Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (languages)/Archive 2

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User:Danakil is reverting my edits that rename program language articles to titles in accord with the naming convention, by saying he does not like the convention.

This is moved from my talkpage. -- Taku 03:14, Aug 22, 2004 (UTC)

ALGOL programming language

'ALGOL programming language' WAS the original title. Watch out, or you'll again end up doing that thing you hate: messing up with article's titles.

That was wrongly named. The article should be named just ALGOL since the name is unambigous. -- Taku 12:04, Aug 19, 2004 (UTC)
IT IS NOT FOR YOU TO DECIDE WHAT TO NAME THE ARTICLE, and this is AGAINST ALL what you just said before: that you had no preference in naming. Look, it is ok if you revert, but PLEASE STOP removing the classifiers from those articles that, fortunately (thanks to a judicious writer), already have the right title to begin with.
Sorry, I didn't make myself clear. I don't have preference so I want to stick to the naming convention we have had. -- Taku 12:10, Aug 19, 2004 (UTC)
The naming convention that there is, does not say that you can change an article's title to remove the classifier if it has it. PLEASE STOP CHANGING the name of the 'ALGOL programming language' article to 'ALGOL' or I'll have to take this matter up to an administrator. Revert all the ones I changed, but PLEASE BE KIND ENOUGH TO leave alone the ones I didn't.

The convention [1] says

Convention: Languages which share their names with some other thing should be suffixed with "programming language" in the case of programming languages, or "language" in the case of natural languages. If the language's name is unique, there is no need for any suffix. For example, Python programming language and English language, but VBScript and Sanskrit.

So I think I am allowed to make a move if I read this correctly. Since the language name ALGOL is unique, there is no need to add the suffix. -- Taku 12:19, Aug 19, 2004 (UTC)

No, you're not. BUT please, can you stop for a minute and consider THERE'S a debate going on RIGHT NOW about precisely that point so, EVEN IF YOU WERE (which you aren't) allowed to make the change, the REASONABLE, COURTEOUS, JUDICIOUS thing to do is to LEAVE THE NAME AS IT IS, and await for resolution. —danakil 12:23, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Why am I not to allowed to make a change in the name? Do you think ALGOL is not unique? And since we have a concrete convention cited above, I don't think I have any reason to ignore the convention. -- Taku 12:28, Aug 19, 2004 (UTC)
Did you even read what I said on my previous paragraph regarding the judicious thing to do? Don't you realize that this is taking us both to a useless confrontation and that we could both be better spending this time contributing to Wikipedia??? --- In any case, to answer your question: the Convention is a guide for the article's author, and not a permission for other people to mess with it FOR NO REASON. I, foolishly, tried to homogenize the names in a way THAT NOBODY LOST ANYTHING (thanks to the shortcuts) but now I know better. Now, PLEASE leave this article's title alone (and those that I didn't change, too) and lets call this issue over, ok? —danakil 12:35, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

While I think it is better not to talk what is the best way to spend time since we are interested in contributing, I think I would have no problem in following the convention just like every one else and I don't think I am messing with titles but I am just fixing. My point is that no one should have any problem in following the convention, including me and you. As I said I know you are against the current convention and I have nothing against you trying to make the change in the convention. But that attempt ought not to invalidate the convention we have right now. -- Taku 12:47, Aug 19, 2004 (UTC)

Look. This is not a matter of me being against the convention, as NONE of my title changes remain, and I AM NOT MAKING ANY MORE OF THEM. But, you should understand that the Convention does not give you the right to go and remove ALL 'programming language' classifiers PARTICULARLY since there is an ONGOING debate about what's the best way to proceed. I DEFINITELY don't want to continue this conversation anymore, but KEEP in mind that if you change the article's names, I'll revert them back and immediately consult and administrator to settle this issue and LEAVE THINGS AS THEY WERE UNTIL a consensus resolution is obtained. Please act with wisdom. Have a good day. —danakil 12:56, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

What can I say. I have followed the convention and that is a problem?? True, you are against the convention but why does it prohibit me to follow the convention we have had?? Generally speaking, if there is some person who doesn't like some convention, then every one else cannot follow the convention? Just like everyone else, I follow the convention in contributing wikipedia. That is all. -- Taku 02:32, Aug 21, 2004 (UTC)

You know, the Wikipedia:Disambiguation page says that "For creating the specific topic pages, a few options are available. If there's an alternate name or more complete name that is equally clear, that can be used. For example, Java programming language, Titan rocket." So there's nothing wrong with naming articles with the programming language suffix.--ZeroOne 11:36, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Agreed, but the convention is always to use the most common name. We don't namespace articles unless there is a naming conflict. We don't go round adding 'person' to every article on a person, or 'car' to every article about a car. Thus, if there is no conflict over ALGOL, it should be at ALGOL. —Morven 21:19, Aug 27, 2004 (UTC)

Continued Discussion (heading for breaking up this long discussion)

The article should be named ALGOL following both Wikipedia conventions and common usage. Google gets 778 hits for Google Search: "ALGOL programming language". Changing the search to Google Search: ALGOL programming language without quotation marks (which means the words do not have to be together in a single phrase) gets 43,900 hits. Check some of the references found.
Note [Encyclopedia Britannica: ALGOL].
The "alternative" expression "ALGOL programming language" is not much used. I say expression because "ALGOL Programming Language" was never an even an unofficial name for ALGOL. "ALGOL Programming Language" is limited to part of all of a tile in a few articles and "ALGOL programing language" is only an expression in which the name "ALGOL" is used as an adjective, similar to expression like "roach motel" or "circus ring" or "UNICEF annual campaign".
Even if both Wikipedia conventions and general usage did not support the ALGOL as the name of common use, Danakil is also wrong in claiming that conventions are only for an article's so-called author. An early paragraph of [Wikipedia:Manual of Style] reads:

Clear, informative and unbiased writing is always more important than presentation and formatting. Writers are not required to follow all or any of these rules: the joy of wiki editing is that perfection is not required. Copy-editing wikipedians will refer to this manual when weeding, and pages will be gradually made to conform with this guide.

This makes is quite clear that copyediting is expected to be often done by someone other than the writer of an article and such copyediting by others is encouraged to bring an article into conformance with the Style Guide.
Danakil, in any case, is only one of many authors of this article, even if one who has made a number of recent contributions. Yet were he the main "author", at the bottom of the Wikipedia editing page a note in boldface says:

If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly and redistributed at will, do not submit it.

No one personally owns an article in Wikipedia. At any time a later editor may change any parts of an article, including the name, sometimes for standardization reasons. Debate may then occur. But even an original sole author of a single article has no special status in determining what changes should or should not be made to an article, including changes to its name. Nor can an administrator settle such an issue as this.
Also typing in capitals, shouting as it were, is considered impolite and bad etiquette here as elsewhere on the web. A courteous and judicious thing for Danakil to do would be to recognize that there is no virtue in wasting Dankil's time and others' time in supporting retention of a needlessly long heading for this article against both Wikipedia convention and general usage.
Jallan 01:06, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Programming languages

I think it would be good to have stricter standard on these naming conventions... "X programming language" as a caption is already a whole lot more informative than just "X". It also looks funny when some languages are just "X" and others "Y programming language". Since some Xs can be confused with a whole different X, "Y programming language" would be a nice and usable format. Moving a page doesn't take much and it creates an automatic redirect. We could also even setup a new wikiproject to standardize programming language articles and create new articles.

-ZeroOne 21:26, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The title is to identify something uniquely, not document it fully. To borrow an example I used a little while ago, we don't title the article Albert Einstein Homo sapiens sapiens just to make his species and subspecies clear, or William Jefferson Clinton United States of America President 1993 - 2001 just to be sure no one is confused about which one we have in mind. The articles should be shortest unambiguous, because that lets the most links work without piping or redirs, and minimizes the typing. The only purpose of having "X programming language" as a redir is that some writers don't really grok the WP conventions and feel compelled to write out " programming language" every time, even when it's totally obvious from context.
Now there are areas in which we pre-disambiguate, as in some cities and towns, and in fact that policy is perennially objected to, even though thousands of town names are ambiguous. Similarly, we pre-disambiguate for naval ship names (though not civilian) because almost every navy ship is named after something else in the encyclopedia. However, we never pre-disambiguate all articles in an area just because a small number are ambiguous; that's the kind of consistency argument that only a computer nerd would make (oh wait, this is a computer nerd topic :-) ). Stan 22:47, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)
"-- title is to identify something uniquely, not document it fully." Haha. :D What a full documentation that would be. Why do we need to write an article if we can just title it "C programming language"? And this do is a computer nerd topic. -ZeroOne 00:32, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I fully agree with ZeroOne above. Some specific issues:

  • The 'Category:Programming languages' used to include not only programming languages but all sorts of other beasts too: lists of prog langs, prog lang terms, programming concepts, etc. I have cleaned up that part, and the end result is that the 'Category:Programming languages' page now works very nicely as an automatically created dynamic alphabetical list of prog langs... one that avoids the complex problem of synchronization that the current 'List of ...' article has.
  • The current naming policy (which to me seems directed more at natural langs than prog langs) suggests doing the opposite of what's already the vast majority: most prog lang articles have used the 'programming language' classifier even if the language name was completely unambiguous.
  • The current naming policy confusingly suggests to create 'LanguageName programming language' and redirect this to 'LanguageName' ... what's the point? On the contrary, to have the main article named with the classifier and then redirecting from 'LanguageName' is useful to avoid the need of extra typing.
  • As has been suggested before, enclosing the 'programming language' classifier within parenthesis would let us avoid extra typing by using the pipe pattern .... And for those people who feel that 'LanguageName (programming language)' is rather unnatural compared to 'LanguageName programming language' it is always possible to set up a bot to create redirects from the former to the latter. Both sides could obtain what they want.
  • A good reason for having a standardized naming procedure for prog langs is that it permits all sorts of automated classifications, relations, lists,... and better searches. Automated categorization would be easy to do (think about the effect on the current situation where many prog lang articles are not categorized at all).
  • It does not look very professional to have: 'Arc language' and 'LotusScript programming language' and 'Perl' all side by side... ambiguities? Isn't Perl potentially ambiguous? Isn't LotusScript clearly unambiguous? Isn't there a possibility to have an fictional 'Arc language' in the near future and then having to confussingly disambiguate? How can an adequate policy be established on what constitutes or not a potentially ambiguous name?
  • Subcategories are currently underused. For example, isn't it the case that 'Non-English-based programming languages' works better now as a subcategory rather than an odd entry on the main category? In fact, with an judicious use of subcategories (say creating one 'Programming languages by paradigm, etc.) some of the remaining Lists of Prog Langs could perhaps also be spared with, replacing them with an automated, dynamic classification that, by its nature, allows multiple inheritance.

Also, IMO, the wikiproject mentioned would result in much higher quality of articles, mostly due to consistency (which sections should always be included? how should they be named?) but also for completeness and accuracy. It would help reduce/eliminate the problem of failing to categorize the prog lang articles. What's the procedure for setting up such wikiproject? I would gladly contribute to it. Thanks for taking the time reading this. Wish you all a good day.

danakil 22:35, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Why rename something because it's potentially ambiguous? That's just a waste of time - in fact it can be confusing because it suggests that there is something else to be ambiguous with, even if no such thing exists. Anyway, we already have a rule, which is that most common usage gets to "own" the unqualified name - London is always going to be the city in England, no matter how many other usages people invent. Readers decide quality on the basis of content, not article title - the primary uses of the title is for finding and linking, not to impress anybody. I'm not going to address category mangling here, Category:Programming languages has its own talk page. Stan 22:47, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I have never intended to suggest that you should rename something just because it is potentially ambiguous. The comments above seek to point out that the current lack of standardization has several deleterious effects: perceived informality|unprofessionalism among others, but most importantly: the inability to have automated&dynamic classification, categorization, lists of prog langs, cross referencing, etc. Furthermore, I am only suggesting standardization on the prog lang names topic... definitely not about city names...but, since you brought it up, I don't see any harm in having a city's main article be 'Cityname, Countryname' and have a 'Cityname' article redirected to it... what would the problem be? Having to see ", Countryname" in the article's title? Isn't that the way it would be listed in most encyclopaedias? and it would have the advantage that if, in the future, another article is created for a city named just the same... well then it would not be necessary to go and fix all links from the articles that previously pointed out the first one. But again, I'm only interested in how this applies to prog lang names and classification. — danakil 23:02, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Heh, try going to Talk:London and suggesting it be moved - the Brits will flame you into a tiny little pile of ashes, then the rest of the Europeans will start in. Check out Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (city names) to get a taste, and don't forget the six archives too! Dozens of noobs have brought it up. I still don't understand why you think that article titling is so crucial to automation that you have to violate the encyclopedia-wide standards. WP is based on a database, and article titles are just one of several data fields; queries based on title having "programming language" in it are going to be broken for "programming language semantics" and other general topics, broken in non-English WPs, broken for new articles not renamed, etc. (Working off the category's id is more plausible.) People have built huge infrastructure within WP, including automated tools, without having to tell people that they can only name articles a certain way. I think as you get more familiar with MediaWiki internals (you are studying those, right?), you'll see ways to do things that don't require these kinds of restrictions on article titles. Stan 23:28, 15 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Let's keep London out of this conversation, shall we? We are discussing programming languages. Stan, I was wondering if you are even trying or willing to understand danakil's points. What if "X programming language" was the reigning standard and someone wanted to change it to "X"? I bet you would defend that state as vigorously as you are defending the current standard. In a "democracy" like Wikipedia people must be able to question the existing norms and discuss them in a constructive atmosphere. And please provide me a link to those MediaWiki internals you are referring to! -ZeroOne 00:32, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
OK, first of all, touching someone else's text on talk pages, even with strikethroughs, is considered an evil deed, and can get you banned permanently if you're not careful. (You can redeem yourself by restoring our contributions to their original form.) Second, when discussing policy, it's totally legitimate to consider analogies; after all, this is a general encyclopedia, not of programming languages only, and as a result we prefer a style that is consistent across all 320,000+ articles - the couple hundred PL articles are just a tiny corner of the whole enterprise. Third, of course I'm going to defend the status quo if I think it's good; if you take the time to look at my thousands of edits, you'll see that I've argued for many policy changes, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Suggesting that I would take a position thoughtlessly is dangerously close to ad hominem - another way to get banned. Fourth, this discussion right here is exactly the resolution process we go through; be glad that I'm patient, unlike many other editors who would revert danakil's changes with no further comment. Right now I'm waiting to hear specifics of how danakil thinks nonstandard article titling is going to organize things; for my part I've had a hand in organizing projects that now include thousands of articles and are still growing, and sometimes titling in a certain way is useful, and other times not. There are ongoing discussions all over WP about this sort of thing; some people write more on talk pages than on articles even. Fifth, all the MediaWiki info is acessible via the "Community portal" link on every page - Wikipedia:MediaWiki is the starting point. Stan 03:16, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Fine, sorry, removed strike through. I just thought you clung to it too much. "City, Country" is in my humble opinion not analogous to "X programming language" because the latter part is variable in the first one and static in the second one. Danakil already gave you several points, the most important of which I think is that the current naming convention is not standard but varies between "foobar" and "fubar programming language". Since the first convention causes disambigs and then leads to the second one, the second one should be made the de facto standard. -ZeroOne 11:52, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
"variable" vs "static"? I don't even understand what you're trying to get at with that. Your second point, that we should use "X programming language" because some articles were erroneously named that way, is completely backwards; this is not MS Windows, where we have to pretend that mistakes are brilliant design decisions and make the whole world live with it. Instead, with the effort of a modest amount of article moving (2-3 hours of work maybe, because I habitually stop to copyedit), we can be consistent with the rest of the encyclopedia, instead of looking like weirdos because all the PL articles are done in a different way. Stan 17:06, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Variable: A string that can be either "England", "Germany", "Finland", "Sweden", "Japan" or any other country. Static: A string that is always "programming language". My point was not that all PL articles should be suffixed with "programming language" because some were erroneusly written that way, my point was that there should be the suffix because some were forced to be written that way due to disambiguation issues. -ZeroOne 19:09, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Variability depends on the scope of your view; ", Minnesota" is constant for all cities in Minnesota, while in the range of computing topics, some articles have "programming language" as a suffix, and some don't. Thinking about all this, it was probably a mistake for this policy to suggest adding the "language"/"programming language" qualifier for ambiguous cases, without the parens that have become standard elsewhere. There are a lot of things like this, leftovers from the early days of WP, or creations by newbies still unfamiliar with the encyclopedia; only recently was Civilization board game moved to Civilization (board game) for instance. I'm inclined to propose splitting the rules for human languages and programming languages, since they tend to be used in different ways; refs to human language occur throughout, to explain multilingual terms, while PL refs are pretty much limited to the computing area, so less need to be longwinded about what "Python" must mean. Stan 20:43, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Parentheses would make it more obvious that it's not a standard but a way to separate disambiguation pages. Some admin with a bot could probably easily change all "X programming language" to "X (programming language)". I see you are suggesting splitting natural and programming language naming conventions. Have you already got an idea of the new conventions then? -ZeroOne 23:35, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Not much more than I've said already, it's just having both of these on one policy page gives the impression that they have to be the same or similar. Stan 03:55, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

It does not look very professional to have: 'Arc language' and 'LotusScript programming language' and 'Perl' all side by side... ambiguities? Isn't Perl potentially ambiguous? Isn't LotusScript clearly unambiguous? Isn't there a possibility to have an fictional 'Arc language' in the near future and then having to confussingly disambiguate? How can an adequate policy be established on what constitutes or not a potentially ambiguous name?

To address this specific point: the LotusScript article was mistitled, and I have fixed it. Unsurprisingly, not one reference to it used the full phrase in the text. Thanks for the heads up. I would argue that BASIC is also unambiguous because of its capitalization, but that's a little more sketchy.
As for Perl, no it is not ambiguous. What else could it refer to except maybe someone's last name? That person's article would have their full name as a title. Pearl is another matter. Remember that the important thing is not that an article name is totally unambiguous but that it is overwhelmingly the dominant meaning among potential articles (see the Poker example on Wikipedia: Disambiguation). It would take some doing for some other Perl to become so much as a shadow to this one. I see it's been moved, but I won't move it back to avoid flames.
As for Arc language, I prefer the programming language suffix, but if this is what Arc people use, then that's fine. If it might become potentially ambiguous in the future, to the point where this is no longer overwhelmingly the dominant meaning, then we'll update it then. Wikipedia changes quickly, and there's nothing "confusing" about making updates when updates are needed (see the history of Hurricane Charley).
Derrick Coetzee 04:49, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

My opinion:

  1. The language or programming language suffix should only be used where the name alone does not refer overwhelmingly to the programming language.
  2. If the suffix is used, the name alone should be a disambiguation page, even if it only contains one item. More are likely to be added.
  3. For those not using the suffix, the suffixed version should be a redirect. This makes things work for editors who get used to putting suffixes on everything.
  4. No parenthesized suffixes. The disambiguation policy is clear that more specific names should be used wherever possible. I agree, for several reasons, but mainly because this allows phrase links (as in, "as seen in the Java programming language", a sentence you might find in an article not primarily about programming.)

Derrick Coetzee 03:27, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I haven't looked at the official disambig policy in a while actually - I think that the "use more specific name" rule is falling by the wayside, at least in part because there is software support for the paren form. For instance, one of the examples listed, Titan rocket, is now a redir to Titan (rocket family), heh-heh. The rule is also too subjective, in that people get into arguments about whether "Java language" is more or less natural than "Java programming language" - the paren rule is just "exact proper name outside the parens, disambiguator inside", very algorithmic. Stan 03:55, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)
This isn't really the place for a debate about disambiguation suffixes, but I think phrase-linking is very important. When you have the opportunity to link a phrase, it not only involves a lot less typing and easier maintenance for the editor (compare [[Java (programming language)|Java programming language]] to [[Java programming language]]), but it also serves as disambiguation for the reader, which we don't always do enough of (shortened names should really only be used in a clear context). Parenthesized tags should be preferred when there is no common, specific phrase for the topic.
Also, don't forget the principle of accidental linking. If someone puts brackets around a phrase which is reasonably common in practice, they should expect to get a link to that thing. Article names should be accidentally-linkable wherever possible; using a redirect for this purpose obscures the relevence of the link ("is that the page I really meant?")
Besides that, there's no standard set of parenthesized tags, which seriously deteriorates its "algorithmic" nature, and gives it the same problems with subjectivity which you describe. I've seen (computer science), (computing), (programming), and many more general and specific parenthesized tags. Other subjects have similar issues.Derrick Coetzee 04:33, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I brought it up on Wikipedia talk:Disambiguation and the one response so far points out that the policy doesn't really read as strongly as "more specific names should be used wherever possible" - it just says "can be used". There's really no need for the set of parenthesized tags to be standardized - they would serve their primary purpose if they were just "1", "2", etc - but in practice people tend to gravitate towards a common set (category listings have become very helpful that way, the oddballs stand out), so I think that's a non-problem. In any case, I'd say your preference for phrase-linking is not necessarily bad, but empirically it's the exception rather than the rule, and becoming less common all the time. Stan 05:37, 17 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Fizzled discussion?

Does nobody have anything further to say? The chief rationales I see for changing the rule to always have " programming language" are uniformity, which to me doesn't seem any more crucial here than in the rest of WP, and possibility of automated processing of some undefined sort, which I claim is better supported via category system anyhow. Since we assume forms of reference will be available via redirect, this is more of an issue of article titling rather than making links work. Without compelling rationales and/or hordes of angry editors insisting on a change :-), the convention will remain as-is. Stan 06:20, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Let us consider a very specific example, the article at AppleScript programming language. In the first place, there is no ambiguity: nothing else in history has ever been called AppleScript. Secondly, almost no one in the AppleScript community, not the language's designers, implementers, third-party developers, or its users would ever think to call AppleScript a "programming language." It is the ultimate "glue" language, and therefore is in most people's minds very much a "scripting language." And of course, there is the controversy over calling a language either "scripting" or "programming," a controversy that simply doesn't need to be a part of the article's title, ie: why open a can of worms when you don't have to? AdmN 07:07, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • nothing else in history has ever been called... certainly not in the past, but you can't possibly be certain about the future (Ok, perhaps in this particular case, but what about 'Gambas', 'Groovy', etc). would ever think to call AppleScript a "programming language"... if you program/script something, then you use a programming/scripting language to do it, even if it doesn't look like Pascal or C (the reason why people won't usually call AppleScript a 'prog lang' is because the default connotation for 'prog lang' is that of a general-purpose prog lang such as the ones mentioned.
The reason I had quitted this discussion is that it became obvious to me that there is a lot of emotionality involved in the issue and nobody ever wins such discussions. It is often just a waste of time. When I first heard of Wikipedia, my first reaction was to question whether the model that clearly works so well for developing complex software would also work for developing complex content... see, with software is relatively easy to settle dispute: each one of supporters of a confronting point-of-view implement their solutions and then it is simpley a matter to see which one works better (i.e., faster, more stable, whatever). But... how to achieve the same regarding content? Nevertheless, since you bring it up again, here are the pros of a name homegenization:
  • it becomes possible to perform automated tasks on ALL programming language articles (categories don't work here, for there is not a wholly encompassing prog lang category, and for good reason). This would be very useful.
  • whenver one is to search for a prog lang for the first time, he/she can type LanguageName programming language and be certainthat, if the language is known to Wikipedia, it will be returned with that query.
  • uniformity, yes. It is very hard to explain to new people that it makes sense to have Perl alongside Lisp programming language, and son on.
  • we avoid the need to go and fix a whole bunch of references when the original name for the article becomes a disambiguation page.
  • NOTHING is lost for those who cherish their LanguageName articles since, as long as the name is not ambiguous, a redirection link from LanguageName to LanguageName programming language will exist... so there'll be no need for any extra typing.
  • IF we can confidently assume that all prog lang articles have the programming language classifier (see first point above), then any sysop can create LanguageName (programming language) redirection shortcuts to LanguageName programming language overnight and, suddenly, it becomes possible to use the pipe ... pattern in the text, instead of having to constantly spell out [LanguageName programming language|LanguageName] as it is now needed (there will always be a need for some programming language classified articles, whether or not the convention stays).
  • no need to keep trying remember if such and such prog lang has the programming language classifier or not... It is ironical that many references to LanguageName prog lang articles are done as [LanguageName programming language|LanguageName] in source texts... possibly because whoever wrote it could not remember what was the case for that particular language.
  • as wikipedia grows, more and more sections of its content will undoubtedly begin to develop standards and conventions, and prog langs won't be the exception, no matter how badly some guy or another wants to continue seeing "Perl" instead of "Perl, programming language" when opening the Perl programming language article. So, we might as well begin standardizing now... it seems to be quite clear to more than a few that the prog lang articles (including prog lang itself) are reaching the state of a tangled mess.
In conclusion: we would end up typing less with the programming language classifier convention than with the current one. Furthermore, there would be no perceivable effect for those who prefer to stick referring to their favourite prog lang articles as LanguageName ... In other words: all advantages and no disadvantages (except for the work to be done chaning the names and fixing the refs, which I'm willing to do, if no one else). — danakil 07:42, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Hmm... but does using a part of the article's name as a classifier actually do a good job of assisting in those things that you say you want to do, such as auto-generating cross-references, etc. For instance, we might have an article "tomato (food)," but this isn't going to help us autogenerate a list of fruits or vegtables, (a tomato belongs to both groups, in different contexts). Here's a better solution: add a new tab... (er, you know, like the "history" and "move" tabs at the top of the page) called "catagories." When the author, (or anyone), clicks there, they get a page full of checkboxes, oh, I don't know, like 50 to 100 of the most common ways in which something can be catagorized. The user could then check the boxes she feels are appropriate. Like anything else on Wikipedia, vandalism would be quickly corrected, and it would allow for a standard set of catagories to choose from. In cases where the author felt no current catagory applied, she could check an "other" box, and enter her proposal for a new catagory. Um... so what do people think? AdmN 08:11, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Notice how you are only addressing one point out of the eight that I brought up as pros. So, even if your counterpoint were strong, somebody (if not you) would still have to throw down all the others just to leave the issue as a tie between the current convention and the proposed homogenization. Anyway, the answer to your point is yes, it definitely is useful (your tomato example notwithstanding). Give you two simple examples that I could use right now, at this very moment: (please refer to Category:Programming languages for details) a) ALL programming languages must be either Category:Imperative programming languages OR Category:Declarative programming languages, how can we run a simple bot now that reports just which languages are not so classified at this moment? b) since you're considering modifications to the wikipedia interface, then think about this one: whenever somebody begins writing an article entitled LanguageName programming language, wikipedia will immediately ensure that the correct categorization options appear in the tab window you mention, so that the editor can select oo lang vs funct lang and so on... Again, I feel strongly compelled to ask you the question... in which possible manner does á convention requiring the base article to be named following the [LangName programming language] pattern affects you? Remember: you'll still have the [LanguageName] shortcut PLUS the [LanguageName (programming language)] shortcut too. Ican not help but to be convinced that this is an emotional, rather than a rational issue. — danakil 08:28, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"Notice how you are only addressing one point out of the eight"
I apologize. Despite that fact that it is now 4:40 in the morning, I am going to individually address each of your points.
  • And I'll reply once more only in consideration of the trouble you took to reply, but then I'll be out of this discussion for good, as it has now been accepted by Stan,AdmN that this is an emotional issue after all... and only fools argue over those. —danakil
"...perform automated takes on ALL programming language articles...." I simply don't see how using a controversial classifier name will assist in automation any better than an actual and formal system of assigning catagory(s) attributes to articles.
  • Look, you will be hard pressed to find somebody more in pro of extensive categorization than me (please refer to my work on Category:Programming languages, but you are missing the point here: as User:ZeroOne correctly points out below, the base name of the article is an important tool of classification in certain contexts, such as when one performs a searh and gets a long list of results. And programming language as classifier seems to me to be controversial for one long time editor/sysop and not many more.—danakil
"...he/she can type LanguageName programming language...returned with that query." This presupposes that users of Wikipedia would be intimately knowledgeable with whatever standards WP sets up. I can assure you, someone coming to WP for the first time would type "X" not "X programming language." So the issue is having a convenience for those who are already familiar with Wiki-ways... but of course, such people would already be aware of redirects, disambiguation pages, the lists of programming languages, the categories of programming languages, etc.
  • PRECISELY what I said: with the classifier scheme users (both newbies and oldies) can either type X or X programming language. Again: the programming language classifier scheme cum redirects is not less convenient than the current mess in any case for anybody. You get the best of both schemes.—danakil
"uniformity... hard to explain ... that it makes sense to have Perl alongside Lisp programming language." Harder than to explain why languages that have the word "script" in their name are classified as "programming" rather than "scripting?" Note: I'm not suggesting the form "X scripting..." either, I'm saying it's better to try to avoid the issue altogether from an article's title.
  • No. It is not harder. JavaScript has the word right in there and nobody would argue for calling it a scripting language instead of a programming language ('scripting language' is used in conjunction with 'prog lang' in this case).—danakil
"...avoid the need to go and fix a whole bunch of references...." True.
  • Glad you reognize this. Well, if the rest of the classifier scheme is at least not less convenient than the current mess, one advantage like this should be enough to adopt it. —danakil
"as wikipedia grows, ...begin to develop standards and conventions...." It seems to me that the standards and conventions should be primarily interested in assisting those who are trying to look things up, and not be biased in favor of those trying to write the articles, ie: if occasionally having to "go and fix a whole bunch of references" makes WP more intuative/pleasent/easier for the researchers who use it, then that's what we should do.
  • Again: Please study the issue before commenting on it: there is no way at all that a prog lang classifier scheme cum redirects is less convenient for querying. On the contrary, it is more convenient for it is a superset of the current mess.—danakil
"we would end up typing less..." Who would end up typing less? The article authors, or the article readers? (I know that they can be the same people, I'm just separating the tasks).

"the work to be done chaning the names and fixing the refs, which I'm willing to do" In fact, you appear to be doing just that without a consensus that it is the appropriate thing to do.
  • NO. I made that mistake once, it is now corrected and I have now refrained from changing the names. On the contrary, I have an ongoing disagreement with User:TakuyaMurata who is currently changing the existing prog lang articles from the 'X programming language' format to 'X', even though they were originally named with the classifier by some knowledgeable editor. —danakil

Danakil, I want to apologize for the above assertion. I saw you moving a number of pages last night, in a way that seemed to me to violate this article's current recommendations, but I can see that the issue is far more complex than that, sorry. AdmN 21:29, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • Not a problem, AdmN. I'm glad we've had a chance to discuss some topics that interest both of us, and I will take the opportunity to ask for your opinion on how to improve Category:Scripting languages which is currently not well defined. Wish you a good day (and a return to your pre-WP sleep patterns ;-)) — danakil 21:47, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

"I can not help but to be convinced that this is an emotional, rather than a rational issue." Of course it is, that was my whole point from the beginning. That was what I meant by opening a can of worms. Consider: it would be inappropriate to create an article called "Albert Einstein (Jew)", despite the fact that 1) it is a factual classifier, and 2) it would allow us to auto-generate lists of Jewish people, etc. Regardless of the rational usefulness, people could get pretty emotional about it.
  • Bad analogy: first, 'Albert Einstein' is very likely to remain unique whereas Gambas is certainly not; second, the defining thing about Einstein is not tha he was 'Jew', whereas the defining thing for 'PL/I' is that it was a 'programming language'. Now you are yourself confusing the naming issue with the adequate domain of categorizations.—danakil
Wow... now it's 5:20 in the morning... this Wiki thing isn't going to be very good for my sleep patterns.... ;-) AdmN 09:24, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

How's this for a pro-programming language-suffix argument: When browsing some Wikipedia-list like Recent changes or Category:Stub the suffix programming language in the article name would quickly draw the attention of those who are interested in programming languages and repel those who aren't so that they wouldn't waste their time clicking links they won't find interesting. Besides, how does something like doublefuck look in a generic list or category like above? Wouldn't doublefuck programming language look a lot less obscene? ;P --ZeroOne 12:21, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

OK, let's see if I can address some accumulated points:

  • "this is an emotional, rather than a rational issue" - I would rephrase slightly as "stylistic, rather than a factual issue", to which case the answer is "well, yeah". As the title of this page says, this is just a convention that we use to improve consistency and predictability. WP has to express some kind of preference, since articles can only have one title. How to title programming language articles is actually a rather minor dispute compared to, say, the contention over Gdansk vs Danzig, where German and Polish partisans scream at each other about the numbers of their family members who were killed by the other side in WWII and afterwards.
  • "possible to perform automated tasks" - I keep asking about these automated tasks, and get nothing specific. I'm reluctant to change a standard that's been in place for a long time just because a new person says he wants to write automated tools. Just to be brutally candid, a large percentage of editors lose interest and move on after a month or two, leaving us longtimers to clean up afterwards, which we do because we're wikipediholic. :-) If you brought this up after six months of activity and said "I have this script that will run all the examples from programming language articles to check them for correctness", that would be more compelling (although probably we would just create a special flat list or category consisting of the languages the script is able to test).
    • ...get nothing specific: Why isn't the example I gave above about ensuring exhaustive dichotomous classification specific enough for you? Just to be brutally candid: I don't think the amount of work of the majority of new editors in their first three weeks compares to mine: I intend to be a presence in Wikipedia for a long time.—danakil
      • Perhaps a specific proposal got lost in the verbiage? If you could put it at the bottom in its own section, that will help me find it. Stan 21:01, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • The redirection/typing arguments carry little weight, because all the redirects should have existed in the first place. That they don't was simply a mistake. So titling doesn't much matter to editors referring to languages from articles - whatever they think of doing should work, and end up in the same place.
    • So you agree that both schemes produce the same, if the prog lang classifier scheme has at least one other advantage, the rational thing is to adopt it. But of course, we are not talking about a rational issue here, right?... —danakil
      • For references from articles, yes, all schemes are basically equal; for other considerations, they're not. Stan 21:01, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • The pre-disambiguation argument would be stronger if there were very many ambiguously-named programming languages. Compared to WP as a whole (and with 11,000 articles on my personal watchlist, I feel confident to speak for the whole), PL stuff is a tiny little corner, and the number of ambiguous names is even smaller. We can also tell if ambiguity problems are going to exist - for instance, we already have articles or mentions of every large city in the world - if none of them are named "Perl", then it's pretty much guaranteed there won't be a new large city of that name within our lifetimes. If there's a small village in Bulgaria of that name, then it's guaranteed its article will be "Perl, Bulgaria". We are so practiced in this area we have a whole policy page and software support as well, and I just don't hear the disambiguation specialists saying "those programming language articles are getting in the way all over the place".
    • Due to the type of people that are usually first attracted to Wikipedia, Programming languages is certainly not a minor topic. —danakil

I've got more, but it's time for breakfast, back later. Stan 14:01, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

OK, finishing up:

  • "it is very hard to explain to new people that it makes sense to have Perl alongside Lisp programming language" - who are the actual people that have actually had a hard time understanding this sort of thing? 15 minutes with WP will show any newbie that a lot of simple words and terms, such as lisp, have multiple meanings; I suppose a six-year-old might find it confusing, but we don't write for that level anyway.
    • If you fail to see that, ceteris paribus, a consistent naming scheme is an advantage over an inconsistent one, then there is no way I have a chance to convince you on this matter. —danakil
      • It's inconsistent with the rest of WP, so it's not actually a consistent naming scheme. Stan 21:01, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • "[LanguageName programming language|LanguageName]" - those almost certainly exist because the article was at the longer name at some point, and somebody "fixed" it to link directly instead of through redir. Few would be so perverse as to type in the longer name when the shorter one was available and unambiguous.
    • This has nothing to do with being perverse, it has to do only with being able or not to recall what's the case for the particular language in question.
      • I just type the name, don't think about it much. Other editors, or myself at times, go through links to disambig pages and fix them up, often with the help of scripts. Maybe a big problem to you, but not to anybody else. Stan 21:01, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • "doublefuck programming language" vs "doublefuck" - there's no offensiveness issue involved. In fact, "doublefuck" by itself will garner more interest from the curious. Of course, with such a trivial language, the interest might be unwelcome, since a reading of the article shows it not to be encyclopedia-worthy, while nonexperts see the "programming language" and assume it's something to be taken seriously. That suggests an argument against adding "programming language" routinely, because it could be used as a subterfuge to sneak valueless material by VfD.
    • "doublefuck" by itself will garner more interest from the curious ???? where??... let's see, on a list of results of a search? you mean that somebody who is not looking for that esoteric prog lang will be happy to go into that link thinking that's some sort of dark sex page? sneak valueless material by using a classifier? Whether or not this could happen, you're missing the point that the current scheme requires classifiers in those cases where there is ambiguity. So you can not use the 'classifier is prone to sneaking worthless content' argument against the classifier progposal.— danakil 20:00, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
      • Very few programming language names are ambiguous though, so adding "programming language" will be the exception rather than the rule. And yes, people who scan New pages are more likely to look at unusually-named pages.

So I'll boil the issue down to a single question: do the claimed advantages of going against Wikipedia-wide standards justify the divergence from the rest of the encyclopedia? That should be a pretty high bar, and the arguments I've seen so far just don't seem to reach up to it. Stan 15:49, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

    • divergence from the rest of the encyclopedia? First, it is not clear that classifier schemes are not currently being used in a more consistent manner (remember: they are being used now in the prog langs section, just not required for all entries) in some other WP places. Second, there are good reasons to have different standards for certain areas: think about Philosophy articles, where the reference to source is mandatory. Well, this does it for me. It has been an interesting discussion but now I'm out of it, as it seems that I'm arguing about an emotional issue with the precise people who make the rules and decide the outcome. Not a level playing field. Wish you all a nice day. — danakil 20:00, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
      • Does that mean you're bowing out then? If so, then that would mean the issue is no longer in dispute and editors are free to move things to their shortest names if they're so inclined, and administrators are free to protect pages if you subsequently insist on moving them to nonstandard titles. Stan 21:01, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
          • It means that I do not see this discussion moving forward in any productive manner. As long as those editors you talk about take care of making sure that 'X programming language' and 'X (programming language)' redirects exist to the 'X' prog lang articles , it won't really matter. However, in cases such as User:TakuyaMurata who seems to have suddenly developed a pressing need to go and change all existing 'X programming language' articles (with which I had nothing to do) but fails to carefully correct the double redirects and occassionally leaves the corresponding talk pages split in two, then I will still have an issue, as such behavior is clearly perjudicial to WP (this is already the opinion of a WP bureaucrat,by the way). I won't subsequently insist on moving articles to non-standard titles, but remind you that if you count the existing articles, the standard is the use of classifiers: any other definiton of standard is, as you would probably say, perverse. No matter what comes out of this discussion, sooner or later WP will require that prog lang articles be titled 'X programming language' (again, I can't help but reminding those confused souls that this does not imply that people have to type the whole classified name anywhere, there will always be the redirects available in those cases where they were available as short names in the current scheme). It's just a matter of time. — danakil 21:24, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

This issue now having gotten my attention, I'm certainly willing and able to finish the job of moving everything to the correct titles per the existing naming convention (what the convention says is what matters, not how the articles happen to be titled at this moment), plus fix all the links. I'm a language expert after all, I should be spending more time on those than on beetles and batfish and battleships anyway. :-) It's not necessarily a bad idea to go along with the existing policy, and reraise the issue six months later; a couple times I've been lucky enough to have had my opponents disappear in the interim. You could always ask for a vote, but it's risky; anything less than a 2/3-3/4 majority is generally considered insufficient to warrant a change, and makes it harder to pitch a policy change later. Stan 21:52, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Incidentally, the "sudden pressing need to go change a bunch of articles" is a common phenomenon around here - my immediate reaction when I saw the couple of moves on my watchlist was "oh sh*t, I completely forgot about finishing up those redirs". That kind of thing is attributable more to guilty conscience than nefarious intent, and to a sort of encyclopedist's ADD, where we spend an hour cleaning up some anon's badly-written new article, and then another hour making all link better, then an hour arguing policy somehwere :-) and so on, eventually losing track of the original activity. Stan 22:06, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

  • I disagree that such explanation fits User:TakuyaMurata's behavior in this case. Well, as I said above, I'm conditionally out of this issue. And I am much happier having you changing the names instead of User:TakuyaMurata, as you'll very likely be careful with double redirects and, being a knowledgeable sysop, you are also able to automatically create the 'X programming language' and 'X (programming language)' redirects that are needed to make all factions happy. Wish you a nice weekend, Stan. — danakil 22:10, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm going to let the issue sit for a day or two, give ZeroOne another chance to weigh in on what he wants to do next. Stan 22:30, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I'll just address my last point and then.. well, I guess it's an "If you can't beat them, join them" -situation. I wrote: "When browsing some Wikipedia-list like Recent changes or Category:Stub the suffix programming language in the article name would quickly draw the attention of those who are interested in programming languages and repel those who aren't". I am constantly puzzled by the article names I see in those lists. For example, in the current list of recent changes there are names like Keystone B-3, Ulema, Zazaki and Flatland. What are those? There's no way to know that unless you look into each of them. The suffix "programming language" would greatly help at least in recognizing those, reducing the number of users who get puzzled with the names. I wouldn't mind if it became a Wikipedia-wide standard to name more articles even better, like by adding the country name. The old names would stay as redirects. --ZeroOne 22:46, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
It occurs to me that it would be relatively easy to find and display the articles' categories in those kinds of lists. I never know if "Joe Blow" is a Senegalese boxer or what. Articles showing up without cats are obvious, invites the energetic to categorize. Stan 23:44, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I thought about that myself too. It would be great. And perhaps, if that wouldn't create too much load for the servers, the categories could also be shown in the title-attribute of all the links. You probably know where these kind of technical ideas can be put forward so please do that. :) --ZeroOne 23:56, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

So, for what it's worth, having immersed myself into the issues involved, I'm now thinking that "X programming language" doesn't present any real problems for me. Signing off... AdmN (homo sapiens sapiens who frequently changes his mind). AdmN 02:01, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Proposed addition

Wikipedia practice is to pluralize articles on language families. This practice is already covered at some places in our naming conventions; for example, language families are mentioned as a common exception to the rule at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals). The rationale is that this is a case in which the term is always in a plural form in English. Anyone ever heard about 'the African language' or 'the Indo-European language'? I propose to be clear about this and to add the following to this convention:

Language families and groups of languages are pluralized. Thus, Niger-Congo languages rather than 'Niger-Congo language', and Sino-Tibetan languages rather than 'Sino-Tibetan language'. In most cases, a redirect from the singular to the plural title is not needed, as normal English usage of the term is always plural. There are even cases where a redirect would be incorrect; compare Kalenjin languages and Kalenjin language.

Any thoughts? Improved wordings? Additions? — mark 30 June 2005 12:08 (UTC)

This seems like good common sense, Mark. Sino-Tibetan language makes sense in English if we understand language as refering to means of communication. However, our usual understanding is that a language is one particular form of such communication, and, thus, languages makes more sense. Setting up redirects from the singular to the plural form as we go our wiki-way is useful in preventing someone reinventing a page, broken links and new-page vandalism. It's good you've spotted the, albeit rare, occassion when the name of a language group is the same as that of one language. I wonder if there are any exceptions to this rule: when languages isn't appropriate. I can't think of any. Good stuff. --Gareth Hughes 30 June 2005 12:35 (UTC)
I think the issue isn't so much "XX languages"/"XX language" but rather "XX languages"/"XX language family". The latter isn't used at all, but I do think it's an issue of sorts. However, it wouldn't work well for "Palaeo-Siberian languages" -> "Palaeo-Siberian language family"... ---Node 30 June 2005 16:15 (UTC)
"XXX language family" just looks cumbersome and forced to me. The plural seems to be the most logical and practical to me.
Peter Isotalo July 1, 2005 09:57 (UTC)
I can understand that in certain circumstances it may be preferable to use the title X language family, but this takes us onto the rocky ground of language classification. The words family, sub-family, group and sub-group are variously used to indicate a hierarchy of classification. A good number of classification theories are disputed. Therefore, X languages simply tells us that the article is about languages that can collectively be called X. Basically, I'm saying that the shorter name introduces some useful fuzziness in our definition - it's far easier to let the article deal with disputations and theories than the article title. --Gareth Hughes 1 July 2005 12:59 (UTC)
This is where I stand, for the record. --Merovingian (t) (c) July 1, 2005 15:15 (UTC)
a special case was Greek languages, because in the case of Greek it is customary to speak of Greek dialects. Otherwise, I suppose this is just a corollary of "common use" make "X language family" a redirect, and do disambiguation only in cases where the singular is a different article, as in Greek language. dab () 1 July 2005 15:52 (UTC)
hi. this is ok with me.
as mentioned above, there is a problematic ambiguity in certain cases of xxx language and xxx languages referring to different things. this is not so good, i think. so, restricting the singular to a single language & the plural to more than one language would prevent and additionally it seems to be rather intuitive.
i do note that xxx languages is ambiguous in that it could refer to either a genetic grouping (that may or may not be controversial) or another type of grouping, such as areal or cultural or typological or something else. regarding genetic groupings, there are, after all, two things that can be referred to, namely, the language family or the individual members of the language family. Wikipedia has so far used xxx languages to refer to any grouping (this statement is provisional in that i havent carefully examined the consistency of this practice). so, either we can continue this as before or be very explicit and change every article to xxx language family. then, we can leave xxx languages for other types of groupings (even though that the exact relationships in these articles would remain ambiguous). but, any article about a genetic language family will most probably make reference to its individual language members. so... on a practical note, we would have to type all of this every time we wanted to link to these articles, so... maybe we can live with this ambiguity. (however, we shouldnt live with the xxx language/xxx languages ambiguity since it is a bit worse, i think). peace – ishwar  (speak) 2005 July 1 21:13 (UTC)
by the way, why doesnt someone check out the way other encyclopedias do things? sometimes it is nice if certain writing genres are comfortably uniform, i.e. do we want wikipedia to be an oddball? (i'm not saying that it is). peace – ishwar  (speak) 2005 July 1 21:22 (UTC)
I actually did check that, and XXX languages is by far the most common way other encyclopedias handle this, which is another reason why I would argue for us putting it in our naming conventions. As Gareth and you point out, XXX languages leaves the actual nature of the grouping (genetic or geographic) an open question, and I regard that as an important advantage. XXX language family is really too cumbersome and is bound to get us into problems as far as controversial groupings are concerned. — mark 1 July 2005 23:51 (UTC)

Thank you all for tuning in. Our discussion seems to confirm my view that Wikipedia practice as it stands now already is the most intuitive and practical way to handle this, and that nothing stands in the way of updating the naming conventions accordingly. Does anyone have comments on the wording of my proposal and the choice of examples? — mark 1 July 2005 23:51 (UTC)

I have updated the relevant pages of our Naming Conventions. — mark 3 July 2005 10:01 (UTC)

I guess I'm too late to contribute to this discussion, but I would like to point out that people do say "the Indo-European language" to mean "the Proto-Indo-European language", and that while people may rarely say "the Celtic language", articles do sometimes have sentences like "Irish is a Celtic language" and it would be nice to format that as "Irish is a [[Celtic language]]" rather than "Irish is a [[Celtic languages|Celtic language]]" all the time. --Angr/tɔk mi 6 July 2005 14:56 (UTC)

Isn't that what redirects are for?
Peter Isotalo July 6, 2005 19:41 (UTC)
Volta-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Bantoid are a few redirects I made back when piped links didn't work in tables; I do like those more than redirects like Volta-Congo language etc., mainly because I only link the 'Volta-Congo' part when saying things like "X is a Volta-Congo language". Angr, you are right, it's a bit tedious to wikilink those things right now — but I don't think we should let that influence our naming conventions. — mark 6 July 2005 21:14 (UTC)
Redirects may work for some of them, but [[Celtic]] doesn't a redirect to [[Celtic languages]], it redirects to [[Celtic (disambiguation)]], which lets you know that in addition to the people and their languages, there are also sports teams called Celtic or The Celtics. [[Celtic language]] redirects to [[Celtic languages]], though, so I guess I could use that. --Angr/tɔk mi 7 July 2005 06:49 (UTC)

Programming language suffix

I was surprised to find that this naming convention appears to mandate the use of the suffix programming language for disambiguation (à la Scheme programming language, SML programming language etc.). I had assumed that on Wikipedia the usage of a parenthesed suffix (à la Scheme (programming language) and SML (programming language)) was standard for disambiguation. Even more surprising, the naming convention appears to mandate the creation of redirect pages using the parenthesed suffix?? -- Tobias Bergemann 20:38, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

Oh, dear. After browsing the (archived) discussions at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (languages)/Archive 2 I am not sure I really want to open that can of worms again. Nevermind. -- Tobias Bergemann 20:49, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

language varieties and groups thereof

I find the naming conventions for languages not to be very helpful, since they don't mention varieties at all.

Take for instance German varieties found in the family tree of the article West Germanic languages: We find the following schemes being used for subgroups of languages (I'm referring to the actual names of the articles, not to the names used on the page):

  1. XXX, for instance Austro-Bavarian
  2. XXX language, for instance Alemannic language
  3. XXX [parent language name], for instance High German
  4. XXX [parent language name] language, for instance Central German language
  5. XXX [parent language name] languages, for instance Upper German languages

In the same family tree, the following schemes are used for individual varieties:

  1. XXX, for instance Wymysojer (what's that?)
  2. XXX language, for instance Limburgish language
  3. XXX dialect, for instance Silesian dialect
  4. XXX [parent language], for instance Basel German
  5. XXX [parent language] language, for instance Pennsylvania German language

With regards to varieties of the English language, there is luckily less confusion of naming schemes, the de facto standard seemingly being XXX [parent language] (that is, XXX English), both for subgroups and for individual varieties, as can be seen on the pages linked on the List of dialects of the English language. There are very few exceptions that use the scheme XXX, such as Received pronunciation (most of the XXX schemes, however, don't link to varieties of English, but to regions or ethnic groups, such as Dorset or Cockney). I have not found any English variety or group of varieties whose naming scheme would include language(s) or dialect(s), which makes a sharp contrast to the varieties of German discussed above.

I favour the de facto naming standard for English varieties and groups of varieties, XXX [parent language]. There are several advantages of the scheme XXX [parent language]:

  • It avoids the delicate term dialect.
  • It does not distinguish between a group of varieties and an individual variety, which is in most cases a question of interpretation (Southern American English can be referred to either as a group of varieties or as a special variety).
  • It specifies at once what language the variety belongs to.

Of course, varieties that are being used as standard languages of their own right should be named according to the existing scheme XXX language, for instance Luxembourgish language or Yiddish language. -- j. 'mach' wust | 11:25, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

These are some good points. I would support the scheme XXX parent (i.e. Standard Yoruba, Anlo Ewe) for language varieties and I think it is a good idea to add something to the conventions to this effect. — mark 07:52, 7 October 2005 (UTC)


The convention says nothing about dialects. Every so often someone wants to rename 'X language' to 'X dialect' for the reason that it is not 'a language in its own right'. I find the use of an absolute definition of 'dialect' impossible, and so would advise that we simply do not use the word in article titles. Does anyone else want a statement to this effect added to the convention? --Gareth Hughes 16:41, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

In my opinion, there is a wide and substantiated agreement on numerous varieties to be varieties of another language. I consider this ought to be reflected on Wikipedia; we shouldn't just lump everything together as languages. I admit I certainly have a bias on one hand as linguist of–on the other hand—a language with very marked regional variance (German).
I understand that the term dialect is very problematic, and that's the reason why I've proposed above the naming scheme "XXX [parent language]", for instance Estuary English or Bernese German. -- j. 'mach' wust | 17:46, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Speaking in my capacity as a student of Linguistics, I can safely assure you that there is no linguistic criteria for distinguishing between a language and a dialect. See my user page for some quotes. :) - FrancisTyers 23:59, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

Speaking in my capacity as a student of Linguistics, I can safely assure that certain varieties are classified by their speakers as dialects of a certain language. Likewise, there are plenty of Wikipedia articles that contain the word "dialect" in their title. For sure, there cannot be a clearcut definition for the distinction between dialects and languages, but you can research why certain varieties are considered dialects. ― j. 'mach' wust | 15:11, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

Why is "language" suffix rather than standard disambiguation?

Why is the convention/guideline for languages to use the suffix language without parenthesis, rather than the WP standard disambiguation specified in a parenthetic remark? To make this guideline more in line with common widespread Wikipedia standards, how about changing this guideline accordingly? That would including making changes such as the following:

Thoughts/comments? --Serge 22:40, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

It's mostly based on how other encyclopedias name their langauge articles and because it's more intuitive to link to them without having to pipe it. I don't see the merit in changing a simple standard into a more complicated one just to make it slightly more uniform.
Peter Isotalo 11:31, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
The existing convention appears adequate. -Will Beback · · 22:30, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Agree with Will Beback and Peter; the current convention seems fine. — mark 22:47, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Language histories

There's two ways of naming language histories at the moment:

  1. History of XXX
  2. History of the XXX langauge

The latter seems to be more common, but no centralized discussion has been conducted. I tried putting this on the agenda by making a proposal in the language template and starting a thread over at the project talkpage, but I suppose it's better if he had the discussion here.

The arguments I've seen so far are that 2. is better because it looks better and is supposedely less ambiguous. My own preference is 1. because I like concise article titles and because wordage that isn't actually necessary should always be avoided. Yet another argument has been that the title should follow the formula used by the individual language articles, but I must say that I'd rather have consistent naming even if I didn't agree with the format.

Peter Isotalo 12:17, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I'd prefer (1), as long as it is unambiguous, which it will almost always be. As per general principle of Wikipedia:Naming conventions. Fut.Perf. 14:00, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
History article should be named like the language article. TurkChan (talk) 20:23, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Suffix should be standard

Suffix should be standard. Almost all articles use it, but with the current policy, people can jump in and create mess like at - only because someone does not know of ambiguity allows him to move articles around.

Can someone please move that back to Old Turkic language and make the page a dab with Old Turkic script? TurkChan (talk) 20:26, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

How is this a problem? Old Turkic is about the language itself and is supposed to cover both spoken and written forms. Old Turkic script is just a sub-topic of the language, just like High Middle Ages is a sub-topic of Middle Ages. Why not just include a summary of the script article in the language article?
Peter Isotalo 13:05, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

Convention violations

Old English language was moved to Old English, while there exists whole load of other articles Old English (disambiguation). TurkChan (talk) 20:32, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

My interpretation is that the most common meaning of "Old English" is the language and that this meaning far outweighs the notability of a comedy troupe, a former NY district or an extinct bulldog breed. I can't see any convention violation at all here.
Peter Isotalo 13:12, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

A review of the text

=Mentioning a language=

Convention: Languages which share their names with some other thing should suffixed with "language". If the language name is a unique noun, there is no need for the "language" suffix. For example, write "English language" and "Persian language", but "Esperanto" and "Latin". Programming languages will need "(programming language)" as a parenthetical suffix if their name is shared with some other thing. For example, write "Python (programming language)", but "VBScript". Notice how a wikilink also use parenthetical phrases, but for a different purposes (disambiguation and redirects).

==Linking a language name==

If you should decide to also wikilink such phrases, link the entire phrase, and then take care to prove the link. If a disproven link goes to a non-existent page, take up the offer to create the page (by clicking on it's red title), and simply redirect. For example, you may need to create the page [[GoScript (programming language)]] with the text "#REDIRECT GoScript". (To be thorough, you would similarly check [[ GoScript programming language]].)

If a disproven link goes to a disambiguation page ([[English]] or[[Python]]), repair your wikilink to match the one you find on the disambiguation page. If you do not find it there, please add it. (Simply edit the disambiguation page to include a direct link to your target, and then go repair your own link.) These type efforts automate the repair of all writing, even that which uses other naming conventions.

=Plural name of a language=

If you do not speak the language you mention, consider the very real possibility that the language you are writing about may need to be made plural. In normal English the plural form of a language term is the same as the non-plural form—Spanish, English—but some language names are better referenced as Language families and groups of languages. Thus, "Niger-Congo languages" rather than "Niger-Congo language", and "Sino-Tibetan language" rather than "Sino-Tibetan language".

When you need to use plurals, writing "languages" is preferred over writing "[some] language family" because the three-word, family phrase method will mention an ethnic or geographic term which may create a future need to cleanup the article, in case a related controversy arises. There are cases where dialect clusters and ethnic groupings change over time. Compare Kalenjin language and Kalenjin languages.

These natural language considerations do not apply to computer programming languages. These all have families and versions. Do not make plural the name of a specific Computer programming language. For example, do not write "C (programming languages)". There is some valid context for "C (programming language) family", however.

Discussion points:

  1. A black and white printout would fail to show the blue links in the first paragraph.
  2. Paragraphs and sections clearly separate naming and linking subjects.
  3. The idea "wikilink also use parenthetical phrases, but for a different purpose" was added to serve as both a transition and a clarification of the main ideas (and might help deter discussions like 3 and 6 above concerning programming language suffixes).
  4. Added the idea to "link the entire phrase", as in examples at Wikipedia:Link#Link_specificity
  5. A more realistic example of a redirect concerns a future programming language called "GoScript" replaced an example using "English".
  6. The last paragraph, concerning plural" was broken into two: p1 and p2...
  7. The idea that "In most cases, a redirect from the singular to the plural title is not needed" seems to be covered. (The other part of the sentence was moved up.)
  8. The last paragraph was added to clarify that "plural" applies in the opposite way for computer programming languages.

CpiralCpiral 08:06, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
CpiralCpiral 04:45, 18 October 2009 (UTC)