1' [no quotes]), then clicking on the link in small text at the very top of the Search results page (next to "You searched for "), and then clicking "Start the {{template name}} article".
  • You can base your templates on the formatting of those already created. The example below is what you'd need for the basic Tamil template:
<div style="float:left;border:solid #99B3FF 1px;margin:1px">
{| cellspacing="0" style="width:238px;background:#E0E8FF"
| style="width:45px;height:45px;background:#99B3FF;text-align:center;font-size:14pt" | '''ta-1'''
| style="font-size:8pt;padding:4pt;line-height:1.25em" | This user is able to contribute with a 
'''[[:Category:User ta-1|basic]]''' level of '''[[:Category:User ta|Tamil]]'''
  • Obviously you'd need to translate the above text into Tamil, and replace each incidence of 'ta-1' with ta-2 or ta-3 for the intermediate and advanced templates.
  • For the Native speaker templates, the only difference from the above is in the colour codes, and the use of (eg.) ta-N in place of a number. Here's the Tamil example code:
<div style="float:left;border:solid #6ef7a7 1px;margin:1px;">
{| cellspacing="0" style="width:238px;background:#c5fcdc;"
| style="width:45px;height:45px;background:#6ef7a7;text-align:center;font-size:14pt;" | '''ta'''
| style="font-size:8pt;padding:4pt;line-height:1.25em;" | This user is a 
'''[[:Category:User ta-N|native]]''' speaker of '''[[:Category:User ta|Tamil]]'''
  • You'll also need to create the relevant categories as specified in the templates. This is done in a similar way, you might want to have a look at the source of some existing categories to get the idea.
I hope that helps; if you need any further assistance feel free to contact me either here or on my talk page. -- Yummifruitbat 12:03, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the help. I've created the template, however the appearance is very crude despite using the standard native font of windows 2000 and XP. ie. it appears fine in my notepad and in google but in wikipedia the letters aren't joined. Since this is hard to explain as in english there is only one letter, in indian languages two letters r combined, however the combination isn't properly reflected only in the template box. in regular articles of the tamil wikipedia there seems to be no problem. maybe a problem with the template box? i don't really know. --Idleguy 10:11, Jun 6, 2005 (UTC)

Intermediate versus Advanced

I'm a native English speaker with a fair amount of experience in French (2 years receiving credit and 4 years of basics prior plus extra-curricular independent study). However, there's a big of ambiguity here... at least from my perspective. I considered using the intermediate level for French; however, the criteria for advanced states that one must be able to correct spelling and grammatical errors. I can do this too, though I'm hardly fluent. Should I just stick with the safe bet of intermediate French until further education, or should I be technical about it and put advanced? --Thorns Among Our Leaves 20:30, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Go for what you feel is the best; WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. --cesarb 20:43, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'm putting level 2 for now, since I'm nowhere near perfect. --Thorns Among Our Leaves 20:44, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
And I'm with the thorns (no old-english pun intended): fr-2. Eight years of doing about an hour's French study every weekday qualifies one for correcting a lot of errors but I was fairly useless at conversation even while still at the University of Otago. Wikipedia editing is about reading and writing at one's own speed, nothing to do with "fluency", and even the word "speaker" is misleading in this context really. Robin Patterson 14:46, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Bizarre color changes

I'm sure the intent was honourable, in order to separate the levels, however, the new color scheme is rather grating. Can we change them back, or choose more subtle differenes? astiquetalk 15:15, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I personally like them, but they are a bit bright. I agree that more subtle colors would do better. Does anybody have any suggestions for such colors? --Wikiacc 19:26, Jun 15, 2005 (UTC)
I think they're fine except for that yellow... and maybe the orange is a bit bright, but I'd leave the level 3 and native templates alone. You (Talk) 19:32, Jun 15, 2005 (UTC)
Positively garish, as it stands now. Please change them! The differences should be subtle, just a shade or two, and the colors should be muted. --Jpbrenna 21:48, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

How about:

en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-3 This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of English.
en-2 This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of English.
en-1 This user is able to contribute with a basic level of English.

That is much better!--Jpbrenna 01:44, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

For the love of God, change them back...Or at least, use pale colors...I feel like my userpage has gone to Vegas for the weekend. -- Essjay · talk 02:15, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)

To whomever made the change back: Thank you! Drop by my page and I'll give you a big gold star! Essjay · talk 06:33, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)
I rather liked the bright colors :( --MarSch 14:20, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
New color suggestions below. Jigen III 07:39, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Subst or not?

I think that proposing the template without 'subst:' should be the 'standard policy'. I understand that expanding eases the load on servers, but it has some drawbacks: if the template is changed in the future, it will lead to different results between pages that used the same template. Of course, it allows for more 'personalisable' pages, and it's ok if that was the intent. But I think this ois an encyclopedia, not a homepage hosting service, and uniformity allows the reader to have quick visual references. Anyway, is this load increase considerable, can it be measured? Couldn't it be managed buying more servers or optimizing the code? Akiss 22:42, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree that subst is not warranted. Actually if anyone changes the colors again they could install some new templates instead. Then we could change the colors more easily. --MarSch 14:22, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
re: measurable load increase: User:Jamesday, one of the WikiMedia m:developers, has said that when a popular template is edited, that there is a measurable, obvious hit to the database performance. Any popular meta-template (that is a template that calls other templates) only compounds this problem. All of the main Babel templates should use subst: because they are becoming popular templates. BlankVerse 04:56, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Still no answer to the uniformity problem. It can't be excluded that the templates get major facelifts in the future. Should users get stuck with the old versions? But wait; maybe it would be possible to expand a meta-template into the templates it's made of, instead of down to html? Akiss 00:13, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)
about colors: as the general look of these babel templates is quite matured I think best would be replace the color definition in template with CSS class, so then if there will be decision of changing color, then it will be done just in stylesheet (monobook.css etc) and "magically" all templates have correct color, no loads to server, no needs to re-edit tens of templates
about meta template: Related to my earlier proposal above why not to first reduce the text in the box to basic: Language name and level, without sentence format (i.e. "Intermediate level of English", i.e. Level on language + word level + Language name) and then we can make easily meta templates for these, just by having properties of language name in english and "full" text in language question: e.g. "Nivel intermedio en español". something like this :
{{MetaBabelLevel2|Spanish|Nivel intermedio en español}}
(wording and names are just for example) --TarmoK 10:50, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

clarification of the levels of each language

For the levels of proficiency in each language, is it relating to the level of proficiency in speaking the languages or to the level of proficiency at writing each language? For example, if it was just the general language, I might have an es-1 or possibly es-2, but if it was referring to writing in particular, I would not even have an es-1. Bart133 (t) 23:32, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I would think it concerns writing and reading the language; after all, there is little speaking and listening done on Wikipedia (unless you count Spoken Wikipedia, which is only in English anyway). Wikiacc 01:39, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)

I see another problem: competence levels for various languages may differ according to common expectations about the average learner of a particular language. For English expectations are usually very high, whereas I doubt if Japanese-3 of most users could be compared with English-3 of others. Unless we do not introduce accredited unified proficiency tests for the various levels, the distinctions will stay somewhat blurred. I plea for intuitive self-rating accompanied by some explanatory notes about the rough meanings of the levels. HV 08:41, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I guess my question is mostly answered; xx-1, which is the most confusing to me, means that you can answer simple questions. Bart133 (t) 20:37, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Bart133 to define xx-1 like he wrote as a bottom-line for multilingual Wikipedia participation. The most difficult problem for me, however, is to define level-3. (After that level-2 becomes clear: everything below xx-3 and above xx-1) Any proposals? HV 08:25, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Bottom line for multilingual Wikipedia participation is xx-0 on that particular Wikipedia. We have an en-0 for users who don't speak any English, but can still contribute to Wikipedia. At Irish Wikipedia, I'm listed as a ga-0 because I really don't know any Irish. Just enough create merged list articles on cities (and even those I had to go back and correct). I still helped them go from close to 800 articles a few weeks ago to just this morning over the 1,000 mark. astiquetalk 21:54, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I would define xx-3 as being fluent and able to correct spelling and grammar. (i.e. you would have no problem whatsoever on that language 'pedia.) I wouldn't go so far as to say "comparable to a native speaker", though. Wikiacc 19:30, Jun 17, 2005 (UTC)
I can converse fluently in French and can understand and get my message across quite well, but I still have tremendous problems with feminine vs. masculine nouns and sur versus dans versus a. Therefore I've consigned myself to a fr-2 until I can iron out my tongue... astiquetalk 21:50, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

We just had the same discussion at the German Babel and came to the following conclusion:

  • xx the user speaks the language like/being a native speaker
  • xx-3 the user is able to write articles in this language without any difficulty
  • xx-2 the user is able to modify articles and participates in discussions
  • xx-1 the user understands the language well enough to use an article as a source for writings in his own language. He can ask or answer simple questions

Sounds quite straightforward and pragmatic to me. What do you think? If you agree, I would put this classification onto the front page. HV 18:56, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Up to just now I had understood xx and xx-3 as pretty close to each other, only xx-3 being not native. Is that wrong ?

Standard boxes and colors in Categories

I have jumped around some of the Category pages and I noticed that some of them (like Category:User_de-1) do not have the small boxes like the ones in Category:User_en. And more, even inside Category:User_en, the boxes in the individual knowledge levels aren't following the color code, as you can see green on Category:User_en-N but the same shade of blue on Category:User_en-1, Category:User_en-2 and Category:User_en-3.

I think it would be a nice idea to get boxes on all the levels and have the different knowledge levels follow the colors and shades of the respective User_xx-y templates, so colors would be more uniform.

Is there some reason why this should not be done?

Thanks!-Poli 2005 July 7 04:04 (UTC)

Is there some reason why this should not be done? Not at all.

If the question were, "Is there any reason why the person who did the templates didn't do the Categories?" then the answer is, "Because it took a ridiculous amount of time just to do the templates." Therefore, feel free to do it! Be brave! Have at it! astiquetalk 7 July 2005 16:28 (UTC)

  • Good, I will have the boxes on a template to make it easier for speakers of each language to get their translations of the english text.-Poli 2005 July 7 17:17 (UTC)
the colors used in boxes is just somebodies ideas, correct me, but there is no clear agreement to use certain colors, there have been many suggestions, some people liked and implemented so, just read the discussion above. ... You are free to do these additions/changes (or use even some other color :o) )
there have been voices here that it would be more sensible to make meta templates where is defined the colors and other look'n'feel issues, so if there will be change in them then it's enough to make change in on place, but ... I think we need somebody (or core group) active/dedicated enough, who will like to take the effort to start to make some order here (moderate a bit these discussions) or even create project page for it so all these kind of questions can have also "decision/result" at end of the day, and then hopefully it will get more stuctured and easier to implement as well in other wikis --TarmoK 8 July 2005 12:27 (UTC)
I will start work on the boxes for the categories, as they are quite a mess right now, each one in a different way. I am planning on using templates for all of them, so, color changes in the future shouldn't be a problem. I don't think those language speakers category pages should be of concern in the matters of server load, but please someone correct me if I am wrong. :)-Poli 2005 July 8 14:07 (UTC)

Okay, I think I have the templates for the category pages... Could someone please take a look at User:Poli/Language templates and change/give opinions about it? Thanks.-Poli 2005 July 9 08:43 (UTC)

No native language

Although I believe my grasp of English is native-like, and certainly better than my grasp of my first and family language, it feels very wrong to call it my "native" language, so I have created {{user 0}}. — Pekinensis 7 July 2005 19:01 (UTC)

I don't think the concept of "no native language" is that useful.... as far as Wikipedia is concerned, it doesn't really matter if your "native" language is really "native" or just "like-native"... if I speak English just like a native language, does it matter that technically, I'm not actually a "native" English speaker? And what would I put English as? en-3? That doesn't reflect my grasp of the English language.
Besides, no one has "no native" language. Your thoughts, for exmaple, have to involve some use of language. What language do you think in? That's your "native" language.
A better solution would probably be renaming "native" to something else, e.g. "first language". -- ran (talk) July 7, 2005 19:13 (UTC)

I agree with you, but my point is to protest that the current system conflates linguistic ability with some esoteric concept of "nativeness", thus excluding many people and giving them no way to accurately describe themselves. This esoteric concept of nativeness is irrelevant to my ability to contribute to Wikipedia, and I could describe myself as a native English speaker (and I have made similar claims in the past when it was professionally convenient to me as an English teacher), but since English is not my first language and not the language I speak with many of my family, the description grates on me. — Pekinensis 7 July 2005 19:41 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a soapbox. Let it go. Or change "Native" to say "Primary", or "Maternal", like the French Wikipedia. Easy enough. astiquetalk 7 July 2005 20:18 (UTC)

We are not talking about the article space, we are talking about individual user pages.

I don't think it's a difficult question; to be accurate for a wider range of users and to be closer to its purpose, the template should read "This user is able to contribute with a native level of English". However I didn't feel like stirring up a hornet's nest by making that change, so I chose to create a template which would not affect any who do not choose to be affected.

As a side point, I believe that "first language" and "maternal language" are worse than "native language" for my purpose, because they make more concrete false claims. — Pekinensis 7 July 2005 20:43 (UTC)

Seems that the idea why Babel is for is getting vague.
..aid multilingual communication by making it easier to contact someone who speaks a certain language
the purpose is to indicate to other users what languages one understands and which level, so if somebody wants to leave note then knows which language to use, they may have common language which they feel comfortable to communicate. It doesn't matter is it very good or excellent or super excellent in this case. ... let's keep them in these 4 levels and if somebody wants, feels need to more precisely define the her/his language level then feel free to do it in homepage, let's not clutter this system here.
the fourth (native) level addition to Babel "system" is good in some cases when there is need to ask help for something related to this language, but even then for example native english speaker from UK and native english speaker from US may have different understanding for way language should be used, so even then it is just another opinion which may be as good as somebody who has en-3 level. ... anyway at end of the day it is just one's opinion about her/his language abilities (nobody stops to advertise yourself as expert of tens of language it will be her/his problem to fill the claims) --TarmoK 8 July 2005 12:15 (UTC)

I agree; we should keep them in these 4 levels, and if somebody wants to more precisely define their language level, they can feel free to do it on their homepage, for example, by adding the template {{user 0}}, which does not clutter or interact with the system here. — Pekinensis 8 July 2005 14:06 (UTC)

   The question may grate on some; but I believe the distinction between "native language" and "spoken almost like a native" has some usefulness, especially for display on user pages, where a user will probably want to communicate things about him/herself beyond just "of what use can I be to the Wikipedia?". I don't feel awkward when writing in English, and I believe that maybe I talk better English than "some" natives, but I would never call myself a native speaker of English. I speak Esperanto just as well as any other, but Esperanto has very few native speakers and it is not they who set the language norm. So I listed en-4 and eo-4 on my user page; only French got the "honour" of being listed as "my native language".
   The concept of people without a native language may seem strange but it is not meaningless, not only in the case mentioned, but also e.g. for adopted children who have forgotten their biological parents' language, etc.
   I know people with several "native" languages, such as father's language, mother's language, language of kindergarten and grade school schoolmates, etc. This may sound off-topic for the thread, but it has bearing on what the ??-N template should say: In French, for instance, it says literally "French is this person's mother language". That seems to imply that no-one has more than one native language, and also, it reflects on the fact that French has no neutral term for "native language" as distinct from "mother language". Indeed when one of my friends says, in French, "My father language is Arabic and my mother language is French", it makes people smile. And two isn't the limit: I have met people whose children could say "My mother language is Dutch, my father language is Danish and my family language is Esperanto". So I prefer the more neutral text in the en-N template: "This user is a native speaker of English"; but how to say that accurately and neutrally in (for instance) French? Even though French is my mother native language, I am at a loss. -- Tonymec 03:07, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

Trouble with tl-N

Ok, I give up. I noticed that on my user page, that there were two problems with the the Babel categories. First tl-N wouldn't show up. I got to the bottom of that. Second, when I clicked on tl-N it would take me to the page where it's supposed to show me Wikipedians whose native language is Tagalog. However, it only shows Template:User tl. I'm not even on there. I've looked at the source of other languages and it looks like everything is good. But obviously I am missing an important step. Could anyone help? Thanks. --Chris 09:52, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

Ok I solved this problem. What needed to be done was resubmit my User page and then I can show up. I did this for other uses too. Problem solved. --Chris 19:43, 21 July 2005 (UTC)


When was this level created and why isn't it mentioned on the Wikipedia: page?

Acegikmo1 01:02, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

  • I also noticed some xx-0... --Chris 01:44, 22 July 2005 (UTC)
    • It is mentioned on the Wikipedia:Babel page; xx-4 if you have a grasp of the language comparable to a native speaker, but are not a native speaker. Thus, I added a fi-4 category (and myself to it), since I'm a bilingual Finland-Swede. --Janke | Talk 21:12, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
Regrettable move, in my opinion. When this Babel thing was being discussed in its early days on commons:commons:babel there were just three levels - "1", "2", "3". Accepting the new idea "0" gives four. Then someone decided that "3" wasn't the same as native so devised the "N" as a 4th or 5th class. Some "native" speakers then had a problem because they were better at another language than in their native language - which was not a problem when "3" covered both. Now the English WP is moving to have a "4" as well, which results in six classes and even more argument about what each one means (not to mention the fact that old templates for "3" will become incorrect in the new terms without their "owners" realising it). Even now there's no "4" on Meta or on Commons, which should be more centralised standard-setters than "en". How about everybody going back to the standards at commons:commons:babel and working there to get consensus rather than branching out here? Robin Patterson 13:22, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

Incompatible templates

I noticed that on the esperanto wikipedia, the syntax for the Babel templates was not exactly the same - for a native speaker, you write "en-D" (D for "denaske", native) and not "en". I partially solved the problem by making copies of the "en-D" template into a corresponding "en" template.

I think that it's important for users to easily copy and paste babel templates between languages - if there's a template whose syntax shouldn't vary across wikipedialand, it's this one, since it's users overlaps with those most likely to have multiple user pages.

I'm just putting this here for the record in case this problem reccurs :) Flammifer 14:48, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Template for Ancient Greek

Would someone with more knowledge of the code required be so kind as to create a Babel template for Ancient Greek? Thanks in advance! Nightstallion 08:28, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

Chinese dialects

There has been some discussions about the addition of Babel tags in Wu dialect (吴语, aka Shanghaiese 上海话) in Chinese Wikipedia. Also see IANA registration.--Hello World! 04:00, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Other languages

Hello - I created a new template for "other languages" - ie, languages with very few speakers or with no widely used written form (such as deaf sign languages). Contributors writing about such languages may wish to identify themselves as users of the language, even though they are only writing about it in English. It's not perfect and doesn't work in the Babel template (as it has a nested variable which allows you to specify the 'other language' in question). Here are two examples of how it might look:

Other-langs2.png This user would like to be able to speak every language in the world.

Another example of it in use is on my user page (I can't get the table to format properly - I don't know much about wiki syntax/HTML, so suggestions are of course welcome!). Cheers  :) ntennis 07:06, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

Although there isn't any ISO639 language code for "ol" yet, I do find it unfortunate to use it anyway - it may become used in the future. A good solution would be to use "other" but that would totally wreck the template as it's obviously too long... TERdON 10:46, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
How about xx? They usually leave codes like that free... Haven't checked it, though. ナイトスタリオンㇳ–ㇰ 11:03, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
xx is the better option. Usually xx or x prefixes and codes are reserved for non-standard or experimental (hence the x) variations, so that'd work. ol could likely be used in the future. Ashmodai 11:59, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
In ISO 639-2, sgn is for sign language, and mis is for " Miscellaneous languages" --Hello World! 13:22, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
If at all it is for sign languages or the American sign language. There is no "sign language". I'd assume making sgn and mis templates with a variable for the particular language's name would work. We already have alpha-3 languages listed anyway. Ashmodai 15:37, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
Sorry I missed the s. sgn should be "sign languages". See ISO 639--Hello World! 04:34, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

Thanks all for your input! I agree we should ditch the "ol" code. I like the suggestion of a seperate template for sign languages coded as "sgn" — partly because the template can use a phrase like "native signer" rather than "speaker", and partly because it fits best with this project's convention of using codes from ISO 639. I will go ahead and make it now.

There is still a problem though: if I leave the "language" variable in the template (so the user can specify which particular language they sign), it breaks the Babel template. Anyone more code-savvy than me got any ideas for fixing this?

By the way, according to clause 4.4 of ISO 639-2, other codes can be appended to the "sgn" code to specify different Sign Languages, but there is as yet no widely agreed-upon system in place. I'd prefer to have one template for all sign languages (with a "language" variable in the template). ntennis 06:39, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

Now done. Here's a sample: ntennis 08:10, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

Looks better. Same thing for mis and we're done, I say. Ashmodai 10:59, 29 July 2005 (UTC)
I like the generic language template because it would allow me to make one for Elvish. (Not that I am likely to do so. But I could. You might want to consider whether major conlangs count. There's already an Esperanto template...) However, I find the wording a little awkward. An other language is an odd phrase. A miscellaneous language would work, although I'm not sure why it needs to say anything at all. ("This user is a native speaker of Walpiri," in the example, would be sufficient.) -Aranel ("Sarah") 17:03, 29 July 2005 (UTC)
mis works for that. Walpiri and Tolkienese Elvish are both perfect examples for minor (i.e. "miscellaneous" or "other" -- i.e. "less notable") languages. Ashmodai 18:11, 29 July 2005 (UTC)
What is so strange, or so outlandish, about the existence of an Esperanto [set of] templates? Not only it's a language spoken by somewhere between tens of thousands and millions of people (depending who you ask), scattered all over the world, it even has a full-fledged Wikipedia of its own, with over 25,000 articles. -- Tonymec 03:33, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

1. I will leave it up to somebody else to make the "mis" template (easy enough to convert from the "ol" template above). The discussion on the "sgn" template will continue on Category talk:User sgn; there are some problems to be ironed out. I encourage everyone to have a look! I'll paste the above discussion in there.

2. I agree with Aranel ("Sarah"), there is no need to include the phrase "a miscellaneous language" - however, there was a reason I put it in there. When clicking on the phrase "other language" in the template above, you are taken to the category:User ol page, which explains the category and has links to all the users using the template (following the format of the existing user language templates). -- ntennis 06:17, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

p.s One problem is that the word Warlpiri in the example above should properly link to Warlpiri language but the template doesn't accomodate this. Will be trying to resolve this with the sgn template too. ntennis 06:34, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

No matter how minor the language, if you speak it you can create a template for it. If it doesn't have an ISO 639-2 code, use the ISO/DIS 639-3 code (usually the ethnologue code). If it doesn't have one of those, use an arbitrary 4- or more-letter code, or the whole language name. How am I supposed to indicate, for example, that I am Singlish 2? By writing {{user singlish-2}}, of course. --Node 17:59, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Expansion on the user language template idea.

This is a bit O/T, but it made me think that maybe we could expand on this concept to add other user-competency/familiarity tags.

  • User location templates -- the general metro area in which a user lives, other places they visit regularly, places they've lived in the past, places they've visited, places visit on occasion...
  • User era templates -- decades/periods in which the person has a conscious familiarity, eras in which the user has studied or is a fan of, etc.
  • User occupation templates -- fields and skills the user has professional to intimate knowledge of

Thoughts? - Keith D. Tyler 17:53, July 28, 2005 (UTC)

I like the idea in principal, but I can't really think of anything other than languages that would be useful.--MarSch 09:42, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
Interwiki links? Maybe something in the line of [ fr ___ This user has an account in the French Wikipedia ] It would make it more obvious than the small link out of the main page body: see a comment section on that further down. -- Tonymec 10:20, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Mapping Babel templates to ALTE/CEF levels?

I was just wondering about this...

Would it be possible to map the definitions of the Babel templates to the language proficiency levels used by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and the Association of Language Testers in Europe?

Under this scheme, Lang-0 would be the ALTE 'Breakthrough' level, when basic concepts have just been learned. Lang-1 would be ALTE level 1, Lang-2 would be ALTE level 2, and so on and so forth. (It would be assumed that ALTE level 5, which represents 'complete native command' of a language, would be the same as Wikipedia's Lang-N level.)

The CEF/ALTE ranking levels have been used by multiple bodies (not just in Europe, here in the US too) to compare language ability, and I think it'd be a good idea for the Babel templates to link to them. I don't think it would involve too much work, since the levels more or less map up already (ALTE 3 / CEF B2 matches up to Babel-3 nicely, and so on and so forth) -- it would just be a way of standardizing what each level means. Almafeta 01:58, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

Standardizing is a good idea. I was afraid at first that the proficiency levels would correspond to some test, but fortunately it seems that a description is also available. As such I have no objection to changing. Perhaps we need to add a minus one level for users who need to express that they don't speak a language at all.--MarSch 09:55, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Aramaic or Assamese ?

In the body of the Babel page, "Aramaic" and "Assamese" display the same name in national script. One of them is obviously in error, but which one? If you know one of those languages, please check that its name is correctly written. -- Tonymec 02:17, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

Shouldn't the messages be in English?

Shouldn't the messages be in English as this is the English Wikipedia? --Just my 2 cents -- Hemanshu 19:34, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

I like the notion of seeing what the language in question "looks like". The xx-n code is unambiguous anyway. -- Just my 0,02€ Tonymec 21:15, 1 August 2005 (UTC)
Nice to see that I'm not totally alone :o) (see above). Made also other day an example of how I would see it. How could we get more attention to this? (seems that many here are more interested to define precisely their levels etc and forgetting what is the real idea of them) --TarmoK 17:15, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
The number in the picture tells of the level of profiency. The only thing that is not immediately clear is the language. What we could do is add the english name of the language in (), like so "Deze gebruiker spreekt uitstekend Nederlands(Dutch).". --MarSch 10:01, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
One idea is to change the two-letter (or three, for some languages) abbreviations to links to the languag e (like the German template does currently). I originally thought it would be good to have the messages both in the language and in English, but that now seems superfluous - you can see the level from the number, and with this change, you'd also see the language (though it would take the effort of hovering over the link). PeepP 11:11, August 14, 2005 (UTC)

French templates

Why do the French templates use the phrase cette personne (this person) instead of this user as is used in the corresponding place in all the other templates (well, all the ones I've checked anyway)? Was a conscious decision made at some point to have a different standard for the French templates? -EDM 20:05, 4 August 2005 (UTC)


fr Cette personne a pour langue maternelle le français.
en This user is a native speaker of English.
de Dieser Benutzer spricht Deutsch als Muttersprache.
fi Tämä käyttäjä puhuu suomea äidinkielenään.
it Questo utente è un madrelingua italiano.
he משתמש זה דובר עברית כשפת האם שלו

I don't know. Maybe (s)he thought "cet utilisateur" ("this user") would sound awkward in French, or maybe sexist: English "user" is gender-neutral, but French "utilisateur" has a feminine, namely "utilisatrice". However, in French maybe even more than in English, "le masculin absorbe le féminin", i.e., when talking of people of both sexes or of unknown sex, or of things of both grammatical genders or of either, French always uses the masculine.
And BTW, here are templates in a few more languages that I've checked. The Russian one starts "This participant", which might be more in line with the way the Wikipedia is (dis)organised; the others have "user" ("User" in Russian might be "использователь", though I don't find the latter in my dictionaries):
eo-4 Ĉi tiu uzulo parolas Esperanton preskaŭ kiel denaskulo.
nl-3 Deze gebruiker spreekt uitstekend Nederlands.
es-2 Este usuario puede contribuir con un nivel intermedio de español.
ru-1 Этот участник владеет русским языком на начальном уровне.

Tonymec 23:51, 4 August 2005 (UTC)
Text below copied from User talk:Tonymec
In response to what you put on Wikipedia talk:Babel: 'участник' could just as well be construed to mean 'user' as opposed to 'participant'. This is also supported by the fact that the russian wikipedia uses участник to specify users (such as ru:участник:Ilyanep) — Ilγαηερ (Tαlκ) 17:24, 11 September 2005 (UTC)
The fact that it is used on the Russian Babel template is irrelevant: the French Babel templates use "cette personne" (this person) which is not synonymous with "cet utilisateur" (this user). OTOH, участник "participant, member" is obviously cognate with участвовать "to take part" and участие "participation", not with использовать "to use", пользоваться "to use; to avail oneself of", использование "use, exploitation", польза "utility", полезный "useful" etc. Actually, however, (as I stated in Wikipedia talk:Babel) I do regard "participant" as more appropriate than "user" to the casual-editing organization of the Wikipedia. And French "cette personne" is not wrong; it is only less precise. -- Tonymec 21:05, 11 September 2005 (UTC)
P.S. And the use of "участник" for "user" in "Russian Wikipedia user space" doesn't mean that "участник" means "user" either; the Esperanto Wikipedia uses "Vikipediisto" ("Wikipedian") to define userspace, rather than "uzanto" or "uzulo" which would have meant "user". -- Tonymec 21:05, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

I've gone ahead and changed the fr, fr-0, fr-1, fr-2, and fr-3 templates to read cet utilisateur in place of cette personne. The fr-4 template seems to have been created with utilisateur in the first place. -EDM 06:04, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

Category: User languages -> Wikipedians by languages ??

Should this category be renamed to fit in with the overall categ Wikipedians structure? Thanks, Ian Cairns 17:15, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

I would actually like to see all of the user language categories renamed to something at least attempting to follow usual standards for categories. As they stand they read like a secret code and aren't much help to the casual browser or to someone looking at a user page. Category:Wikipedians who speak French, for example, would make more sense than Category:User fr. Of course, making the move would be a massive effort that would require "dummy edits" to all of the user pages that use the templates... -Aranel ("Sarah") 15:33, 10 August 2005 (UTC)
Just simple page with links to categories can do the work, something similar to Dutch wiki --TarmoK 17:21, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
I agree that we should rename the categories. --MarSch 10:03, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Add links to the user's page in the wikipedia in other languages the user knows.


one thing that bothered me when I began on wikipedia is that user account on different languages seems to be totally deconneced. You have to create an account on all wikipedia which are on a language you know. Everytime with the same username. And then everybody creates his user page and says "hello, you can find me on w:fr w:eo, ..."

Why not automate this a bit ?

We have interwiki links on articles, why don't we user them on user's page ?

See my home page : If i am {{Babel|fr|de-3|en-2|eo-3|es-1}} It seems quite logical to add in the model [[eo:Vikipediisto:Jmfayard]][[de:Benutzer:Jmfayard]][[en:User:Jmfayard]][[es:Usuario:Jmfayard]]

You may notice that I'm not yet registred on w:es. I will have a red link on the "spanish" page (oups, does not work), and if I click on the spanish link, notes would allow me to register for this username.

Just my 2 cents, but they seems to be a logical extension to the Babel and interwiki systems.

What if I speak or read a language, but don't have an account in that language's Wikipedia? You already can add interwiki links to user pages (exactly the same way you add other interwiki links), it just isn't automated with the user langauge templates because it conveys different information. (I also have accounts on Wikipedias where I don't know the language!) -Aranel ("Sarah") 15:26, 10 August 2005 (UTC)
Well, the information may be a bit different, but they are tightly correlated. What about your accounts on wikipedia where you don't know the language ? Just add ja-0 in your {{Babel|fr|de-3|en-2|eo-3|es-1|ja-0}}. Template:User_ja-0 is here exactly for this. What if you speak a language and don't have an account on that wikipedia ? When you will see the link, you may want to create one, so this will encourage cooperation between wikipedias, and that's a good thing. Every user can already do that himself ? Sure, but visit random user account here Category:User_en-4 to see how many people do it. Not that much. If it's done by default, this would be better. w:fr:Utilisateur:Jmfayard
I'm not in favour of making it automatic. You may know a language, even know it well, but have no intention of creating pages in it. Or you may have created accounts on several wikipedias but not with the same handle: maybe using the various translations of your given name (as in Johnny, Hanske, Hänschen, Vania, Jeannot, Juanito, Giovanello, ...) or you may have created an account in some language, forgotten about it, then found it again... IMHO there are too many imponderables. -- And BTW, since you mention level-0 Babel templates, if you want to emphasise for political reasons the fact that you don't speak some language -- as with e.g. the ru-0 templates on pages for non-Russian ex-citizens of the defunct USSR -- then you're hardly going to get an account in that loathed language, are you? -- Tonymec 09:25, 11 August 2005 (UTC)
You are right. They are some corner case which may not represent more than 5% but would make the system bad. On the other hand, I feel it's important. Like I said, the different versions of wikipedia looked like deconnected projects a few years ago. The introduction of interwiki links, then of were two important steps to improve multilingual cooperation. Some kind of (loosely) unification of users accounts would be a small third step to improve the situation. Ideally, the whole very long and indigest Wikipedia:Babel page could be replaced by a much more simple html form which would allow you to select the languages you know from a list, let you create the corresponding wikipedia's account if needed (and if you want) and tell you to put the corresponding {{Babel|fr|de-3|en-2|eo-3|es-1}}[[eo:Vikipediisto:Jmfayard]][[de:Benutzer:Jmfayard]][[en:User:Jmfayard]][[es:Usuario:Jmfayard]] in your user page. So you would be able to manually edit this information on the cases you cite. Is that possible ? Does it makes sense ? w:fr:Utilisateur:Jmfayard
I thought we were going to move to unified accounts. I think most people try to keep as few real user pages and make the others into redirects. Then what would be the use? Anyway, until everybody learns ido and we can put user pages on commons, I think interwiki cooperation will not likely increase much, no matter what. --MarSch 10:12, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
That's exactly the problem. I don't think that, in any foreseeable future, "all" Wikipedians will someday agree on a common language, be it Classical Latin, Volapük, Quenya, Basic English, or any other language, which "everyone" will master at the xx-4 level. So (IMHO) pluri-Wikipedians will have to maintain user pages in different languages: it would be senseless to redirect all my user pages to the one in my mother language (which, BTW, is not English) since not every reader of every one of them can be assumed to have a good knowledge of the language. Oh, I know, English (or maybe sometimes a kind of Broken English) is, for good or bad, a kind of Internet lingua franca, but I said good knowledge of it; you should see some English-language emails which I get from Italian or Russian people. See above, under Expansion on the user language template idea, about (maybe?) making simili-Babel templates for these interwiki links. The language and username would IMHO have to be specified (but maybe the username can be defaulted to "same as current" if not specified?) -- Tonymec 10:50, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Non-serious user templates

It's just for fun. I'm suggesting the creation of user language templates for Constructed languages (like Languages of Middle-earth or Gibberish). See User:BlankVerse for an example. What do you think? CG 17:14, August 13, 2005 (UTC)

I've already had great fun in my user page with the xx-0 templates, listing languages I want to learn but can't parse yet. I wouldn't be against this... heck, with enough, it would turn the Babel template into a 'pokédex' entry for every Wikipedian. (Wikidex?) Almafeta 21:38, 13 August 2005 (UTC)
I'd be concerned about where to draw the line. Genuine artificial languages such as Esperanto and Interlingua are fine - there is a legitimate and sizable community of people who speak them. But beyond that, there's already a set of templates for Klingon, and in my view even that is pushing it. Do we really want people cluttering up what could be useful information with templates for Sindarin? Gorean? Houyhnhnm? -EDM 22:07, 13 August 2005 (UTC)
Actually, knowing Quenya would be very relevant if one is working on a large number of Tolkien-related articles. I think we have to leave this up to the user's discretion. We can't really stop people from putting imitation boxes on their users pages, anyway. -Aranel ("Sarah") 01:30, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps we should stipulate that such templates not have a 2 letter abbrev. --MarSch 10:16, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
What about Aramaic? Asturian? Cherokee? Friulian? Classical Greek? Hawaiian? Hessian? Plattdüütsch? Sicilian? Scots? Sign languages? Cantonese? Neither is their Babel abbreviation a two-letter one; but ban them all, and I can see the backlash you'll get. -- Tonymec 11:07, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
I would say to allow them, as long as a Wikipedian is actually using them. There are active speakers and users of a number of languages, and we shouldn't set bars for 'language notability' for either real or constructed languages. And besides, isn't allowing Wikipedians to form groups around a common topic, even if it's a 'non-serious' one like being able to speak Loglan or Europanto, a vital part of keeping Wikipedia alive and well? Almafeta 22:47, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
Also, as to 'cluttering up'... we have 7 lines on each of 200+ languages. It's not going to get much smaller. Almafeta 22:53, 14 August 2005 (UTC)
I would say to allow all languages with language codes in ISO 639, a two- or three-letter one. I may seem to be very permissive, but who is to tell what languages are "serious enough"??? Sign languages share sgn as they already do. All other languages, including ALL (sic!) conlanguages would have to share the "mis" miscellanous template, ie they are visible but lumped together. A pity there isn't a separate one for conlanguages though, it would have been good as they ARE a bit special. Also a classification with "miscellanous dead languages" and "miscellanous living languages" would have been great, but I'm going to keep to my first thought proposal. There aren't very many mis-users anyway, at least until someone contacts ISO to correct the problem. ;-) I would be more restrictive with "joke" templates though - actually I wouldn't want to allow any template not using the ISO 639 codes, or at least not a code+locale (en-UK). The babel system is supposed to be helpful - even for people that are non-native speakers who perhaps don't know what gibberish is. Conlangs as klingon, quenya, esperanto, volapük and even Toki Pona would all be allowed with this construction though (under mis if not with its own code). TERdON 23:36, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
Checked the page on ISO 639, to my great luck there is a special code for conlangs, art (as in artificial). Also, except mis and sgn, there also are quite a few codes that seem to be for language groups. Because of that, I suggest all conlangs without own codes go into art, all sign languages go into sgn, and all other (ie natural) languages go into mis. The language groups could possibly be used to arrange this even more later, but for now I think those three will suffice. Also there is a category und (undecided) for unknown origin. That shouldn't be used as it really doesn't help at all in achieving what we are aiming for. ;-) TERdON 00:36, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

These particular templates (such as Klingon...) shouldn't be listed with the other templates (french...). There should listed separatly on another section. CG 10:24, August 14, 2005 (UTC)

There was some discussion above about creating "miscellaneous" language templates, with a parameter to allow the user to define the language. The same thing has been done with sign languages. Then all these misc language users would be on the one category page. If someone is keen but needs help modifying an existing template, drop me a note on my talk page. ntennis 03:24, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

I was just thinking about this, as I was editing my user page. (I wanted Pig_Latin) Evil Vin 02:17, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

In creating my user page for the first time, I looked at a few sample pages of other users, came across "Babel" and picked out a few languages, then saw the non-serious languages. I see there's Pig latin. Wubbell, yubbou ubbare mubbissubbing ubbanubbothubber lubbangubbuage: Ubba Dubbi. Subbince yubbou hubbave ubbigpubbay ubbatubbinlubbay ubbalrubbeadubby, ubbi thubbought, "whubby nubbot ubbadd Ubba Dubbi tubboo?" Bubbut ubbi dubbon't knubbow hubbow tubbo dubbo thubbat. Aumakua 06:49, 30 November 2005 (UTC)


I'm going to create templates for Simple English without simple-N (nobody is a native speaker of Simple English).

SFGiants 23:24, August 14, 2005 (UTC)

Suggestions for page

Any suggestions, comments, discussion or questions about how best to set up the Hindi language tags are most welcomed here.

Scott P. 16:06:59, 2005-08-18 (UTC)

Why no nagari ?

Under "Hindi", the "national language" title has just been changed from nagari script to Latin. Why? I thought nagari was used to write Hindi? -- Tonymec 16:17, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

I didn't do it; but one principal use of these tags is to identify Hindi speakers, for example, to those who don't already read Hindi. Use of nagari defeats this purpose. Septentrionalis 17:40, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
You didn't get what I meant. Against each two- or three-letter code there are two names: one of them is the name of the language in its own writing, the other (here "Hindi") is the English name of the same language. So my question is: why was the hindi name of the Hindi language not left in nagari script, while the Arabic name of Arabic is still in Arabic script, the Chinese name of Chinese is still in hanzi, the Armenian name of the Armenian language is still in Armenian script, etc.?
With the nagari script being the only one of those mentioned I can actually read, I fully support writing the name "Hindi" in nagari if the others also are in their native scripts. JIP | Talk 08:03, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

Tok Pisin

I've created Template:User_tpi-1 and Template:User_tpi-2. As my Tok Pisin is rather poor, I would appreciate any assistance in correcting my translations. --WurdBendur 20:12, August 18, 2005 (UTC)

Template:User hi-1, what type of Hindi is that?


Don't you think that your edits on the template are a bit vulgar. The language sounds a bit Lalu Prasad Yadav type. I have reverted it for now but please get back to me before you edit it again.--May the Force be with you!

-Shreshth91($ |-| r 3 $ |-| t |-|) 14:18, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Dear Shresh,
My Hindi is awful, I know, but I didn't know it was so bad that it was actually 'vulgar! :-) Oh boy. I learned what Hindi I know from a guy from New Delhi and also from some friends in Varanasi. I would consider it to be at about the level of a three year old, perhaps. Not much to brag about. I read the article about Lalu, and based on that, I would say I should probably take your comment about my Hindi as a compliment?? ;-)
At any rate, rather than simply reverting the tag to all question marks, why not simply fix it. Please take a look at the project page of this Wikipedia:Hindi_language_user_tag_project that I have set up to assist with getting these tags to be functional.
By the way, I feel that since it is my uneducated guess that probably 99.9% of the native Hindi speakers who might visit Wiki might be just as comfortable seeing the Hindi language tags written in the Roman alphabet as in the Devanagari script, my suggestion is that just to keep things simple, and more legible to non-Hindi speakers, perhaps we should keep these Wiki-tags written in the Roman alphabet. Also, by using the Roman alphabet, it might have three other advantages:
  1. It might encourage more interest in the Hindi language by others who have no ability to read Devanagari.
  2. It might assist 'beginners' in Hindi like myself who may have little or no ability to read Devanagari.
  3. It could save us all from having to figure out how to get the Devanagari script to work in Wiki, which in my humble opinion, might not be worth all of that trouble, just for a few language tags.
On another subject.... you are apparently going to school in Delhi. If so, then you must be a native Hindi speaker (hi), not a beginner (hi-1). No?
I will look forward to hearing more about your suggestions and comments about this.
-Scott P. 16:07:00, 2005-08-19 (UTC)
PS: Shresh, If you might be interested, I would be happy to work together with you on this project in any way I might be able to be of help. Obviously you know Hindi far far better than I, but I may know a little Wiki coding that you may not know, at least I could review your coding and possibly make suggestions if needed, if you wanted. Namaste, humari dhost.
Firstly, my name is Shreshth. I'm a guy, so no 'Humari'. And secondly, if you want to make the tag more 'international', then at least write some proper Hinglish (Hindi + English). And about the (hi) or (hi-1), I don't like Hindi that much. I left it when I had a choice between it and French.
I would be glad to be of any help to you and would graciously accept any help that you choose to povide. Also, I assure you, Lalu's Hindi is in no way good. Anyways, those who don't know Hindi, wouldn't be interested in it, no matter how it's written. --May the Force be with you! Shreshth91($ |-| r 3 $ |-| t |-|) 17:15, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

OK, maybe my Hindi IS that bad....

Dear Shreesth,

Thanks for putting up with my abominable Hindi. It has been almost 20 years since I used it to any extent. It would appear that your Hindi is probably 'less abominable' than mine, which in my humble opinion, is better than nothing, and is certainly better than what the tags look like now. So, here is a list of things that need translation from english into 'Hinglish', I suppose. If you translate, I'll be happy to set the tags.

  1. hi-1: This user is able to contribute with a basic level of Hindi.
  2. hi-2: This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of Hindi.
  3. hi-3: This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of Hindi.
  4. hi-4: This user speaks Hindi at a near-native level.
  5. hi: This user is a native speaker of Hindi.

Any chance you might be able to take a crack at it?

Namaste Mera Dhost?,

-Scott P. 17:43:45, 2005-08-19 (UTC)

PS: Maybe a bit of it is coming back to me.....

Hey, I told you I don't know much of Hindi. But I've asked Nichalp to take a look at it. Let's hope his Hindi is better than mine...
--May the Force be with you!
-Shreshth91($ |-| r 3 $ |-| t |-|) 06:36, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
OK Shreesth,
Thanks for doing that. Living in New Delhi, I would guess that you may be able to find the right person to do these translations a bit easier than I could. I hope that Nichalp might work out for this. Your assistance with this is very much appreciated.
-Scott P. 16:54:48, 2005-08-20 (UTC)
What the heck is your problem with my name. It's SHRESHTH, for god's sake. Drill that into your head, please. sheesh..--May the Force be with you! Shreshth91($ |-| r 3 $ |-| t |-|) 17:14, 20 August 2005 (UTC)
P.S. don't take it as an offence
Shreshth, Shreshth, Shreshth, Shreshth, Shreshth...... There, I think I got it. Sorry about that. Its just that in English, four consonants in a row is almost unheard of. We poor Westerners are just sometimes a bit overwhelmed whenever anyone asks us to step one millimeter outside of our old habits. No offence taken. Thanks for pointing that out, as I always enjoy being pushed a bit to go outside of my comfortable bounds every once in a while. BTW, did I get it right, Mera dhost? Scott P. 17:39:57, 2005-08-20 (UTC)
Yeah you did. (I'm getting tired of typing out all these :'s)--May the Force be with you! Shreshth91($ |-| r 3 $ |-| t |-|) 08:10, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

Bombaywala Nichalp.... Help! (please)

On Shreesth's talk page you wrote:

Delhiwala asking a Bombaywalla on correct Hindi?! I had the impression that Delhi people speak shuddh Hindi. We speak a really corrupted version -- the bollywood style, not the hi-funda Shushma Swaraj style. I'm not sure what to write for the missing hi-4 tag, though I corrected a minor error in the rest.

(Nichalp sent me this)

Dear Nichalp,
I saw that user:Shreesth has recommended you for your most pure knowledge of the most refined Bollywood Hindi. Whatever your Hindi might be, it would certainly be better than what we have now on the Hindi language tags at: Wikipedia:Hindi_language_user_tag_project, and any help you might be able to provide, even in Bollywoodwala Hindi, would be a vast improvement. If you might be able to give your best shot at translating the phrases as shown above in comment subject #2, this would be most helpful, and would be very very much appreciated.
As for the missing hi-4 tag, if you could just do the translation, I could fix the rest of the tag.
If you might be able to either post your translations on this discussion page, or make the necessary tag changes yourself, either way that would be most helpful for the Wiki language tag project.

Scott P. 17:22:23, 2005-08-20 (UTC)

You flatter me. :) . I don't see what's wrong with hi,hi-1,hi-2 and hi-3. There was a minor spacing issue, but I sorted that out. The text for the hi-4 should go like this: "इस सभ्य की हिन्दी मातृभाषा जैसे कक्षा का प्रदान कर सकते हैं। "
I'm not 100% sure, it doesn't quite sound right to me. I suggest you verify with those guys who have tagged their user page with the hi tag. =Nichalp «Talk»= 18:17, August 20, 2005 (UTC)
Dear Nichalp,
From my computer here in the US, it would appear that two things might be going on with your fix's:
  1. All I am reading here are question marks. Nothing more, on any of the tags.
  2. My guess is that you may have inserted Devanagari script characters, that somewhere between Bombay and the US are getting translated into question marks. The translation into question marks appears to be made sometimes in Wiki servers themselves, and sometimes in my own computer. If you were interested as to why I say this, I could give details.
As I suggested above on this discussion page, perhaps it might be better, so that all users everywhere will be seeing the same thing, if we stuck with simple Hinglish/ Hindi: that is, Hindi written out in the Roman alphabet.
Thoughts? Scott P. 18:35:39, 2005-08-20 (UTC)

Browser and script considerations...

Your browser/comp is at fault; not the internet or WP servers. You'd need to have a unicode compatible Hindi font first. Then set up your browser to autodetect the encoding. Lastly ensure that you're seeing the correct rendering. (Read: Wikipedia:Enabling complex text support for Indic scripts). =Nichalp «Talk»= 18:56, August 20, 2005 (UTC)

OK, thanks Nichalp. I just spent the last hour or so trying to get a unicode Devanagari script to work on my PC and gave up. That's OK. At least now I know, why all question marks on my computer. Still, my educated guess is that probably 99% of all non-Indians read all ?'s as well, as none of them have any real reason to take all of the trouble needed to make their computers Devanagari compatible. If you ever wanted others like myself to read anything but question marks there, I'd be happy to help. Also, if you might be curious as to whether or not my theory about what percentage of Wiki users are seeing all question marks is correct, we could put in a 'request for comment' on the Wiki-talk/ Request-for-comment page, and either prove or disprove my theory by getting other Wiki users to comment on what they see in these language tags. Thanks again.
-Scott P. 19:50:24, 2005-08-20 (UTC)
Well, the issue is with the browser. WinXP has most of the fonts needed to view Indic text. I believe Internet explorer also supports rendering of unicoded text correctly. The same can be achieved in Linux/Firefox combination. Most of the browsers I have seen in my university computers show them correctly. Of course, win98 or ME does not have unicode support, but now I guess many of the users use WinXP. So, I think very few non-Indians should have problem viewing unicoded text in the Windows platform. Thanks. --Ragib 23:15, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

Current Colors

en-0 This user does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulty).
Search user languages

For those interested, the current colors used on the various templates are displayed on the right. – ABCD 23:33, 20 August 2005 (UTC)

Indic script compatibility observation comments

Wiki Comment section volunteers, please leave your observation comments here regarding how successful your computer is at showing Hindi script. Do you see Hindi language characters of question marks as inquired about at: The request for comment section? Thanks:

============= Comments below =================
  • - I see everything fine. My OS/Browser combo is XP and either IE or Firefox. Of course, I turn on all the asian fonts in XP. That should be all that is required on XP or 2000 with either browser. That XP doesn't install these fonts by default... blame Microsoft. SchmuckyTheCat 00:12, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • I think I see everything correctly (an image of how it should look for comparison purposes would be useful). I'm using Firefox 1.0.6 on Debian with a lot of extra fonts installed. --cesarb 00:15, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • I see the characters just fine. Firefox 1.0.6 on Windows XP. android79 00:32, August 21, 2005 (UTC)
  • I see everything as intended. Mac OS X version 10.4.2. (Tiger), browser Safari version 2.0 build 412.2.2. (I assume the tags when used on the English encyclopedia will also include English? Some languages do, and it's particularly useful when a language uses glyphs foreign to English) - Nunh-huh 02:50, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • I think I see everything as intended -- the characters look Hindi to me. Opera 8.02 for Linux, with "Hevetica [Adobe]" as my font. --Carnildo 04:59, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Konquerer 3.4.0 for Linux, using either Helvetica or Times (I'm not sure which) shows a series of boxes. --Carnildo 05:10, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Firefox 1.0.6 for Linux, using an unknown font, shows a series of Hindi characters. --Carnildo 05:12, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Mozilla 1.7 for Linux, using an unknown font, shows a series of Hindi characters. --Carnildo 05:18, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Links 2.1pre17 for Linux, using Courier New, show a series of asterisks. --Carnildo 05:18, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Lynx 2.8.5 for Linux, using Courier New, shows "¯¹ ¸­¯ ¹¿¨¦ ­¾·¾ ® ª°¾°­¿ ·¾ ¾ ª°¦¾¨ ° ¸¤ ¹¤" --Carnildo 05:18, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • I have another problem. I can't render the Oriya font. In the past I could see them, but after I modified the WIN registry to read the Gothic script, the Oriya rendering went bust. Why did this happen? =Nichalp «Talk»= 07:11, August 21, 2005 (UTC)
  • I can see Oriya font on Winxp sp2/Firefox 1.0.6. --Ragib 07:15, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • I can see...--May the Force be with you! Shreshth91($ |-| r 3 $ |-| t |-|) 07:51, 21 August 2005 (UTC)
  • I am using ME Windows with Firefox 1.0.6, and can't see. It would appear it may be time for an upgrade for this geezer.
  • Mac OS X 10.4.2, w/ Safari just works. No such luck with Camino 2004051715 (0.8b). Perhaps I ought to upgrade. Buffyg 00:14, 22 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Firefox 1.0.1 on Debian unstable shows Hindi characters. RSpeer 06:09, August 22, 2005 (UTC)
  • They look fine to me in Firefox 1.0.5 under SuSE Linux on a Mac PowerBook. Steve Summit (talk) 11:49, 29 August 2005 (UTC)

Fix of hi-4 tag, category headers upgraded, English subtext added to tags

As a result of the recent findings and collaborations, I have gone ahead and corrected the format of the hi-4 tag, I have upgraded all category headers to show the recent improvements to the tag texts, and I have also taken the liberty of inserting English subtexts into each of the tags. I apologize for having the character conversion problems at my end, however it would look as though this entire process has been for the better for all tags.

The hi-4 tag still needs to have the correct Devanagari characters added, from my end I cannot yet do this, (but am hoping to upgrade my computer soon, now that I know this). I will message to Nichalp to request for this, now that the structural format for tag hi-4 is fixed. Any comments, questions or suggestions about any of the other changes (hopefully these changes are upgrades) would also be very much appreciated here.

Thanks to each and all for your kindly assistance here.

-Scott P. 12:44:22, 2005-08-21 (UTC)


I saw we add Binary to the Babel entries, but with only 3 categories. Such as:

  • bi-1 - Can speak binary with a medium - little reference.
  • bi-2 - Can speak binary with little to no help.
  • bi-3 - Can speak binary to another person of the same understanding.
  • bi-4 - Can speak binary fluently and can hold a flowing conversation with another fluent Binary speaker.

- RPharazon 17:06, August 23, 2005 (UTC)

Binary is not a language, it is a representation. What about "Can speak ASCII", "Can speak Cyrillic", "Can speak decimal"? -- Tonymec 18:05, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

Two Native Languages?

Is it possible for someone to have two native languages? Or will one always have precedece over the other? I ask because Spanish is my first, but I speak English much more fluently than Spanish (it's gotten to almost non-native level from lack of practice/use). What should I do? Go by fluency, first learned, or both? Jigen III 11:50, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

It is indeed possible to have more than one native languges: for instance, I have a friend who had a Syrian father and a French mother. His "mother language" is French and his "father language" is Arabic. Both are "native languages" to him. It is even possible to have more than two, e.g., if you spoke one language with Daddy, another with Mommy, another with Nanny, maybe still another with your kindergarten and grade-school classmates, etc. If your Spanish has fallen below "native" level for lack of use, I suppose you should put es-3 or es-2 depending on how good you think it still is. OTOH if you believe that you speak English "just as well as a native or almost" you can mention en-4. If no native English-speaker could, at any level of spoken language, detect that you're not a native English-speaker yourself (not even if you were to give a lengthy speech about politics or science in front of professionals of the matter), then you might perhaps pass yoursef off as a "native" English-speaker. Myself, I don't dare do that, even though I speak English quite fluently. -- Tonymec 20:19, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
My uncle's children speak Finnish with their family, English with their friends, Chinese with their former nanny, and spoke Portuguese at some point in their lives. So it's fully possible to be fluent in several languages. JIP | Talk 15:21, 27 August 2005 (UTC)
Yes, it's possible to have two languages. And that's reflected in my Babel template in my user page. My parents spoke/speak both Tagalog and English - and usually in the same sentence - to me. But since my education was in English and due to the fact that I live in the US, it's my dominant native language. My Tagalog was dormant for many years (though no longer the case), but I still understand it as instaneously I do English, I mean it's not like listening to Catalan, where it's not as instantaneous.
My mother, though, has an American father and a Filipina mother and had a varied language environment growing up. I think her skills in both languages are rather equal. Anyway, I think having one dominant language is the norm among bilinguals. --Chris S. 20:09, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Yet, those three people with Latin as their native language --- hm, I dunno, but somehow I don't really trust them... [User:Turukano|Turukano]

How about...

du-0 This person does not understand dumbass (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak dumbass).
Search user languages

Just an idea. lol. -- —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jigen III (talkcontribs) 08:02, August 27, 2005 (UTC) diff


Why on Earth do we have a category for 1337? It isn't even a language, FCOL! It's just a nerdy way of writing English. Shouldn't we have categories for Smurf-speak and Yoda-speak while we're at it? JIP | Talk 15:18, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Well, we have Klingon... It's just a bit of fun really. --Celestianpower hablamé 21:33, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
The difference is that Klingon is a language in every relevant sense of the word. And for Star Trek-related articles I can imagine knowledge of the language is useful; therefore, the template aids the collaboration of Wikipedia users, which as far as I know is the point of Babel templates. None of this applies to 1337. EldKatt (Talk) 16:34, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Modifying Current Colors

en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-4 This user speaks English at a near-native level.
en-3 This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of English.
en-2 This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of English.
en-1 This user is able to contribute with a basic level of English.
en-0 This person does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak English).

I think it would look nicer if yellow was used for en-1, and the aqua color used on en-4. Yellow is like a warning color like red is, so I think it makes sense for it to be above red. Aqua is a cool color resembling green and should be immediately under en-native's green. Jigen III 11:28, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Please show us, so we can comment, cause I like you're idea. --MarSch 10:40, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
Okay, I made an example to the top-right. I took the liberty of modifying the yellow to a less painful shade. Let me know if you like it. Jigen III 07:09, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Or how about a more gradual color scheme? Below is GREEN-AQUA-BLUE-VIOLET-PURPLE-RED. Jigen III 09:46, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-4 This user speaks English at a near-native level.
en-3 This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of English.
en-2 This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of English.
en-1 This user is able to contribute with a basic level of English.
en-0 This user does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak English).

I like this idea. It correlates the colours with the level of understanding a language, and does not make any colour pop out for no reason. JIP | Talk 06:16, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
I also like that no single color stands out, however I don't like that en-4 (to my eye) looks like it is between en-2 and en-3, that en is close to en-0 and that en-4 and en have such radically different colors.--MarSch 13:10, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

My(MarSch 14:26, 2 September 2005 (UTC)) contribution:

en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-4 This user speaks English at a native level.
en-3 This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of English.
en-2 This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of English.
en-1 This user is able to contribute with a basic level of English.
en-0 This person does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak English).
Search user languages

My previous contrib seems very dark compared to the old one, so I made some modifications --MarSch 14:35, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

IMO, the gradient from blue at en-N to green at en-1 is very well-designed; however a reverse transition may be more appropriate, as green is generally not a warning color. (In fact, it is often used to the opposite effect, as in a traffic light). --Wikiacc (talk) 22:03, September 2, 2005 (UTC)
I think only the zero template should be a warning color. All further levels including 1 point to an ability, it is not a warning that someone speaks some language badly, instead it is the statement that this language is somewhat understood, but far from perfectly. That's why I chose green, but light to signify small ability. Higher levels are darker and gradually change to blue, which may not make sense to everyone, but I like it :) --MarSch 13:23, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-4 This user speaks English at a native level.
en-3 This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of English.
en-2 This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of English.
en-1 This user is able to contribute with a basic level of English.
en-0 This person does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak English).
Search user languages

The current color scheme makes no sense. Why on Earth is en-4 yellow, when en-3 is purplish blue, en-2 is aqua, en-1 is some light-violetish color I don't ever dare to try to name, en-0 is red and en-N is some strange shade of green? IMO a better thing would be light red (#FF3333) for en-0, light yellow (#FFFF33) for en-1, light green (#33FF33) for en-2, light cyan (#33FFFF) for en-3, light blue (#3333FF) for en-4, and white for en-N.

en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-4 This user speaks English at a near-native level.
en-3 This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of English.
en-2 This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of English.
en-1 This user is able to contribute with a basic level of English.
en-0 This person does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak English).

--Army1987 20:31, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

I like this colour scheme best of all proposed ones. Flag of Austria.svg ナイトスタリオン ㇳ–ㇰ 21:35, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

I think the second scheme (green->aqua->blue->purple->violet->pink) is the best so far. --Titoxd 04:52, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Thank you. I think soft colors are more preferable than loud colors. Jigen III 18:59, 5 September 2005 (UTC)
I also prefer Jigen III's gradated color scheme (the second one, without the yellow band) to the others presented in this section, if any change at all needs to be made. The other proposals either have harsh colors, or are very difficult to read (either because the background is too dark or the contrast between background and foreground colors is too slight). Pastel backgrounds with black text are easiest to read., and a gradation that more or less follows the spectrum makes sense. Maybe someone with more layout skills than I could arrange the proposals side by side and give them designations so that we could call for organized commentary and see if there is consensus for modification. -EDM 04:08, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

How 'bout this one?

en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-4 This user speaks English at a near-native level.
en-3 This user is able to contribute with an advanced level of English.
en-2 This user is able to contribute with an intermediate level of English.
en-1 This user is able to contribute with a basic level of English.
en-0 This person does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak English).

--Army1987 20:31, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

xx-N vs xx-4

Why do we have to have seperate categories for native (xx-N) and near-native (xx-4)? As many users have noted above, some people speak a second language better than they know their mother tongue. Surely the purpose of the babel templates is to identify someone's competence in a language, not the order in which they learn them. Have a look at some xx-4 users; their contributions are indistinguishable from native speakers. Many of the languages don't use an xx-4 category, and it seems to me like an unneccesary complication and an unfair segregation. Would anyone support merging these two categories into a "native or native-like" single category? ntennis 02:25, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

I would never try to pass myself as a "native" English-speaker; I am too conscious of the pitfalls of that incredibly difficult language. (Now get me right: It is easy to speak the kind of broken English used by a Japanese to ask his way about in Paris; but I don't believe that any non-native could "hold his own" on an equal footing in difficult contexts, such as arguing for or against a legal text or a philosophical thesis, if the discussion has to take place in English against a native speaker of the language.)
About Esperanto (my other level-4 language), the situation is different: native speakers of the language are few and far between, and although it is not they who set the language norm, they still have a particular "status", probably due to their rarity.
Summary: I believe the distinction between native and almost-native is useful. The nonexistence of xx-4 templates in many Wikipedias is attributable to the recent introduction of that level. -- Tonymec 10:50, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
Not really. Personally, being a native Spanish speaker, I've been able to debate my way to my teammates' satisfaction. As a result, I can claim myself as a native English speaker. But the way I see it, it's just a matter of personal preference. Some prefer to be called "near-native" while others prefer "native". Keep both, they don't hurt. Titoxd 22:40, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
You have to remember that "native" here refers to "native fluency". A native speaker (or writer) has probably been using a language for a very long time, perhaps his/her entire life. A near-native speaker may know the language just as well (or close enough), but may still be more comfortable using another. -- WurdBendur 22:48, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

Tonymec: If you feel your English isn't 'native-like', then put en-3 ("advanced"). It's really a matter of how many gradations we need — some scales of language proficiency have 10 levels. My argument was that, as many users have noted above in this discussion page, the concept of 'nativeness' doesn't always correlate with proficiency. I worked with an interpreter in India who (by her own admission) spoke Hindi and English better than her 'mother tongue' Gujarati. Most deaf people encounter a spoken language first, but develop proficiency in a sign language that far exceeds that of the spoken language. Some wikipedians on this talk page have been confused about whether they are truly 'native speakers' or not, whether they can have two mother tongues, etc. If 'native' and 'native-like' were conflated, it would avoid these confusions. Furthermore, if ability to "argue for or against a legal text or a philosophical thesis" is a test of nativeness, then most people I know have no native language! ntennis 23:38, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

Well, level 4 has (IIUC) only recently been introduced. Are we going to delete it before it has had time to show its usefulness?
For some people, I suppose that two levels are enough ("I speak xx [my mother language] and if you ask me about yy [anything else], then I don't: yy-0"). For others the numbers of useful distinguishable levels is higher. I would be happy with a couple more than exist:
  • Native: I am a native French speaker from Belgium.
  • Almost-native: I speak English and Esperanto fluently, with no difficulty; but I wouldn't regard myself as a native.
  • Fluent: I speak Dutch easily, with little difficulty, but not as well as English or Esperanto. I can imitate a couple of regional accents of it (let's say Brussels vs. Amsterdam).
  • Good: I understand Spanish and Italian easily, I speak them without too much difficulty but I may inadvertently make errors of lexicon (when the word in the language in question is not etymologically related to the French word with the same meaning) or of grammar (e.g. in conjugation)
  • Notions: I can speak everyday German. In technical matters I may get lost. I can understand Catalan and Portuguese rather well, helped by analogy with other Romance languages, but I cannot speak them.
  • Elementary notions: I can speak Russian with dictionary.
  • Bare Bones Beginner: I can read written Czech, and get a glimpse of what it means by analogy with Russian. I know a few phrases each of Arabic, Chinese, Hungarian, Finnish, Polish, and some Scandinavian languages; those languages interest me, but I can't understand them, except by painstakingly looking up every single word in a dictionary.
  • Zero: Other languages I don't speak at all.
(Worse than Russian I don't mention in my Babel outtext.) --[unsigned comment by user:Tonymec]
Seems to me everyone is fretting about this just a little too much. The point of these categories is not to certify oneself as a UN translator or make any kind of binding representation that someone's going to come quiz you on ( "So! fr-4 are you? Well, conjugate croire in the future perfect subjunctive for me, and be quick about it!" ) - it's just to signal to other editors here your general level of competence in various languages. One person's xx-2 may be another person's xx-3; I don't think it's necessary to obsess about the difference between one level and the adjacent one, or whether you can call yourself xx-N if you didn't actually imbibe the language with your mother's milk. As far as I'm concerned, levels 1 / 2 / 3 plus "native" are probably sufficient, much more by way of fine gradations seems kind of meaningless. -EDM 03:25, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

I had a feeling the tide of opinion would be against me on this one. I agree with EDM that people are getting confused by finicky definitions — that's precisely why I proposed a simpler system! (And hopefully before xx-4 becomes too entrenched). I guess I don't feel anyone has justified the need for a distinction between xx-N and xx-4.

Anyway, for the record, here's the system I like, which was suggested by user:HV above:

  • xx the user speaks the language like/as a native speaker
  • xx-3 the user is able to write articles in this language without any difficulty
  • xx-2 the user is able to modify articles and participate in discussions
  • xx-1 the user understands the language well enough to use an article as a source for writings in their own language, or answer simple questions.

ntennis 04:59, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

This set of xx-3/2/1 definitions is good because it is clearcut and has logical competence boundaries while still leaving each level broad enough for some reasonable overlap. The value of an xx-4 level is that, subtle though it be, there is a difference between the competence of a truly native speaker and one who may be completely fluent in a language but isn't native. For example, a truly native speaker will have an 'ear' for questionable or incorrect constructions that a non-native speaker, no matter how fluent, might miss, and xx-4 captures that. That is not to say that someone couldn't be xx-N in more than one language - as others have pointed out above, that situation is not uncommon in households with parents who speak different languages, or for people raised by foreign nannies, etc. I don't think anyone should hesitate to give themselves two or even more xx-N boxes in appropriate cases. But I think ntennis makes a valid point that having the xx-4 category may introduce some confusion that is undesirable in the context of what these category boxes really are intended for here. -EDM 19:14, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
If we define native language as a language which you can understand without any effort, regardless of the order of learning, the current scheme makes sense. For example, I classified myself as en-3 because, even if I understand written English like it were Italian, my home language (I still need to look up on a dictionary from time to time, but this sometimes even happens with one's home language, and however I have no problem in using a monolingual English dict), I still make little errors which few natives would. (E. g., I took a little to memorize that vowel was not spelt wovel.) If I didn't make such mistakes, I would classify myself as en-4, but I will never classify myself en-N until I can watch a movie in English without any problem and without having to pay any particular attention.--Army1987 16:50, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

Babel code "zh" ambiguous

Babel code "zh" is ambiguous. Does it refer to the spoken language, or the written language? Officially it is supposed to mean the spoken language, but within the context of Wikipedia, using "zh" to mean the spoken language is rather pointless.

This shows up as an inconsistency in the text that is displayed. On the user page, the Babel code would be displayed as


which means "this user's native language is written Chinese"; however, if you click the "native language" link, the page that is shown says


which means "these users' native language is spoken Chinese (and Mandarin in particular)".

To illustrate the vast difference between the two meanings, for the former meaning of zh I would claim "zh" (native "speaker") status, but for the latter I would only be able to claim a "zh-1" (elementary level). For the purpose of reading and writing in Wikipedia, the former meaning would be a useful meaning, while the latter (being able to "speak Mandarin") would be a plus but would not be necessary.

Also, with the existence of code "zh-yue", ability to speak Mandarin should be indicated by code "zh-guoyu".

Am I too late to help with anything?

I would really like to help. Now, I'm a gora too and have read this all. My humble suggestions are: to keep it in Devanagari. Only an extended Roman font can represent all the sounds, and this provides the same viewing problems (btw Mac OSX Tiger + Safari browser बढ़िया है!) for people without unicode compatability. Everybody needs to figure it out sooner later, its the future. The Indian, Pakistani and state of Tamil Nadu's governments are all members[3]. My second observation is that even at first glance it looked too "purified," like the artificial attempts of nationalist groups. I'm sure this wasn't conscious, but things are too "Sanskritized" IMHO. I'm just wondering what resources you use? My level of Hindi is probably best seen on the page I largely created and need more help with here. In addition, I'll ask my Hindi teacher what she thinks. She would know if it sounds natural or not. Maybe it does work. But an example of what I'm talking about is सभ्य (or sabhya if you see ???). Especially when it comes to the internet. I think यूसर (yūsar) would work just as well, though I'm sure there are other ways to express it without using Hinglish. Leave me a message if I can help. फिर मिलेंगे! Khirad 13:33, 15 September 2005 (UTC)


Wiktionary has just begun implementing the Babel templates (Wiktionary:Wiktionary:Babel) and categories - simply copy-pasting all the stuff in here and Wiktionarifying it. Arguably it is more useful there than here, due to its nature as a language-based wiki. So if one needs to know a foreign word, you could ask the Wiktionarians too if there's no pedians there to answer. --Wonderfool t(c) 09:58, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

linking the ISO 639 code

en This user is a native speaker of English.

Whose bright idea was this!? The babel box looks like crap now! If you necessarily need a link to the language in question, make it where the supercategory Category:User_xx currently is. --Salleman 16:59, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

  • I agree that putting a link in the tab on the left is unnecessary and clutters the clean look of the badge. "Crap" might be putting it a little strong but if a consensus call is being made (was there any discussion of doing this globally before it started getting done?), I'm on the side of removing it. -EDM 17:10, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
de has had it for some time; it has now spread to fr, es, it and maybe more. I rather like it. Definitely not "crap" IMO. — Tonymec 12:00, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I'm rather indifferent about it. It's not something I missed before, but now that it's there, why not? More links and more information. Why not. I say leave it as it is. (But please also link the xx-4 templates; currently, my en-4 is the only unlinked language. ;)) Flag of Austria.svg ナイトスタリオン ㇳ–ㇰ 13:41, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

Silly languages

I noticed that some people have a list of silly languages in their bable, such as CyberSkull. Is there a list of these things? TIA! --The Minister of War 13:21, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

No. It's just a Mac programmer. They tend to do things like that. Better keep your distance -- I heard they sacrify puppies. Ashmodai 08:46, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

Slovak language

Can someone create a link between "sk" and "Slovak language" in the babel script? PBS

Level clarification (con't)

Ok someone already talked about this in the past, but it seems that the language level descriptions on the main page are still hopelessly unclear.

First of all, right now there is no clear difference between levels 3, 4, and native. Level 3 says fluent but with a few occasional errors, which is exactly what native is. Level 4 also says 'like native, only not native', which brings up the question: Why do we need a level 4?

In any case, I think the ratings should go something like:

  • xx-0 - this user understands the basics of language, but cannot contribute to most articles on language"s Wikipedia.
  • xx-1 - this user knows language enough to make minor tweaks and answer basic question, but cannot contribute in language in a major way.
  • xx-2 - this user can make minor and some major edits in language and participate in most discussions.
  • xx-3 - this user is fluent in language but cannot speak it on a native level, i.e. does not understand most colloquial and/or grammatical quirks of language.
  • xx-4 - this user is on the level of a native speaker of language, but isn't a native speaker.

The wording may need to be changed slightly, but this is the basic idea. It retains lvl 4 as similar to native, but makes a clear distinction between 3 and 4/native.

However, if the majority hear is up for it, I suggest a slight revamp, to make a real difference between level 4 and native. That is, IMO, level 4 should be above regular native. Either that or remove level 4 and make a 'native plus' category - basically a person who has special education or interest in a language which enables them to recognize tiny grammar, style and semantic quirks, and 'high' vocabulary which isn't known to most native speakers (i.e. word spadix in English). But again, this last proposal is only if everyone feels up to it, my way of being bold basically. A lot of user pages would have to be changed (and many users would be better alerted) if this came to pass.

-- Ynhockey 22:41, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

The biggest problem I see is still the existence of a single "native" level versus multiple "non-native" levels. Not every native speaker is equally good at the language, so just saying "native" rather than "advanced" simply because you learned the language in your early childhood doesn't make sense.
I think the "native" label should be seperated from the scale and be combined with a normal level blip for clarification. The level scale should not make any mention of nativeness at all.
Either that or we'd have to duplicate the scale for natives so we end up with xx-1 through xx-4 and xx-N-1 through xx-N-4, which is ridiculous.
A third possibility would be adding a variable to the template that defines whether a sentence about being a native speaker "This user is a native speaker of x" or not "This user is not a native speaker of x" should be visible on the level template. However that sentence should not be the sole statement about the language proficiency.
As for the xx-0 through xx-4 scale I'd suggest the following:
xx-0 Does not understand or does not wish to speak this language (some people just assume people speak a language because of the other languages they speak or where they come from, this could be used to indicate that one really does not or does not want to speak the language -- 1337 or French, for example)
xx-1 Knows the basics of the language, but not enough for major contributions (e.g. I learned Latin in school and passed it, but I couldn't contribute in Latin without using a reverse dictionary and looking up endings)
xx-2 Knows enough to make a point or follow the gist of a conversation (e.g. basic school English, or the cliché Asian tourist trying to speak English: grammar tends to be a problem or the vocabulary is lacking, but it's enouggh for basic communication)
xx-3 Knows enough to be considered fluent, only minor mistakes
xx-4 Fluent speaker with a wider vocabulary than usual (i.e. additional knowledge of special technical vocabularies rather than just "layman's terms")
The average, fluent native speaker would probably classify himself xx-3, attorneys or technical engineers on the other hand might use xx-4. I guess one could add xx-5 for actual linguists who have knowledge of the language well beyond that of modern everyday usage, but I guess that group is almost neglectible. Ashmodai 06:43, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I pretty much agree with your reasoning. Yes, it would make sense for native not to be on the scale at all. So, how do we remove it? Simply removing the template will cause hundreds of broken user pages. Do we just write a new definition on the main page and encourage users to switch? -- Ynhockey 08:54, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

These are not good ideas. The levels as they are now, with the slightly fluid definitions for them that are given way above somewhere, are working fine and there is no need for the radical revamps these two contributors are discussing. Native speaker has a meaning; we all know what it means; to say "some native speakers are better than others" misconceives what the term is intended to convey. Attorneys or technical engineers should classify at a higher level than other native speakers, because they are familiar with some technical terms as part of their job? Please. -EDM 13:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

No need to ridicule my proposal for a proper definition of xx-4 as "beyond average". While English tends to be somewhat clear even if the text is a very scientific one, other languages don't work that way. In German for example, you can't expect most "laymen" to write like, e.g., Kant -- or at least comprehend his works -- without considerable difficulties. That's not only because of the very specific jargon, but also because of the very complex and precise language they he uses. The same is true for many other philosophers or even scientists.
Even an above-average native speaker may and will experience difficulties in cases like that. This is not restricted to natural sciences, mathematics (which, nowadays, usually rely on symbolic expressions instead, because they are even more precise), social sciences or jurisdiction, either. The only ways to express "This user can contribute in a very scienticical and precise language" would either to add another scale for each "field" of language (most possibly based on the general areas where the language is applied) or to generalize it and add it to the existing scale as another level.
Linguists OTOH would possibly go beyond that by having fluent "meta" knowledge about the language and thus being able to comprehend anything you throw at them, although reality probably shows otherwise -- which is why I only added that level in a notion.
Contrary to what you wrote, "Native language" has more than one meaning, apparently, because many people take it litterally and use it nearly identical to "mother's tongue" (which is in fact what many of the foreign-language xx-N templates translate to: eg. "Muttersprache" for de-N), if that gives you a better image. Its litteral definition pretty much boils down to "language you were born with" (hence: native). While you may be accustomed to using it more widely to describe a general level of language skill that is usually assumed when talking about "native speakers", my above definition and the many critiques on this talk page should be proof enough that the term is a bad choice to get this particular meaning across.
Given the critique on what meaning the term does convey, I repeat my statement: Some native speakers speak their native language better than others. If this sentence breaks in your opinion because your definition of "native" is detached from the meaning the word as such implies, that means nothing but that the term is not a good choice to convey the meaning you intend.
By your definition "xx-N" could easily be replaced by "xx-5" (de facto, since we already have a level xx-4 that is NOT equivalent to "native", apparently) because it does not require the speaker to speak the "native" language as his mother's tongue. Thus I would like to ask you, if the notion of whether or not a person was raised in a particular language is irrelevant, then why use an ambiguous "level" in the first place? Why not drop xx-N altogether and replace it by the non-ambiguous xx-5? If your answer is "because it's established already", then why not remove the notion of "nativeness" altogether? Ashmodai 15:18, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

In learning your native language you pick up an enormous number of idiomatic expressions automatically because you normally use that language every day of the year during sixteen waking hours as well as your hours spent dreaming in it at night. The daytime use alone works out to nearly 6000 hours a year or, in twenty years, some 120,000 hours. During this time you are constantly practicing your native language. You think in it, read in it, speak in it, hear it, and you are constantly updating and perfecting your knowledge of all of its distinctive features.

If we use this definition of native language, rather than one about having learnt it as a children/being one's parents' language etc., the en-N template definitely makes sense. En-4 is for someone which knows English language perfectly well, but does not normally use it, i.e., does not live in an English speaking place. Of course it is possible that a highly educated en-4 person is more proficient in formal written English (which is the language in which Wikipedia is written) than an average en-N person. But by writing en-4 in your BabelBox you let know that you don't usually think in English, therefore you might not e.g. get subtle jokes, understand slang, that you have to pay particular attention in order to understand casual speech, etc. As I see it, an unqualified en-N should be thought to imply an en-3 proficiency in formal written English; and if you are more skilled in it than an average en-N speaker (e.g. if you are a language teacher/a professional writer/etc.), you are en-4. I.e., en-N should be a subcat of en-3; and an English teacher (or similar) should mark themself only as en-4 if they don't usually speak in English in normal situation, and BOTH as en-4 and en-N if they do. (Obviously the description of en-4 would have to be changed if it had to conform this schema.) --Army1987 15:57, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
EDM, if you think the system is fine now, would you be kind enough to explain the current difference between levels 3, 4 and native? And if they're indeed the same as I noted in the original post, why are you opposed to making a clear separation or better clarification?
Also, I second what Ashmodai said in the last post. Especially about the technical/high language. In Hebrew for instance, there are some complicated grammar ruled (i.e. rules for Niqqud) which most of the native population does not know. There is also a thing called 'high Hebrew', which is basically a set of several thousand (but obviously it's not clearly defined which words form 'high Hebrew') deprecated or Biblical words/expressions which are usually known only to the 'intellectual elite'. Although it's true that some may use a level like this to show off something they don't have/know, it's definitely far above an average native speaker.
The 'native' level is also ambiguous, proven by the mere fact that several people already asked about it in this discussion. It can mean the language you were born/grew up with, which is often a language you no longer use, but it can also mean a language you got your education in and know very well, or the language of your country (but not necessarily the one you used most in your life).
(Update after Army's post):
I agree with such a definition in principle, but this doesn't seem to fit with what other users have said. For instance, by your definition, it's very difficult to have more than one native language, and it's also hard to definte your native language if you grew up and know one very well, but are currently using and thinking in another. Also, this still leaves some ambiguity as to the level, since it's both similar to an average fluent level (lvl 3), and a high fluent level (lvl 4).
Ynhockey 16:17, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Actually I agree more with Army's suggestion. We should see the Native speaker level as a disjoint set from level's 3 and 4 (you may reword these if necessary, only slightly), so I could be both Native and at level 3 (or even level 2?), or Native and level 4. Moreover we could add level 5 for high technical speakers -- these two could be native or non-native. Finally, with this model I see no problem for people who are native speakers in more than one language: for example I could be both en-N and es-N as well as en-4 and es-4. (Which I happen to be). Let me be more specific: xx-N would be perfect to determine if a user can understand colloquialisms and subtle nuances, while xx-1 through xx-4/5 would describe the level of grammatical expertise and formal vocabulary the user commands. (An aside: i think level 0 is really not useful at all, as to me it seems redundant.) --Stux 16:31, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
That's even better. We could redefine levels as follows:
  • 1. I can read English, but I would not be able to write non-trivial sentences without having a reference book and/or having to look up 50% of the words on a dictionary. (Which is exactly as it is now, as I understand it and use it on my user page.)
  • 2. I can write English well enough to make myself understood, but I am likely to do many mistakes which will let one understand that I'm not a native speaker. (More or less as it is now, as I understand it.
  • 3. I can write English, even if minor errors could happen. This may be due either to the fact that I'm poorly educated, or to the fact that I'm not native. (Notice that there is difference from the errors likely to occour in the former or in the latter: exchanging two homophone but otherwise unrelated words is likely to be done by an uneducated native, wheter using a common verb with a wrong preposition is likely to be done by a learner.)
  • 4. I can write English like an averagely educated native English speaker.
  • 5. I can write English better than an averagely educated native English speaker (e.g. a writer, a language teacher).
This way most people wouldn't need to recat themselves, as they are very similar to the current ones.--Army1987 16:31, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

I didn't mean to ridicule the proposals; sorry if it came across that way. What I was trying to say was that I think these proposals are trying to make too finely graded distinctions, without consideration of what the purpose of these templates is. In that sense, these proposals run the danger of being feature creep. I don't believe that these levels are (or should be) intended to act as certifications or licenses or warranties by a user as to some level of competence, as though they were applying for a translator position or something. They're merely intended to signify, generally, that a user is a native speaker of a language (=mother tongue, =raised in it, etc.) with the "feel" for the language that the term "native speaker" implies; or that the user falls somewhere else on the sliding scale of fluency in a language that categories 0/1/2/3/4 suggest.

A linguist's "metafluency" is a completely separate parameter, one that I would suggest is inappropriate for capturing in a template. As I believe most linguists will confirm, knowledge of the structure of a language or group of languages - its syntax, phonology, historical development, and so forth - does not necessarily correlate to competence in the language, though of course often it will.

I disagree that English is "somewhat clear" in all contexts in a way that German or any other language is not. Every language has its noted stylists that the vast bulk of the speaking population can only vainly hope to emulate. German laymen may not write like Kant; most native English-speaking laymen don't write like Shakespeare or Joyce or Hemingway either. That doesn't mean they ought to be classified as less "native" or "fluent" in the language, and certainly not for purposes of contributing to this encyclopedia.

As I understand the current consensus usage of 1/2/3/4 levels, (or at least as I use them) they correspond roughly to (1) "I can read an article okay, but I wouldn't want to try to contribute much" (put another way, "decent passive knowledge, little active knowledge") / (2) "I can read and contribute at a level that I won't get laughed at too much" / (3) "Essentially fluent (maybe book-learnt)" / (4) "Fluent though not technically native." (Level 0 is a different matter and we might as well leave that undefined without adverse consequences.) I think those definitions are working well enough for the purpose the templates are needed for, and I'm just trying to caution against too much definitional fussiness. -EDM 16:50, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Well said! I think your description and intention of the levels (as an informal gauge) makes much more sense. As for most native English-speaking laymen don't write like Shakespeare or Joyce or Hemingway either -- don't forget lawyers too! (My apologies to those that practice said profession and are currently reading this entry). Technical knowhow may (or may not!) be too broad to summarize in templates -- well at least in a single templates. Though I'm afraid this might lead to a proliferation of technical language templates. But would that be such a bad thing? Then again, we don't want to have people feel alienated because of their training or lack thereof in a specific subject. --Stux 17:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
The reason I posted this in the first place was because, when editing my user page, I suddenly wondered whether my level of Hebrew (which is native but not awesome) would constitute as a 3, 4 or Native. Also if my English (on a native level, including the 'feel' but not native) would be a 4 or Native. Basically what I'm trying to do is to avoid confusion for other users (and myself) by defining the levels more clearly. Seriously, no one should have to sit there and wonder what they should put for their page. It's not feature creep because it's not meant to be at the expense of something else.
Aside from that, I agree that it shouldn't be a 'definite assertion of a level of competence'. However, one of the purposes of the template is to help people using different languages speak to each other, and it doesn't help anyone when the user looks at someone else's 'level 2' and can't understand if that person is fluent or not.
Your last paragraph is also strange as it's not the impression I got from reading the main page or some of the other user pages. This is exactly why the levels should be more clearly defined - because even the two of us seem to have a different idea of what the consensus is. But in any case, no matter what numbering system is used, I think several basic levels should be definted: a level where a person is familiar with the language's basics but can't really read/write on a practical level; a level where a person can understand (and write) basic things, but not to make full contributions; a level where a user can read, understand and make full contributions, but doesn't have good mastery of the language's more intricate details; a level where a person has completely mastered the language, even if they don't know 'high language'. That, as well as a possible highest level (a user who knows high/technical jargon). This is why I agreed with Ashmodai that the system would work better without a 'native' level. However, I'm not objecting to a native level as long as every level is clearly defined.
-- Ynhockey 18:08, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree that the "meta" notion is doubtful, but I already said that twice anyway. I don't fully agree on your definitions though. The language in which you think has been shown to change under certain circumstances (I find it easier to write about certain things in English and think about them "in English", even though I am not a native speaker). Language fluency requires being able to form sentences in that language without having to translate them from your native language anyway.
I also think that we can agree that the notion of "nativeness" is not of any interest when it comes to scaling the language proficiency. Although it is not "perfectly" normal, it is possible to acquire a level of language proficiency equal to that of a native in every aspect at a later point than that at which a native did so (which would be very early childhood, I guess). Thus, since "native" implies a general age range at which the language was acquired, I do not think properties of interest for rating the language skill can be restricted to native speakers.
I already said it's absurd to attempt to explain the user's proficiency in every aspect of the language. We can't go overboard with this and have scales for poetry, legislation and everything else. That's why I proposed to express that kind of special -- or "advanced" -- language skill as a higher level than "just" being fluent.
Furthermore, we need to consider other uses of the language templates. They will (and are) not only be used to find out what languages a user can contribute in. They also help judging whether (or how well) a user can understand what you are trying to tell them on their Talk page. That is why the statements these templates make about the user's language skills should be as clear as possible. It should be a scale of the user's language skills, not more (even though that is already quite a complex concept to cover with a very limited linear set of levels). Nativeness, nationality and other concepts should not be part of the scale. We might want to find ways to specify the language variant (in the case of English: en-GB, en-AU or en-US, mostly), though, but having them as seperate scales would be overkill (and certainly not very useful, considering they are mutually intelligable). Ashmodai 18:00, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I guess I just don't see what the big deal is, and maybe that is my own personal failing. What is the actual, real-world consequence of somebody's categorizing themself as, say, level 3 vs. level 4? Do they get some Wikibonus for being level 4? Do they miss out on the cool people's discussions if they call themselves level 2? If someone is sitting at their computer agonizing over whether they are level 2 or level 3, then (with respect and sympathy to Ynhockey) they need to get out more. My personal practice is to put the lower level if I think it could be one or the other, but I really think it's inconsequential if someone else with the identical fluency level puts the higher one.

Think of it like a movie or restaurant review in the paper. Different reviewers assign different meanings to 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, etc., but you don't need to know the precise definitions to make a comparative evaluation. -EDM 18:34, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Well, I'll say below how I understand the various levels — and, therefore, how I used them in the Babel template on my user page:

  • The only language which I use day in and day out, including with my parents and relatives, is French. I mentioned "native knowledge" of French.
  • When talking, reading, or writing in English, I don't need to translate to and from French. I use written English for reading novels and on the Internet with no (subjective) barrier. I understand most of the idiomatic expressions I come across, sometimes through the context. But I would feel at a disadvantage if I had to argue verbally in English against someone whose knowledge of English were equivalent to my knowledge of French. I mentioned "en-4".
  • Similarly, I don't need to translate Esperanto to or from French. But the case of Esperanto is special, since it has much less native speakers (who learnt it from their parents or in kindergarten) than it has speakers "as an acquired language". In particular, the language norm is not set by its native speakers but by its "good" speakers including the Akademio de Esperanto. I mentioned "eo-4".
  • I can use Dutch passively, or for low-level daily use (for instance, to order a drink in a bar) but my proficiency in Dutch is significantly lower than in French, English or Esperanto. In particular, I don't buy Dutch novels and I (usually) don't listen to Dutch-language radio. I mentioned "nl-3".
  • I can understand Spanish or Italian passively, but to write in them I occasionally need a dictionary. I mentioned "es-2" and "it-2".
  • I can understand German with some difficulty, but when writing it I constantly hesitate about the fine points of its orthography, especially now that the rules have recently changed. (In the languages mentioned above I have "good spelling" without the need for a spell checker or dictionary, but with the exception of French and English, which are at the top of my list, they use "phonetic" spelling.) I mentioned "de-1".
  • I have a good grasp of Russian grammar and syntax, but I need to have a dictionary with me for both active (production) and passive (understanding) use of its vocabulary. I mentioned "ru-1".
  • In high school, I learnt classical Latin (6x50 minutes per week for 6 years) and classical Greek (5x50 min/wk for 2 years) but I wouldn't regard myself as even "understanding" them nowadays. Similarly, I know a few words or phrases (mostly "Hello", "I don't understand language xx", or counting words) in Hungarian, Finnish, Swedish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc., but IMHO all that doesn't count. I mentioned none of these languages.

- Tonymec 04:49, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

As for what the phrase native language may imply, I think we better change it to home language or something like that. (If I went to live in an English speaking country on my own, i.e. with no one from my country (Italy), and almost all of the people I were going to deal with spoke English, as I see it, I would have to change myself from en-3 to en-N within two years or less. And if meanwhile I become significantly less fluent in Italian, I'd have to change from it-N to it-2 or whichever appropriate level I would feel.) --Army1987 16:31, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

OK, I've changed the main page to reflect what seems to be the consensus here. Please edit if you disagree, but don't revert since a clarification is needed - simply insert a more correct clarification, but keep in mind what the users in this discussion have said. -- Ynhockey 04:51, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

I was all prepared not to like the changes, then I read them and I think they pretty well do capture a reasonable definition of the gradations in levels. Good job, Ynhockey. I may tweak the wordings a little but overall I think they are on the right track. The one major change I'd suggest is recasting them into the passive: instead of a user may use this template when... rewrite to this template could be used when a user... This would avoid the ambiguity of the English "may," which can mean either permission (Congratulations! You may now use this template, as you have satisfactorily demonstrated your competence in the language) or volition (you may care to use this template, or that one, if you like). I don't think the first sense of the word "may" is intended here. -EDM 06:39, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
xx-2 [...] A user at this level should be able to coherently translate most articles (if not all) using a dictionary. Does this mean "traslate from their language to xx" or "traslate from xx to their language"?For example, if it means the former I'm fr-1, but if it means the latter I'm fr-2.--Army1987 20:36, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
The sentence, as I meant it, is an additional requirement rather than a lone one. Basically, if a user qualifies for the others but not for this one, they can't consider themselves a lvl 2, or if they qualify for this one and not the others. You're right though, maybe it should be re-worded. But I think it's important to make this clarification since it's very important for languages like Japanese or Chinese. For example, many advanced Chinese learners would have trouble finding some characters, and many advanced Japanese learners are unfamiliar with some common contextual quirks on the JA wikipedia. I guess this applies less to European languages. But basically, you need to both be able to translate with a dictionary, and understand the general idea of an article with some details without a dictionary. -- Ynhockey 00:33, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
I re-read it more carefully. Since it mentions "ability to modify articles and participate in discussions", I'm definitely not fr-2. However in that sentence after "(if not all)", a phrase such as "into the language in question", "from the language in question", or "into and from the language in question" should be added. --Army1987 16:49, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
Another thing. xx if you're a native speaker. [...] The actual level of language understanding may vary from xx-2 to xx-4. This mean that the name of level b4 needs to be changed. --Army1987 09:01, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes that would be helpful, but who's going to sit through 200 language templates and change them? They'd need to know the languages in question too. But if no one disagrees, I'm going to change the xx-4 templates of the languages I know to reflect this. Btw, it's not true that xx-2 is for semi-literate people who don't want to have an account on Wikipedia. Actually most of those would speak the language (as the template says) fairly well. I'm mainly talking about people who have left their home country a long time ago and had no occasion to speak the language, thus forgetting it to the point they have trouble with fluency, reading and writing. -- Ynhockey 15:26, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
In that case they would probably have lost their "native" status, if they have stopped (e.g.) dreaming in it. --Army1987 22:10, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Don't change the templates yet, and rethink where this is going

Ynhockey, I strongly suggest you don't go changing templates yet. Particularly, don't change the limited group of templates that happen to be the languages you know, thereby rendering the whole system inconsistent. Many, many Wikipedia users use the Babel templates; only a handful of us have commented here on the rejiggering of the levels and I suspect that most people who use Babel templates aren't even aware that this discussion is going on. Until this discussion has been publicized to the general population who don't have the Babel page watchlisted, and there is broader acceptance of these changes than the four or five people who have posted comments here, you would be altering something that many people have adopted in its existing form and they are very likely not going to notice the change.

What you are trying to accomplish is a clearer definition of the meaning of the various levels. I've stated above that I'm not sure that is necessary, and that this process risks being misinterpreted as a set of requirements rather than guidelines (you keep writing things like if a user qualifies for the others but not for this one, they can't consider themselves a lvl 2); but if I lose that argument, I lose, and that's how it is. Regardless, I think you will achieve your goal by rewriting the description of the levels that appears at the top of the Babel page, as you have done. To go on and fiddle with a small subset of the templates themselves is a bad idea. Someone wanting to know another user's fluency in a particular language is almost certainly just going to check if the user has self-categorized as 1, 2, 3 etc., not rely on the particular wording of the template text. -EDM 17:12, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

After letting things sit for a while, reworking the definitions slightly, and rereading them all together, I have to say, I'm not happy with where this is going with regard to xx-4 and xx-N. Here is how the definitions of those templates currently read:
xx-4 for users who are fluent and knowledgeable in the language in question. This includes a native-like vocabulary and knowledge of idiomatic expressions and other quirks. However, it does not necessarily connote the ability to use literary language or other advanced style.
xx for a "native speaker." This template, like the phrase "native speaker" itself, is somewhat ambiguous. It could be used by a monolingual user, or by a polylingual user who chooses to self-identify as a "native speaker" of a particular language. It could also mean the language you grew up with or the language of your current country. Users can have more than one 'native' language. The actual level of language fluency may vary (from xx-4 to as low as xx-2).
Now, granted that "native speaker" is a notoriously imprecise term(this article has a pretty good though not perfect discussion of the phrase and its ambiguities), I believe it still has the connotation of a certain fluency and a certain "feel" for the language, and that connotation is getting obscured by the changes that are being made in the definitions of xx-4 and xx-N.
To me, the "native speaker" is the person the linguist goes to with a sample sentence and asks Is this an acceptable construction? The "native speaker" of xx thinks in xx; he dreams in xx; when he drops a big heavy metal toolbox on his toe, he cusses in xx. You can be a native speaker of more than one language, but probably not of more than two or just possibly three. If you're fluent in six languages and can circulate with ease at diplomatic cocktail parties the length and breadth of the Continent, all but one or two of them are still xx-4. If you moved at the age of 5 from xx-land to yy-land and never spoke xx again, then you're probably not xx-N now even if you spoke nothing else before you moved.
I often curse in English, and sometimes I have even cursed in Spanish. I think this is not a good indicator. And I often think in English, and sometimes even in Europanto. It would be more accurate to explicitly say "usually think". As for dreaming, IMO it's one of the most indicative things to say what your "native" language is (but obviously it'd be ridiculous to claim it to be the most important or to define nativeness in terms of it). --Army1987 22:10, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
Cursing and even dreaming may not be a definitive criterion. Sometimes I curse in German because I feel that German curses are more "tasty", that they carry more emphatic weight so to speak, than curses in languages with which I am more familiar like French or English. On occasion I have even had dreams with a sentence or two in German in them. Nevertheless my fluency in German is far from native. - Tonymec 18:21, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
But have you ever had a dream entirely, or almost, in German? Lots of people have dreams with some sentences in languages they don't usually speak.--Army1987 18:37, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
Those were examples, not definitive criteria. No doubt there are others, and some might point in one direction and some in another. I was trying to make the point that what constitutes native-ness is the intersection or preponderance of many different measures, these being three possibilities. And (for those non-en-N here), a fine point: I mentioned cussing, not cursing. Cussing can have, and as I used it I intended it to have, the overtone of involuntariness, or at least reflexiveness. Cursing at someone can involve a well-thought-out phrase which you might well want to choose from another language you know if that gets the precise point across better. But when you drop something on your toe, you cuss, and that's more primal. -EDM 18:42, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
I referred to that. (I didn't know the difference between these two terms.) I did not refer to maledictions ("curses") (e.g. "May you go to hell.") but to interjections ("cusses") (e.g. "FUCK!"). I very often happen to yell "Fuck me!" or "Shit!" if I accidentally break something or similar, not much more rarely than I happen to cuss in Italian. (In the very case of dropping something very heavy on my toe, however, I'm more likely to just scream than to say any proper word in any language...) --Army1987 18:37, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
Well, if I drop something I may say "merde" in my mother language, or "oh, hell" in English; if I drop something really heavy and hurt myself big time I may shout "A-oo-oo" which is in no particular language. But if I do something wrong and figuratively shoot myself in the foot, I may say "Ach, Scheisse!" which I feel has more "flavour". YMMV. And no, I don't remember ever having had a full dream all in German. Usually in French, sometimes in Esperanto, but not in German. And, OK, replace "curse" by "swear" two paragraphs up. Or maybe not: the "New OED" (© 1998-2001) says: cuss informal |> noun 1 an annoying or stubborn person or animal: he was certainly an unsociable cuss. 2 another terme for CURSE (in sense 2). |> verb another term for CURSE (in sense 2). - Tonymec 23:54, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
For that reason, I don't like the current definition of xx-4 because it has removed the qualification that was in there previously, that an xx-4 speaker can speak (or understand) at a near-native or practically native level but is not a native speaker. I also think it's wrong to say that an xx-N speaker's fluency can vary anywhere from level 2 to level 4. An Appalachian sharecropper with an eighth-grade education may not use the same vocabulary and syntax as Daniel Webster, but they're both native speakers of English. (Feel free to substitute your local peasant and your local high-flown orator for that example.) I believe I speak and read English a lot better than most of the people I encounter in daily life, but for Wikipedia Babel purposes it would be pernicious to call me xx-4 and them xx-2. The numbered levels ought to be used to denote level of fluency in secondary (non-native) languages.
Finally, I'll just say it one more time. These definitions are, or ought to be, guides not laws. Think of the purpose for which the templates are intended: a signal to others, not a trophy for oneself.
-EDM 23:49, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
People born in one country moving to another as an adult will, after only a few years, begin to dream, cuss and (to some extent) think in their adopted language, although they are arguably much less fluent in it. Wikiacc (talk) 20:21, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
It depends on how much interest they have, and how much effort they do, in learning that language, on their lingustic intelligence, on what social lives they have, etc. There also are few things you won't learn unless you specifically work on it (e.g. nuances in pronunciation), but, except for those, in many cases within a few years they will be as fluent as people born there. --Army1987 22:10, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

First of all, nobody is changing the templates. I said I would if no one objected, but kind of expected people to object.

That aside, I think you're missing the point regarding the 'native' level. The point is that it's ambiguous: some may interpret it as the language they were born with (but not necessarily spoke a lot), while others may consider it as some high literary level above xx-4. My clarification (and I thought the others agreed on this) aims to define the native level as clearly as possible in the shortest possible amount of words. If you want to paste your above 3-paragraph definition, go ahead, but it won't help anyone.

Regarding the precise definition of 'native', I don't think we agree here either. Using myself as an example: I moved to Israel at the age of 5 from the Soviet Union (Russia), and have spoken Russian relatively little since then. Until about the age of 10 my parents spoke Russian and taught me 'advanced grammar' and things like that, but then switched to English upon our move to Canada. I don't think in Russian, dream in Russian, or any of the other things you listed. Also, my level of expertise in Russian has dropped since then - I rarely use complicated phrases anymore, unless the complicated words are taken from English. However, I can probably never lose my fluency in Russian. Even after 10 years of hardly speaking it at all, I have no trouble talking or writing in Russian. Basically, my level has dropped from xx-4 to xx-3, but it has not prevented me from speaking like a native, including the slang. There are things you just don't forget.

However, we do agree that a native template is only useful as long as it tells something about the user. If the actual level is completely hidden under a 'native' tag, then it doesn't help. This is why I (and several other users at least, read the conversation :)) agree that 'native' is superfluous. But since removing all 'native' templates would cause an unprecedented Wikipedia disaster, there should at least be a clarification of what a native speaker is. I think most people will realize that it means having a 'feel' for the language and being able to express yourself in it, but many will also assume that it's a higher level than xx-4, which it isn't. If you're disagreeing that xx-2 can be native, then feel free to just write 'xx-3 or xx-4' instead of the current explanation. That's not so important.

-- Ynhockey 04:08, 2 November 2005 (UTC) Another thing. In very few case, one can have a passive xx-N level but an active xx-2 or even xx-1 level. For example, my parents (with whom I live) are from Campania and almost always speak Neapolitan to each other and to family (including me). I can understand Neapolitan in almost any situation, even if I am very sleepy, and I have watched many movies in Neapolitan with no problem, with almost the same ease as it were Italian. I have some troubles in understanding the most old-fashioned idioms, like some of the ones my grandparents use, but I think that even young people living in Naples would have this problem. However, I very seldom speak in it (mainly jokingly, I can't remember ever having had a real conversation wholly in Neapolitan), and I'm very very little fluent in it (very much less than in English, and more-or-less as much as in French). If there were nap-x templates, I would maybe classify myself as both nap-1 and nap-N, but I would obviously need to explain what I mean on my user page. --Army1987 22:10, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Reading your reply made me think about something: why not, instead of having the system work one way or the other (with native stuff), have it be some sort of flexible compromise: have xx-N on its own be native, xx-4 on its own be non-native but highly fluent, etc. as they are now. But allow alternate definitions that can be employed by users at will (and must somehow make it evident that this is the method that they are using) to specify special cases such as nap-1/nap-N mentioned above. Or even on their own: when a user sees nap-1/nap-N is it understood by the definition that it is some case like the one described above, and if it spark's the users' curiosity, they can then read the user's page and read the details. Basically this would be an extra set of "combination values" which in it of themselves sport slightly different meanings. --Stux 00:18, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Too complex. Cases like mine are expected to be quite rare, simply explaining them in the page would do it. We would need to completely modify templates, and I think having standardized messages is a good thing in most situations. --Army1987 18:37, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
So basically leave things as they are and just let people do it if they want to and explain it in their pages? Then reword, if needed, our current level descriptions (as has already been done once)... did I understand you correctly? (If so, I'm not against that at all). --Stux 19:03, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
I just mean that creating "open" templates is not a good idea. My idea is to leave xx-1, xx-2, xx-3 as they are, rename xx-4. As I see it, xx-3 is the level of literacy and proficiency of an average native speaker, xx-4 is the level of a teacher, a writer, etc., i.e. the kind of person whom you ask to know if a sentence is grammatically correct, or to help you reword a sentence if you know it doesn't "sound right" but can't find a better way to rewrite it. --Army1987 19:26, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

CRS template?

How about CRS-4 : "This Geezer rabbits David." ? I'd do it myself, but don't have the time right now...! Codex Sinaiticus 19:03, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

OK, here's what I've got so far... Any improvements?

-Codex Sinaiticus 17:50, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Plugin Boxes

How can I make a box that will nicely fit inside the Babel template when passed as a parameter? - ElAmericano 22:14, 27 October 2005 (UTC)


Anyone want to make a template like Template:User_fox for Opera? --Jtalledo (talk) 23:45, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

{{User opera}} seems to be what you are looking for. Wikiacc (talk) 20:20, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
There seems to be a unordinate amount of templates that are not linked from the main page. Is there any other "all encompassing" list of {{user xx}} templates somewhere? --Stux 20:41, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
This may be a good place to start (although it does contain many false positives). Wikiacc (talk) 21:46, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
Wow! Thank you very much! Actually, I clicked on several arbitrary links (maybe 1/2%-1%) and surprisingly I got few view false positives. And all of the ones that were, seemed to be attempts at templates that were never finished. --Stux 00:25, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

Udmurt template

Creation of the Udmurt wikipedia seems to be a good cause to create also the Babel-templates for Udmurt-speaking people.

Удмурт (Udmurt)

1. Со адями удмурт кылын ӧжыт вераськыны быгатэ

2. Со адями удмурт кылын гожъяны но лыдӟыны быгатэ

3. Со адями удмурт кылэз туж ӟеч тодэ

4. Со адями удмурт кылэз анай кылэз кадь тодэ

N. Со адямилы удмурт кыл – анай кыл

Word-by-word translation of sentences:

1. This human_being Udmurt in_language a_few speak can 2. This human_being Udmurt in_language write and read can 3. This human_being Udmurt language_it very good knows 4. This human_being Udmurt language_it mother language_it as knows N. This for_human_being Udmurt language – mother language

--Denis Sacharnych 07:16, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Babel is great to indicate language skills. Why do we do not do the same for the translators ?


  1. my proposal Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#Babylon_project._A_new_model_similar_to_Babel_to_help_the_traduction
  2. a begin of an implementation User:Jmfayard where I show how it could look like.

This model, inspired by Babel, seems to me to be far less complex than the current Wikipedia:Translators available and Wikipedia:Translation into English, and would also work much better especially on smaller wikipedias and with small languages.

fr:User:Jmfayard 17:17, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

Isn't that the whole point of Babel, that it shows that a person can understand the indicated languages? Wouldn't translation be the logical benefit of that to WP? - Keith D. Tyler 18:17, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

New level descriptions

I've been bold and changed the level descriptions by myself. They are like in my previous proposal, but with five levels instead of four. Here they are, in case they are reverted:

  • xx-0 if you might be expected to understand the language (e.g. if you often contribute to articles about it), but you actually don't. You should not use it for every language you do not know.
  • xx-1 if you can understand that language well enough to use an article as a source for writings in your own language, but you are unable to significantly contribute to an article in that language.
  • xx-2 if you can contribute to articles in that language to some extent, but you are not confident in writing in it and therefore you are likely to make many mistakes.
  • xx-3 if you are confident in writing that language, but often minor errors occour.
  • xx-4 if you can write articles in that language at the level of an averagely educated native speaker.
  • proposed — not yet implemented xx-5 if you have a 'professional' proficiency in that language (e.g. if are a teacher of it, or a professional writer in it), i.e. if you can confidently tell wheter a sentence is correct, find the most appropriate word for a given concept, understand literary and technical words and phrases, etc.
  • xx if you are a native speaker, i.e. if you are used to use that language in all everyday situations, and you have a perfect grasp of it, including colloquialisms. (This means that if you moved from an xx-speaking country to a yy-speaking country at the age of 12, and have never spoke xx language again, you should classify yourself as a native speaker of yy and not of xx, even if you used to speak nothing else as a child. In the case that you moved as an adult, you should decide by yourself, according to your 'feel', and in rare cases you might even have several native languages.) Used alone, it means that your proficiency in written language is xx-4, if it isn't you should use both xx and xx-5 (when it gets implemented) or xx-3 or whatever. (If it is much lower than xx-4, however, it would be a good idea to explain the reason in your user page.)

These, except xx-N, are mainly focused about writing. This is consistent with the texts of the boxes, "This user is able to contribute with a xxxx level of yyyy" vs "This user is a native speaker of yyyy". This system is completely compatible with the old one (nobody will have to recategorise themself, unless they want to be categorised as xx-5); there is no need to rename level 4 (the definition of level xx-N makes it clear that no-one is supposed to have both xx-N and xx-4 in the same language in their BabelBox); it uses a decent definition of "native language"; and it fulfills the request for a "professional" level. Since none of the other proposals so far has all these features, I decided to use this one. The definition of xx-3 is somewhat vague and could be improved (I can't find how, as I'm not en-5...). Now we just need to create xx-5 templates "This user can contribute with a professional level of xxxxx". Army1987 13:37, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

I like some of these edits, but not others. You basically reverted to the original version with a few exceptions. I mean, the descriptions are more ambigous now, for each level (except native). The reason I started the discussion in the first place was to define the levels clearer so that no one would have any doubt at all when choosing their level. I won't edit this stuff for now and see how the discussion goes, but why did you remove the examples and such? Also, xx-0 isn't just about Wikipedia. A user who lives in Belgium but does not speak French (although he's expected to) would also be xx-0. I won't list all the other examples now, but basically, I think most of the clarifications should be returned.
EDIT: Just wanted to add that I like the concept of xx-5.
-- Ynhockey || Talk 14:09, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
Now I've expanded them, sometimes copying and pasting old descriptions. However, IMO the current description for xx-1 is much more clear-cut than the previous one. If you can understand that language well enough to use an article as a source for writings in another language, then you are xx-1, else you aren't. The previous one is vaguer. For example, using the current one I'm definitely not de-1, with the previous one I might want to be one. Also I did not restore that stuff in xx-0 description about Hebrew, according to it I should add a ja-0 template in my BabelBox just because I can read hiragana and katakana. I can't see the point in this. --Army1987 14:27, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
On a side note, isn't it possible to make dynamic templates? As in, just one template for English, but if the user specifies 'en-4', it would automatically find the en-4 description in the template and put it on the page? I'm not proficient enough in MediaWiki to know, but if this can be done in PHP, I don't see a reason why it can't be done in MediaWiki. -- Ynhockey || Talk 14:15, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
It would be possible to use template subpages to transclude level-specific descriptions. Wikiacc (talk) 02:08, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

What a mess these descriptions are now. What a poorly worded, amateurish explanation of xx-N. What a shame that this benign, potentially helpful set of templates has been massaged by committee into something incomprehensible and meaningless. -EDM 22:23, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

If you know a better (i.e. more useful) explanation of xx-N feel free to add it, if you don't would you please explain what's wrong with this one?--Army1987 14:27, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

I also created a template for en-5 since no-one objected. However there is something wrong with its category.

en-5 This user can contribute with a professional level of English.

--Army1987 14:44, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

All the explanations I'm going to give are in my several comments above. The version of these templates that I was satisfied with, and the set of definitions that I personally am going to continue to use, is this from 28 October 2005. (Yup, no definition of or reference to xx-0. I and others found that on our own, have used it with possibly idiosyncratic definitions, and Wikipedia hasn't come to a grinding halt. Same goes for xx-N: no long, tortured definition that lurches back and forth trying to accommodate all possible input.) I believe that the changes you and others are making are moving these templates in a completely wrong direction, toward a higher level of bureaucratism and compartmentalization. That ill serves this concept.
By the way, I think the xx-5 level is absolutely silly. (Pretty color, though, I'll give you that.) Besides the contortions and wordiness you would have to go through to satisfactorily define "professional" in various fields of endeavor, the only purpose this template would serve is to encourage braggadocio and one-upmanship. As you will learn as you go through life, true professionals, in any field, don't brag about it.
I am now out of this discussion. Have fun. -EDM 19:14, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
As for description, I agree that they are too long. But there seems to be consensus that they should be descriptive. I'm going to restore old one-line descriptions on the main page, and move longer, more informative definitions with examples on a subpage. --Army1987 17:54, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
"Professional" level of English? If it makes you happy, I guess it doesn't bother me. It's a paper tiger; the only way to impress others with writing is to write well. No one cares how highly you rate yourself. The Dogandpony 22:41, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
The aim why I made that template was not "bragging about" anything. It was about being able to clean up pages with reference to language. It was kinda similar to the reason why some people may be more interested in seeking Wikipedia articles needing copy edit than other people. In my view the xx-5 category would be similar to Wikipedia:Cleanup_Taskforce/Members/Members_by_interest#Languages, except that it is more about using a language than about 'pure' metalinguistic knowledge. --Army1987 17:54, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

I think that there should also be a template which says that "This user can use (insert language here) as a second language. Tarret 00:39, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

I say we forget about the gradual escalation and jump straight to the final result:

en-∞ This user speaks English at a godlike level.

Bo Lindbergh 21:11, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

Bo - so awesome, I had to immortalize it in the template namespace: {{user en-godlike}} Cernen 15:10, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

new Babel templates!

I've created some new templates for Babel:

Enjoy! --Ixfd64 07:42, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

more Babel templates!

I've made some more specific templates for Babel:

There's more on the way! :-D --Ixfd64 07:54, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

Aren't these a tad Americo-centric? Even in Canada we don't use the terms "freshmen", "sophomores", etc. that often. I don't understand the systems they have in Britain or continental Europe, but those are completely incompatible to these. Not to mention the rest of the world. -- ran (talk) 06:15, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

even more templates!

I've made a template for Wikipedia bureaucrats:

I've also made some templates for those people in choir:

All right, I've made enough templates for now. :) --Ixfd64 08:12, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

What about one for us baritones? —User:ACupOfCoffee@ 06:56, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

Improved design

I've tried to backport Babel as it's implemented on fy:. The advantage is that there's no need to name the number of arguments in advance. This does require one extra Template that will dissolve unspecified arguments into emptyness. The equivalent or the choice on Fy: would be Template:User. However, that template was already taken, so I implemented the backport with:

The test babel replacement.
The empty entry.
BabelUser en, BabelUser en-0, etc. 
The language level entries. I made only 10, en + fr, to test with.

These are the results of the templates {{babellist|en}} and {{babellist|en-0|en-1|en-2|en-3|fr|fr-0|fr-1|fr-2|fr-3}}:

I know the actual entries don't make much sense; I only used them to demonstrate the template.

To implement this system:

  • Babellist should probably be css-ed. I'm not sure if it could be used to replace Babel directly; alternatively it could be used under its current name until older uses have been updated, at which point it could be renamed to Babel, leaving a redirect. It may need extending; currently it's only good for 16 arguments.
  • The current structure of the language bar templates appears to function with this system as well (though I did wish for a BabelBar template). To use them as they are now is not possible, as Template:User already exists for another purpose. It might be a good thing to move/copy them to BabelUser_etc anyway, since the current name is rather general considering the templates belong to a specific project. Alternatively, the existing User template could be renamed to make room for an empty template.

Don't use the test versions of the language bars, as some were converted from fy: and hence are coded slightly differently. Aliter 01:00, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

Featured articles in other languages

Following the Wikipedia:Featured articles in other languages, I've created here some templates to replace Template:FAOL which were used to point out to articles that are featured in other language (see Talk:World War II). These new templates are Babel-like to be less space-comsuming. But I need your help to create a template like {{Babel-x}} to add multiple boxes. And also, do you think we should write them in the language of the article they're pointing to? CG 20:35, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

Better Category links?

I notice that when a person uses a Babel template on their user page, a Category link is automatically added to the bottom of the page as well. This is a nice feature but it seems unfortunate that the Category links are named after the Wikipedia node for that language -- i.e. "User en", "User es-1", etc. I think it would be helpful if these links were made "English speakers", "Spanish speakers" and so on.

I see that the templates implement this by making the links say things like [[Category:en-N|{{PAGENAME}}]]. Does this mean that what I want could be achieved by passing a PAGENAME parameter to the {{User en}} template? I'm still trying to understand how to use parameters with templates (and in any case I would prefer that this was the default behavior for the Babel templates).

Any thoughts? I'm sure I'm misunderstanding something fundamental about Wikipedia templates. :-) Tim Pierce 15:50, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Category names

Why don't we change the title of the user language categories to more comprehensible ones. For example "French speaking users" instead of "User fr"? It poses when searching for a language I don't know its code. CG 21:23, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Need help on Tongan templates

I'm a complete newbie to Babel templates and I'm trying to get the Tongan (Faka Tonga or To) category organized. I'm failing utterly. Need experienced help. You supply the template, I'll supply the Tongan. 'O kapau te u lava! (if I can) Zora 21:38, 9 December 2005 (UTC)

Answer on Zora's User talk page. Hégésippe | ±Θ± 00:56, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

The phrasing of the templates

"This user is able to contribute on an advanced level of English," for example. "On an advanced level" sounds extremely awkward. How about "using" instead of "on"? --YixilTesiphon Say hello 21:13, 11 December 2005 (UTC)

Possible correction in Wikipedia:Babel's Latin.

It's possible that I am incorrect on this, but the Wikipedia:Babel translation for Latin is wrong.

This is the Latin that is found, for example, in the template on the profile of a user who has classified himself as la-1:

Hic usor simplice latinitate contribuere potest.

This was translated as:

This user is able to contribute with a basic level of Latin.

Potest is not, in fact, the present 3rd singular active indicative form of the Latin for 'to be able (to)'. That word's principle parts are as follows: possum, posse, potui, --. The correct form in this instance would be possit.

Also, the word Latinate is not, in fact, a Latin word. The Latin word for Latin is Latinus, -a, -um, so the correct form for the ablative singular would be Latino for a masculine user, and Latina for a feminine user. The reason for the case in this sentence is because simplice Latina is ablative of means (by which something is done).

The singular of this sentence would thus be:

Hic usor simplice Latino contribuere possit.

The plural would be:

Hi usores simplice Latino contribuere possunt.

Moved from Category_talk:User_la

Shinimitsukai 13:49, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

You are wrong. The third person indicative present active singular form of posse is potest. And from your explanation of why it should be Latino or Latina I'm getting the impression that you don't really know too much about grammer, no offence meant: Latinitate is an ablative of Latinitas, and is most definitely independent of the gender of the user. The template is fine as it is. Flag of Europe and Austria.svg ナイトスタリオン 14:19, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
Potest is correct, obviously, though I'd rather see latine than latinitate. -EDM 17:11, 16 December 2005 (UTC)

Cyrillic alphabet


It's not a language, but I think it's still pretty cool. Just felt like making it. And it does deserve a place here, right? Maybe we can even make more of these alphabet things.

I think the idea for a Cyrillic template is good, but it doesn't require levels. Seriously, it's just an alphabet, something you can learn in one day. I mean, how do you define an 'advanced' or 'beginning' level of knowing an alphabet? (unless it's east-Asian)
True, true. You can go ahead and edit it if you want :)

Nonsense languages that aren't ISO compliant

If you want to revert this change, go ahead, but I'm taking the languages that don't actually have an ISO character set OFF of the babel page and moving them to Wikipedia:Userboxes/Non-ISO_Languages. As a self-professed userbox addict, I'd really like to feel contributory, and as such am endeavoring to make the userbox space as happy as can be. (After all, does the ISO have a code for Klingon? for Quenya? for 1337speak?) Cernen 14:01, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

As Gene McGuire once said in Layer Cake, "Stick to your f*cking sums." Revert from my version to the previous one; maybe next time I should keep from using big words and do a little more research before ripping things out of Wikipedia namespace pages. Cernen 15:04, 18 December 2005 (UTC)