On 21/09/05, Jack & Naree <jack.macdaddy(a)gmail.com> wrote:
it's link to "red" wouldn't it? and
on the red page, you could have a link
to both "color" and "colour" - unless of course you have previous
the English (US) wiki, in which case, the issue shouldn't arise, should it.
Right; I was discussing your suggestion that those articles with
alternate headwords be split. It just seemed like it would be rather
tedious and ugly to go round replacing every instance of "[[color]]"
or "[[colour]]" with "[[color]]/[[colour]]". Currently, either form
alone will be a functional link.
Then perhaps a
solution to that problem, such as one article having
multiple headwords, might be more appropriate?
OK, so let's forget about duplicating articles, or entire wikis, and
think about how this might work. One problem would be that even if
"Color" and "Colour" were both treated as equally valid names for an
article (neither redirecting to the other), all the references would
still have to be one or the other (as currently) or both (which I
think would look far more ugly). And there'd still be the problem of
all the mentions which *aren't* links, so I guess this would only work
as part of an automatic "translation" approach.
Otherwise it seems likely that the only articles that
will be in English
English will be ones about the British Isles. Pretty much everything else
will end up American.
Well, I don't think that's *inevitable*. There's certainly a potential
problem of having a larger userbase in the US than probably everywhere
else put together, with the result that more articles will end up
looking "USian". But perhaps all we need is a better way of ensuring
that a better balance rises up. For instance - and I'm not sure this
is a particularly good or necessary idea, but it's a thought - we
could declare that certain topic areas (maths, biology, etc) should
always use certain varieties of English, such that they would each get
On the other hand, since the aim of the project is to make an
encyclopedia - to share knowledge - maybe all we need do is make sure
the text is understandable to most English-speaking readers. And if
most of our writers use US English, perhaps most of our readers will
too, so it actually works out fine. This is another issue which
frequently comes up in discussing new wikis - to what extent should
Wikimedia be supporting languages for the sake of furthering political
or social causes, rather than making the knowledge understandable to
the most people. To put it to the extreme, if everyone spoke
Esperanto, would it be ok to only have one Esperanto Wikipedia,
fulfilling the primary goal of sharing encyclopedic knowledge.
I actually thought an Eggplant was an Avocado, and I
don't think it's fair
to assume that all, most, or even any significant number of British people
will necessarily know or understand the American language entries. It works
against Accessibility and Inclusiveness.
No, I agree. Any article that has ambiguousness in this way should be
carefully worded to make it clear. The beauty of a hypertext system is
that as soon as you click on the word "eggplant", you can be taken to
a page revealing that it is an aubergine
What you are advocating is effectively that British
people learn American,
and accept it; and also accept that the orignal English form is defunct, or
"lesser", and is putting English English on linguistic death row..
No, you are completely misrepresenting - or perhaps just
misunderstanding - my position. I am advocating that, wherever
possible, we make things understandable to all English speakers around
the world. I am indeed saying that British users may have to make the
effort to put up with and understand the odd Americanism; but I'm also
saying that American users should make the effort to put up with and
understand the odd Britishism.
I have *never* held the opinion that British English is defunct, or
inferior, or should be "put on linguistic death row". I'm not sure
that it makes any sense to talk of "the original English form" - it
always makes me wonder at what point in history this form was or
should have been frozen - and I object equally to claims that US
English is "inferior" as to claims that British English, Scots
English, Yorkshire English, Estuary English, or any other form is
"inferior". They are all different, and some are more suited to being
comprehensible by a wide audience than others, but none is
It sounds like a very fair solution to have the
scientific name as the
headword for both "Eggplant" and "Aubergine" -searchers to be
As I say, unfortunately, this isn't necessarily possible because there
are two different species. It's also not a solution which generalises
to other problem pairings, like pavement/sidewalk, so it's a bit of a
distraction. Besides which, text will still contain the words
"eggplant" and "aubergine" in the middle of sentences, whether they
are linked to a "neutral" form or not.
In some or many cases yes, but... blanket policies are
flawed. it may be
inconvient, but can't assume that two apparently identical articles should
be entirely synchronised - even if they are talking about the same thing,
because the articles can also contain other culturally-specific information.
If there is culturally-specific information, it should be included in
the article *whatever* language/dialect/orthography it is written in.
If there were notable cultural information about aubergines in France,
I would expect them to be explained to me, in English, in an
encyclopedia. Similarly, I would consider it an omission if a
British-published encyclopedia neglected to mention American cultural
information - especially if that encyclopedia held "neutrality" as its
Here is an American academic piece which supports my
argument that these are
not the same language:
An interesting article, although I'm not entirely sure it supports
your argument. For instance, it talks about the forces "which ensure,
in short, that English will continue as a single language, rather than
a collection of dialects that are free to wander wherever they will."
It actually seems rather admiring of those forces, and certainly
doesn't suggest that they are now breaking down.
Meanwhile, its author clearly agrees with me that there is no
"Wherever we place the beginnings of English, though, there was never
a time when the language was not diverse."
"People often refer to this basis for communication as "Standard
English," but that term is misleading. [...] What English does have,
rather, is a collection of standard features [...] which taken
together ensure that certain kinds of communication will be
more-or-less comprehensible in any part of the language community."
Interesting that he should mention comprehensibility, which I consider
a far greater goal than "correctness" or "standardness". Another
passage touches on this as a reason to strive towards unity of the
language, rather than defining separate "standards" (by my reading,
the author considered this striving a positive force, not a negative
"Maintaining the unity of a language over an extended time and space,
then, requires a more-or-less conscious determination by its speakers that
they have certain communicative interests in common that make it
worthwhile to try to curb or modulate the natural tendency to fragmentation
There is also a paragraph touching on another topic we've been
discussing - that of whether England can claim English as its own:
"By now, in any event, the view of English as an essentially English
creation is impossible to sustain even on purely linguistic grounds – the
influences of the rest of the English-speaking world have simply been too
these are not minor (unless you can prove it) - they
are quantifiably the
same as several of the differences between wikis that currently exist.
Then maybe those wikis shouldn't exist. I'm not saying the situation
we have is perfect, and given the frequency of debates about
Scandinavian, Yugoslavian, and Eastern European languages/dialects, I
don't think using precedent to override reasoning is sensible.
The discussion of the particular case of the English
wiki, must include a
justification of why other languages with similar degrees of difference -
such as Norwegian - are allowed two wikis, when English is not.
There are several possible reasons: maybe the degrees of difference
are not as similar as you think; maybe the cultural and political
forces are stronger; maybe there just happens to be a different
balance of opinion in the users of those wikis than the users of
English ones; maybe we (or, rather, they - I'd imagine few users of
the English wiki have had anything to do with any Norwegian ones) have
just got it wrong.
If the situation is genuinely as similar as you are making out, I
would probably be of the opinion that those wikis should be merged.
However, I don't speak any of the languages concerned, and so have no
desire to get involved in their linguistic politics, and no right to
dictate the practice of their edition[s] of Wikipedia. I do, however,
speak English, and contribute to the English Wikipedia, and therefore
wish to have a say in how it is run.
Canadians and Australians will be pleased to hear you
pronounce that from your golden pedestal. As will Indians, New
Zealanders, South Africans, etc etc. [It was pointed out, for
instance, that an Australian user would not wish to select either "US"
nor "British" spellings, because they would naturally use a mixture of
I'm sorry, but there's no evidence to support that view. Provide evidence,
and I'll agree with you.
Well, I was merely recalling something contributed by an Australian
Wikipedian to an earlier debate on this list. I can't remember the
exact examples given, and don't know any Australians to ask, but it
anyway seems rather unreasonable to me to assume that English can be
divided neatly into two versions.
I should also clarify that I (or, rather, the Australian who I am
recalling) was not arguing that Australian English had large numbers
of features (spellings, vocabulary, etc) which were not present in
either US or British English - although for all I know it may well -
but merely that it contained some features from one, and some from the
other. So if you present an Australian user with a choice between
wikis, or articles, in "US" and "British" (or "American"
"English", as you put it) varieties of English, neither of them will
seem "correct" - the US one will seem too "USian", and the British
Naturally, you could create a third option - and then a fourth, and a
fifth, etc, as other groups come along - but this increases the work
grammar and punctuation is a different issue - one for
No, because it's a different issue to orthography.
The fact that you
recognise the differences implies that you recognise that these are two
different orthographies - just like the two forms of Norweigan.
Actually, one of the main differences we've been discussing - the
aubergine/eggplant example - is not one of orthography at all, but of
vocabulary. It's not that Americans say "aubergine" but write it
"eggplant", it's a different word for the same thing. So you are
saying that spelling and vocabulary together form something which is
distinct from grammar and punctuation; whereas I am saying that all
should be considered part of the concept of dialect, and considered as
aspects of the same issue.
I accept that US and British English have different orthographies only
in as much as I accept that they are distinct dialects, and that the
distinctions between them include distinctions of orthography.
I am British,
born and bred, and strongly object to being labelled
"Americanised" simply because I am pragmatic enough to put up with two
spellings of the word "colour".
"put up with". You may not like it, but if you accept and use American
orthography (use in general), then you are Americanised to a degree.
No. I never said I used American "orthography", I said I put up with
it - meaning I don't feel the need to "correct" it wherever I see it,
unless it is in content otherwise written in British English. I don't
think that makes me "Americanised", any more than talking to a
Yorkshireman without picking up on their dialect would make me
I am not a
"useful idiot" of either a Jewish or an American
conspiracy, I am an individual who tries to examine propositions
logically and reach his own conclusions.
That is a disgusting and pathetic insinuation to make, and makes your
declaration of trying to examine propositions logically, laughable.
My apologies - out of context, that looked like I was accusing you of
something equivalent to fascism, which was not my intention. What I
was reacting to was the idea that just because I don't strongly oppose
the influence of US English I am somehow "Americanised", and the
perceived insinuation that that made me somehow less British, and less
worthy of respect. Maybe you didn't really mean it like that, but in
contrasting "americanised types" to "Brits" you certainly implied it.
The point being, that just because I don't oppose something, that
doesn't mean I think it should be welcomed with open arms as our new
It is not morally wrong to be patriotic; it does not
make you a fascist -
what If I told you I was Jewish-Scottish-British, would that make you look
like an idiot?
Only in that I wasn't clear in making my point; once again, I
apologise. However, I would like to point out that it is also not
morally wrong to *not* be patriotic, as in my case.
Why should we? Why should we accept Americanisation?
Why should we accept
the abolishment of Britain? Why should we be ashamed and embarressed of who
Why indeed? I have never promoted Americanisation, and I think there
are genuine threats from it - I just don't happen to think that the
variety of English used by Wikipedia is one of them.
over, I would characterise it more as you coming and saying
"I'm against all of you" than us saying "we're all against
you" - you
and this is more "logical examination of proposals"?!
I'm not "against all of you", I'm against unfairness, which is
what this is about. Inaccuracy is also the other major issue, on top of
that, there's a lack of consistency.
The consistency issue, I'll grant you - presuming you're referring
once again to the Norwegian precedent. Unfairness? I'm not sure that
our current policy is fundamentally unfair, except in the sense that
it doesn't artificially adjust upwards the amount of content in
varieties of English native to smaller groups of users. And as for
accuracy, I'm not even sure what you're referring to.
What I was trying to say is that you have come in and challenged an
existing policy, which seems to be more-or-less supported by most
existing users - it's not that those existing users are ganging up
against you, so much as that you are challenging them all to consider
your views. For what it's worth, I think there may be a better
approach to the issue than we have currently, but I've yet to see a
suggestion which isn't flawed in its own way.
have yet to
prove that there is even an issue to solve (except
inasmuch as it is stopping you from contributing; and the more I hear
of your biases, the less of a problem that seems).
I'm biased towards fairness; you appear to be biased towards something else.
I was talking more about your biases towards patriotism, and the
superiority of one form of English, and so on. But it wasn't a
particularly productive comment, and could be seen as little more than
a personal attack, so I apologise for it.
Rowan Collins BSc