Thursday, March 09, 2006

Names and Etymology ... and what about old languages?

I am in Germany with my parents right now - this evening my mom watched "Deutschland Deine Namen" (Germany: your names - I know it is a very literal translation ... maybe it should be "Names of Germany"). But that brought me to the "what to include" question ... and to translations. We will have names of well known people in Wiktionary - only think about the old Romans ... their names have been translated. And today we transliterate names from countries that use other chars than we do. So yes, names must be in WiktionaryZ, because names are still and have been translated in past - and for sure they will be also in future.

But what about the Ethymology? Many names came up about 600 to 700 years ago and refer to old forms of languages they most of all refer to professions of people, places where they lived, habits they had etc.. How do we do that? Just add the Ethymology and that's it or do we then also add the real word these names come from and give it a language name? To me it makes sense to add these languages as I also recall the times when I was at school and we had texts in Middle High German and Old High German ... if you think that knowing German you would be able to understand such texts: hardly or no way. So I would say that integrating such words with definitions makes sense ... but in which language should the definition then be? hmmmm .... not easy, right?

Well these are just two very fast thoughts. I am really quite under time pressure, but I thought it would be good to just write down some lines to remeber that these things need some consideration in future. Please do not consider this to be a 100% error free posting ;-)

Thanks, Sabine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps WiktionaryZ should include reconstructed proto-forms as expressions and treat etymologies/cognates as relations among them. It could make WiktionaryZ more interesting to comparative linguists/phylologists by allowing for easy comparison of protoforms and derivations across languages.

1:56 am  
Blogger GerardM said...

Currently we do not have "reconstructed proto-forms". What we do have can be found in the data design. When what you say means that we should relate words from one language with the words that provided the origin (maybe from another language), then yes, that is what we intend to do.


2:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reconstructed protoforms *are* "words that provided the origin", except they are not attested anywhere, but are assumed (upon scientific principles) to have formerly existed.

For instance: English
"abate" < Middle English "abate" < Anglo-Norman "abatre" (pr. p. "abatant") < Late Latin "*adbatere"

English "keep" < Middle English "kepen" < Old English "c├ępan" < Proto-Germanic "*kopjan"

2:21 pm  

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