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Welcome to the talk page for WikiProject Linguistics. This is the hub of the Wikipedian linguist community; like the coffee machine in the office, this page is where people get together, share news, and discuss what they are doing. Feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, and keep everyone updated on your progress. New talk goes at the bottom, and remember to sign and date your comments by typing four tildes (~~~~). Thanks!


"Natural speech[edit]

Dear editors: Here's an article which is sourced to a YouTube video and an article which doesn't mention the subject. Is this an accepted linguistics term? —"Anne Delong ("talk) 01:44, 9 October 2017 (UTC)

I mean, it is a collocation one encounters in linguistics texts:
  • "In all the words so far considered, /í/ will be heard from at least some speakers—even those who in natural speech use some other syllabic may use /í/ in precise enunciation." (Hocket. 1958. Course in Modern Linguistics)
  • "A record of natural speech will show numerous false starts, deviations from rules, changes of plan in mid-course, and so on." (Chomsky. 1965. Aspects)
  • "Before the interview began, and many times throughout the interview, the informant was told that the survey was concerned with natural speech, in everyday language, as opposed to the language of the school room." (Labov. 1966. SSENYC)
  • "Having identified naturalness as whatever is appropriate under a given set of circumstances, we add that it is this natural speech which a linguist works with." (Samarin. 1967. Field Linguistics)
But, personally, I'm not entirely convinced that it's a notable enough term of art for it to merit its own entry. People use it, but not too frequently discuss it, it seems (Samarin seems to be exceptional for including "natural speech" in his index, for instance). I'm not sure what sort of content it would have. But others should chime in; don't do anything just based on me, haha. "Umimmak ("talk) 03:43, 9 October 2017 (UTC)

Language trees[edit]

Hi - I was wondering what the rule was on language trees. I have a student ("Caitlyn3) that has uploaded an image of a tree (File:Khoe Kwadi Ts'ixa Tree.png) from a PhD thesis and right now it's tagged for deletion because it doesn't have a license on it. I'd like for her to re-do it because this image isn't the best version and an image has accessibility issues, but I don't know we can post language trees someone else has created, even if we make our own version of it. Is it OK for her to do this? Also, what is the best program to do this with? "Shalor (Wiki Ed) ("talk) 15:13, 23 October 2017 (UTC)

AFAIK, as long as you provide attribution in the file notes, you should be fine. That's what I did for ""File:Uvular rhotics in Europe.png. — "Ƶ§œš¹ "[lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 16:01, 23 October 2017 (UTC)

John Algeo[edit]

Wanting to find out something about John Algeo, I arrived at the article "John Algeo. It's terrible. I have made it very slightly less so, I hope -- but it's still terrible. Is there nobody here from the Uni of Georgia, or with Algeo-related interests/knowledge?

(For me, Algeo is the (co-) author of "Among the new words" and of one of the very few books about differences between US and British English that aren't mere collections of trivia. But I notice that there's plenty more by him that's [legally] downloadable free of charge.) -- "Hoary ("talk) 09:11, 29 October 2017 (UTC)

Overhauling the lang-xx templates for more selective italics behavior[edit]

"FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see: "Template talk:Lang#Parameter to selectively disable auto-italics in the Lang-xx templates
 — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  07:17, 30 October 2017 (UTC)

Missing articles or sections?[edit]

At "WP:MOSCAPS#All caps, we have:

Certain words may be written with all capitals or small capitals. Examples include: ... In linguistics and philology, "interlinear glossing of grammatical morphemes (as opposed to lexical morphemes), and transcription of "logograms (as opposed to "phonograms)

However, grammatical morpheme and lexical morpheme are redlinks, and "Morpheme doesn't cover these terms. There is "Morphology (linguistics)#Lexical morphology, but the whole "section" is one sentence (though much of the first half of the article is about "lexemes, so the section heading may be misplaced or superflous. Morphology has changed a lot (""nanosyntax"?) since my university days, so I'm not sure how to repair either "Morpheme and "Morphology (linguistics), or "MOS:CAPS to make sense in this regard. Is there simply a better way to explain linguistic use of ALLCAPS in interlinear glosses? Is "grammatical morphology" an imprecise term for "Morphology (linguistics)#Morpheme-based morphology? Or is this "grammatical" versus "lexical" split a differently-worded take on "Morphology (linguistics)#Inflection vs. word formation? My inability to "just fix it" is a little embarrassing given my minor in linguistics, but it's been a long time and I never was really much into the morphology side to begin with. PS: Should all-caps and small-caps styles be considered interchangeable for this purpose. PPS: Can anyone construct a concise example, or point to an exemplary one already in an article?  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  10:44, 24 November 2017 (UTC)

@"SMcCandlish: I think you're overthinking it. It's just saying when glossing you don't capitalize the gloss corresponding to a morpheme meaning like, "dog", but you capitalize standard "glossing abbreviations for morphemes that are have a more grammatical role, including inflectional like pl, derivational like caus, and independent words like aux or det or w/e. See e.g., the IJAL style sheet [1], the Leipzig glossing rules [2], Bauer's "The Linguistics Student Handbook": In glosses, the translations of lexical items are presented in lower case roman type, while glosses of grammatical information are presented in small capitals. or Macaulay's Surviving Linguistics Put glosses of grammatical morphemes into a font which contrasts some way with the font used for glosses which translate lexical morphemes. In the examples above, I've used small capitals for the grammatical morphemes. Others just capitalize the first letter of the gloss, or capitalize the entire word.
These seem to be the most relevant entries in the Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics if you want defs:
  • grammatical meaning: Any aspect of meaning described as part of the syntax and morphology of a language as distinct from its lexicon. Thus especially the meanings of constructions and inflections, or of words when described similarly. Such words include, in particular, ones belonging to closed rather than open classes, or those seen as marking a syntactic unit. Thus he has a grammatical meaning in opposition to other members of a closed class of personal pronouns; if as the marker e.g. of an indirect question in I asked if they were coming. A ‘grammatical word’ or ‘grammatical morpheme’ is accordingly a unit described, with whatever justification, in this mode. E.g., in the walls, both the and the plural inflection (-s) are distinguished as grammatical units from the lexical unit wall.
  • lexical meaning: Any aspect of meaning that is explained as part of a lexical entry for an individual unit: e.g. that of ‘to run’ in He ran away as opposed to that of ‘to walk’ in He walked away. Hence specifically in application to a lexical word or lexical morpheme as opposed to one which is assigned grammatical meaning: thus, in the same examples, of the meanings of the verbs and of the adverb away as opposed to those of the past tense or of he.
It looks like the most relevant wikipedia articles would be "functional morpheme and "content morpheme... "Umimmak ("talk) 11:28, 24 November 2017 (UTC)
A number of words, phrases, and morphemes mentioned by "Umimmak were not set off from the text in any way; e.g., "he" in
Thus he has a grammatical meaning in opposition to...
I have italicized them. --"Thnidu ("talk) 04:22, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
@"SMcCandlish: apparently I don't know how pings work. Take two. "Umimmak ("talk) 00:34, 25 November 2017 (UTC)
Got it. I'll go over that and revise the MOS line item to make clearer sense (if someone doesn't beat me to it).  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  00:58, 25 November 2017 (UTC)
I've completely overhauled the wording there to make sense to "mere mortals" [3]. Thanks for the help.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  08:24, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

One last clarification on this part: There's an old instruction in there that "Transcription of "logograms (as opposed to "phonograms) can also be done with small caps or all caps." What applicability could this have here? I don't see this used in Wikipedia anywhere; all the direct representations of logograms are given "as they are" (樂) with the appropriate {{"lang|zh}} or whatever markup (and many logogrammatic languages have no upper/lower case system, at least not in Unicode); Romanized transcriptions are given in italics (yuè); and English glosses [canonically] in single quotes ('music'). In actual practice, much of all three forms of markup is missing or wrong (e.g. double quotes on English glosses, and so forth). This was true at "Logogram, which I just overhauled (other than things like yuè are not marked up as {{"lang|zh-[something here]|yuè}}; I don't know the particulars of such stuff for Chinese).

Anyway, the mystery reference to logograms in the MoS wording has been commented out for now.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  08:24, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

@"SMcCandlish: Maybe it's about cuneiform? "Umimmak ("talk) 08:30, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
@"Umimmak: That sounds plausible, i.e. that it's an extension of the HIC IACET style for Classical Latin to other ancient languages, including those in other scripts. It seems a bit superfluous if so. However, something's going on at the second of those articles, with some stuff in this style and some not, and it's not clear [to me] what difference this is intended to signify (but it may be important to get this right): "30–31: SAḪAR.DU6.TAKA4-bi eden-na ki ba-ni-us2-us2". Whatever it is, this would surely be less annoyingly shouty as "30–31: SAḪAR.DU6.TAKA4-bi eden-na ki ba-ni-us2-us2".  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:08, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Found a hint at "Dingir: "By Assyriological convention, capitals identify a cuneiform sign used as a word, while the phonemic value of a sign in a given context is given in lower case." But there's no source for this.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:10, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
Source: "Never put logograms in capitals: only uninterpreted sign names, and complex signs are in upper case [4]", which is not quite the same statement. And this appears to be a set of instructions for a special form of encoding, not for writing natural-language linguistic prose that includes some cuneiform.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:16, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
Another, saying something related but different: 'If the letters that make up the transliteration are written in upper case, e.g., “PA” ..., then the transliteration merely refers to or represents the cuneiform sign without making any claim about how the sign is pronounced. Letters in lower case, e.g., “pa” ..., presuppose a phonetic interpretation on the part of the modern text editor.' [5]

Blatantly conflicting convention: "Akkadian words are given in italics, with logograms set in small capitals" [6], and "Transliterations: ... texts are set with Sumerian logograms in small capitals and Akkadian words in italics; unknown readings are given in large capitals." [7]
A third system, encountered in several works: "[D]ifferent formats are used to distinguish between Hittite words, Sumerograms, and Akkadograms ... [E]verything Hittite is lower case .... Sumerograms are given in roman capitals (in this book in small capitals: EN) .... Akkadograms are also capitalized but italicized ...."[8].
So, this is messy. I'm suspecting that similar conventions exist for other specialized areas of study; this stuff can probably just be an example in a footnote, to a line item that, in some wording, says something to the effect of "In particular linguistic subfields, like "Assyriology[fn1], there are special conventions for the use of all caps and sometimes small caps. When the convention is not distinguishing between all and small caps, normalize to small caps to be easier on readers' eyes. Regardless, use a consistent style throughout an article." Does that seem like a reasonable approach?  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:38, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

@"SMcCandlish: Two relevant pages from Fortson [9]. "Umimmak ("talk) 09:21, 27 November 2017 (UTC) Addendum: If I am right and the MOS was in reference to writing Sumerograms, perhaps you should ask "Wikipedia:WikiProject Ancient Near East as well. "Umimmak ("talk) 09:37, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
I'll do that, though I think this is not ultimately going to be entirely about that stuff, but just a general "don't use full-size ALL CAPS without reason, and use a consistent system intra-article" statement.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:43, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
The crossposting has been done.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  09:59, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Review the newly created "Kurdish phonology[edit]

I just created the page "Kurdish phonology and would appreciate experts looking at the page and perhaps write here if the page is too confusing (or messy), or whether something is missing. Thank you. --"Ahmedo Semsurî ("talk) 16:47, 24 November 2017 (UTC)

I just had a few minutes to look at it and so didn't make it past the consonant table, but here are my initial impressions. First of all, thanks for taking on this task, it's a good idea and will result in a better encyclopedia. However, linguistically speaking, "Kurdish has three main dialects; the "Zaza–Gorani languages ("Zaza and "Gorani) are "Northwestern Iranian languages but not Kurdish and, even though spoken by ethnic Kurds, shouldn't be included in a phonology of Kurdish. On a stylistic note, I would rewrite the "WP:Self-reference "This article will discuss..."; although technically an allowed type of self-reference, it's still jarring. In the next sentence there is a bit of "WP:EDITORIAL, "Notable phonological features include...". If it weren't notable, it wouldn't be worth including (those are all fairly standard features anyway, not particularly notable). Just describe it and let the reader draw their own conclusions: "Phonological features of Kurdish include...". This brings me to the next point. In that sentence, it is mentioned that "the distinction...between aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stops" is phonetic, but in the consonant table, there are no aspirated stops listed.--"William Thweatt "Talk"Contribs 23:44, 24 November 2017 (UTC)

Input needed on Quanzhang/Hokkien/Southern Min/Minnan Proper mess[edit]

"FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see "Talk:Hokkien#Quanzhang confusion.
 — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  05:31, 26 November 2017 (UTC)

Rounded and unrounded retroflex approximants in Old English:[edit]

The "rhotic consonant article makes the following claim, which would be interesting if true, but it's uncited:

There is a distinction between an unrounded retroflex approximant and a rounded variety that probably could have been found in Anglo-Saxon and even to this day in some[which?] dialects of English, where the orthographic key is r for the unrounded version and usually wr for the rounded version (these dialects will make a differentiation between right and write).[citation needed]

Anyone find a reliable source for this?--"Beneficii ("talk) 20:21, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Any dialects which maintain distinct sounds for written "r" and "wr" are probably rather rural and remote from standard English. You could try to track this down in the "Survey of English Dialects. I don't know of any evidence of retroflexion in Old English at all, and in various forms of modern English, retroflex "r" usually occurs at the end of a syllable, while a "r" vs. "wr" contrast would be at the beginning of a syllable... "AnonMoos ("talk) 03:56, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
"Old English phonology#Velarization mentions that the spelling likely reflects a now-lost contrast relating to velarization, rather than rounding. — "Ƶ§œš¹ "[lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 22:55, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

Bulgarian and Macedonian are analytic languages?[edit]

The "analytic language article claims "Bulgarian and "Macedonian as analytic languages, which seems dubious because they still have heavy inflection for their nouns. So I wonder if there is a reliable source for this claim.-- "Beneficii ("talk) 20:25, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

They're somewhat analytic compared to most of the other Slavic languages, since they've eliminated case inflection, but I don't think they're absolutely analytic (certainly not remotely comparable to Vietnamese). "AnonMoos ("talk) 04:02, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

Disambiguation links on pages tagged by this wikiproject[edit]

Wikipedia has many thousands of wikilinks which point to "disambiguation pages. It would be useful to readers if these links directed them to the specific pages of interest, rather than making them search through a list. Members of "WikiProject Disambiguation have been working on this and the total number is now below 20,000 for the first time. Some of these links require specialist knowledge of the topics concerned and therefore it would be great if you could help in your area of expertise.

A list of the relevant links on pages which fall within the remit of this wikiproject can be found at

Please take a few minutes to help make these more useful to our readers.— "Rod "talk 16:53, 3 December 2017 (UTC)

unreciprocation: Real word?[edit] " ("talk) 17:00, 3 December 2017 (UTC)

"Draft:Comparison and "Comparison (grammar)[edit]

I have started "Draft:Comparison, and in the course of expanding it found that "Comparison (grammar) is in poor shape as far as sourcing goes. Any help improving these would be appreciated. Cheers! "bd2412 "T 19:13, 22 December 2017 (UTC)

Contradiction in "Help:IPA/Inuktitut[edit]

Duplicate: "Help talk:IPA#Contradiction in Help:IPA/Inuktitut

Chaos in romanization of Kazakh[edit]

New York Times article [10]. Short version: "Kazakh is being romanized by 2025, away from Cyrillic. The plan has been to use diacritics, as in Turkish. The dictatorial president of Kazakhstan is trying to force this to instead be done with an F-load of apostrophes, which would interfere with things like search engines and generally make the language unreadable. There seems to be roughly 70% opposition to the idea, but he's powerful and may get his way unless he kicks the bucket in the interim. A short video lays out the issue (and you don't need to know the language to follow it) [11].

We should probably cover this at the article "Kazakh language, and possibly also in summary at "Kazakhstan, "Kazakhs, and "Nursultan Nazarbayev. It may also have implications for how we render Kazakh names in Latin transliteration on Wikipedia.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  19:50, 16 January 2018 (UTC)

@"SMcCandlish: There's already a fair bit of coverage, with refs, in "Kazakh language# Writing system, including the one below. We could probably use several of them here.
Also, President Nazarbayev’s office opposed the linguists' diacritic proposal:
In August, the linguists proposed using an alphabet that largely followed the Turkish model.
The president’s office, however, declared this a nonstarter because Turkish-style markers do not feature on a standard keyboard.[1]
Though getting and publicizing the necessary plug-ins and key combinations to manage the diacritical marks would be easier than getting search engines to respect Nazarbayev’s catapostrophic [sorry, couldn't resist] proposal (by a factor of about ∞:1), we really ought to mention this. --"Thnidu ("talk) 22:18, 16 January 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Higgins, Andrew (2018). "Kazakhstan Cheers New Alphabet, Except for All Those Apostrophes". The New York Times. "ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
Sounds good, as to what to cover. As for what they'd need to do over in Kazakhstan, it's probably use Turkish keyboards or get some made that are close to them. I don't buy the "not found on standard keyboards" thing because they don't use "standard keyboards" in a Western sense, but mostly Cyrillic ones, and Kazakh is written in a variant of Cyrillic that, like many others, was specifically designed to conflict with neighboring variants to prevent pan-Turkic literature comprehensibility for political reasons. I.e., they already have a "bear of a keyboard problem.  — "SMcCandlish " "¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  22:32, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
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