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Language: Distinctions without differencesEdit

I launched a discussion in Wikipedia talk:Noticeboard for India-related topics#"Please use Indian English" asking for specific guidance on how to conform to the standards for Indian English, there being no guidelines for how to do so. I was dogged, some said annoying; some said trolling. I was given Trinidadian English as an analog. There are all of nine articles marked in their talk pages as being in Trinidadian English. Certainly the two-island state has a distinctive patois, but it's not appropriate for encyclopedia articles. Ask a Trini. I am willing to bet that British English would be the recommended standard for an encyclopedia article. My suggestion here is not a perennial request to standardize spelling, Wikipedia:Perennial proposals#Enforce American or British spelling, but a request to discuss why it is appropriate to make the distinction among twenty-one varieties of English when there are basically only two standards for expository English writing: with or without Oxford spelling, with or without the Oxford comma. Where numbers are concerned, there is already a standard: unless a number is part of a quotation, zeros should be grouped in threes and the decimal point is a full stop (period). Wherever this topic is discussed, an assertion is made that spelling may differ from both American English and British English and so may syntax. I haven't seen it. It just seems to me that this is a distinction without a difference. I am told that "Reality is more complex than that." It may be, but I am a simple person. I would like someone to explain to me how the entreaties to use one of twenty-one varieties of English without any instructions for how to do so are valuable to the encyclopedia. Rhadow (talk) 02:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

The problem is that there is no actionable proposal. What would conforming to the standards for Indian English actually mean? Please link to three articles and quote examples of inappropriate text along with the replacement text that would be recommended. My take on the problem is that WP:ENGVAR is fine for settling disagreements about spelling (color/colour, organize/organise) and date formats (mdy/dmy) but is not useful for a disagreement about text. I see text like "In the year 1998 such and such happened" where it would be standard at enwiki for the underlined "the year" to be deleted. More examples are needed to define what is proposed. A guideline that says "conform to Indian English" is useless without guidance about what that means. By the way, it is not a good idea to describe identifiable editors as dogged/annoying/trolling. Johnuniq (talk) 03:09, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
It looks like I misunderstood the OP. At the other discussion (link above) I somehow got the impression that a couple of people wanted "use X English" to mean more than "use date formats and spelling appropriate for X". It might be best to acknowledge that wikignomes expand templates and categories to fill all possibilities and I don't think anyone has ever explained what "use X English" means beyond what I mentioned, namely color/colour, -ize/-ise and mdy/dmy dates. My guess is that people don't feel comfortable putting {{Use British English}} on an article about an Indian topic, so {{Use Indian English}} was created. Johnuniq (talk) 09:24, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Your example of numbers is in fact one of the distinguishing features of Indian English, where lakh (1,00,000) and crore (1,00,00,000) are used rather than million (1,000,000). I do agree that if these templates are used there should be some accompanying instructions, and that 21 different varieties seems like overkill. Phil Bridger (talk) 09:06, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

Draft proposalEdit

Okay, then. I have a proposal that think would pass muster by SMcCandlish. Their analysis at Wikipedia talk:Identifying and using style guides#Style guides from around the anglosphere is a great start. The section MOS:ENGVAR should be expanded slightly to recognize all twenty-one dialects of English. A search for WP:Indian English takes you there in any case, implicitly suggesting that the English language tree has two trunks, after which the specific branch you choose is relatively insignificant. In that way, we would not offend the proponents of a tag for every regional dialect. I suggest that for every dialect we construct a short guide whose model sounds like this:

Trinidadian English is a dialect of English stemming originally from British English, enriched by native, Spanish, and French influences. In spoken form, it is a rich patois. For encyclopedia articles, formal language rules apply. In the absence of a published style guide as exists for American, Canadian and U.K. lects, a British style guide, for example Hart's Rules, is a reference for WP editors.[1] The nation uses the metric system, therefore metric units are preferred, with conversions to other units as appropriate. The spelling standard is Oxford Spelling (wp:EngvarB), although American spellings are common.

When twenty-one such paragraphs are published, it will become quite clear that the number is too high. In time then, the disused templates will become candidates for deletion. In my opinion, a gradual reduction in dialect templates is a better trend than the creation of a plethora. Any move to simplify the MOS and its templates in Wikipedia is a long-term plus.

A draft paragraph for Indian English follows. I searched for a style guide and did not find one, therefore the guidance is eerily similar to Trinidadian English.

Indian English is a dialect of English stemming originally from British English, enriched by native influences. In spoken form, it can vary substantially from its origin, including frequent use of the present continuous tense. For encyclopedia articles, formal language rules apply. In the absence of a published style guide as exists for American, Canadian and U.K. lects, a British style guide, for example Hart's Rules, is a reference for WP editors.[1] The spelling standard is Oxford Spelling (wp:EngvarB). The nation uses the metric system, therefore metric units are preferred, but imperial measures (e.g. acres and miles) are common and conversions should be provided. India uses a numbering system including the crore and lakh which require a nonstandard grouping of zeros in large numbers. When quoting or paraphrasing, these terms are fine, although an editor is entreated to convert or explain these numbers for readers unfamiliar with the units.

That's my two cents. Rhadow (talk) 13:32, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

We should be aiming to maximise the mutual intelligibility of the different varieties of English. Many of the differences are due to minor spelling, and these are no problem. But the use of regional vocabulary is a problem. Lakh and crore are a problem for the other readers. We will benefit from a paragraph explaining how the variety is to be used on Wikipedia, as the page in article space often covers colloquial use, and not what would be expected for a formal correct wr4iting. So perhaps for each variety we also need a list of problematic words that may need linking or in-text explanation. We also need to increase the quality of writing, and just because many Indian writers doe not know how to use capital letters or punctuation does not make that correct Indian English. I support the idea of saying what things should have conversions. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 06:31, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

Continued discussionEdit

This seems a lot like instructional WP:CREEP. There's established practice that exists at the respective WikiProjects already. Cesdeva (talk) 13:55, 18 January 2019 (UTC)

By 'this' i mean the draft proposal above. Cesdeva (talk) 15:59, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose WP:CREEP, also note that Wikipedia is built for the readers and standardisation must be avoided if it is detrimental to the readers. Regards. << FR 14:08, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment I could not agree more with FR. Hanging one of twenty-one tags specifying the dialect of English complicates the work of an editor. That itself is WP:CREEP. As described in the MOS, two are sufficient. Rhadow (talk) 14:58, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
It doesn't, and it isn't creep. Your sarcasm and ignorance just highlights the shallowness of your 'grievance'. I doubt anyone will try to engage with you on this topic now, after seeing your comment which borders on trolling. Cesdeva (talk) 15:59, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • It is common courtesy to post the link to this discussion at the page where you first posted your musings and where, through a long series of patient corrections by others, you acquired the knowledge which you have so glibly posted above. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:24, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose The 42 templates of the 21 regional varieties of English (which include Irish-, Scottish-, Jamaican-, American-, South African-, Australian-, New Zealand-, British-, Singapore-, and many others) appear in at least 300,000 WP articles. That system has worked for at least 12 years. Why should I even read anything written by someone with little knowledge of the underlying issues, whose motivations, as exhibited in his posts seem to be based on a fixed idea that there are only two varieties of the English language, British- and American-? What are the chances of something like this receiving WP-wide approval? Why should I waste my time? See Radhow's earlier efforts at: Talk:Asa Wright Nature Centre and Wikipedia talk:Noticeboard for India-related topics#"Please use Indian English" Note, especially Guettarda's insightful remarks about WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT. That alone raises the prospects of endless discussions here where people are talking past each other. The above exchange with FR is a good example. . Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:55, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment All of the criticisms are fair enough. It strikes me that there are three options with respect to language tags: (1) the status quo, twenty-one identified varieties, none of which have a clearly defined distinction for the purposes of article editing between, say, Jamaican English and Trinidadian English, leaving the editor in a no-guidance situation, (2) and not much different, to allow the number of {use xxx English} templates to grow, each supporting another small variation on the language (adding {use Barbadian English} even if it is a matter of national pride, for example), or (3) to limit the number of templates to those lects for which there is style guide and dictionary to which an editor can refer.
My question was genuine and proposal respectfully submitted. I am mystified by the number of negative responses, "ass," "little knowledge," "trolling," and "bumbling, random, musings." I just don't hear any other suggestions on how to improve the situation. Rhadow (talk) 16:56, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Sadly, your history thus far has been one of ignoring in any conversation anything that is inconvenient for your theory. The half a dozen linguistics references on Indian English I posted, earlier, you dismissed by suggesting that the term register applies to only spoken language. See here, not to mention that four or five of those references were not about registers at all. (See also OED: register: Linguistics. In language: a variety or level of usage, esp. as determined by social context and characterized by the range of vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax, etc., used by a speaker or writer in particular circumstances.) Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:37, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
The existence of a style guide is not a prerequisite for the existence of a style in any variety of English. Nor are style guides comprehensive. In written American English for example, "likely" is now used as an adverb in fairly formal settings (e.g. "According to the National Weather Service, the hurricane will likely make landfall in the vicinity of XYZ, Florida." I haven't checked, but most likely this is not mentioned in style guides; at least if didn't use to be. If a WP article says, "This article is written in American English," it doesn't mean that any contributor needs to look up a style guide and write in the manner of a native speaker of AmE. All it means is that certain lexical or syntactical or stylistic features are acceptable in AmE, which speakers of other Englishes will not commonly employ in their own speech or writing, though they will very likely understand them. Such features should be respected in such an article, as long as they are not wildly confusing to others.
It is important to note that there are higher level features of any English that lie beyond the pale of any style guide. Would you like Americans to alter the sentence patterns of any BrE speaker editing an AmE tagged article, even though nothing he has written violates the Chicago Manual of Style? I think you are misinterpreting what "This article uses Indian English" means. It doesn't mean that you will need to pick up a hypothetical Mumbai manual of style, and write Indian English in the manner of an Indian. It doesn't even mean that the patterns that might seem peculiar to you will necessarily be mentioned in that Indian style guide. Yet is is undeniable that there is such a thing as Indian English, that a Martin Amis cannot write in the style of a Salman Rushdie. A hundred years ago, the Fowler Brothers, in The King's English were bemoaning the use of American expressions introduced by Kipling (who had written his Jungle Books in Brattleboro, Vermont). In those days there weren't style any guides for American English. These days no BrE style guide will be so prescriptive. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 19:14, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose any change. The vast majority of Wikipedia editors will continue editing using English that is recognisable as English everywhere, but with the occasional mistake due to their unawareness of differences. Those who know and care about the different varieties will correct things where necessary. That's the process that has worked well for many years, so why change anything? If the proposer of this change can't distinguish between standard Indian English and errors then that's fine - just let someone else fix it. Phil Bridger (talk) 19:31, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We actually need to scrap almost all of this "write in [X] English" stuff. For WP purposes, there are really only three standards, Commonwealth English, American English, and (kinda-sorta) Canadian English. All the dialects besides US and Canadian are essentially indistinguishable from British English in formal, written prose, with only minor local variation (mostly loanwords from other proximal languages, variety in slang and informalisms, and spoken differences that don't show up in formal writing). But these same levels of variation exists between, say, Yorkshire and Devon English, and New York and California English; they are not of a national character at all.

    A template that says something like "Please write this article in Indian English" is an excuse, an invitation, to write informal, non-MOS:COMMONALITY-compliant "localese" full of colloquialisms, and we need to strongly discourage this.

    As for Canadian, the major publications for Canadian English, including at least four style guides, and several dictionaries, are not actually in agreement with each other. CanEng is actually in flux, and even varies considerably by region and by age group. This stuff will probably not solidify for at least another generation, though we can be sure of a few things like theatre and colour being more common, but some Americanisms like program also being in more frequent use, along with North American terminology like trunk/hood/curb versus British boot/bonnet/kerb, meanwhile DMY versus MDY dates have a bit of a lead.

    That is arguably enough to support Canadian English templates. We also know that American English forked sharply from the rest by the 1830; this is very well documented in great detail. We don't have any data like this at all establishing something like Belizean or South African English as syntactically and orthographically distinct enough from "British" (general Commonwealth) English to support retaining templates for them (much less creating more of them and bloating MoS with dubious lectures on how to write them "correctly"!). We only have silly templates for Indian and Scottish and Jamaican and so on English because of inappropriate nationalistic sentiment. Most of these should simply be redirected to {{Use Commonwealth English}}.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  06:11, 21 January 2019 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish: You write, "A template that says something like "Please write this article in Indian English" is an excuse, an invitation, to write informal, non-MOS:COMMONALITY-compliant "localese" full of colloquialisms, and we need to strongly discourage this."
I am afraid I have to disagree. An encyclopedia article written in Indian English will contain no greater proportion of Indian English slang than will a British English article of British slang. Why would Indians write in localese and the British not? Consider journalism. Some Indian English newspapers have seen continuous publication since the mid-19th century. The Statesman (founded as Friend of India in 1818), The Pioneer (established 1865), The Hindu (founded 1878), or The Times of India (founded 1838) have their in-house style guides (though the TOI has not been paying much attention to it lately). See an editorial in The Hindu belaboring the details in the announcement of their new style guide in 2017. Regardless of what these style guides say, it is undeniable that newspaper English has been read in India for a very long time.
English, moreover, has been taught in schools and colleges in India ever since the Anglicists got the better of the Orentalists in the debate on public instruction in India in the 1830s. (See Company rule in India#Education) Throughout the 20th century, all major British publishers of English language and literature books, published simultaneously in India. All had India divisions. In many, whether Oxford, Blackie, Longmans, or Macmillan, the trio of Indian cities, "Bombay, Calcutta, Madras" appeared emblazoned in the copyright page. In fact, I just looked at a 1937 copy of J. W. Mackail's translation of Virgil's Aneid. On the copyright page it says, "Macmillan and Co. Limited, London, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Melbourne." It is only below that it says, "New York, Chicago, ... Toronto." Whether in 1937, or today (see The Delhi University BA Hons syllabus in English), the people who have bought these books in India have been Indians, by the thousands. But, after 180 years of public instruction in English, the variety of English favored in India has diverged from British English, and there is no holding it back, especially as India ramps up economically, and literacy increases slowly to full. (There is a caveat: economic development in India, and literacy as well, is uneven. That means among Indian editors you will get those who write very well along with others who write poorly, whose writing has to be corrected.)
The language templates on Wikipedia allude to the higher order differences in the written languages (e.g. AmE's greater preference for the subjunctive ("He advised that I not go tonight" vs BrE's "He advised that I should/must not go tonight.") or Indian English's greater preference for languorous descriptions. The differences between encyclopedic Indian English and encyclopedic British English, are not one of ordinary syntax but of higher order style. The differences are there, but, among the educated people of both countries, they are ones of frequencies of certain constructions, callocations, and registers in the corpus of the writing.
Finally, there is a practical matter. The majority of Indians contributing to Wikipedia do so in India-related articles. For a topic such as train stations, they are the ones who have the proximity to occasionally spur their interest into expanding the stubs. If you either ignore their variety of English or pronounce it to be a part of a nebulous Commonwealth English—but at the same time exclude the Queen's English from that same Queen's Commonwealth—then there is the likelihood that you may turn some of these people off. (See Salman Rushdie's essay, Commonwealth literature does not exist from the mid-1980s.) Without them, who will bell the cats of Indian topics with expository or descriptive prose? Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:22, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
Repeat: In formal, written English, there is no codifiable difference between Indian, South African, New Zealand, Trinidadian, Irish, Belizean, etc., English, that distinguishes them from British. There's a provable, obvious reason for this: lack of style guides for them that establish any alleged differences. Writers in all these places depend on British style guides, especially New Hart's Rules. Australian English is the one variant of Commonwealth English most likely to start to fork at the formal-writing level, but there are only two non-trivial style guides for it: one published very infrequently by the Australian government, widely excoriated, and ignored by almost everyone (including Australian civil servants), and an edition of the Cambridge style guide for British English that is almost identical word-for-word other than the addition of some Australian colloqualisms.

Any linguist will tell you that classifications like "Pakistani English", "Zimbabwean English", etc., are linguistic terms for spoken language patterns, and that written English is primarily determined by publishing houses (i.e., by commerce). We know for a fact that major publishers are not producing customized national-level style guides, but defaulting to those put out by Oxford, Cambridge, and popular Commonwealth-wide news publishers like the BBC and the Economist Group. Asserting that, at an encyclopedic level of formality, Indian and Scottish and Hong Kong and British English are distinct enough for Wikipedia to codify rules regarding them is patent nationalism and original research.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:30, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

Since this discussion seems to be degenerating into the usual long windy broadsides, perhaps you could give us (tersely) your views on how the lakh & crore question fits with your position. Personally I don't see change as necessary. Johnbod (talk) 02:42, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
@Johnbod: Although I have stayed away from using crores and lakhs in India-related articles, except in direct quotations, I now favor using both crore/lakh and, in parenthesis, hundred thousand/ten million. I'm sure someone can write a convert template for these. As for SMcCandlish's blanket assertions which seem to be shifting from regarding only BrE, AmE, and (kinda-sorta) CanE as the differentiated models of English to now including Australian English; from considering the "Indian English" tag to warrant "non-MOS=COMMONALITY-compliant" "localese," to considering it to be identical, in written form, to BrE, all I can say is that Indian English is neither a differentiated variety (such as Australian English), nor is it identical, in its written form, to British English. In Schnieder's model of language evolution, stated in Schilk, Marco (2011), Structural Nativization in Indian English Lexicogrammar, John Benjamins, pp. 9–, ISBN 90-272-0351-2, Indian English is well past stage 2, i.e. exonormative stabilization (OED exoˈnormative adj. Linguistics, of language standardization: drawing on foreign models of usage as a basis for the standard language.) Schilk, see page 11, restating more formally my intuition about Indian English, considers it to be at the beginning of stage 4, i.e. endonormative stabilization (OED: endonormative adj., Linguistics, of language standardization: drawing on native models of usage rather than on the standards for the language that are already established in other countries.) We can't, because of our fixed views, say "less than stage five is stage two." In other words, there is no need to tamper with the language-variety tags on Wikipedia. Codification in grammars and dictionaries does begin to take place later in Stage 4. PS There is early usage guide, Nihalani, Paroo; Tongue, Ray K.; Hosali, Priya; Crowther, Jonathan (2005), Indian And British English: A Handbook of Usage And Pronunciation, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-567313-5, but its examples are not based in the two corpora of Indian English (the Indian English section of the International Corpus of English (ICE) (see also: The ICE project) and the Kohlapur corpus). It is not considered comprehensive. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 08:22, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
Sorry, "you" was meant to be SMcCandlish! Johnbod (talk) 16:59, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
I started this discussion. Now I can see it will have no resolution. I concede that it is a matter of national pride that there is Samoan English. I shall editorialise about some articles, editorialize on the rest, and disregard the admonitions for anything more specific, because no one can enumerate what the differences are. Rhadow (talk) 17:20, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

─────────────────Rhadow This is the problem with people such as you, or your cohorts, who appear here from time to time, attempting to force their simplistic ideas on others. When you find that the picture is muddier, that linguistic research more fine grained and comprehensive than what your prejudices (such as the doozy "Any linguist will tell you that classifications like "Pakistani English", "Zimbabwean English", etc., are linguistic terms for spoken language patterns, ...) have fossilized into, you quit, mumbling, "national pride," "no one can enumerate," soon after I have given you a modern linguistics take on spoken and written Indian English. It is not my job to make a precis of Schilk's book. That is for you to find out by delving. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:00, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

"The problem with ... you ... [and] your simplistic ideas." When first we started this discussion, I asked for guidance in distinguishing twenty-one varieties of written, encyclopedic English and, if necessary, a style guide to help me do so. After several days of back and forth, it seems that the {{Use Indian English}} tag applies to quotes and there is a guide, Schilk. It would have been so much easier to say that at the outset rather than lectures of of endonormative stabilization. Many thanks. Rhadow (talk) 20:23, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
I did refer you to seven fairly recent linguistics books on Indian English, which included Schilk. That was ten days ago. But you didn't seem interested. Perhaps the fault was mine: I should have given more guidance. I can't speak to all 21 varieties, but expect that they too have diverged to varying degrees from BrE. The terms endonormative stabilization etc are Schilk's, or rather used by linguists studying the evolution of languages. As you will see on page 9 of his book, there are five stages in the evolution resulting from settlers arriving in a new colonized land. He thinks Indian English is at the beginning of stage four. AmE and AusE are in stage five. I'll give you two examples from Schilk in a minute. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:31, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
He says on page 37, "Olivarria de Ersson & Shaw (2003) show, for example, that significant differences can be observed for the frequencies of the complementation patterns of pelt-verbs in Indian and British English (cf. Olivarria de Ersson & Shaw 2003:154). Specifically, they observed clear variety-specific tendencies in the verb-complementational patterns of the pelt-verbs PELT and SHOWER: while in British English one of the most frequent patterns is the complementation with a with-prepositional phrase, in Indian English there are strong tendencies to complement PELT with an at-prepositional phrase and SHOWER with an on-prepositional phrase (cf. Olivarria de Ersson & Shaw 2003:154)." Sure enough, when I did a quick search I found, "some miscreants pelted stones at the Railways' fastest train, damaging one of its windows." (see here) Note that the direct and indirect object switch in the IndE constructions. What does one do with such constructions on WP? If they are causing wild confusion, one could change them, but most people will understand what they mean. I would let them stand in IndE tagged articles. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:47, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
On page 38–39, he says, "Mukherjee & lIoffmann (2006) compiled a 31-million-word newspaper database for Indian English derived from the online archive of the Calcutta-based national newspaper The Statesman 21 They show that there are many verbs that Indian English users use in this pattern which are not admissible in the type-I pattern in British English, for example the verb GIFT: (10) He was forced to bring down Nabi in the danger zone after gifting him the ball. <The Statesman 2003-12-12> (11) Delay means serious risk of gifting Islamabad a talking point. <The Statesman 2002-10-26> (12) She said she wanted to gift him a dream. <The Statesman 2003-02-17>" Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan. Most people will understand what these sentences mean. I wouldn't add a "with" to such constructions in IndE tagged articles. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 23:08, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
In American English, we have a saying, "Don't sell past the close," in other words, don't pursue an argument after you have already won. Tell me please whether these phrases are {{Indian English}} or just bad writing:
  • "It [the station] halts for trains everyday"
  • Starting a sentence with a digit.
  • "Renigunta railway station is junction of tracks from 4 different directions to Renigunta:" (dispensing with a preposition, perhaps at, and the definite article the)
  • "Present this station operates trains to Tenali and Secunderabad stations" (substitution of adjective for adverb)
  • "... and has bus facility to the nearby city ..." (no indefinite article a or a plural noun -- and perhaps a substitution of "to" for "serving")
The atrocious constructions gifted (v) and gifting are an everyday occurrence where I live. I hear them every day. It grates on me as much as a request to dialog. Rhadow (talk) 23:53, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
Those are obviously not examples of Indian English. As for gift(v), I don't think you understand. gift (v) is perfectly legitimate in AmE or BrE. For example: Nature gifted her with an ethereal voice (AmE/BrE), or "He gifted the money in memory of the tsunami victims." (BrE), only it doesn't take a ditransitive form (i.e. with both direct and indirect objiect) as it does in Indian English. In Indian English, "She gifted her brother an iPhone" (i.e. presented her brother with an iPhone) is legitimate construction. That you find it grating is your problem. This is about as far I will go in engaging you. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 01:18, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

─────────────── Fowler&fowler's hypothesis about Indian English, its level of bifurcation, and what that might imply for Wikipedia is patent OR; it's opinion, an extrapolation from one single source (which has a much more limited context) to leap to conclusions that F&f favors. If it were actually true that Indian English were a solidified, codified dialect at the written level, we would see overwhelming evidence of this, in the form of Indian English dictionaries, Indian English style guides, and similar works, but nearly zero of them exist, and actually zero from reputable publishers. Meanwhile, the "British" (general Commonwealth) English works of this sort from Oxford, Cambridge, and other high-end British publishers are the standard English-language reference works among anglophones in India (and in Hong Kong, and insert 100+ other places).

Worse yet for the fantasy that Indian English is a formal written dialect, we know for a fact that Indian English varies regionally more than any other alleged "national dialect", due to the strong influence of radically different indigenous languages (most of which are the first languages of the majority of anglophones in India), which are often not even in the same language families, and which thus produce radically different influences on the "flavor" of local English around India.

In short, do not confuse either a) well-documented trends in spoken English usage in India, or b) undocumented but observable trends in Indian journalism, blogging, and other informal writing in English, with something very, very different: c) formal, academic English as used in encyclopedia writing. What's going on here is a sore confusion and commingling of Indian pride and "Indian English is real" sentiment (which is correct with regard to spoken usage, though there is not one, consistent dialect, but a broad continuum, probably better thought of as Hindi English, etc., by languages of influence), versus what we need to actually focus on here: is there a codified, standardized Indian English that differs enough from British and other Englishes that we need to have huge, gloating banner templates about it? The answer to the latter question is obviously "no". There's simply no evidence in favor of such a notion. The sources that would demonstrate it (high-quality reference works on using formal Indian English) simply do not exist. Tellingly, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have a more prosaic take on the matter [1], and have sum up Indian English as about 70 words (loan words) common in Indian English to include in the online OED. By this measure, New Mexican English has at least as strong a claim to "banner advertising" on Wikipedia, since even more regionally distinct words (from Spanish and from Native American languages) are found in that regional dialect. Similar stories will be found for Australian English and for every variety of African English, and Hong Kong and Sinaporean English, and all the Caribbean Englishes. They all have one really important thing in common with Indian English: they are vernaculars, and do not exist as defined, separate formal written Englishes codified as a rule-set by any reliable sources.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  12:33, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish: You state, "Tellingly, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have a more prosaic take on the matter [2], and have sum up Indian English as about 70 words (loan words) common in Indian English to include in the online OED." In fact, that OED blog is referring to the latest addition of 70 IndE words to the 900 that already are in the dictionary." It is true that some of the 900 are archaic even in Indian English, but many such as "tiffin," "out-of-station," "needful," are not. There are others such as the expression, "on the anvil," that are not listed in the OED's list of IndE words, but are considered to be chiefly South Asian usage. (See OED on-line entry: on (also upon) the anvil: being dealt with or considered; in preparation, in hand. Now chiefly S. Asian. The OED-online lists ten examples, beginning in 1645, including: 1818 Byron Let. 28 June (1976) VI. 56 "I shall positively offer my next year to Longman—& I have lots upon the anvil," and ending with: 1986 Sunday (Calcutta) 22 June 49/3 A new Rs 400-crore debenture issue was reportedly on the anvil. (for Johnbod's reading pleasure. :)) 2005 Asian Age 28 Sept. 13/2 "Important initiatives to support the growth of the sector have already been taken by the policy makers and we believe several more are on the anvil." There are others such as "walk the talk," which are reaching a level of frequency in usage in IndE that they will very likely be inducted into the OED in the near future. Please note that words become archaic in one English but don't in others. "Torch," for example, preserves its original meaning in AmE, but in BrE has come to mean what is flashlight (in AmE). In other words, BrE no longer has any mandate on deciding what words are archaic and what are not in the world Englishes. Anyway, it was fun talking about these things. I doubt there will be a resolution on this topic. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 13:21, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
More OR and point-missing. Southwestern American English has at least as many loan words from Spanish, but it wouldn't matter anyway: the point is that having a bunch of loan words in common parlance doesn't make for a written, formal dialect that WP is required to treat with templates, because few of those words are ever used in encyclopedic writing (and would be explained in situ if they were). You're assuming that the appearance of a word or phrase in a dialect is especially significant, but it's not. For example, "needful" is also Northwestern American English (with no influence from India on its use); there's nothing especially Indian about it. "On the anvil" (which isn't Indian English, but simply lingering more in South Asia than in other dialects) isn't any more evidentiary of a marked dialect fork between written, formal British and Indian English than any other random colloquial phrase, like "fair dinkum" (Australian), "on the lash" (Irish), "slap chips" (South African), etc. This kind of variation exists down to the rather local subnational level, yet we are never going to have a "This article is written in New England English" or "This article is written in Philadelphia English" template. If we don't need one for either of those, then we don't need one for Indian. The only reason to want one is nationalistic sentiment. You cannot actually draw the kinds of conclusions you want to from the available data.

There's probably more distinction between the everyday English of Scotland and that of England than between the Queen's English and Indian English (because Scottish English is actually an amalgam of English and Scots, a closely related derivative of Anglo-Saxon, plus Gaelic loans, and going back to emergence of Middle English, while Indian English is mostly much later England-English with inconsistent loanwords from Indian languages). But we don't need templates for Scottish English, either. Encyclopedic Scottish English isn't reliably distinguishable from that written by someone from London, or Melbourne or (as a native speaker) New Delhi.

Lastly, no one said anything about "mandates". Despite all I've said, you continue to approach this from a national-pride and nationalism perspective. Your "BrE no longer has any mandate on deciding ..." stuff is a straw man (and provably wrong anyay, since Britsh reference works on English are the go-to reference works on the language also in India, Australia, South Africa, etc.). No amount of observation of colloquial talk is ever going to change that. The only thing that will change is major publishers in India putting out competing reference works, and them diverging from British/Commonwealth English, and doing so consistently. Whether you understand it or not there's an all-important gulf between colloquial Indian English dialect (which is well-attested) versus an utter lack of any evidence that such a dialect exists as a formal, written dialect the way American English does. India has had no Noah Webster (or any modern organization serving a similar orthography-forking role).

I'm not likely to respond again, because this side discussion has turned utterly circular, and no amount of handwaving is ever going to wave away the fact that there are no reliable sources establishing Indian English as a distinct variety of written, formal-register English. The best anyone can muster is observation that it exists as a spoken dialect continuum, and that (like all varieties of English down to a local level), in written form it can optionally invoke various colloquialisms that won't be understood by outsiders. Nothing unusual about this. Nothing Wikipedia needs to make special allowances for.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  14:21, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

Pedestrian overpassEdit

I am trying to comply with {{Use Indian English}}}. Should I refer to a pedestrian overpass as an "overbridge," "over bridge," "foot-over bridge," or what? Rhadow (talk) 00:34, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

@Rhadow: "foot over bridge" as far as I know. << FR (mobileUndo) 02:52, 9 February 2019 (UTC)
Prefer the Saxon to the Romance. Prefer anything to Latinate AmE ugliness. (OED: foot overbridge n. Indian English a footbridge.
1883 Times 27 Feb. 1/3 (advt.) Class A.—Machine Tools, Wrought-iron Foot Overbridges.
1956 Times of India 1 June 3/5 The foot over-bridge across the railway lines in front of the Government of India offices on Queen's Road will be closed to pedestrians from the Queen's Road end.) Fowler&fowler«Talk» 07:47, 9 February 2019 (UTC)

CrashCourse video on WikipediaEdit

I want everyone to have a look at this video from Crash Course (YouTube), hosted by John Green. I think they have done a great job educating readers how to effectively utilize the medium. Let me know your thoughts. THE NEW ImmortalWizard(chat) 15:31, 11 February 2019 (UTC)

...I emailed them about this like a year ago. So basically I take credit for everything and will be expecting royalties. GMGtalk 15:42, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
@GreenMeansGo: probably who knows. THE NEW ImmortalWizard(chat) 16:29, 11 February 2019 (UTC)
I'm sure you'll be paid just as much as an editor gets for taking an article to FA. Phil Bridger (talk) 21:40, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
Very good. I'd like him to make one for beginner editors. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 09:31, 13 February 2019 (UTC)
I love it. I would add that one of Wikipedia's strengths is that anyone can edit. If you see something wrong, fix it. Qzekrom (talk) 18:24, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

Survey regarding the community guidelines for my master thesisEdit

Hello Wikipedia-Community,

I am Robert Wintermeyer, and I am a student at the university of cologne. I am conducting a research in various social media platforms including collaborative projects for my master thesis. The purpose of this research is to gather information on the community guidelines and their acceptance by the user. For that reason, I am conducting surveys that take about 10-15 minutes. If you are willing to participate, our survey will ask you about your opinion towards the community guidelines of Wikipedia. There are no foreseeable risks nor benefits to you associated with this project. All responses are confidential. Your participation is voluntarily, and you can ask me if you have any questions. The participation offers an OPTIONAL chance of a 10€ (~11$) Amazon voucher.

I already approached the community before I started with my survey. The links to the discussions are Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Archive306#Survey regarding the community guidelines for my master thesis and Wikipedia:Help desk/Archives/2019 January 24#Survey regarding the community guidelines for my master thesis.
Since a lot of research that is relevant for my master thesis focuses on Wikipedia it would be great to have a good sample to evaluate. The survey ends on the first of March.

The following link goes to the Wikipedia EN survey which is hosted on google forms:

Wikipedia Survey


Thank you very much for your time,

Robert Wintermeyer--Rwinterm (talk) 09:12, 14 February 2019 (UTC)

I filled it out. Qzekrom (talk) 19:02, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

No, Wikipedia didn’t get actress Olivia Colman’s birthdate wrongEdit

If you allow me this self promotion, I want to say here that the piece I just wrote in The Conversation about Olivia Colman's issues with Wikipedia is based on fact-checking made by Wikipedians that dig through the entire history of her page, and that the paper is a tribute to them. It says a lot about how Wikipedia is still regarded in the media in 2019, and how journalists should instead take fact-checking lessons from it. More details about the story at Colman's talk page. Comments welcome (if constructive!) Alexandre Hocquet (talk) 00:08, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

Hi Alexandre Hocquet! I noted this since I have Wikipedia:Press coverage 2019 on my watchlist, and you added it there. I have no problem with that, had I found it first I would have added it myself (though The Conversation (website) has more primary sources than I'd like).
Anyway, what struck me with your addition there was the innovative use of the "authorlink" which now links to your WP-userpage, I've never seen that before. I know of no chapter and verse against this, but my knee-jerk reaction is that if there's an author-link, it should go to a WP-article (like with the Jess Wade-piece just above). If others can be bothered to have an opinion, I'd like to hear it. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 07:59, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
Indeed, author link is intended for the Wikipedia article, at least in the mainspace. It's not unreasonable to use it to point to a user page when the citation is used outside of the mainspace. However, by doing so and then linking to an external website, the user is willingly outing himself. --Izno (talk) 13:05, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
I understand that. I actually always feel a tension between transparency (revealing where this piece of information is coming from as a disclaimer, and even encouraging discussion about the topic) and self promotion (talking about myself in Wikipedia) even though the edit is relevant and properly sourced. I can remove the User link if it's deemed inappropriate, just say it @Gråbergs Gråa Sång: or @Izno: or anyone else. Alexandre Hocquet (talk) 13:54, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
I doubt it will cause the end of WP as we know it, like Izno said, it is not mainspace. I'm good with either. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 14:08, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

What is your favorite article?Edit

Persononthinternet (talk) 01:05, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

I enjoyed helping to write James Shield, who almost killed Abraham Lincoln once. GMGtalk 01:14, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
I liked writing Augustus Barrows: nobody had connected the keeper of a stagecoach stop/inn in frontier U-Bet, Montana, with the third-party freshman Assemblyman who had become Speaker of the Wisconsin House, then walked away from the job after the end of the session. --Orange Mike | Talk 15:52, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia:About stat incorrectEdit

It states there are 5,808,126 articles on Wikipedia, but that is outdated. I cannot edit the article so please fix it — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brainiac245 (talkcontribs) 18:23, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

5,808,167 articles is the actual number — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brainiac245 (talkcontribs) 18:24, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

5,808,172 articles is the last number I checked — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brainiac245 (talkcontribs) 18:31, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

5,808,177 articles — Preceding unsigned comment added by Brainiac245 (talkcontribs) 18:35, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

  • I am going to guess that this number is updated by a bot on a periodic basis (perhaps daily?)... and that the bot simply has not run its update yet. Give it time. Blueboar (talk) 19:44, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

When will this article be indexed by Google?Edit

I wonder if it could be explained how United States support for ISIS would be indexed in Google in order to get access comfortably? Saff V. (talk) 11:46, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

New articles are generally indexed quickly. However, articles which are listed for deletion are marked as {{NOINDEX}}, which stops them being indexed by external search engines until the deletion template is removed. Andrew Gray (talk) 21:54, 17 February 2019 (UTC)
The NOINDEX rule for AFD pages apparently only applies to pages that are less than 90 days old. There's discussion on the template's talk page about this. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:51, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
The page in question is less than 90 days old... so NOINDEX should apply. Discussion is currently leaning towards: “keep, but rename”. Blueboar (talk) 21:58, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

Building relationships among WikipediansEdit

What initiatives do we have in place to help Wikipedians build relationships? I often feel alone while editing, and I realized that social capital might encourage new users to stay and contribute more. Qzekrom (talk) 18:35, 17 February 2019 (UTC)

That I know of : not much, and the lack of interactions between users certainly is a major problem here... I think a factor is the extreme confusion (and age) of the community part of the website, and the lack of a real common place (even a subreddit) for wikipedians to come together, the village pump hardly filling this role. Louis H. G. (talk) 02:21, 18 February 2019 (UTC)
While I agree more venues would be better, you can currently participate on IRC, Discord, mailing lists, and wiki meetups. Do you have any ideas for further collaborative environments? Killiondude (talk) 02:10, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
I've tried to compile a related list at mw:Talk pages consultation 2019/Tools in use. My immediate goal is less about social connections, and more about where/how you might talk to someone about an article you're working on, but this will often be the same place. Please feel free to contribute examples that you're familiar with – the more, the merrier at this stage. Also, there's a chance that you might find links to an example that interests you on that page. Louis H. G., I don't think that Reddit has made it onto the list yet, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised to find a subreddit or two out there. There are tens of thousands of editors here, and surely some of them are also Redditors. If you find a good one, then feel free to add it. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:58, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
I would like to add a word of warning here. It's all very well to build relationships among Wikipedians, but no decisions about the actual content of Wikipedia should be made anywhere other than on Wikipedia. I have several times been on the wrong end of off-Wikipedia collusion, which for the most part I'm pretty sure has taken place on IRC. I'm pretty well versed in policy and guidelines, so have been able to respond robustly to such things, but many people who are not quite so Wikipedia-obsessed can be intimidated by such action. It would be much better if all discussion could be where we can all see it, i.e. on this site. Phil Bridger (talk) 22:36, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
Of course, but the confusion of wp paradoxically makes it very hard for someone to access these discussions, especially non-wikipedians. Despite the intention, transparency is a questionable reality here.Louis H. G. (talk) 22:47, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
re: "where/how you might talk to someone about an article you're working on"—I agree with that. I love WikiProjects as a concept because they're (at least in theory) a good place to find subject-matter experts to collaborate with, but I often can't tell how active a WikiProject really is; just counting the number of signatures on the page or the number of users in e.g. Category:WikiProject Computer science participants are very misleading statistics. I've been reluctant to take on large-scale article work because I fare better when I can get real-time feedback on my ideas, and I often don't know the best place to find that. Qzekrom (talk) 02:49, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
@Killiondude: So, a few iconoclastic thoughts, because I often suggest people in my academic field to improve articles and keep getting (very) negative views on the wp community. I would argue that none of the venues you mentions really work, regarding editors'sociability. I think wiki as a community is hardly enticing for newcomers, and remains more than discouraging for the advanced editor, for a few reasons :
1. Lack of accessibility. The online geography of the community is very confused. This falls under the general maze of this website, which is really outdated. It is very difficult to know where to go just to meet the people who write here. There should be a central square in this place.
2. Theres is too many venues, none of them being on point. The sedimentation of layers and layers of cubbyholes over the years is perhaps the most noticeable feature of the website : I think it really is detrimental to the general communication, and, on another level, make the functioning of the website very obscure and aristocratic, especially for the general public. Only those who master this labyrinth can really contribute.
3. Technically, the venues are inconvenient, and tend to desynchronise wp with the rest of the web. This is just not how people get together online, which makes wp pretty repulsive to newbies. Editing a source code to reply, as i'm doing rn, is quite a tedious way to communicate.
I think this is a great problem for the future of wp, and should be addressed.Louis H. G. (talk) 22:47, 19 February 2019 (UTC)
I agree with (1) and (2), but I'm confused about (3). What do you mean by that? Qzekrom (talk) 02:54, 20 February 2019 (UTC)
I think they work but are not perfect. A top 5 website has been built and thousands of volunteers have participated across the external social venues (non-wiki) that I listed. In any case, it seems like the participants of this thread might be interested in mw:Talk pages consultation 2019. Killiondude (talk) 17:16, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

RfC in Wikidata: semi-protection to prevent vandalism on most used ItemsEdit

Hi everyone,

In Wikidata has been opened the RfC semi-protection to prevent vandalism on most used Items and I think it might be interesting for many of you. Thus I encourage to you to read and participate in the RfC and comment whatever you have in mind about this topic.

Thanks in advance for you attention!

Regards, Ivanhercaz (Talk) 22:25, 18 February 2019 (UTC)

  • And they wonder why so many of us here at Wikipedia don’t want things exported from Wikidata... oh well, at least they are trying to fix this particular issue. Blueboar (talk) 23:58, 18 February 2019 (UTC)
@Blueboar: The situation of the English Wikipedia isn't explained in the RfC but that's the main reason why I thought it might be of your interest. Regards, Ivanhercaz (Talk) 01:05, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

An update on templates on mobile webEdit

Hello,

A few months ago we mentioned a change that was coming to how certain templates appear on mobile web. I just wanted to drop a note that this change is now in effect here on English Wikipedia. This is the result of a request from 2016 to better display templates on mobile. As you may be aware, since early 2018 mobile traffic counts for the majority of traffic on English Wikipedia (and more than twice as many unique devices access the mobile site over the desktop site), so making templates present on mobile is important.

We've deployed this update to all other wikis and ran A/B tests to measure the impact (Summary: Users interact with the new treatment more frequently than the old. They interact with higher-severity issues more than than lower-severity issues. The new design does not cause more frequent edits).

For template editors, we have some recommendations on how to make templates that are mobile-friendly and further documentation on our work so far.

If you have questions about formatting templates for mobile, please leave a note on the project talk page or file a task in Phabricator and we can help.

Yours, CKoerner (WMF) (talk) 18:31, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Talk to us about talkingEdit

Trizek (WMF) 15:01, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

What if a Google search won't work? Hatnotes could helpEdit

This is just one example, but it is something that could happen with other search terms. I made a note several months ago about an article in an actual newspaper about "WALL-E" that I wanted to learn more about. I forgot to make a note about which newspaper figuring it would be easy enough to find the information, but every single Google result for "WALL-E" is about the movie or the character. Had I made a note about what it was about, I might have had better luck. Guessing which newspaper didn't help since a search of its web site didn't work, but another resource I could access this week gave me what I needed, and I made an improvement to a Wikipedia article and was able to link to it, after which I was reverted, along with a change that would work better. Well, maybe. It depends on whether a person would actually look at "See also". If you remember only that something else is called "WALL-E", Wikipedia is not very helpful at this point. Although maybe that is unlikely. Either the WALL-E article needs a hatnote or there needs to be a disambiguation page. Also see this discussion.— Vchimpanzee • talk • contributions • 20:46, 21 February 2019 (UTC)