Wikipedia talk:Babel/Archive 2

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Level 5 colors

The issue of template colors has been adressed before, yes. And yes, I'm bringing it up again. Level 5, as I have said before in other discussions on this matter, SHOULD NOT be red, or any shade thereof. In a similar vein, Level 4 shouldn't be the piss-shade of yellow that it is now. Since the trend with these things seems to be a steady hue shift from blue to green (with the exception of the rather soothing colors of level-0 boxes), why not continue that shift by using more shades of blue? The term "professional" is controversial enough as it is, and we don't need angry colors to drive that point home. Any ideas? Cernen 12:23, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

I agree that this topic warrants additional discussion. Ideally, the color coding and the numeric codes should be redundant. The current blues that are used to denote level 1 and level 3 proficiency are too similar and are easily confused. This is a problem given that these levels represent quite different levels of proficiency. I also agree that the current yellow is too saturated.
Jigen III's proposed palette (copied from above) has merit. The extremes of this scale are clearly anchored (pink 0, yellow tint 1, green tint for native proficiency). I think the blues used for levels 2 and 3 are too similar in this proposal, but at least they are adjacent points on the scale. (In truth, it's hard to discern intermediate and advanced levels semantically, so perhaps the ambiguity of the corresponding colors is not such a problem!) Lingster 13:43, 25 December 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 person does not understand English (or understands it with considerable difficulties, or does not want to speak English).
The whole current color scheme is meaningless IMO. We should begin with red for xx-0 and use higher-frequency colors for higher levels. And xx-N does not belong to the xx-0 to xx-5 scale. For example:
en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-5 This user is able to contribute with a professional level 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).


en This user is a native speaker of English.
en-5 This user is able to contribute with a professional level 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 16:16, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

I must say I rather like the one that appears of the farleft for me (I believe the first posted). Ian13ID:540053 21:08, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Ahem, I like the one on the top-right. :) Jigen III 11:49, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Go with the one in the middle, definately. It makes the most sense to me. Those boxes are the 6 html websafe colors; red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and magenta with native being white. I like that scheme the best. I saw student below, so a student box could be grey. This would work well in getting userboxes under control. I see a day when a person can type in…
{{user lanaguage|language code|language level|language}}
…so a good English speaker could type…
{{user lanaguage|en|4|English}}
…and get the box. Someone might even find an easier way to do it. I just wish I knew how to, and I would use the colors in the center example with grey for students.
Lady Aleena talk/contribs 23:29, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

So when is a decision going to be made on this? Any of the proposed color schemes looks better than the current one. In fact, the color scheme they've got on the Spanish Wikipedia [1] looks pretty good. --Madler 20:04, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm hoping that we can get this moving. Babel templates really need to be redone so that the colors correspond in some logical manner to the actual level. Maybe a straw poll should be held? --Randy Johnston 05:49, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

  • I like the colors on the left bottom, except for the Native English box at the top. The blue there is too dark compared to the other colors. Lovelac7 01:01, 7 August 2006 (UTC)


I'd like to see userboxes concerning "Adamic" or Proto-World, or are they already made? Satanael 16:44, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

Would that be {{user ad-0}}? if you actually speak Proto-world, I'm sure there are lots of linguists who would love to meet you! (Sorry, couldn't resist!) --Singkong2005 03:13, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Serious problem with a Babel template

Could someone familiar with Babel templates please take a look at Template:User ng-0?

And yes, I'm aware that xx-0 templates are discouraged. I didn't create it, but now that it has been, I'm just trying to help the poor man using it fix his user page. Any help appreciated.

cheers, pfctdayelise 09:05, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't speak Ndonga, but the template looks okay to me. Has it been fixed? --Cromwellt|Talk 23:12, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
It apparently has, according to the edit summaries there. +Hexagon1 (talk) Flag of Australia.svg 06:23, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Category problem

  • Note that some userboxes were not adding to the relevant category. I have fixed this for id-3 & id-4 but it may also exist in other userboxes.
  • A bigger issue is that the userbox for native speakers usually has no suffix, e.g. for Indonesian they have {{user id}} rather than {{user id-N}}. However, non-natives such as myself are added to this category as well. This makes it impossible to list a category of just native speakers, as they are mixed in with everyone else (e.g. users with id-1 through id-4 are all in Category:User id). Should we make a -N userbox and category for every language? --Singkong2005 14:41, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
I ran into a similar problem with Template:User en. The template places me in Cat:User en-N, but not Cat:User en. I think it should place me in both (as should all templates except xx-0), so that the general category is a list of all speakers of the language, while the subcats divide the levels. I think most Babelboxes already work that way. If no one minds, I'm going to change the User en template so that it does that. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:15, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

xx-5 is up for deletion

The templates for xx-5 are currently up for deletion on Wikipedia:Templates for deletion. Please join the discussion and make some serious and insightful contributions to this discussion, especially if you are using these templates, if you are translating on Wikipedia and have an opinion on whether or not Babel should be limited to xx-4 or not. --Fenice 06:38, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

I've partially reverted or amended several recent changes to Wikipedia:Babel and related pages to clarify the disputed status of these new templates. If have also nominated Template:User de-5 (unused, recently created) for deletion. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 06:54, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

If you have ideas about how to quantify a "professional level of English", your input would also be appreciated. Rhobite 07:39, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

  • So _now_ you are starting to ponder. I am going to file an RfC on the abusive way xx-5 was deleted. Since Rhobite has some strange urge to discuss (?) what he has deleted, I suggest that we will then draw up a subpage for Rhobites discussion needs there. For the future: think first, write later, Rhobite. --Fenice 08:22, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
    • We voted, you voiced your complaints, and other users responded to you.. how is that abusive? I think you're getting way too worked up over this, it's just a userbox. Rhobite 08:24, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Responded to me? hmmh. Let me see. We should really nominate the article on Response (communication) as an urgent request to be written. Response implies that you hear or read what the other person says. In this case, I already said on the deletion discussion, what I am going to tell you again. Policies are decided by drawing up a Policy proposal. There have been several cases of abuse like the ones by Cool Cat and Ilmari, but usually voters acknowledge that there should be a policy discussion first. Just putting up something for deletion in order to skip a discussion with people who have an interest and a competent opinion on the subject is abusive. You are living proof that this kind of abuse works perfectly. it's just a userbox - if it just a userbox, why vote (you could not possibly have missed that it is part of a larger project). You were obviously voting for the fun of destruction. You don't care. To you its just the fun of disrupting other users. Both nominations were abusive because it clearly states so on the top of the TfD-page. --Fenice 08:59, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Fenice, I strongly urge you to calm down. Nominating a template for deletion on Wikipedia:Templates for deletion is not abusive. And please don't make ridiculous statements like "you were obviously voting for the fun of destruction" or "to you it's just the fun of disrupting other users". They are not helpful. — Knowledge Seeker 09:37, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Quote from the top of TfD: If a template is part of (the functioning of) a Wikipedia policy or guideline, the template cannot be listed for deletion on TfD separately, the template should be discussed where the discussion for that guideline is taking place. No comment on that, Knowledgeseeker. I am one hundred percent sure that some people on the en-5-deletion discussion do not take the issue seriously. It is obvious from some statements, see Profilaes for example, I am not sure about Rhobite however. And I disagree with you: most of the times it is helpful to communicate your feelings. And I do think TfD is a circus most people don't take as seriously as other places on WP. --Fenice 09:55, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Please assume good faith. I would like to know in what respect "some people" are not taking the issue seriously. I took a look at Profilaes's comments, and I see no reason to believe he isn't taking it seriously.
  • As for the alleged "abuse", nobody is trying to prevent a policy discussion. The template is up for deletion because there has not been any discussion justifying its existence. If a policy proposal had been filed first, all of this could have been prevented. Regarding your quote from TfD, please explain in what way en-5 is part of the functioning of a policy or guideline. Also please explain where "the discussion for that guideline is taking place". Again, this is a result of the lack of a proposal or discussion before the TfD. EldKatt (Talk) 16:41, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

  • EldKatt - unbelievable. Just read the page you are complaining about. Claiming here you took a look and you obviously didn't does nothing to give you credibility. (Profilaes was obviously lying about their being no translation on WP. He claimed he did not know there were translations on Wikipedia and that was obviously a lie. He has a link to the translations on his userpage. You'd have to be a mindless idiot to believe he is not lying.)
  • I posted the quote from TfD which says the TfD for a Babel-template is abusive (wsn't my idea, I did not write that). You fail to read that. Now let me have a good laugh and tell us all again how serious you are and how much you are acting in good faith. Deleted proposals by the way are not being rediscussed or something. They are speedily deleted. I don't know how long you have been here. But in case this is new information to you and you are taking this seriously, you would have to change your vote.--Fenice 17:02, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • As far as I can see, continuing this discussion would not lead to anything positive for either you or me. Before I take a much-needed vacation from this whole conflict, I want to point out that I have not lied about anything here or anywhere else, and I have not insulted or attacked you or anyone else. I regret to say that I lack the energy to deal with this conflict (although honestly I doubt it can be dealt with at the time of writing), and this is the last you will hear from me regarding this issue. (I'm cross-posting this to relevant pages.) EldKatt (Talk) 18:27, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I don't like the current en-5 designation, but I fully support a five-level babel. And a friendly boxing match between Fenice and Eldkatt. Grandmasterka 09:00, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Half the people with "En-5" have massive, glaring spelling and grammatical errors all over their userpages, that no true professional writer would make or leave up. Is it OK if I just unilaterally remove their claim to be a "professional"? En-5 is fundamentally broken because it makes a rather pretentious claim that nobody can verify. A 12-year-old kid can slap "professional" on his or her userpage. I *am* a professional writer and think it's pathetic as hell for people to splash it on their page "omg hai im professional LOLL!!" FCYTravis 05:19, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
    • Fist of all: those are their userpages - they can do just about anything on them if they like. You are a native speaker making fun of non-natives - no comment on that. Also, if you are a professional writer you probably know that professional writers almost always have copyeditors to correct their spelling mistakes for them. A professional writer (other than a copyeditor) is good at other things: style issues, sentence building, text structuring, keeping the readers attention, judging what to include in a text and researching.--Fenice 08:17, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
      • Correction. I'm a native speaker and professional writer making fun of people who are non-native speakers who CLAIM TO BE PROFESSIONALLY PROFICIENT IN ENGLISH! If you make a false claim, expect to get ripped for it, sorry but that's life. If you don't want to be judged on a professional level, don't pretend to be a professional. Someone who can't spell "societies" is hardly a professional writer. You've also just proved my point, that the userbox in question is utterly worthless because it doesn't tell us anything about the person other than that they've slapped something they like on their user page. It's pure 100 percent vanity. I've edited the box in question to more correctly explain the situation. To do otherwise is to lie to our readers. FCYTravis 11:14, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
        • I would be amazed if you had ever learned a language. I think what you are saying is a result of your complete lack of knowledge of what you are talking about. At that stage (level 5), I'd assume a second-language-student to pick up native mistakes, such as misspelling a plural on y(I assume it was misspelt societys). And as I said, professional "writer" does not mean good spelling abilities. It means you can write, not spell. 'Professionally proficient' is a term used in ILR scale, as I have said several times. There is an explanation of what it means in our article and it does not mean what you are saying. You are jumping to conlusions, see cognitive distortion. A user with this template will most likely not try to tell a native speaker that he is better at English. To me that is completely absurd.I believe that the concept behind 'native' is an entirely different one, it implies a certain level of cultural knowledge that a non-native can't achieve.--Fenice 13:09, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
          • If someone can't use good grammar and spelling skills, they're not really a good professional writer. Hate to break it to you, but that's just the truth. I'm not interested in the "who is what" and your accusation of "nativism" is absurd. I'm saying that a userbox which claims that someone is a professional is entirely useless because it tells us NOTHING. Someone with a "professional" userbox might be a 10-year-old kid, for all we know. It's misleading and pointless. You're jumping all around these psych buzzwords. If you want a fifth level, such as ""This user contributes with a natively-proficient level of English," that would seem supportable. But to slap "professional" on a userbox implies something that is clearly flat-out false in several cases. I'm a professional writer and I would never be pretentious enough to put a box claiming I was such on my userpage. Our babel categories don't line up with the ILR, so who cares what it says? FCYTravis 18:30, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
            • I really wonder how proficient you are in doing interviews, as a professional writer: it is fairly obvious from your 'answer' that you did not read my statement. Still not up to scratch on the meaning of 'professional' in a context of language skill evaluation, even though you have been told several times, for instance. ...your accusation of "nativism" is absurd... ...break that news to me... you don't read my answer but you are inventing something. Sorry but in return, for all those you insulted: LOL. --Fenice 18:36, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
              • You're obviously not clear that the userbox is not being *used* in that manner, because that is not the common meaning of "professional level of English" outside the State Department. The vast majority of those with the userbox are native English speakers claiming "hey I can contribute with a professional level of English." FCYTravis 18:40, 14 January 2006 (UTC) FCYTravis 18:39, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
                • Well here we go again in circles. The wording could have been changed. It would have been a good idea (and the rule) to have a concept first (clarifying levels) and discuss a proposal instead of a drive by shooting for the fun of disrupting other users. Then the erroneous use by natives wouldn't have happened or could have been clarified. 'Professional proficiency' is a term used in Human resources around the world, by the way. Trying to limit its application to the state department is really tabloid style.--Fenice 18:47, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
                  • Which is why it would have been a good idea to float and agree upon a level standardization format before creating userboxes which could create more strife in an area of the encyclopedia that is already under high tension ;) FCYTravis 18:49, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
                    • With that sort of pessimism you should put all of Babel up for deletion. I would support.--Fenice 19:01, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
                      • What sort of pessimism? I'm sure that if a policy proposal had been made and put through before xx-5 templates were actually created, all this trouble would have been avoided—it would either have succeeded or failed, and that would have been that. Acknowledging this is not pessimistic; it's realistic and pragmatic. EldKatt (Talk) 17:04, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I'll make a proposal for xx-5 template. I'll try to make myself clear for I'm not a english speaker [Maybe an xx-2 n_n] Anyway, there could be levels from 0 [total non speaker] to 4 [almost native], but even adding the Native template doesn't cover a kind of Professional language - the 'technical' language. Maybe the xx-5 [or xx+1?] can be the "Versed in Technical Words" or kind of. Those who far from speak a language can translate technical words, needed in science fields, or political terms, just to make an example. What do you think? Darius bd 03:03, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Btw, reading other issues about babel I just saw what could be a flaw: maybe we can put numbers to the knowledge we have on a language, but more than a scale it just define how well are we in that language, therefore, being a native speaker doesn't mean that it's better than a xx-5 level speaker. Mayhap "native" could be just added as a notation. Darius bd 03:20, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

What are the Babel levels measuring?

A lot of confusion and some conflict has arisen over the Babel levels, which I believe is in part caused by the different and sometimes conflicting things that the levels are trying to measure. Originally a four-level system of beginner, intermediate, advanced and native, it measured one's proficiency in a language, with the reasonable assumption that a native speaker has mastery of their own native language. The introduction of level 0 (no proficiency in the language) fits well with this classification schema.

However, even before a sixth level, (level 4, "near-native") was introduced, a great deal of confusion ensued, due to the conflict between nativeness (which means you learned it as a child) and proficiency. See, for a start, the first discussion thread on this page. Compounding the confusion was the question: proficiency in what exactly? A lot of suggestions were made: Spoken, as the wording of the templates imply? ("I write well but I'm always picked as non-native by my accent, so I'll put level 3") Written, because that's the mode of language we're using on wikipedia? Spelling? Grammar? Adherence to a particular standard dialect or conventional form? Ability to "argue for or against a legal text or a philosophical thesis"?

The conflict was brought to the fore by the introduction of the "near-native" category, when "proficiency" and nativeness really began to clash (see, for example, Template talk:User en-4). Clearly, one may have strengths in some of the areas listed above, and weaknesses in others. Many if not most native speakers have poor writing skills, and the written form is where second language learners often excel.

The key to this puzzle may be in the the linguistic concept of register. A register is a particluar style of language used in a particular setting, e.g. Legalese. Again, a second language learner may well have better grasp of a particlular register (such as Legalese) than the majority of native speakers do. The register that native speakers tend to be unbeatable in is in fact casual (colloquial) speech, particlarly the casual spoken register of non-university-educated native speakers. No-one is universally proficient in all registers of a language, and this is why the tower of Babel begins to fall down when we start introducing more than three or four levels.

This ever-expanding system is now considering a seventh level (level 5 or "professional writer level"). It looks like the majority sentiment is against it, perhaps because it displaces nativeness from the top of the heirarchy? I would argue that it had already been displaced. I suggest that people with skills in particular registers can have seperate userboxes if they are so inclined, but a one-dimensional numbered system for language proficiency is never going to account for all these different axes if expanded beyond the original four broad levels. ntennis 00:32, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

  • The only really necessary template in the Babel tower is en-0. All others are useless because they say almost nothing about the users proficiency, if there are only three or four levels, and six levels would improve this situation only slightly. This page is full of user comments who have trouble placing themselves in one of the categories. In an Asian language the situation of the learner is completely different because they also need to learn the characters. You named some of the areas that cause problems: registers (talk vs. encyclopedic text), spoken vs written, technical terms.
  • Obviously this whole topic is prone to many misconceptions:
    • Many if not most native speakers have poor writing skills
    • the written form is where second language learners often excel
    • en-5 ... displaces nativeness from the top of the heirarchy
      --Fenice 07:57, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
AFAIK, xx-1 means you can read xx, but you don't feel able to contribute to an article in xx. xx-2 to xx-4 mean that you can write xx, respectively at a "just sufficient", "decent" and "like an average native" level. xx-N is for being a native speaker (not necessarily it must be the first language you have learned as a children, but at least you are used to use it in all everyday situations). For example, I expect almost all en-N speakers, no matter how illiterate they are, to know what pepperoni is, whereas there are hordes of foreign English learners who, no matter how well they can write in formal English, never learn what pepperoni is, and some of then are even mistaken about that. (Peperoni means "bell peppers" in Italian, and most English-Italian dictionaries lack an entry for pepperoni.). Therefore, if I'm writing in the talkpage of someone who isn't en-N, I'd rather talk about a "pizza with spicy salami" (or about a diavola if they are it-N...) than about a "pizza with pepperoni" if I want to be sure to be understood. Actually (I'm it-N and en-3), a few months ago, when solving a crossword game in English, I was astonished noticing that I did not know the words for many everyday concepts (for example "segment" of an orange), even though I know even very technical words about specific topics. --Army1987 15:28, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
"...and six levels would improve this situation only slightly." Personally, I believe it would, on the contrary, make it more difficult. I had no trouble deciding any of the Babel levels you can find on my user page. If there were more levels, I might have had more trouble. Fenice states that en-1 to en-N are useless because they say almost nothing about the user's proficiency—what alternatives are there that could say more, though? Only formal language tests, I guess, and that's not really realistic for Wikipedia. EldKatt (Talk) 17:03, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
The alternative is to delete Babel, because it takes up too much server space and is completely useless as it stands. People deleting parts of it for no conceivable reason whatsoever will happen again and again, and the deletion discussions also takes up lots of space. So the whole thing should be deleted now.--Fenice 19:57, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
That does not answer my question. I ask what alternatives there are that could say more, and thus be adequate replacements. EldKatt (Talk) 15:36, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Well you have exactly two options: leave it as it is or delete it, are you kidding?--Fenice 16:04, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Why would I be kidding? EldKatt (Talk) 17:08, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
I think the Babel system is helpful as long as the levels are clearly defined on at least one page - no matter how long the definition gets. I've already been asked to translate articles based on my Babel boxes and I was of some help to the person who requested it, so it's not useless. As for how many levels are needed, I don't have a strong position on the issue - either 4 or 5 is fine IMO. However, I do strongly believe that the Native level is completely pointless. The problem with removing it is that most people who use Babel use it and it would create a disaster among users who use Babel. The reason I think native should be deleted is that it's ill-defined and no two users agree exactly on what it means and where it stands compared to xx-3, xx-4, etc. -- Ynhockey 21:35, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

I tend to agree. The original Babel system was nice and simple. There were three levels: 1 = beginner, 2 = intermediate and 3 = advanced. The initial mistake, I believe, was the addition of a separate native level distinct from xx-3. After that, it was more or less inevitable that people would want xx-4, xx-5, xx-6, et cetera. That's because, on one hand, it is only natural to perceive the native level as highest no matter how many other levels there are, yet, on the other hand, there will always be non-native speakers who speak a given language better than most natives. It'd be nice if we could go back to the old 3 level system, but unfortunately I see no way to do that in practice without major confusion, since the deflation has already progressed to the point where xx-2 is now taken to mean "just sufficient" and xx-3 only "decent" skills (see above). Not to mention that every Wikimedia project seems to have different standards, with the number of levels ranging from 3 to 6 or more. I guess the name of this project has turned out to have been rather unfortunately prophetic... —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 00:02, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

I suspect that the problem that appeared together with xx-N was caused by the involvement of additional factors besides skill. Separating native from non-native serves no purpose in a system concerned with representing the level of skill. Native speakers of a language exist, in practice, at all levels of skill. Categorizing by skill level alone—despite the difficulties involved with registers etc—is quite one-dimensional (and thus less likely to cause confusion) compared to—as we have now—a system taking into account skill level and cultural background (native or not)—or, if you want to count en-5 as well, skill level, cultural background, and also profession. The original Babel system was indeed nice and simple—not because it had three levels as opposed to any other number, but because it took only into consideration only one factor. EldKatt (Talk) 15:36, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
IMO a "native" level (even not taking the word "native" to mean its strictest sense) is useful for communication in Talk pages: see the pepperoni example above, or even for popular culture reason. For example, if someone is it-N, that means that they live, or have lived long enough, in Italy, and therefore I can reasonably assume that they know what Striscia la Notizia (the most popular Italian TV programme until 2 years ago, and still one of the best known ones) is about, or who Vasco Rossi (one of the most popular living Italian pop/"rock" songwriter) is, and similar. But if they are not it-N, and I have to talk about those on their talkpage, I would refer to them as "the Italian satyrical news programme Striscia la Notizia" or "the Italian popular "rock" songwriter Vasco Rossi". Similarly, if someone says to be a fan of The Simpsons, and they are it-N, I guess they watch to the Italian dubbed version of it, and they know the Italian names of characters, idioms, etc., maybe unaware that they are different in the originar version. (For example, Wiggum is known as Winchester in the Italian version). Etc. --Army1987 21:00, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
I certainly see your point; it is not, however, error-proof: an it-N who moved to the U.S. at a reasonably early age is probably not going to consider himself an en-N, yet he will most likely know as much as anyone about American popular culture, as well as have no idea what Striscia la Notizia is. "Native" thus doesn't necessarily tell you anything about a person's knowledge of either language or culture, although in many if not most cases I admit it does. The practical problem for Babel comes when you consider "native" its own level on the skill scale, and that's when people like the fictional Italian above might have doubts. It would perhaps have been better if it were used only in addition to a numerical value—telling people unambiguously how well a user speaks a language, and then, in addition, his native language(s). Helpful though the current system may be, I do think it would be better to use a scale with fewer axes. EldKatt (Talk) 21:23, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Babel/Levels, I guess that an it-N who moved to the U.S. "at a reasonably early age" will consider themself an en-N... (Even the first language article agrees that one can be considered a "native speaker" of any language they learned through immersion before puberty.) And if the "early age" is very early, e.g. six years, they probably are no longer fluent in Italian and they probably won't consider themself as it-N... BTW, xx-N used alone means that your knowledge of the language is comparable to that of an xx-4 person, else you should use both xx-N and one of the xx-# levels. See also my post about Neapolitan at the end of Wikipedia talk:Babel/Archive1#Don't change the templates yet, and rethink where this is going. (Notice that, despite being unable to fluently speak Neapolitan, thanks to my parents, I know much about Neapolitan popular culture which many Italians outside Campania don't know).
Therefore Wiggum could mark himself as it-N and it-1 assuming he knows Italian language the same way I know Neapolitan... --Army1987 21:49, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
I was not aware of Wikipedia:Babel/Levels, but the procedure listed there looks good enough. Judging by the confused questions ("am I native?") that occasionally come up, though, I suspect that not everyone knows about it, and that usage does not always conform to this practice. EldKatt (Talk) 12:04, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
I made it more evident. Before, that page was only linked by a link whose caption was "here". Now it is more visible. --Army1987 13:18, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Maybe one solution would be to modify the boxes so that a person can say they are (for example) en-3N. This will solve both the "using more than one characteristic" problem and the "native trumps numbers" problem. We would leave out impossible combinations like xx-0N, and a user with en-3N would be included in Cat:User en, Cat:User en-3, and Cat:User en-N, so no new cats would be necessary. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:19, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

That's bad: no consensus either for or against en-5

The TfD for en-5 was closed as "no consensus". This is the worst possible outcome. If there had been consensus to delete, we would have deleted the template, the category, and the description of the level both on WP:BBL and on the Levels subpage.

If there had been consensus to keep, we would have deleted the word "proposed" from the description and would be creating templates and categories for other languages.

But neither happened. What shall we do now? Keeping the template for English without creating ones for other languages is quite inconsistent...

(Should we decide to keep the xx-5 level, we should also discuss the most proper wording for it.)--Army1987 15:38, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Nothing to decide, we cannot decide not to keep it, it stays as per TfD. No strategy proposal or anything concerning en-5 could be reasonably created since you cannot build on it, because you cannot create the ones in other languages because de-5 is being deleted. So I don't think you can do anything, anything reasonable except for delete Babel entirely. I think that this event is an important precedent for the viability of this project: There will always be someone who feels that hu-1 is really out of place on Wikipedia for no reason whatsoever. Or someone on tr-2 who feels offended that another person speaks turkish at level three. Just puts it up for deletion. They will get only support votes because no one can read the template anyway. --Fenice 16:27, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
It was closed as "no consensus, wait for babel policy". Now, I wonder, is there actually a policy proposal? Is there any policy on the way that we can actually wait for? If so, the outcome of the TfD is reasonable. As far as I've seen, though, this does unfortunately not seem to be true.
Fenice, the TfD for de-5 is not closed yet. It's too early to say that it "is being deleted". More importantly, why are you claiming that the whole idea of an xx-5 level would be doomed if de-5 were deleted? Why wouldn't it be possible to undelete it if new policy were made? Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. Your other doomsday prophecy is also rather unlikely. xx-1 and xx-2 are well established parts of Babel, and have been ever since the start, and would never pass a TfD. This was not the case with en-5, and that is why it was nominated. It has nothing to do with anybody feeling offended. EldKatt (Talk) 16:58, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia is a bureaucracy (we have rules on what colors templates on talk pages have - LOL). It is just an odd headless planless one. The public I met on this TfD is not exactly prone to research, reason and reality. It won't be any different on undelete. I challenge you to pull through the experiment and let someone with the necessary credibility put hu-1 up for deletion. It will be deleted. Who is going to draw up a proposal under these circumstances. There is no one but me and an occasional Army on this page.--Fenice 17:05, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
If you look at the TfD debate for en-5, you'll find that the main delete argument was that it was non-standard. If there were a policy to back it up, it would probably be different on undelete. And seriously, what arguments are there in favour of deleting hu-1?
As for the proposal, I agree with you. There doesn't appear to be a lot of general interest in this at the moment, so I don't reckon anything will happen soon. That is what bothers me about the TfD result: while it's true that there was no consensus, we can't really "wait for babel policy" that isn't even contemplated by anyone. EldKatt (Talk) 17:16, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
...that isn't even contemplated by comment. --Fenice 17:22, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm fairly sure that you understand what I mean. There's clearly not a lot of discussion going on. Do you for some reason feel obliged to disagree with me even when I agree with you? EldKatt (Talk) 17:27, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

I am hereby leaving this discussion. I'll just suggest a possible rewording for the template: "This user can [confidently/<some other adverb, if you can find a better one>] write and copyedit English text in [formal/encyclopedic] style." The reason why I created the template is so that somebody could show they are able to, and would be glad to help to, copyedit or rewrite text. E.g. "The paragraph about foo in the bar article is obscure, but I can't find how to rewrite it in a more fluid manner. As you're en-5, could you help?" or "The article on the Japanese wikipedia about [some very technical topic about something related with Japanese culture] is very good, but I can't decently translate it in English. Since you're ja-N and en-5, could you help?". I am leaving the discussion now. I better spend my time in better ways. Have fun. --Army1987 21:09, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Too bad you are leaving, you seem to have some pretty interesting thoughts on the subject. Come back sometime soon, if you can!--Fenice 14:48, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
I simply mean that I no longer give a damn about wheter xx-5 should be there, and I won't argue in favor of it anymore. I won't stop reading this talkpage, but don't expect me to contribute to the debate about xx-5 levels. --Army1987 19:59, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Distinction active/passive oral/written

I think there should be four sets of Babel boxes for each language, to make a distinction between being able to understand, speak, read, and write a particular language. Being a native speaker of Dutch, I have no problem understanding and reading Afrikaans, and having learnt a reasonable amount of Turkish, I can to a varying extent also read other Turkic languages. However, I could most likely not write a single sentence in those languages without making grammatical errors. --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 21:51, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I understand and I believe that this is a common phenomenon, also when you haven't spoken a language for twenty years you may understand everything but can't say a straight sentence any more. This would be like a level tr-2a or Af-3a. I'd need a it-3a for myself I believe.--Fenice 08:08, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
  • As for written language, whereas it is well possible that you can read a language but you can't write in it (e.g. I can read Spanish, but in order to write it I'd need to look every other word on a bilingual dictionary and have a reference grammar at hand), whence level xx-1, but the converse is almost impossible, if you can write a language you're supposed to be able to read it as well. As for spoken language, I agree that listening and speaking are different skills (for example, until about three years ago I could speak English with more ease than I could understand it, but for Neapolitan the situation was, and still is, quite the reverse), but I can't see their usefulness, since you won't probably use spoken language on WP. --Army1987 20:08, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
True, the use for oral language skills is limited om WP. But the distinction between being able to read and write is still useful, I think, especially when it comes to translating from or to a certain language. --Benne ['bɛnə] (talk) 17:08, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
For people able to read a language but not to write in it there already is xx-1 level. The converse is almost impossible. (The only example I can think of someone able to write but not to read is someone who knows hiragana and katakana but almost no kanji and therefore could write whatever they want (provided they know spoken Japanese) in kana, but would have serious troubles in reading text containing kanji. However this is so unrealistic that I believe the number of people to whom this (or similar situations) applies is so small that creating templates for this would be pratically useless.) --Army1987 20:33, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
I think that having a plethora of boxes to identify levels in all language skills is highly non-useful. The scale as it is now gives a sort of average of the skills and is fairly understandable. If someone can read at xx-4 but only speaks, listens, and writes at xx-1, they should be about an xx-2 at best, I'd say, particularly since contribution is what this is really about. Making things overly complicated is akin to instruction creep, a deadly virus. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:24, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

5 levels

Currently five levels are allowed on all languages except German. So I suggest switching near native to 5, and name the fourth level 'working fluency' or 'fluency'.--Fenice 08:11, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

You do realize that if we do this, the next person who feels their skills are better than just "near native" will then propose an xx-6 level, right? —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 15:13, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
No, near native should always be at the top, you could not quote serious sources to claim a stage above near native. If there are six levels an additional stage should be added further down, like a "clueless newbie to this language" stage between 0 and 1.--Fenice 15:17, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
A while ago somebody created a stage above near native, namely en-5. I am sure you are aware of it. In light of this, Ilmari Karonen's argument makes perfect sense.
And this is a side-note, but it's stretching the truth to claim that five levels "are allowed", and to suggest that the whole Babel system should be adjusted based on it. There is no consensus. en-5 even got a clear majority (though not enough) of delete votes. Redesigning Babel to the extent you suggest requires more consensus than there actually is. EldKatt (Talk) 15:27, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Why not just redescribe "native" as "native or near-native"? The point isn't how well you would score on a test, but how well you feel you would be able to interpret something in that language. There is little significant difference in the two levels in this regard. Thryduulf 16:11, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't think that would work well with the culture we are exposed to here which is basically American. We were having a problem with the en-5 template because natives (mostly Americans from what I can tell), felt insulted because they thought it means a non-native is as good or even better at English than they are. I think we would insult many people by equating native and near-native.--Fenice 17:01, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry to say this again, but did you even read the TfD debate? I do not recall a lot of people expressing that opinion. EldKatt (Talk) 17:31, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
I know you don't. Maybe the 'discussion' was kept somewhere, so you can check. It was the reason for nomination and it was explicitely ('offensive, arrogant, pretentious' and circumscriptions) restated by several others. --Fenice 17:54, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Please don't imply once again that I lie about having read things. Disregarding that, anyway, you omit that the nomination also stated "non-standard", and that the vast majority of delete votes appear to have this motivation, along with the difficulty in defining "professional" (not related to offence or arrogance) as well as lack of point because of overlap with en-4 and en-N. After a quick glance, I can count the people voting for the reasons you specify on one hand. The log of the discussion is here if you want to check. EldKatt (Talk) 18:14, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Well fine if you wanna insult them, I don't, ok? For me one hand full is enough, there are probably lots more. You are dealing with a foreign culture, and if they find it offensive, they find it offensive. I did not say you lie, I think that this is either a distortion in your perception or you are making a different judgement about the importance of these statements, and, in addition to that, obviously your values are different.--Fenice 18:54, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Then please cite examples.
And on a sidenote, regarding the recent reverts, where you have now resorted to vandalism, I now see the problem. I failed to notice that the text to which I reverted stated that the TfD is under discussion. The point of my revert was merely to avoid stating, essentially, that "xx-5 is okay and a standard part of Babel, but inexplicably not for German". The text should of course be altered appropriately now that the TfD is closed, and I hope (but doubt) that you will forgive me for this mistake. I will, however, leave it up to you to remove your vandalism, because I lack the time, patience and energy to deal with you for now. EldKatt (Talk) 19:12, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
What do you want examples for?
What vandalism? I see nothing in my edit history, did not touch your userpage, are you calling any of my statements here vandalism? *frown*.
Concerning the text on the main-page: I see the problem that both of us cannot revert anything on there because we would both violate 3RR if my count was right.
to avoid stating, essentially, that "xx-5 is okay and a standard part of Babel, but inexplicably not for German". You will never get me to support not calling a spade a spade. We can explain why in the text or leave a link to user Ilmari who can explain to whoever cares to know. --Fenice 19:20, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
As for the "native"/"near-native" issue, please specify what you are talking about. As for formal written language, it is well possible that a foreigner can write it much better than most natives. As for everyday language, including colloquialisms and slang tied to popular culture, and subtle pronunciation features such as shit/sheet, it is very difficult to master it without living in a country speaking that language. I dare anybody who hasn't lived in an English speaking country for at least a year to watch a film such as American Pie in the original version and thoroughly understand it with ease. --Army1987 20:23, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Been there, done that. Don't generalize, some people learn more easily than others... —Nightstallion (?) 20:36, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Repeating my suggestion here, to avoid attention being deflected from it: To deal with the offensive wording on level 5: I suggest switching near native to 5, and name the fourth level 'working fluency' or 'fluency'.--Fenice 17:05, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree with calling xx-4 "fluent", but not with calling xx-5 "near-native". I think the people who make the "near-native" level really meant "fluent". "Near-native" propagates the misconception that native speakers always speak the language better than non-native speakers. See above for my related suggestions on xx-N issues. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:27, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Diff about abusive nomination of two Babel-templates

once again. Needs separate paragraph, because this has nothing to do with deciding how to change the wording in en-5: I said user:Prosfilaes was lying in this diff. Do you want to come to his defense here or are you feeling accused of lying by anything else in this diff?--Fenice 19:14, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

"Claiming here you took a look and you obviously didn't does nothing to give you credibility." I do consider this a rather explicit accusation of having lied, yes. This seems more like a personal conflict between you and me, though, so I don't really think it belongs in Wikipedia talk:Babel (although I doubt there'll be need for further discussion of it). EldKatt (Talk) 19:20, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Here is the relevant quote from TfD:

What (and what not) to propose for deletion at TfD

If a template is part of (the functioning of) a Wikipedia policy or guideline, the template cannot be listed for deletion on TfD separately, the template should be discussed where the discussion for that guideline is taking place. According to this the nomination was abusive.--Fenice 19:27, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

I apologize for implying that you lied. --Fenice 20:18, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Concession to EldKatt on WP:BBL

Moved the following part here because it has nothing to do with discussing the wording of en-5. (EldKatt thinks I committed vandalism, because I had to have him let his will (3RR)make a concession and include his additions, which were factually wrong, in the main text. --Fenice 19:43, 16 January 2006 (UTC))

I want examples of the users that I can count on one hand. The ones that voted because they were offended.
And I refer to this vandalism/WP:POINT violation. It should be obvious that this is unacceptable.
What I would like you to explain is why, if xx-5 is actually a consensually accepted part of Babel, de-5 could not be undeleted. The answer, as far as I see it, is that xx-5 is not a standard part of Babel, and most people actually oppose it. I'm not in favour of a half-hearted solution where some xx-5s exist and some are deleted. There needs to be consensus on this, one way or the other. I think you might even agree with me about this, if you could drop the hostility and pride for a moment. EldKatt (Talk) 19:27, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Count for yourself. You cannot convince me that they are not important. They are to me and they are not to you. I do not have a problem with that, as I stated above.
You know your additions were factually wrong and still added them again and again, until I ran out of reverts. I had to make a concession and left your beliefs in. There needs to be some explanation. I gave them a source to ask. Don't see anything wrong with that. This is an internal page not an article, I see no reason not to mention individual users.
a half-hearted solution where some xx-5s exist and some are deleted. There needs to be consensus on this, one way or the other. I just learned a better way to express things that I could have ever come up with (need at least en-7 now;-)): a half-hearted solution where some xx-5s exist and some are deleted. There needs to be consensus on this - days I spent on TfD trying to explain this to you and the others. No one listened. a half-hearted solution where some xx-5s exist and some are deleted. There needs to be consensus on this. Yes. Right. That would have been it. Sorry that it just wasn't and now we have: a half-hearted solution where some xx-5s exist and some are deleted.--Fenice 19:43, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

I'll answer one point at a time here.
"Count for yourself."—I did count for myself. I came to a conclusion that you disagree with. I asked you to prove your claim (which would be easy: just give me their names).
"You know your additions were factually wrong [...]"—I did not know they were factually wrong. I explained this above (diff).
"There needs to be some explanation. I gave them a source to ask. Don't see anything wrong with that. This is an internal page not an article, I see no reason not to mention individual users."—I seriously don't know how to respond to this. If you don't understand how your edit violated WP:CIV, WP:NPA and WP:POINT, I'm afraid I can't really help you. And yes, it is an internal page, but it is not a talk page. It should be NPOV. As well as adhere to the previously cited policies.
"[...] days I spent on TfD trying to explain this to you and the others. No one listened."—note consensus, one way or the other. Just because some people disagreed with you, that doesn't mean that they were opposed to having consensus. How else should I (and the others) have acted? Changed vote to "keep" to satisfy you? I don't understand what you're complaining about here. EldKatt (Talk) 20:17, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Rereading all of these statements I think you feel like I am against you where I am just frustrated with the situation. --Fenice 19:55, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

I've assumed this was the case, and I'm glad to have it confirmed. Rest assured that I do not take any of this personally. If the frustration is too great, it might be a good idea to take a break from the whole situation. This is not meant as a sly dig, mind, but friendly advice. EldKatt (Talk) 20:17, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
Nice try. No of course not.--Fenice 16:59, 17 January 2006 (UTC)


Could we make it so that people who use a language level 0 template (eg. {{User en-0}}) not be included in the category of that languages speakers, (ie. Category:User en) ..?

Currently, using any language level 0 userbox places that user into the category Category:User xx-0 (xx of course being the language in question) BUT that category is in all cases a subcategory of Category:User xx - ie. the users who speak that language.

Sorry if I'm being really unclear here, but wouldn't it make more sense for the users who use language level-0 userboxes not to be included in the category of users who speak that language?

In other words, make it so that (for example) Category:User fr-0 is not a subcategory of Category:User fr - I'm sure that would make it easier for people who want to use the Babel project to find a translator for a page, etc.

haz (user talk) 15:14, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Good idea.--Fenice 16:56, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with this proposal as stated, but agree with its spirit. fr-0 and other xx-0 templates should remain as subcategories of Cat:User xx, because they are related to ability or lack of ability with the language. However, users who are included in a subcategory are not necessarily included in the general category that contains it, and I think that should be the case here. Template:User fr-0 should include the user only in Cat:User fr-0, since Cat:User fr should be a list of all speakers of French at any level, not non-speakers. All other levels, however, should include the user in both. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:32, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Naming conventions

¿Can I move this project to Wikipedia:Userboxes/Babel to get in line with all the other userbox pages? This is the only userbox page without a userbox prefix.--God of War 15:47, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

I think the project should stay where it is, because even though Babelboxes are technically a kind of userbox, they are very different from the others. The fact that they are Babelboxes is much more important than that they are userboxes. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:34, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
How about finally changing the name to Anti-Babel in the process. Anti-Babel corresponds better to the intention of this page. Otherwise I support the move to a more logical location.--Fenice 17:08, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
No, the name should stay. We are not trying to unite all languages (that would be Anti-Babel), only categorize them. Because this deals with language diversity, though, "Babel" fits nicely. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:34, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Interproject policy proposal

Per recent debate, I have drafted a proposal for an interproject Babel template standard at meta:Interproject Babel template standardization (proposal). Please review the proposal and improve and/or comment on it. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 17:25, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Babel boxen proposed level for students: xx-S

The babel level description list with the proposed level included:

  • xx-0 if you don't understand the language at all. Don't use it for every language you don't know; only when there is some reason why you might be expected to know it.
  • xx-S if you are a student of the language who is actively making effort to reach a basic understanding of the language.
  • xx-1 for basic ability - enough to understand written material or simple questions in this language.
  • xx-2 for intermediate ability - enough for editing or discussions.
  • xx-3 for advanced level - though you can write in this language with no problem, some small errors might occur.
  • xx-4 for 'near-native' level - although it's not your first language from birth, your ability is something like that of a native speaker.
  • xx (no dash or number) is to indicate that you are a "native speaker" who has grown up speaking this language.

Why a new level? Because there is a significant gap between no knowledge at all (and presumably not even a desire to know) and a basic level of knowledge such that someone can read and possibly even communicate in the language. For example, I love Icelandic and am making a free-time effort to learn it, but I can't claim "basic knowledge" of it, but neither do I know "nothing at all" and don't wish to claim absolutely no knowledge. Hence the need for a level between the two. I propose "xx-S" (referring to student) so that the existing boxes don't have to be changed to accomodate the new level.
Note: This proposal has so far gotten unanimous approval from WikiProject Userboxes members.

 IS Guðsþegn – UTCE – 21:36, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Nowadays, you can have userboxes to proclaim darn near anything about yourself, so that part's not a problem. But, should it be specifically part of the Babel system, which is still primarily to identify how much use you would be at contributing or translating articles in a given language? That's a different question... ፈቃደ (ውይይት) 22:25, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, "contributing or translating articles" is a good reason for the Babel system as a whole. However, it is still necessary to have a Babel system that allows everyone to fairly accurately describe their Babel situation, so they can be honest about their language proficiencies. Remembering the example in my proposal, why would you have me choose between dishonestly claiming either "no knowledge at all" or "basic knowledge" of Icelandic such that I can read it and converse a little? Neither is true. The truth is I'm a student of the language, somewhere between these two categories. Moreover, I can envision a situation where this knowledge could be useful to someone else. At minimum it voices a desire to learn and interest in the language.  IS Guðsþegn – UTCE – 05:14, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
  • This is extraneous. I always thought the babel system went nicely with semesters of a foreign language in college. We should keep it that way.--God of War 15:31, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
Actually there isn't such a large gap between xx-0 and xx-1. Xx-1 (see Wikipedia:Babel/Levels) means that you know little of the language, and are neither able to fully understand articles nor contribute to them. It's pretty much the most basic level of understanding, generally equivalent to a beginning student (or intermediate for some languages). I don't think an xx-S template would help because it's very ambiguous (the xx-N template has the same amount of ambiguity and look what a controversy it has caused). -- Ynhockey 12:39, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
I support a level between 0 and 1, and "S" seems the best suggestion, or alternatively "B" for "Beginner". I was trying to decide what Babel boxes I can use in good faith (besides en-N), and while I can probably honestly assert fr-1 and es-1, I have studied Japanese, Russian, and Hebrew at a beginner level. There is a good alternative for my Russian ability, which is cyr-1, that is, ability to recognize the Cyrillic alphabet and match it to my very basic Russian vocabulary. Again, this is not a matter of "showing off" but trying to be of use to Wikipedia. MCB 19:30, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
I created a category of users that support the xx-s idea. You can access it at 'Category:Wikipedians who want the xx-s babel box level'. I also created a user box that adds users to the category:
xx-s These users want the proposed xx-s babel box level to go ahead.

To add the userbox to your user page, just add {{User: xx-s}}.


20:58, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I think that adding an xx-S or xx-B level is totally unnecessary, and creating a userbox to support it is going *way* overboard. If you are a student learning the language who has enough proficiency to contribute in that language, you are xx-1+. If you do not have enough proficiency to contribute in that language, you are xx-0. This is a boolean question, not a continuum like the other numbers. Adding another level is superfluous and a form of instruction creep. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:41, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
Personally I quite like this idea- there is a significant difference between learning a language outside of the classroom and learning it in one. I would enjoy it if multiple versions of xx-S were developed to represent different levels of those who (unfortunately) are far more attuned to 'book' versions of the language in question versus being exposed to it piece-by-piece in the real world. --Syhususi 00:58, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I rather like this idea as well, not so much for its specific parameters (students learning a language) than having something in between not being able to speak a language at all (xx-0) and being able to communicate at a basic level- and, more importantly, contribute to articles in- a language (xx-1). I have a personal example of this: I can speak French at a very basic level, thanks to having three years of French class thrust upon me simply because of my Canadian citizenship. However, I don't believe I can contribute to articles in French (I can barely understand written French). It would be nice to have a Babel box stating some elementary amount of knowledge but little or no ability to contribute to articles, rather than the misleading 'no knowledge at all' (which might not be the intended meaning, but it's what many people assume) userbox. CameoAppearance 10:41, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
If you are only just starting to learn, do you really need to advertise it? All you could say to someone is Hi and Bye, so that's really the same as xx-0. --Macarion 20:04, 26 June 2006
I agree its a good idea. The fact is to be strictly honest I don't think you'll find many people whose native language is a European one using the latin alphabet who doesn't have a basic understanding of most other similar languages. For instance I've never took a lesson of German in my life but its pretty obvious what a lot of German words mean.--Josquius 11:23, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
en-½ This user speaks little English, but is willing to learn.

I have nothing against an extra level of Babel box between xx-0 and xx-1, but xx-s is too ambiguous. How about xx-½?

The point of xx-s is showing that you're learning (doing progress) in xx, not just that your knowledge is between xx-0 and xx-1. For example, I can greet, thank, count, and make basic sentences in Japanese, I can read hiragana, katakana and some kanji, but I haven't been studying Japanese for two years, so I'm not making any progress (I'm forgetting that little I used to know, indeed). So I might be ja-1/2 but definitely am not ja-S. (Anyway, IMO, xx-S is not very useful, you'd better just wait, and then use xx-1 when you can understand articles written in xx just enough to use them as sources for writing in your language.)--Army1987 19:56, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Native went missing

I've added a description of xx for native speakers to the list of levels at the top of the page. Somehow it got removed. You might want to go back through the history to see how it was worded before it disappeared. - dcljr (talk) 11:51, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Runic Alphabet

IMO, there should be a catergory for the Runic alphabet.

The Frederick 11:57, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Agreed; runic knowledge is not limited to role-players, pagans, and general fans of writing systems. Being able to decipher Norse and Saxon inscriptions may well help some people contribute to an article or two! ISNorden 00:45, 1 July 2006 (UTC)
Disagreed – categories for old Norse and Saxon languages would likely be worthwhile (do we have them already?), but if it's just "the Runic alphabet", people are going to think a little practice with Tolkien's maps is enough for a 5.  –Aponar Kestrel (talk) 14:23, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Both problems could be solved without disallowing the category altogether:
  1. The Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon languages already have Babel boxes, but manuscripts in those languages (not to mention modern textbooks!) usually transcribe them in the Latin alphabet. Some people with advanced knowledge of the vocabulary and grammar still can't decipher English or Scandinavian runic inscriptions: believe it or not, I once studied Anglo-Saxon under a professor who couldn't tell one stave from another unless it looked like a Roman letter. (If runic-script userboxes existed, that would be the level-0 description. <vbg>)
  2. Writing systems developed as part of a fictional world (such as Tolkien's tengwar and cirth) would not count; I'm using the word "rune" in its strictest sense here. The only map on which Tolkien used bona-fide Germanic runes is the dwarven map appearing in The Hobbit: he wrote short clues about two important locations, transcribing Modern English with the Anglo-Saxon futhorc. What does all this have to do with userboxes? A user who's just barely learned to decipher one inscription would earn a level-1 rating at best.
ISNorden 16:08, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
That's the map I was thinking about, yes. Given that such people as your professor exist (which I find outright bizarre (not that I doubt you)), my only remaining objection is that I believe that people who know cirth, or even just Tolkien's encoding of English, would be likely to inappropriately claim a runic userbox not intended for that context. On the other hand, mildly careful wording of the text of the userbox should suffice to eliminate that, so with those caveats....  –Aponar Kestrel (talk) 14:11, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Many thanks for correcting my list formatting, Kestrel; I wasn't sure how WikiCode handled a list within a reply. Getting back to runes, though: How would I write descriptions succinct enough to fit in a typical userbox, but still emphasize that "runic alphabet" means one of the genuine, historical futharks? (I've considered adding a small image containing one or more runes, but the picture should be a reinforcement of the words--not a complete substitute.) ISNorden 18:14, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
(No problem.) Something like This user can translate old Germanic languages from the runes, perhaps? "Translate" might be too strong, but I would think that use of, say, {{User non-3}} or what-have-you would clarify sufficiently.  –Aponar Kestrel (talk) 17:36, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
If the xx-5 boxes had not been abolished for most languages, though, I would define "non-5" as "This user's knowledge of Old Norse is advanced enough to decipher runic inscriptions." (A rating of "ang-5" would cover similar knowledge of Anglo-Saxon runic script, of course.)
To avoid a long debate over which languages need to be reinstated, I still think runic knowledge needs its own box. For instance, I'd place my Old Norse vocabulary and grammatical skills somewhere between "non-2" and "non-3", good enough to follow a moderately short saga text in Latin spelling. If a similar-sized text were written in runes, though, I'd need to spend days before I figured it out. (The Norsemen had reduced their runic alphabet from 24 to 16 letters, which led to some confusing spelling rules...) ISNorden 18:19, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

Proposal to templify list of ability levels

I think it would probably be a good idea to move the list of ability levels (xx-1, etc.) into a separate template so it can be edited (and therefore watched or even protected, if necessary) separately from the rest of the article. Opinions? - dcljr (talk) 05:15, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Or I guess we could do so with the entire set of template-creation instructions (from "Start off with {{Babel-" to "Then finish by adding closing braces: }}"), if that makes more sense. - dcljr (talk) 05:21, 28 January 2006 (UTC)


If a native speaker of xx moved into a yy-country as an adult only recently, she probably won't consider herself to be a native yy-speaker. Therefore, she would opt for xx. However, the definition seems to demand daily use of xx, maybe even exclusive use. What about changing 'users who employ' to 'users who are able to employ'? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jowagner (talkcontribs) 12:27, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I personally don't object to this, but it's probably best to bring it up on Wikipedia talk:Babel, because we had several long discussion about the relevancy and definition of the native level there. As I said a million times in the past, IMO it should be removed entirely. -- Y Ynhockey || Talk Y 18:26, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Lower/Upper intermediate language boxes proposal

I want to make a point on these language boxes here: Concerning the "basic", "intermediate" and "advanced" skills, I would greatly appreciate if anybody wishes to show their support on the construction of the "lower intermediate", and "upper intermediate" skills. This would differentiate our language skills more easily and at a better. Without such features, I myself find it difficult to group some of my languages. Furthermore, I find no harm in having these language boxes. Please show your support here, and comments posted here and at my talk page are warmly welcomed, preferably with suggestions and reasons to your oppositions and supports. Thanks! Mr Tan 07:51, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

This is unnecessary. If a user is "lower intermediate" or "upper intermediate", they are intermediate. If not, they are basic, advanced, or unable to contribute in that language. Splitting hairs is not constructive, and is yet another cousin of instruction creep. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:51, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Finding people with certain skills

The instructions currently given on the page -- find a language and just start clicking around -- are not very helpful in practice, in my experience. That is, if I want something translated from German to English, it is really a big pain to go through all of the people who have Babel tags for German, see which ones also have English, and then of those see who has been editing recently.

Someone recently turned me on to this tool, though, which does the trick a little better. It allows you to search for people who have more than one category at the same time, so you can see ONLY the users who are listed as BOTH being native German and English speakers, for example. It makes it a much smaller list to sort through!

Should this tool/method be incorporated into the main Babel page? I'll leave that up to other people more involved in the Babel project to figure out, but it was something I wasn't aware of at all. --Fastfission 20:03, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

I think it's worth mentioning since it's a useful and relevant tool. -- Y Ynhockey || Talk Y 19:54, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
Too bad the toolserver copy of English Wikipedia is corrupt at the moment. But this is a great tool that should be on the Babel page. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:54, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Back links from Categories

I put a link in Category:en back to Babel. Somebody might want to think about a template to do this for all of the language categories. (I was very annoyed when, as a brand-new user, I hit a dead end at the category, when I was trying to find out what it meant.)--TJ 16:27, 25 February 2006 (UTC)


Wondering whether and how perhaps je might donne some indication of comprehension de le franglais. Laurel Bush 16:42, 27 February 2006 (UTC).

Does franglais even have an ISO tag associated with it? Je think not, mon dear. And if we include franglais, we'd also have to include Spanglish, Engrish and other such impromptu amalgams. Come to think of it, there doesn't seem to be any tags for speakers of the various pidgin/creole languages...oh boy, now I've opened une grande can de worms... -- Jalabi99 14:07, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
There are a few pidgins that deserve tags I think (like Hawaiian pidgin, which already exists, I think), but the vast majority do not. Franglais is one of those. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:56, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Split the page

Wikipedia:Babel is really long to link someone to if only the guidelines are required. It take forever to load on a slow connection and wastes a lot of bandwidth when one doesn't need to see each language template. Would it break anything to move the list of templates off to another article, link to that, and leave this one and the explanatory guide? - Taxman Talk 16:49, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

I've thought of doing that for a long time, but didn't bring it up because I wasn't up to performing the task. Can't find an argument against though, so go ahead :) -- Y Ynhockey || Talk Y 17:15, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
See also my comment #Proposal to templify list of ability levels above. {{Including}} the introductory material from a subpage (to which one could link, if desired) may be a better choice than splitting the language material off to a separate page. - dcljr (talk) 21:19, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Canadian English

Should Canadian English be added? The Coldwood 22:26, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

I do not see any major problems here by adding Canadian English. --Siva1979Talk to me 14:42, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
Is Canadian English really that different from other forms of English? I would say (though I don't know) that British English and American English are more distinct than Canadian English is, but they do not have individual Babelboxes last time I checked, nor should they. If they don't, neither should Canadian English. Same goes for South African English, Zimbabwean English, Indian English, etc., etc., ad infinitum. --Cromwellt|Talk 23:59, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

"Natural Languages" Section Rename

I propose a rename of the "Natural Languages" section of this page, and move the languages listed under the "language related pages" part to this section. The "Natural Languages" part would then be renamed "List of languages on Wikipedia". THe natural languages section already has one artificial language, esperanto, on it, and it would seem fair that the others (pig latin, Quenya) be placed there as well.

So in the "language related pages" section, would be the writing systems (e.g. cyrillic) and things like IPA and such.

Kailash rouge 02:15, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

The heading "Natural Languages" should be removed (why replace it with anything?). There is not just one constructed language, there are several (Ido, Occidental, Interlingua, etc.) mentioned there. If there are others that are not on the list, I think they should be added. I can't find the "language related pages" section, but if it has IPA, etc., I think it could be useful. --Cromwellt|Talk 00:16, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Babel deletion on Wikinews

Babel has been deleted on wikinews, leading to much conflict & such. An ArbCom request is pending [2], but I thought people here might find it interesting. JeffBurdges 11:35, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Adding More Categories

New language codes are needed, as per serveral inquiries above, for Franglais, also for Bishari, Coptic, etc.

Roma Language

There should be a Roma category, I am Gypsy... but I can barely speak it (like brey, and con son)... --FlareNUKE 12:38, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

English Babel boxes in English Wikipedia

In the English language Wikipedia, why aren't all Babel boxes in English?

For me it would seem more logical to instead of having:

sv Den här användaren talar svenska som modersmål.

...change it to:

sv This user is a native speaker of Swedish.


  • This is the English version of Wikipedia so we expect users to communicate and find information in English. To me, this includes information about other users, as each language version of Wikipedia has its own set of user accounts.
  • If I need help translating, validating or finding information in a different language to improve articles in the English Wikipedia, I would try to find someone with preferably native skills in that language and good skills in English. Though I can guess what the Babel boxes mean or simply search the categories, it would be even easier if the Babel boxes themselves were in English.

(Note: I know this subject has been brought up before in the discussion archives but I wasn't satisfied with the answers.)

- Wintran 17:22, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

I'd keep the text in the original language, but its not a bad idea if the english name of the language appeared, i.e.

For me it would seem more logical to instead of having:

sv Den här användaren talar svenska (Swedish) som modersmål.

Feel free to edit that & make it look better. JeffBurdges 16:08, 14 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm neutral on this. On the one hand, it is indeed confusing sometimes for users in English Wikipedia what language the template talks about, but on the other it's helpful to have the templates in non-English for users who don't participate in English Wikipedia much to request translations. I support JeffBurdges's idea of using the English name of the language in brackets. -- Y Ynhockey (Talk) Y 19:04, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm against changing it. It's clear enough from the ISO codes which language it is, even if you can't recognize it from the text itself, and I see no good reason to change it. Lots of work... And having an English word in a foreign text just looks horrible to my eyes, especially if the language in question is one with a foreign script. Just leave it as it is, this is a solution in search of a problem. —Nightstallion (?) 20:29, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

The only convincing reason I've heard so far for not translating all Babel boxes into English is that it's too much work, and I won't argue against that. I don't quite understand how keeping the original languages will assist in translation. I mean, if we want someone to translate a piece of text into English, they must already understand some basic English, right? I'm not saying that we must start right away translating all boxes, but it could be a goal for a future version of English Wikipedia. Wintran 01:14, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
To me, this project seems especially senseless since there are plans to use babel-templates in all WikiProjects, maintaining only one set of templates at some central point; obviously, these templates would necessarily be in the language they refer to, so that they can be used in all projects equally. —Nightstallion (?) Seen this already? 10:31, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
It's not supposed to help translators, it's supposed to help people who request translations, to find users who can translate for them. They may not know any English at all. Also, NightStallion has a point (even though decisions like this usually takes months or more on Wikipedia :() -- Y Ynhockey (Talk) Y 17:27, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
We ran into the same thing on . Our solution was to leave the text in the native language (so that people who know the language can read it) but to change the symbol to the English name of the language (keeping the appropriate number), since the symbols aren't very useful for language identification without looking them up, but we did keep the symbols as part of the template and category names. That makes it obvious to everyone, whether they speak English or not. What works or is accepted there may not work or be accepted here, of course, but I like it better than mixing the languages in the text of the boxes. --Cromwellt|Talk 00:22, 6 May 2006 (UTC)


wtf deleted the 1337 babel templates, possibly vfd?! 09:53, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

sorry, jk, found the page 09:55, 22 March 2006 (UTC)


We need to interwiki all Babel templates, possibly to Meta or commons, so they can all be used everywhere, so smaller Wikipedia projects are missing even pretty common language's boxes. Is this possible? To relocate all the templates to Meta/Commons and use them from there? +Hexagon1 (talk) Flag of Australia.svg 07:25, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

And can we subdivide the page into smaller pages? (maybe alphabetically)? This must be one of the longest pages on Wikipedia that is commonly accessed. +Hexagon1 (talk) Flag of Australia.svg 04:58, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
The first challenge of that is to get an agreement between Meta, Commons, and Wikipedia about number of levels and what each level mean, IMHO. - 16:20, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Great, where do we start? A link to an appropriate venue would be excellent. --Homunq 21:50, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
See this proposal on meta, although it never went anywhere. The issue has been discussed here (see above), and on TfD, at length, with no consensus. A standard policy would be great but given the tone of previous discussions it seems unlikely to me that consensus can be reached on this issue. ntennis 23:44, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Problem with Kalaallisut section

User kl-1 refers to Kalaallisut, a natural Eskimo-Aleut language.
User kl refers to Klingon, the artificial language from Star Trek.

Despite this distinction, they appear in the same section and have the same babel code.

The language code of Klingon (ISO 639-2 and 3) is “tlh”. Please use Template:User tlh instead. -Hello World! 04:49, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Koine Greek

Ethnologue ( listed Koine Greek as a dialect of Ancient Greek. Should we move template:ke to template:grc-ke ?--Hello World! 08:38, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

No, ethnologue has it wrong. My every classical or koine greek text I've read (payne, smyth, groton) all list the major dialects of ancient greek as attic, ionic, and the like... greek as spoken in different city states. Koine was a trade language and a pidgin language formed when alexander the great conquered the greek world and spread the mixture created by his soldiers so that they could communicate in one tongue.
Anyhow, koine comes after classical and replaces it, and is no more a dialect than modern english is a dialect of old english. Thanatosimii 18:22, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Alemannisch (Alemannic German)

The code given by Ethnologue to Alemannisch is gsw. als is a dialect of Albanian. Should we rename the template? -Hello World! 08:40, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

Yes! Tobias Conradi (Talk) 16:16, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Need to update my language skill levels

I need to update my language skill levels. The three-stage scale isn't enough to convey my skills at different languages.

Specifically, I need to:

  • Raise my skill in Swedish to somewhere between "can speak very well" to "can speak almost like a native".
  • Raise my skill in German to somewhere between "can speak enough to manage" to "can speak very well".
  • Lower my skills in Hungarian and Klingon to somewhere between "can speak a bare minimum" to "never heard of the bloody thing".
  • Change my skill in French to show that I'm able to read it just fine but am at a loss when trying to speak or hear it.

What do you suggest I do? JIP | Talk 19:41, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

[Swedish]-3, de-2, [Hungarian]-1 or -0 (depending on wheter you'd be able to use an article in Hungarian as a reference) tlh-1 or -0 (idem), fr-1. (I don't know what the codes for Swedish and Hungarian are.)--Army1987 19:37, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

ok, I'm new to babel

why do th templates used to make up this page not work so good? I wanna by pass the redirects but it's not that simple is it? Ka-zizzl 05:25, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

what's category:ser en? /izl 05:31, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

Languages from right to left.

لغة هذا المستخدم الأم هي العربية. ar
משתמש זה דובר עברית כשפת אם. he
فارسی زبان مادری این کاربر است. fa

یہ شخص صاحبِ زبانِ اردو ہے


דער באַניצער האָט ייִדיש װי מוטער־שפּראַך. yi

It seems more logical to me if languages from right to left (like Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Urdu and Yiddish) to have reverse userboxes. There are other languages that are normally written from right to left but the userboxes are written in English. Examples of my suggestion are on the right. What do you think ? --Sibahi(talk) 10:54, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

I actually think that's a very good idea. All you would need to do is add the name of the language in English to the code boxes, as was discussed in the section "English Babel boxes in English Wikipedia" above. -- Jalabi99 14:12, 3 May 2006 (UTC)
The English names are no-where near being accepted, he doesn't need to put English names at all, unless that is put to a vote and approved. +Hexagon1 (talk) Flag of Australia.svg 06:48, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
I concur. We don't need the English names, we've got the international ISO standard. —Nightstallion (?) 15:32, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Well, except for Jalabi, no-one said anything about the original idea! --Sibahitalk 17:39, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
I concur. —Nightstallion (?) 09:11, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

I would keep the codes consistent to the left. What is RTL is the foreign text, not the box istself. Tobias Conradi (Talk) 16:18, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Language script userboxes

Are there any official userboxes saying that a user can read a language's script, but not necessarily know the language it belongs to?

Example -- I can read hangul, but I don't know much Korean at all. See my userpage for my custom hangul userbox.

KevinJr42 21:26, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

I found Korean Hanja, that's it...[[3]]
I'm looking for Japanese Kanji and Korean Hangul in particular.
KevinJr42 21:44, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
There aren't any, because it's not very useful. (I assume you know some dialect of Chinese?) Hanja aren't much used anymore, and you can legitimately claim native fluency in Korean without really understanding them. It's therefore useful to have a separate box for it, because it does convey additional information. However, just knowing hànzì doesn't actually help as much as most people think with reading Japanese. (Semantic drift and all.) If you can read hangul and simple phrases, you might want to put yourself down as ko-1; if you're actually familiar with the differences between Chinese and Korean uses of the characters, you should add a ko-han box. However, if – as you imply by omission – you can't read kana and don't know any of the grammar of Japanese, you're effectively ja-0. (And this goes both ways: someone could be jp-N but zh-0.) --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 01:49, 8 May 2006 (UTC)


Could someone please tell me where this weird idea that the language's name is written with a lower-case prefix (like with the Nguni languages) comes from? The name is written Sesotho "natively" (I would know). Just take a look at the text of the categories (which, incidently, I translated). As far as I can tell it's only on Wikipedia and its mirrors where the word is written seSotho (same goes for Xitsonga/Chitsonga). Tebello Thejane. Zyxoas (talk to me - I'll listen) 12:37, 28 April 2006 (UTC)


Let's rediscuss the color scheme for these Babel boxes. There's a previous discussion (currently at the top of this talk page) that presented some much-improved schemes. The alarm-red of xx-5 is particularly in need of changing, but any attempts to do so get reverted. If we form a consensus here, we can fix that. Powers 13:14, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

A proposal to delete all userboxes

A proposal to delete all userboxes (including Babel has been created. Feel free to voice your opinion on its talk page.  Grue  08:53, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I would not characterize the proposal in that way. And, because the proposal is still being discussed, it may very well be that Babel boxes will still be allowed under this proposal. There is support for that on the talk page. Please don't rush to any hasty conclusions. That said, everyone's input is welcome. —MiraLuka 09:58, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Look Grue, I'm sorry that you think I'm a horrible bastard, but for heaven's sake try to give this a chance. This is a proposal to subst all userboxes, and maintain a listing of them. Hardly the black hole being implied here. Mackensen (talk) 11:11, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
So, a user who wants to add a Babel box should add 4 lines of Wikicode instead of {{user xx-1}}? There is a reason why userboxes are templates and not substed.  Grue  13:15, 16 May 2006 (UTC)
Still, not much of a hardship. And you only have to do it once. Mackensen (talk) 13:24, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

For the avoidance of doubt, the proposal mentioned above was amended shortly after this discussion to exclude Babel boxes from its scope. HTH HAND —Phil | Talk 14:18, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

First point in xx-0 doesn't make sense

Erm... see title. Damiancorrigan 23:09, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

I think it makes perfect sense. For example, someone may contribute to articles on the history and development of Esperanto but not know any Esperanto. Similarly, someone may have hundreds of edits on a Wikipedia which they don't know the language of - I saw a user once who had over 3,000 edits on interwiki links alone (checking the edit count for example does not make this immediately obvious). -- Ynhockey (Talk) 02:59, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
Or a user may have attempted to learn a language and forgotten it, but would still be able to understand a few phrases. Another case would be if someone just started to learn that language. Emmett5 00:26, 13 June 2006 (UTC)
Just hijacking this: Can it also be used for languages that you've been exposed to and have a sparse vocabulary and sense of pronounciation of? In my opinion, this (together with having learned basic grammar and writing systems) ought to be distinguished from nor knowing the language at all (when you were expected to). Emil Kastberg (talk) 18:21, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
We are talking about languages here. In any language, a word might have two subtly different meanings, and one is expected to intuit the difference, from context, etc. There is no problem with a a babel level representing two things. However, we may want to include this second "definition" with the definition of xx-0. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:42, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it is unfortunate that xx-0 can mean both "does not understand" and "very limited understanding", but don't forget that the levels are mainly an aid to other users. The message is that this particular user won't be able to read or write articles in language xx (not counting trivial stubs). Tasnu Arakun (talk) 14:32, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Pennsylvania Deitsch

Should Pennsylvania Deitsch (or Pennsylvania Dutch; Pennsylvania German) be added? Here are two links to existing wikipedia articles: (1) (2) --Thisisbossi 17:51, 21 May 2006 (UTC)


I've commented out the NOEDITSECTION command, since I'll be editing quite a few languages names, and I have no idea what it was doing there. Please feel free to uncomment it if I've done a mistake (but please don't simply revert all my changes). Zyxoas (talk to me - I'll listen) 08:37, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Okay, I've put it back. Obviously editing sections won't work if the sections are part of templates. Sorry about that! Zyxoas (talk to me - I'll listen) 08:43, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I edited a few obviously wrong African language names. I'm not sure if the "native" names for Chichewa and Tumbuka are written correctly (for the same reason that I complained about Sesotho above). It would be nice if people who actually speak these languages were involved with Wikipedia, but goode ol' WP:BIAS will always exist... Zyxoas (talk to me - I'll listen) 08:58, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Prototype replacement system for your perusal

I have begun development of a replacement for the current system of Babel boxes, which can be found here, which I started as a result of the controversy over userboxes: I felt that if some separation could be made between Babel boxes and other userboxes they would be less likely to face summary deletion.

The system uses two levels of template: one for the box and another for the individual languages. The former will only display those language codes it is coded to understand; the latter encapsulate all available levels of expertise within a single template. Obviously this framework could be adapted to cover other community-approved types of box also, possibly something to show which WikiProjects a user belonged to. Please feel free to comment on the discussion pages as appropriate: please (pretty please!) don't fiddle with the code unless you see something egregiously wrong because it's still under development and I tend to have them open for editing for long periods (so it would be better to drop me a line…). HTH HAND —Phil | Talk 14:23, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

It seems unfortunate to me

It seems unforunate to me that our language levels do not map well (or do they) to more traditional rankings of language ability, such as for example the ILR or ACTFL scales.

I list myself as de-1, which I think is fair enough, given that I am not de-0. I have done more than dabble, I actively study daily, and I have moved beyond the very very basics into, I suppose, the basics. I do not understand German well enough to use German Wikipedia articles as a source for English articles -- my vocabulary is primarily conversational, due to the nature of the audio courses that I use for learning. So therefore I seem to be overstating myself as de-1. On the other hand, de-2 says that I can coherently translate most articles by using a dictionary. So perhaps I am understanding, since I could actually do that I think. ("coherently" at least, though not "easily" or "perfectly").

It is probably much to late to do anything about this, but I wish we had instead standardized on something like the ACTFL scales--Jimbo Wales 19:05, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree that our Babel leveling system is not perfect and there have been quite a few discussions about it under Wikipedia talk:Babel. Unfortunately, no meaningful changes have been made as a result of the discussions, except this very page (separated from main to give more insight on the levels' meanings), and a new level (xx-5), which is for professional users of languages.
I don't think it's impossible to change the Babel system to be based on an existing one, but the problem with ACTFL specifically is that it mostly refers to conversational proficiency rather than written. Written proficiency (especially in the context of Wikipedia) is in many ways different, especially because it nearly negates the importance of being a native speaker, and does not require things like 'survival needs and social demands' (which the ACTFL scale is largely based on). A user who can correctly translate written text from one language to another is more helpful for the Wikipedia translation project (and thus, IMO, should be 'higher on the scale') that someone who can speak the language (possibly even fluently) but has trouble translating.
Your personal example however does pose certain questions and maybe other users will think of a way to 'fix' the Babel levels. Right now I'm out of good ideas.
Finally, thanks for commenting on this issue. The fact that you took the time to do it places more importance on this subject and may hopefully attract users who were previously apathetic.
-- Ynhockey (Talk) 10:47, 6 June 2006 (UTC)


How do you subst individual templates in Babel

For instance

User:Rick86 User:Fdewaele User:Davidizer13

I am trying to replace the Deleted & Subst template on their pages. per talk on the Deletion Review.

Urbine221dc.jpg This user supports the use of green energy.

--E-Bod 03:30, 6 June 2006 (UTC)


May someone add Sindarin and/or Quenya in the list, because i cannot deal with creating a normal userbar, please. Like, "Sen iuithor peda edhellen" or something

Sizeable vocabulary

What would be considered "sizeable vocabulary" (written here as sizable), as used in xx-2? It's pretty vague. So, its definition would greatly vary from person to person (I can imagine that it would mean 500 words for one person, yet some 3000 to 4000 for the other). It seems to me that an approximate value for sizeable would be quite useful.

I think the consensus is that for xx-2 a user must know enough words to converse and write without much trouble (as far as vocabulary goes - they may have trouble with fluency and actual understanding of the language). This does not mean they must know enough words to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica easily. I guess the description should reflect this. Why don't you suggest something? Or better, edit the article yourself? Also, it may be a good idea to sign your name with 4 tildes (~). On a side note, sizable is a proper spelling, as is sizeable. -- Ynhockey (Talk) 10:20, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

I usually sign it (--JorisvS 10:34, 21 June 2006 (UTC)). I must have forgotten it, sorry. I know about "sizeable - sizable", it was just a comment meaning little.
"Know enough words to converse and write without much trouble", that's the problem: I will not be able to truly converse (without much trouble) until I know thousands of words and until I'm certain about most of the grammar (which sounds as a xx-3 to me), while I will be able to understand written text easily (and also write pretty confidently) long before that (like the xx-2 definition). This while many people will just go and talk without much grammatical sense to the point that they will barely be understood. In such cases, I will probably keep my mouth shut until I have figured out the best way to tell it. This takes time and would lead to spoken fragments, not a conversation. However, when I'm excited I don't care and somehow will be able to say a lot (that even won't that bad grammatically), even for say my Greek: el-1.
An example: I rated my Spanish as es-3 (3.0 at present). And although I know enough (by far) words to converse, I will not yet say much easily. Moreover I have knowledge of some of the grammar that many people learning Spanish will probably never see or learn, though I would still make a small mistake here and there. I can also make an accent that sounds pretty Spanish, but will lose it trying to converse with other people.
Where would this leave me with the definitions?
This proves my point: there is way too much subjectivity in the definition. If I were to adapt the definition, it would probably be an upper estimate, as I rather want to do something right (or not) than wrong.
--JorisvS 10:34, 21 June 2006 (UTC)



I've been fiddling with this all afternoon, but It doesn't seem to be working as well as I had liked. Does anyone more technically minded know how to try to possibly reduce size or hyperlink properly? Honestly, is this a lost cause? Thanatosimii 19:53, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

Level 5 deletions

I am disappointed to hear that the xx-5 userboxes are now restricted to English, French, and Spanish. That decision is both unfair and misleading, in my opinion: To use two examples which I personally don't speak, Mandarin Chinese and Hindi have more speakers than English, Spanish or French. There are probably several American users here who have learned Chinese well enough to translate technical or culture-specific articles: should they have to choose between understating their ability or coding their own userboxes?

Judging by the inter-Wiki translation projects that I've read about, even professional fluency in a less prominent language is useful enough to mention on a userpage. Many of my former teachers have described my fluency in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian as suitable for professional writing; would this justify a level-5 rating if I had been equally fluent in French or Spanish? ISNorden 00:39, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Feel free to create new xx-5 templates for these languages if you need them. --Army1987 10:43, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Would I need to substitute the Babel-box code on my user page in order to create those templates? I'm a novice when it comes to WikiCode. ISNorden 01:09, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Magical babel box

Please see my proposal on meta for a unified babel box. Maybe some find it useful. --grin 22:21, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Stuff box

Maybe we should make a template like the babel one, except it would be for all other stuff, like which projects you were in and what you've done and all... What do ya think? ~VNinja~ 01:15, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Other kinds of English

There are buttons for all kinds of English other then just normal English. What is the done thing here? I mean obviously if I speak English I know simple English but do you say so? I can also understand 98% of Scots due to being from Northern England but...Its just a dialect of English, not another language. What is the done thing?--Josquius 11:20, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

ISO 639-3

any plans to use ISO 639-3? "zh-min-nan" would become "nan". Tobias Conradi (Talk) 16:49, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd be strongly in favour of that, yes. —Nightstallion (?) 07:48, 10 August 2006 (UTC)