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International Linguists Beer Parlour

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Welcome to the International Linguists Beer Parlour. Our main meeting place is our IRC-channel - please feel free to join. Of course you are also welcome to leave your message here and as soon as we are around, we will answer you.

The discussions about inflexions (plurals, conjugations, declensions etc.) have moved and has now its own parlour: International_Linguists_Beer_Parlour/Inflexions

Grammatical 'prefixes'[edit]

Hey! What about adding grammatical information in one, two or three letters before the definition? Makes it easier to distinguish between words with the same spelling but different use/function. The letters would be in italic.

See [1] for an example:
+ stein: adj. Som opplever stemningsendring pga. et narkotisk stoff

--Troskyldigheten 13:08, 10 January 2009 (EST)

I realised there was a problem with this, but I don't remember what it was, so it still seems like a good idea to me. I'd like to add something: make transliterations for non-roman characters and gender visible next to the word, when in translations. Like the way it is done in wiktionary: --Troskyldigheten 14:48, 2 February 2009 (EST)
Is there anyone here? It is Oh so Quiet. Seriously, I see talk about annotations, but when you have a word such as the English word moon, it could be both a verb and a noun. Then, displaying word class should be implemented in some way. --Troskyldigheten 09:36, 16 February 2009 (EST)
The definition itself should resolve any ambiguity for homograph words. Also, you have the part of speech annotation for each translation/synonym (have you seen that small Annotation link on the right?), so you know it's a verb or a noun. IMHO I don't see the need to add this information again. Malafaya 09:54, 16 February 2009 (EST)
Thanks for answering, but I disagree. It would be much quicker and clearer, if you were able to see the word class immediatly, without having to read the whole definition. It's about usability. I don't see the point of marking a word with a annotation which have to be clicked, when it could simply be displayed with some letters, improving usability. --Troskyldigheten 05:21, 18 February 2009 (EST)
I believe, there are plans to make (some?) annotations more visible and easier to enter, but that needs more software development. --Purodha Blissenbach 14:36, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Meaning depends on grammar[edit]

different wordtypes with identical meaning[edit]

Sometimes words with the identical meaning are used in another grammatical context. As example the german word "Weiß" (white) is used as noun, while the word "weiß" is used as adjective. But its still the same word. So, instead of giving them a different Meaning, it should get only a single meaning. The words then should only differ by their annotations. MovGP0 18:31, 6 October 2007 (EDT)

You are wrong. This may be true that the same spelling is used in English, it is not true in all languages. It might be a good idea to read DefinedMeaning again :) GerardM 18:40, 6 October 2007 (EDT)
/me seconds Gerard. Definitions are written in different ways for adjectives and nouns. Also according to Duden, "Weiß" the noun has 2 meanings and "weiß" the adjective has 3. It's impossible to put these two words into one single DM. --Tosca 18:48, 6 October 2007 (EDT)
You will need to handle the 2 semantic meanings of "Weiß" and the 3 meanings of "weiß" differently. But in the one case in which it means the same it could be handeled as just one meaning. But GerardM is right here: while it works for german and english it don't has to work in every language. MovGP0 19:01, 6 October 2007 (EDT)

Meaning depends on grammatical context[edit]

A very important point is the grammar. For instance, in French, the intransitive verb manger is a colloquial term meaning "to have a meal", while the transitive verb manger is the neutral term meaning "to eat" (something). This fact (the link between transitivity and meaning) should be included into the database, and it's not presently the case. There are many case more subtle than this. For instance, beating time, beating the drum, beating one's wife, beating one's wife 6-3 are 4 uses of transitive "to beat" with 4 different meanings we distinguish thanks to the object(s). These facts should be in the defined meanings' records:

  1. human subject + to beat + "time" → a defined meaning
  2. human subject + to beat + percussion instrument → another defined meaning
  3. human subject + to beat + human being in absence context of game or competition between the 2 people → yet another defined meaning
  4. [human subject + to beat + human being + score] or, in a context of competition/game between the 2 people, [human subject + to beat + human being] → yet another defined meaning

For the moment, this information is missing (the different meanings are there, but not the link between meaning and words grammatically related to the translated word).
This information would be useful for human users and crucial for automatic translators. 23:10, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

We have already something in this direction. For example Expression:marteau is in the class "outil" and annotated with "operates on a nail". I think we could extend this to your examples above by defining new annotations for the verbs, such as "subject is", "object is". --Kipcool 09:01, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
This is a good idea. It should be precise like: "direct object is", "indirect object with [such preposition] is", "adverbial phrase of place is", "with adverbial phrase of score", "context is". Sometimes, the meaning only depends on the presence or absence of a certain type of complement, whatever be its content, sometimes, the complement's meaning matters. It doesn't regards verbs only. Consider the meaning of "interpretation" in "interpretation of Mozart('s music) by Sigmund Freud", "interpretation of Mozart by Herbert von Karajan", "interpretation of the role of Mozart by Tom Hulce", "interpretation of Plato by saint Augustine of Hyppo", "interpretation of Martin Heidegger", "Martin Heidegger's interpretation", "interpretation by Karajan", "interpretation by Jacques Lacan", "the interpretation Jacques Derrida gave of this fact". 00:59, 6 September 2009 (UTC)
This might be related to the discussion. --dh 12:47, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Language century[edit]

  • Franco's movie "La raza" was renamed into "El espírito de la raza" by Franco himself after the 2nd world war, and the word "race" disappeared from scientific publications regarding humans, because the connotation of "raza"/"race" had changed.
  • If I write, in English, "art" instead of "are", I look a bit outdated, don't I?

Words meaning and pronunciation change over time, usually slowly, but sometimes quickly. Languages should be kind of century-stamped. Alternatively, words' meaning could be given a year (or century) interval validity. The latter solution would be a finer tune and avoid recording the same meaning too many times. A solution could be that when, for instance, a 19th century dictionary is entered into the database, all its words be stamped "19th century", and then the community could then merge meanings easily with other centuries by clicking, if the defined meaning has not changed. 22:51, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

We are still missing the functionality to add citations, i.e. with dates telling when each word was used, but that is in the todo list... --Kipcool 09:05, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
This is a much-needed feature.
One of the things that i love about Websters' dictionary is that it has a year for most words and citations for many. Even-Shoshan has many problems, but it's the best modern Hebrew dictionary, because it has citations for almost all words. --Amir E. Aharoni 23:38, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
I advocate year-stamping or finer, since already decade-stamping is too gross for some neologisms at times.
I also suggest to collect, and time stamp, use and geographical spread information. For instance, it may be helpful to know that a term like "cell phone" has been used by few technical insiders for a while before it boosted into almost ubiquititous use in North America, but not elsewhere. Thus e.g. a character in a movie talking of "cellular phone" may be outing himself or herself as a North American techie, if the movie was old enough. Etc. --Purodha Blissenbach 09:16, 16 October 2010 (UTC)


The world atlas of language structures can be very useful to us, but it is provided under the "Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Germany (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)" license, so we cannot copy it or parts of it. Moreover, to my opinion, there are a few mistakes. 04:30, 4 October 2011 (UTC)


We have an "expression" $ that has the "language" international. This is imho wrong, bad, detrimental, and misguiding.

  • There is no such language called "international". Ask linguists. They should know.
  • If we have symbols that are in international use, such as "$" or "1" or ":-)", they are symbols but not words or expressions. The coresponding English words are Dollar, one, or smiley, etc.
  • "International" is not related to language but to nations.
  • There is a common misconception that associates language with nations, but it is an apparent misconception. A platform seriously concerned with language should certainly not propagate it.

So please find a better way to denote what is currently labelled as languagewise "international". For instance, the language code "uns" for "language unspecified" might be a valid choice. Also, code "zzx" for "no linguistic content" might be suited for symbols. --Purodha Blissenbach (talk) 00:27, 7 September 2013 (CEST)

  • "International" doesn't aim to be a language, but to denote things common to many languages. Moreover, there are more and more expressions understood and used by people of many different languages, like "OK", "Coca-cola", "kg", "$", "☺" etc., so it's not impossible that this participates in creating, little by little, a real international language. The main problem is that, as you note it, the pronunciation often differs, but this is also true inside one "language". For instance, the "t" of the English word "often" is pronounced or not according to the speaker inside England (not to speak of Wales, Scotland, the USA, Australia and other English speaking countries).
  • The words "expression" and "word" are ambiguous. Omegawiki's use of "Expression:expression" is just absent of OmegaWiki! but I propose "A symbol or set of symbols bearing a common meaning for many people and whose meaning cannot be entirely deduced from its components.", which corresponds to the definition of "lexical item", except that it wouldn't require that the expression pronunciation be unique.
  • Etymologically "international" is not related to languages but to nations. Nevertheless, in computer, "internationalisation" has little to do with nations, and much to do with languages.
  • You like it or not, there is a strong association between languages and nations. For instance, it is written in the French Constitution that French is this official language. What a strange coincidence that the word "French" refers both to a language and to a nation and, on the top of this, that the French nation uses the eponymous language! Another strange coincidence is that, when, on a biscuits box in my supermarket, I see a list of flags and I choose the flag of the Russian nation, I can read the ingredients list in Russian language. Languages and Nations are distinct, but often strongly associated indeed.

What about using "multilingual" instead of "international"? (talk) 03:28, 7 September 2013 (CEST)

I agree with all you write. "interlingual" or "multilingual" (with lowercase initial in English) is indeed a much better choice, imho. Since it it not part of ISO 639 but rather a special case introduced at this web site (:at least at this point in time:) it should be translateable on its own, be it via the Mediawiki name space or the normal Omegawiki way. --Purodha Blissenbach (talk) 11:39, 7 September 2013 (CEST)