Mentions and reuse of the Wiktionary
- The press has been interested in “grossophobie” [fat shaming], and not being able to find the definition in any dictionary, TV5 Monde, Charente libre and CNews quote the Wiktionary's definition.
- Yuliya Chernobay, a Russian researcher from St. Petersburg University, published at the end of November a scientific article describing how she used the Russian Wiktionary to create a WordNet-like thesaurus.
- Impact of events on the Wiktionary’s consultation: December 6th, 2017, the day of Johnny Hallyday’s death, 3 most viewed entries are related to the death R.I.P., enfant de la balle, taulier.
- Concomitantly with the release of the new Star Wars movie, lemonde.fr publishes an article on languages that have an object-subject-verb syntax, the order of words used by the character Yoda.
- The Décodeurs of lemonde.fr have published a game consisting in finding the etymology of country names. Some answers differ from what can be found in the Etymology section of the corresponding entries on the Wiktionary, indicating that there is still some information and sources to add in the Wiktionary.
- France Culture broadcasted a 30-minute programme followed by a discussion with author Alpheratz and the linguist Bernard Cerquiglini about gender-neutral writing. This programme could be used as the basis for a future page Annexe:Écriture inclusive en français (Appendix:Gender-neutral writing in French), the usefulness of which was mentioned on the Wikidémie in October.
The seven deadly sins, again
Does Donald Trump have the power to extinguish science, vulnerable people, or the LGBTI community by banning some words from his administrations? At any rate, he is trying: he decided to delete 7 words from all documents of all the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based. This government agency has 12,000 employees around the world and $7 billion in budget.
Among the first reactions, once the surprise was passed, some noted that the word ridiculous was not part of this list. To avoid any obvious circumvention, the Trump administration has given substitute words and phrases. As far as proven treatments are concerned, the CDC must say that it bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes. A fuzzy concept that opens the door to unproven treatments or even the misconceptions of Trump himself (he said several times that vaccines are a cause of autism - see the article on this controversy on Wikipedia).
This censorship would indeed remain ridiculous if it did not lead directly to the deaths of many people: the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received the same list but reacted strongly by saying that it will continue to use all available knowledge to best treat its patients.
To finish on a lighter note, the Los Angeles Times recalls, for comparison, that the comedian George Carlin had written a list of 7 words that it is impossible to say on television. — A chronicle by Romainbehar
- From mid-November to mid-December (from 11/20/2017 to 12/20/2017)
- French entries increased by 5,121 and quotations increased by 990. There are now 359,813 lemmas, 530,573 definitions and 336,748 quotations or examples.
- The three other languages which progressed the most are Northern Sami (+ 7,896 entries), Russian (+ 4,574 entries) and Esperanto (+ 758 entries).
- Fourty-seven languages were added in the project (here with French names): kala (+2), wotu (+2), madngele (+2), lama (Togo) (+1), pahi (+1), laiyolo (+1), kalaamaya (+1), aruop (+1), cerma (+1), mah meri (+1), siliput (+1), heyo (+1), agni morofou (+1), nabi (+1), beli (Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée) (+1), bukiyip (+1), ningil (+1), natioro (+1), olo (+1), orléanais (+1), amol (+1), phong-kniang (+1), yahang (+1), seti (+1), agi (+1), sinagen (+1), semnam (+1), seta (+1), semaq beri (+1), torricelli (+1), tagbana (+1), tima (+1), créole martiniquais (+1), tchourama (+1), urat (+1), minidien (+1), wanap (+1), usan (+1), wogamusin (+1), elkei (+1), karawa (+1), djimini (+1), speedwords de Dutton (+1), yis (+1), yangum mon (+1), yau (province de Sandaun) (+1), amal (+1).
- In December 22,269 entries were created for 203 languages!
- Words of the month
External stats provided numbers on:
- Other improvements
- There are 35,397 illustrative medias (pictures and videos) in the French Wiktionary pages, an increase by 393 in a month.
- December 31st: the French Wiktionary contains 310 thesauri in French and a grand total of 468 thesauri in 54 languages !
Nine new thesauri for French this month: noisette [hazelnut], verger [orchard], thé [tea], séchage [drying], aéroport [airport], Noël [Christmas], cassis [blackcurrant], salle de bains [bathroom], minéralogie [mineralogy]
and three new thesauri in Chinese by Assassas77: calligraphy, tea and flower; and a thesaurus in English: airport
- The page Wiktionnaire:Questions sur les mots [Questions about words] records 67 questions in December, and there were 89 questions in November and 189 in October.
Book of the month
Nicolas Tournadre, a linguist specialized in Tibetan languages, publishes in Le Prisme des langues [The Prism of languages] a general discourse on languages, their diversity, difficulty and interest. The book is intended to be rather accessible to non-linguists, and apart from a few technical passages due to a vocabulary and notions specific to linguistics, the book can be read without any difficulty.
The first part of the book develops general notions about languages with many examples. This includes the difference between languages and dialects, written languages and oral languages, and the political and cultural characteristics of languages. This very didactic part is very enriching for anyone who would like to have some notions in linguistics.
In the second part, the book looks more like an essay. The author questions the alleged equality of languages. His reflection begins with a quotation from Claude Hagège which indicated in 2009 that “[All languages] are equal as an instrument of communication... any language can be translated into any other language”. The author then nuances these remarks by indicating that some languages do not have words for numbers, colours, etc.; the concepts of one language are then translated by verbatim sentences if the other language does not have this concept. Nicolas Tournadre also goes back to the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis according to which languages convey a certain vision of the world. He cites a few examples that support this hypothesis while denying others, such as the famous example that Inuit have many words to describe snow, which is in fact a hoax. Unsui talked about it in the issue 22 of January 2017.
Finally, the author gives us his thought on the notion of complexity of a language. He writes about the work of linguists who have tried to classify languages according to their difficulty. Thus, M. Parkvall ranked 155 languages; Burushaski was the most complex language, while English was in position 78e and Hebrew in position 37e. He lets the reader make their opinion about this ranking. Nicolas Tournadre classifies learning difficulties into several categories that he describes largely: phonological, morphological, syntactic and lexical difficulties and difficulties related to the writing system. In order to assess the learning difficulty of language A for a speaker of language B, it is also necessary to take into account the degree of linguistic kinship between the two languages and the degree of kinship between two languages within a language macrofamily. For this reason, learning Persian for a French speaker, and even more so for a Russian speaker, will be much easier than learning Basque.
The author obviously develops many other aspects of linguistics. The few examples given here are much more detailed in the book. It should be noted that Wikipedia’s interest in the survival and development of endangered minority languages is mentioned several times. Wiktionary, although not mentioned, also has a role to play here. Published in 2014, a new revised and expanded edition was published in January 2017. A chronicle by Pamputt
Curiosity - What’s up about peace?
If you have to define peace, what do you say about it?
But, is it not possible for peace to exist independently of a war state? If yes, what may be a definition for it? It is a philosophical and political though that rise in me because of Albert Jacquart in is book Tentatives de lucidité (2005).
"On n’en finit pas de décrire les combats […] mais que dire d’un peuple qui construit des maisons et des routes et qui se réjouit de contempler les couchers de soleil ? Il faut redonner valeur à la paix en lui donnant une définition plus exaltante que celle de non-guerre." [We never end up describing fights […] but how to speak about people that build houses and roads, that enjoy sunsets? We have to valorize peace by giving it a more exciting definition rather than to be non-war.] He then offers his own definition of peace, but it is not the most interesting point. Well, in Wiktionaries, how peace is described?
I've looked in several languages for the political definition of peace, excluding the related meaning of personal wellness. As I don't speak every language, I do not provide you translation, but only a classification (with the little help from a translation tool to be sure). So, three categories:
- "non-war" when peace is define as an opposite of war.
- "in between" when war is part of the definition but there are also other elements.
- "own definition" when there is no mention of war in the definition.
|non-war||in between||own definition|
La manko de perforto aŭ milito. Stato de regno, nacio aŭ alia homgrupo, kiu ne estas militanta kontraŭ alia.
A state of tranquility, quiet, and harmony; absence of violence. For instance, a state free from civil disturbance.
Concorde, tranquillité intérieure qui règne dans les États, dans les familles, dans les sociétés.
состояние спокойствия, покоя, согласия; отсутствие вражды, войны
het ontbreken van oorlog
estado de não beligerância
vertraglich gesichertes Miteinander verschiedener Staaten, das durch Abwesenheit von Gewalt (und speziell von Krieg) gekennzeichnet ist
περίοδος απουσίας ενόπλων συρράξεων
assenza di stato di guerra nei rapporti fra stati oppure all'interno di uno stesso stato, assicurata anche dalla mancanza di ogni forma di violenza e garantita dal rispetto dei diritti dei popoli e dei singoli individui
stan pozbawiony kłótni, zatargów, konfliktów, sprzeczek
stare de bună înțelegere între popoare, situație în care nu există conflicte armate sau război între state, popoare, populații
אי־לוחמה, יחסי ידידות בין עמים.
savaşın bittiğinin bir antlaşmayla belirtilmesinden sonraki durum
I had no idea where this investigation will ends when I started, and in all Wiktionaries I looked at, only the French one defines peace without mentioning war. Cocorico? For the beauty of the performance maybe, but it is a reality that "peace" is used for "a country to in a state of war". Not mentioning this use, nor having it in the "antonym" section, may be considered lacking. Wiktionarians, think about it!
— An article by Dara, written the 20th of December 2017.
During November and December, the tech community of the Wikimedia Foundation organized a large survey in a way to determine ten tasks to include this year's roadmap. It was the fourth edition of this maelstrom of ideas. It brings raw suggestions, dreams and the needs of all the participants of all projects. No surprise though, none of Wiktionary-related propositions received enough votes to be part of the top 10, but there is still good news:
- 8 proposals were about Wiktionaries, compared with 4 last year. Twice the number of ideas proposed, while total suggestions were fewer than last year.
- Better positions in the final ranking, the best coming in 52nd, compared to 97th last year.
- More votes, with 40, 32, 24, 21, 18, 17, 8 and 5 votes for the 8 proposals, compared to 19, 16, 13 and 1 votes last year.
- Three new proposals were added to Phabricator, the developers' workspace: displaying Wikisource dictionaries in the Wiktionaries, Custom wordlists for learning languages, Context-dependent sort keys.
Those ideas will not be supported by the Wikimedia Foundation's paid developers, but may be implemented by volunteer developers, and Actualités will be pleased to chronicle them!
This section gives you a monthly selection of videos related to linguistics or the French language, don't hesitate to add more videos you find!
- Elles comme Linguistes questions whether the Broca area, in the brain, is really the area of the language, i.e. where the language faculty is put in place. They also suggested books for Christmas in two videos:  and .
- How do you speak French? In this video, Mathieu Avanzi, researcher in Institut Langage & Communication of the Université catholique de Louvain asks some students about how they name different objects and then presents his Atlas du français de nos régions.
- Marinette answers the question: [$inclusive Neutral-gender writing, what’s the point?]
- Linguisticae presents how he created a language at the request of Timothée Hochet for the series Calls currently broadcast Canal+ Décalé. Previously, he had [$critically criticized the intervention] of Jean-Michel Blanquer in the National Assembly on November 15th targeting the neutral-gender writing. He also analyses Edouard Philippe’s law on this subject. Finally, it is tackling a bill (article 2) to introduce terms in anticipation of the 2024 Olympics.
The 12th of December, Wiktionary turns 15 years old! Katherine Maher, executive director of Wikimedia Foundation, made a happy birthday video for this special occasion!
The French Wiktionary was created the 22th of March 2004. If you are interested in the history of the project, you can have a look at Lyokoï talk given in a workshop about the creation of dictionary made in Lyon during November. Slides are available there: