User talk:John Stephenson/Archive 2

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Acquisition of German by English speakers

Hi John--I see that you are expert in matters and as a result of all I know, I added a couple of sections to the end of the German_language article regarding relative ease of learning German for English speakers. This is based on (I don't know what all in) my past training and experience, but I wonder if you could take a look at it and screen for opinionated quackery, or add references, or whatever kind of feedback it needs. Thanks in advance if you can get to it. Incidentally I did become fluent in German after adulthood and got a good accent too, and I always thought a lot of those theories about early childhood "windows of opportunity" being lost for adults was, well, a lot of hooey. That's why I'm asking for a second pair of eyes in this matter; I'm definitely not neutral; rather, I'm a teacher who tries to motivate students and give them hope.Pat Palmer 14:16, 4 April 2007 (CDT)

Hi - I'm not so sure about the idea that German is easier than a lot of other languages, though it depends on what aspect of the language is to be learned. I'm not sure there's even anecdotal evidence to back this up; for example there's a poll here of learners claiming that French is easier. Originally, specialists argued that 'difference=difficulty', and this idea persists in some circles to this day. And there can be 'positive transfer' where the first language similarity makes it easier to learn the second. However, more recently the prevalent view is that languages that are similar can be harder to learn because they fool learners - they don't recognise what is to be learned. There are some famous examples of German sentences which many learners accept when in fact they're unacceptable, e.g. *dieses Hotel verbietet Hunde ('this hotel forbids dogs') and *meine Gitarre riss eine Saite ('my guitar broke a string'). Maybe in the earliest stages, German is easier, but the differences in semantics in particular makes it difficult. An example of this is Caroll et al. (discussed here) where there was some limited evidence that English speakers did better than Spanish speakers on picture description tasks using German, because there were more cognates the English speakers could draw on. However, this was only a slight advantage and neither group performed like native speakers. That study also argues that translating German is difficult because although the languages are superficially similar, preserving the writer's attitude is difficult due to different stylistic devices. So overall I would say it's easier in some contexts, particularly early on, but the language doesn't help you to get good quickly. I'm not sure it's worth empahsising this in the article. John Stephenson 00:24, 5 April 2007 (CDT)

English grammar

Hi John, and thanks for your excellent earlier emendations to English grammar. It is great to see another linguist here. What is happening, I fear, is that someone with a background in ESL, but without other linguistic training, has started off the article and the "parts of speech" entries rather on the wrong foot, basically giving the "commonsense" notions of language but only making a slight nod to the state of affairs in modern linguistics. Gently, but firmly, I hope that linguists on CZ can steer these entries into a better direction; I have made some edits but would be delighted if you could look over what I've said and see what you think can be further clarified or improved. Thanks!! Russell Potter 10:57, 18 April 2007 (CDT)

Thanks for the reply on my talk page. I agree with you wholeheartedly, but at the same time, I don't want to represent linguistics as necessarily abstract, theoretical, or arcane. What I'd like to see is a man article, and other entries, which gently and elegantly introduce their readers to the models of language used by linguists, and demonstrate (in the case of grammar) some of the limits of the traditional, public school (US) model. I've taught linguistics and grammar for seventeen years at the college level, and what I see in my students is what I like to call grammatical "bad conscience" -- the fear that you have done something wrong, but don't know what it is. I work to take the fear out of grammar, parlty by disabusing them of needless rules (such as the old prejudice against "split" infinitives), while explaining the meaningful ones (when to use "whom" instead of "who"). I'm hoping to do something similar in these entries.
I very much like your emendations to the fist paragraph(s), but did change one phrase, both to make it scan better and to take out what seemed a rather guarded stance toward linguistics. I certainly do not want gobbledygook and jargon! -- but I think that most of the concepts of modern linguistics can be explained and demonstrated without jargon, and that it's worth doing. Cheers, Russell Potter 07:58, 19 April 2007 (CDT)

The article on Code-switching and Turkish Linguistics

Hi John. First of all, thank you very much for your warm welcome and encouraging words. I will edit the article on code-switching day by day, also with reference to pioneering studies published up till now. As you know, the phenomenon has attracted many schlars in different areas of study like sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, SLA, and language teaching. What I believe is that the article-when completed- should present insights from many perspectives, which means it requires contributions from many authors and editors in Citizendium. So we may share different aspects of code-switching with other authors, which will require time. After this, as a native speaker of Turkish, I will try to contribute the project with an article on Turkish language. Hopefully, I will attact other professionals in Turkish linguistics both in my university as well as many others in Turkey. Infact, I believe that we do not need to build everything upon Wiki articles, though they may inspire our contributions. What do you think about this? Should we first check the wiki content before starting? All the best, Olcay Sert 08:18, 23 April 2007 (CDT)

Noam Chomsky

Hello! Sorry for previously over-rude comment. Last night I was editing after I just finished stress-laden homework and studying. I was pointing out about some mistakes on Noam Chomsky article. Please accept my apology. Thanks! Yi Zhe Wu 16:00, 7 May 2007 (CDT)

Language article and Linguistics template

I was a bit startled to find the {{Linguistics}} template in the Language article. I propose to remove it, on grounds that this particular article is cross-disciplinary, of interest in Computers, History, Philosophy etc. It is currently heavily weighted towards natural language but I think that might change simply by moving some of that material out into a natural language subarticle. Would you mind terribly if I removed the template from Language? I think that template belongs on articles that belong indisputably to Linguistics Workgroup and nowhere else. Pat Palmer 23:43, 13 May 2007 (CDT)

That's only temporary, so OK. Perhaps you could create another template with links to language and linguistics-related articles, which could go there. You could grab the one at Template:Linguistics, copy it to Template:Language and hack out/add stuff. If the Language article is to be cross-disciplinary, such a template pointing to things like computational linguistics, philosophy of language etc. might help and show people which articles need creating to support the main page. John Stephenson 04:32, 14 May 2007 (CDT)

Auntie and Beep ===> BBC

I think you caught me red handed, but why this redirect? Robert Tito |  Talk  22:46, 17 May 2007 (CDT)

Er, come again? Do you mean, why are there redirects from Auntie and Beeb (not 'Beep') to BBC? Because 'Beeb' and 'Auntie' are both popular nicknames for the BBC, which the Beeb has used itself commercially, e.g. John Stephenson 22:51, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
No doubt obvious for an islander :) it took me by surprise. Well explanation enough - thanks John. I wonder where auntie comes from though, got a clue? it can't be the dragon coronation street :) Robert Tito |  Talk  22:53, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
No-one knows for sure, but it might be due to the saying that "auntie knows best". John Stephenson 22:59, 17 May 2007 (CDT)
auntie knows best, we (the dutch) have another saying, when we do not know what will happen: "Joost mag het weten" - Joost may know. And that Joost is in effect the devil. The webservice Joost got its name from that expression. Robert Tito |  Talk  23:11, 17 May 2007 (CDT)

Japanese Linguistics

Hi John! Thanks for welcome and the heads up about the Japanese English article. I have some comments (just one really) but I'll put them in the talk page of the article. Axel Theorin 11:29, 18 May 2007 (CDT)


I think the speedy deletion for the ID theory redirect is premature, because there is still much controversy and there may be broken links. Regards. Yi Zhe Wu 21:34, 23 May 2007 (CDT)


As fascinating as the etymology of Penguin is, the subject seems to me entirely different from that of the bird itself, so I've moved it to Penguin (word). I also wonder whether, though, such an extensive paraphrase of an OED-sourced text should be in CZ, and whether a length entry on a single word doesn't raise issues (is it encyclopedic? Is it maintainable?). If you feel strongly that the material you've contributed should be here, I'd welcome your comments on that article's talk page. Russell Potter 06:27, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

Hi John. An update: Nancy Sculerati posted to Penguin (word) to say that she planned a considerable expansion of the main Penguin entry. Assuming this happens, I think a slightly condensed version of your original contribution could indeed be a part of that entry, and so I've taken the liberty of moving it back into the entry. I think we won't want subheaders for the three explanations (this would crowd the Table of Contents and looks a bit awkward), but how about a bulleted list? That might do the trick. Please go ahead and tweak what I've moved if needed. Cheers, Russell Potter 11:15, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Vasco da Gama (disambiguation)

Hi. I noticed you asked for a speedy deletion of this page: Vasco da Gama (disambiguation). Your justification was "Nothing to disambiguate", yet there is something to disambiguate as that pages links from Vasco da Gama. --José Leonardo Andrade 10:01, 30 May 2007 (CDT)

Hello again. I read the link you gave me, but I couldn't find something there that supports your request. That page says this:The function of a disambiguation page is strictly to list the various articles (including planned articles) that go under a title. I started the Vasco da Gama page, so I thought I would also start a disambiguation page for the other meanings. Since most people who work on the Citizendium are from the U.S or from the U.K., I thought that they wouldn't be too familiar with the other things named after the navigator (a bridge, sports clubs, etc...). I also had seen this page: Bombay (disambiguation). I was merely trying to help. It´s not that fun to see that the time I spent on that page was worthless. Sooner or later we are going to need that page, so why delete?. --José Leonardo Andrade 05:12, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
The page you quote refers to "planned articles" - i.e. that you or someone else has the intention of starting articles on those subjects in the foreseeable future. If articles are not planned then there's no point having a disambiguation page. As wasting time, I know the feeling - but the idea of a wiki is that others can mercilessly edit or even delete your work. Regarding the Bombay page, that has been imported from Wikipedia, so lists articles there that have no Citizendium equivalent. Strictly speaking, it should be deleted unless the author plans to start those articles. John Stephenson 22:49, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Ok, I see your point. Please give me some days, I will create one of the articles listed on that page. --José Leonardo Andrade 09:16, 4 June 2007 (CDT)


That appears to be an example of copyrighted packaging, which means you can't release a photo you took of it into the Public Domain. It's like if I used a camera to zoom in on a book cover and snapped. The cover does not become PD just because I took the photo. I'd have to reset the book cover in a larger photo in a new way to make its incorporation part of a new work, in which case I could claim fair use. I just changed the data to copyrighted for now. Probably in a few weeks, you'll be able to use the photo under fair use because you are re-setting it into a new work--one on Japanese English--so let's just ignore this any further for now. But because the photo as an item itself is simply a photographic copy of copyrighted packaging, you'd still not be able to release it under PD. Stephen Ewen 23:48, 1 June 2007 (CDT)


I'm going to remove your tag and expand the article (had been working on it in my userspace as time allows). The map is public domain since it is a work of the US Federal Government. Let me know if this ins't ok. Graham Harris 19:57, 2 June 2007 (CDT)


But should the article be called French fries. :-) 02:30, 15 June 2007 (CDT)


I unprotected it. See its talk page. Stephen Ewen 02:52, 23 June 2007 (CDT)


Hi, John. I won't rewrite what you've added but I don't think it makes any sense to an American who wasn't in England and isn't aware of what you're talking about. Could you please add a phrase such as "but the House of Lord's Committee on Human Rights Violations later concluded that so and so." Or some such. Who, what, where, when, etc.... Thanks! Hayford Peirce 10:19, 24 June 2007 (CDT)

Not the Lords, actually. McDo's was found violating human rights by the European Court of Human Rights. Yi Zhe Wu 10:57, 24 June 2007 (CDT)


Thank you for making the page and asking. I personally would have no objection for such information, but I can't formally support it either (there is a conflict of interest since my name is there :-)) Maybe it's better to ask those top guys Stephen Ewen or even Larry about it. One issue about the page would be that creating such a page for every article would require extra work, among others. Best. Yi Zhe Wu 11:59, 25 July 2007 (CDT)


Sorry about those changes I should have talked to you first. One problem with the templates is that they interfere with the galleries. Your Japan gallery happened to be in my sights so i tried out a template on that page. Then I thought I might as well get the whole cluster outfitted correctly, just to check everything is working. I am not a great coder and so checking it works in multiple environments is useful. See Bangladesh too.

As far as putting articles onto Draft pages and only populating articles with approved articles, that is just a flight of fancy at present. I'm not even sure I like it but the best way to tell is to try it out on a few pages and see how it works. I have enough experience with it now that i think i know a lot of the pro's and con's that might be useful for a discussion. Thanks for the patience. Chris Day (talk) 09:22, 28 July 2007 (CDT)

Thanks for this update, and for doing all this nuts-and-bolts stuff. John Stephenson 03:52, 30 July 2007 (CDT)

Blair article

It will probably take an email to User:David_Boothroyd to garner his attention.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 04:23, 1 August 2007 (CDT)