[Wiktionary-l] [en] A Modest Proposal for Pretend Words

Ian Monroe ian.monroe at gmail.com
Fri Dec 3 10:01:37 UTC 2004

I propose we change policy on en.Wiktionary user-created words
(so-called "protologisms") to exclude them entirely.

(Hereafter, when I say Wiktionary, I mean the English one).

Reasons to do so:
*It goes against what I believe (and I think generally believed) to be
the purpose of a dictionary (particularly Wiki ones): not to judge or
make rules for a language, but to objectively describe language.
Pretend words are, of course at their heart, POV. In Wikipedia marking
an article as POV is a cause for alarm, in Wiktionary it has become a
*[[hu]] is a good example of how pretend words can become encyclopedic
pretty quickly. It is necessary to create the context that is
obviously not otherwise present, as well as make arguments for the
words very necessity.
*The rules for inclusion of a pretend word could be considered one of
Wiktionary's more arbitrary set of rules: whether folks believe the
word to be viable, fulfill a need, follow naming some convention etc.
are not the sort of decisions that sysops should have to make if it
can be avoided.
*Even if identified as pretend, they lessen the credibility of
Wiktionary and Wikimedia as a whole.
*Pretend words might happen to be real ones already. (ex. [[hu]] was
apparently a god in an esoteric New Age religion already).
*The previous point brings up the scary possibility of folks deciding
an existing word should have an additional meaning in their POV. Scary
because it would be very easy to miss.
**There seems to be currently a division between the rules of pretend 
 word (make up your definition) and the rest (describe accurately real
 words), which is inconsistent and thus confusing for new users.
*Wiktionary is still young and such changes are still possible without
much hassle.
*Recent beer parlor discussions have showed a lack of support for
pretend words. Folks differ on how exactly they should be dealt with,
but its seems to be generally felt that they do not add to the quality
of Wiktionary.

Just to make things clear, Wiktionary should allow and encourage the
inclusion of new words that actually exist in the wild. Words should
more or less be given the benefit of the doubt, especially if the
author is willing to take even a jab at defending it. So far the words
of [[Category:Protologism]] are all quite obvious as to what they are,
even if they hadn't been marked. Except ironically for "protologism"
itself which should probably hang on as a wiktionary jargon.

If the proposal was implemented, pages which direct users on creating
new pretend words could be removed and/or edited. I know for a fact
that some of the pretend words being created are in response to such

I'd be interested to know what the other Wiktionaries have as their policy.

Thank you,
[[user:eean | Ian Monroe]]

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