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Forums: Index > Rin's Travel Agency > Many proposals concerning etymology

Over the past few days there's been a buzz of discussion concerning the Etymology namespace, on SCM's talk page, Discord, the Staff Noticeboard, and in the history of the Etymology project page itself of course (which is now locked to editing lmao). I thought it best to put all the proposals floating around in one place so we can lay these issues to rest. Here are the proposals in question:

  1. Abacos has argued, eg at User talk:Some Color Mage and Project:Staff Noticeboard, that the namespace must be renamed. The claim here is that the term "etymology" is misleading. I will not try to reproduce their arguments as they are clearly laid out there.
  2. Technobliterator has argued that the namespace should be scrapped, alternatively because it's entirely off-topic or because transclusion is overdone and adds to page bloat.
  3. Techno, possibly among others, wants to merge Project:Etymology into the Manual of Style, possibly making a technical documentation page explaining how the Etymology namespace works, so as to reduce policy bloat.
  4. Techno, Keltainentoukokuu, Some Color Mage and I, possibly among others, think that such pages as Etymology:Fire which are "obvious" should be scrapped because they frankly look ridiculous and don't add anything to the wiki. Instead perhaps we should have more discussion in Etymology namespace about how real-world concepts inspired Final Fantasy.

Perhaps the authors of the above proposals could write here to argue more strongly for them. Let me just give my opinions on each of the above proposals in turn before turning over discussion to the peanut gallery:

  1. I don't quite buy Abacos' argument here. The assertion is that "etymologies are not definitions", and we are not using them as definitions. Take Etymology:Bahamut. A definition of "Bahamut", for us, would be something like "the recurring summon who appears as a metallic dragon who attacks with the nonelemental laser-breath attack Megaflare", which is not the content of Etymology:Bahamut. Rather, the historical development and origin are that it was taken from D&D, which in turn took it from Persian mythic cosmology; this is exactly the content of Etymology:Bahamut. Anyways, there is still the issue that the name "Etymology" is a little confusing even though I still hold that it's not wrong. But renaming it doesn't seem entirely worth it (seriously, how easy is it to rename a namespace? It can't be that easy, given how tightly Fandom seems to govern namespaces...)
  2. We don't need to transclude Etymologies on every page, eg Bahamut (Final Fantasy XIV) doesn't need a transclude. But it still makes sense to have a transcludable namespace. This is because there are pages without an obvious "root", instead they just have a disambig, and the whole point of disambigs is to not have any content on them. So we would want to be able to transclude Etymologies onto each of the pages linked to by the disambig.
  3. Makes sense, we have a lot of policy pages and personally speaking I tend to get them mixed up a lot...
  4. Yes please. At the request of Hyrule57 I made Etymology:List of etymologies by origin, which they filled out. Maybe we should look into having more resources like this in Etymology space so it isn't just a transclusion fiesta. That would be a better use of the space than recalling well-known words in the English language. Cat (meowhunt) 00:08, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
With regard to #1, I think the main concern would be whether the namespace is easily understood by editors and readers rather than matching the exact definition. Do we, in general, understand what is desired in an etymology section? If there's no significant confusion, then I think it can stand. You could call it "Origin" if you wanted, but that might be more nebulous.
Happy with point #3 about including it in the MoS. — YuanSalut 00:20, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
I like origin sections where you describe where the subject came from. On the Marvel's Spider-Man Wiki, I've tried (not too successfully as-yet) to have sections with a link to Marvel Database then min one-two paragraphs on the origin of the subject from the comic book/film/etc. that it was introduced in. It provides lots of context for the adaptation, and also intrigue for how the adaptation changed it from the original. Mythological/religious origin is the same thing; it's interesting to see where Shiva came from and how she changed from the original mythology.
This is what etymology should be imo. Have your Etymology/Origin sections, link back to the wikipedia/wikitionary page, describe how it differs in FF from the original subject. No need to spam pages with descriptions of common English words or speculation as to why Cloud Strife has his name.
Lastly, Shiva (Final Fantasy VI) shouldn't explain how Shiva in FFVI differs from Shiva in Hinduism, but how Shiva in FFVI differs from Shiva throughout the series (with brief mention of Hindu origins). Thus, Etymology should be entirely rethought (read: delete the namespace, write individual sections where appropriate).--Magicite-ffvi-ios.png Technobliterator TC 00:47, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

  1. Certainly I do not agree that Etymology is being used wrong. Etymology pages link and describe the real life historical and mythological origins of the words and terms used in the series, which is part of etymological studies. As it stands the namespace works perfectly well in that sense, being succinct and clearly understandable. However, if the usage of "etymology" is that much of an issue, perhaps the term used within pages for sections could be "name origin".
  2. I also do not believe the namespace should be scrapped. It is useful to have pages with repeated origins, such as Etymology:Bennu, which is used for the recurring fire bird associated with phoenix but also other cases where Bennu is used for miscellaneous birds monsters. Sure a singular recurring "Bennu" page could have the single etymology (if it were made, I mean), but other pages would fall through the gaps. As for the ascertation that etymology "[forces] editors to write a longass section" on the origin of the name and we should just remove it and add a single link to Wikipedia, I find that a bit amusing given the example being given is Shiva, a particularly outlier in that we don't have a concrete origin on the name, hence its length. Most etymologies are short and concise compared to Shiva's but that is because it's a particularly contentious case. As it stands, having a transcludable and reusable bit for things that are relevant in multiple pages is useful. I do believe we can do more with the namespace than simply have tiny pages solely for transclusions, so that initiative 100% gets my vote.
  3. While merging that project into the manual of style seems perfectly cromulent, I must confess I have reservations. Currently I have no issues with it being a separate policy page, since the way we handle Etymology is a particularly specific thing, akin to disambiguation pages that can justify having its own page fairly easily (especially since it has its own namespace). As it currently stands we have few enough policy pages that are all fairly succint and specific. Just adding more to Final Fantasy Wiki:Manual of Style can perhaps begin to be a bit of an overload on that page.
  4. I agree that "obvious" etymologies can be discarded. Of course by "obvious" it'd have to be common English words, such as Fire and Lightning and Thunder. However there's ambiguity there, I think. Sure Blizzard, and Quake are obvious, but is Aero? It's a fairly common part in the English language, but it's not unfeasible that someone could not know it's etymological origin as a greek prefix. Personally, though, I don't see much of an issue having even the "obvious" words, as they stand. I think the wiki has done fairly well on that part, not descending into interminable minutiae of each and every page.
tl;dr: I think our usage of Etymology is appropriate, the namespace is fine as it is but could be used for more and does not need to be scrapped, the policy pages seem fine as they are, and we do pretty good on keeping "obvious" etymology pages at a minium. At least, in my opinion, of course. — Zero-ELEC (talk) 01:39, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
Removing the section and replacing with a link to Wikipedia isn't what I suggested. What I suggested was limited sections which include a Wikipedia link. The problem is just spamming pages with "Etymology:Shiva" doesn't tell me anything about that game's specific iteration of Shiva. What if one game's iteration of Shiva takes more from Hinduism than another, or leans more into the FF-specific interpretation of Shiva, or specifically calls back to a previous version of Shiva? These are things that just using Etymology:Shiva to duplicate content existing on other pages (which hurts SEO to do that, btw) cannot tell me.--Magicite-ffvi-ios.png Technobliterator TC 02:10, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
While fair, in that it doesn't tell you anything about that particular Shiva, that's not the point of our Etymology sections as they stand. At that point, a combined section called "Origins and etymology" might be more appropriate, which I'm all in favour. Expanding our etymological and genitive content would be cool. Also I don't think SEO should really be something we care about. For one we're already number one result for "Shiva Final Fantasy" and most combinations of "Shiva" + [game title] (sometimes we're number two), and secondly, I think that's for SlyCooperFan1 and FANDOM staff to care about, not the editors that want to make a comprehensive encyclopaedia. Really, that should be the least of our concerns, as FANDOM wikis already dominate random-ass search results as it is. (And yes, I know that there's more to this than Shiva, but it's just a particularly salient example of things. It's a large (our largest?) etymological block of text that's repeated in many multiples of pages through transclusion, and we still have good SEO, so I don't think the point of SEO has really any relevancy to this discussion. If it's affecting us negatively, it's so miniscule as to be irrelevant.) — Zero-ELEC (talk) 02:31, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
We definitely shouldn't be having Etymology (now Origins and Etymology?) sections that are all just transclusions -- the author should put the thing that's being transcluded in context. Anyways, Zero-ELEC's propsal looks good to me. Cat (meowhunt) 03:09, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
  1. I don't feel strongly about the name of the namespace, and while I see the logic in "etymology" being misused as a term, it'd be a pain in the add to rename an entire namespace for that reason. If we do choose to rename it, I would go with "Influences". I think of pages like Kefka Palazzo#Etymology and symbolism for one, and there's many others, where influences and origins of something's design goes beyond being named for a thing. And I don't necessarily think information like the Divine Comedy parallels can or should just go in "Behind the scenes", either. So I think, if we rename Etymology's namespace, "Influences" covers a wider array of information that can be grouped as relating to a character's design as it relates to mythology, pop culture, history, etc. That being said, I think a case can be made for making Etymology a subection of "Behind the scenes" in cases where a page has one, but perhaps that's another discussion.
  2. Absolutely keep the namespace, and I can give a simple argument as to why - the very reason it came about in the first place was because I noticed multiple pages with the same Etymology in terms of their content, but all written differently. Using a transcluded namespace was an easy way to make sure all the pages related to a term provided the same information. That said, agreed that Etymology does not need to be transcluded on every page, like Bahamut; it's redundant and pointless. But for things like, say, Ragnarok, Terra, Chaos, etc, we absolutely would want to give many of those individual pages their own Etymology section, and a transcluded namespace is the simplest way to handle that imho.
  3. I have no strong opinions on how the Wiki's Manual of Style page is formatted, so I'll yield to the majority opinion on this one.
  4. Absolutely agreed on eliminating redundant Etymologies like Fire. Although different people would have different opinions on what is redundant, so I wouldn't mind seeing a list for people to discuss.

tl;dr I think our best course is to rename "Etymology" to "Influences", keep it as a namespace, and absolutely trim the fat on transcluding Etymologies on every page and having them for pointless things. DrakeyC (talk) 04:08, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

I agree with DrakeyC --Abacos (talk) 14:46, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

Hello. I am sorry for my recent edits here and there, nobody told me (until now) about the existence of this page, and I was trying to solicit a reply the wrong way. My sincere apologies.
You repeatedly wrote that the etymology of fire is obvious, as an example. Here is the etymology of fire, from two different sources:

  • From the Online Etymology Dictionary: from Old English fyr "fire, a fire," from Proto-Germanic *fūr-, from Proto-Indo-European *perjos, from root *paewr- "fire." Current spelling is attested as early as 1200, but did not fully displace Middle English fier (preserved in fiery) until c. 1600.
  • From the Wiktionary: from Middle English fyr, from Old English fȳr (“fire”), from Proto-West Germanic *fuir, from *fuïr, a regularised form of Proto-Germanic *fōr (“fire”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *péh₂wr̥.

Are you really saying that the above etymologies of fire are obvious? Or maybe what you want is something completely different from an etymology? The etymology of fire does not tell you what fire is. The etymology of fire does tell you what is the origin of the English four-letters word "fire" (see the example above).
"Etymology" is an unusual discipline, I grant it, and understanding the difference between a written word and the-object-the-word-refers-to requires a certain level of abstraction, too. Unfortunately (for me) I love etymologies. --Abacos (talk) 14:46, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

When we refer to "the etymology of fire" we are referring to the word "fire" that is used by Square Enix to refer to one of the classical elements, whose historical origin is that it was named after the oxidation process. We are not referring to the word "fire" that describes the oxidation process, whose etymology is as you gave. Cat (meowhunt) 15:01, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
You are referring to the physical object called "fire". Etymology deals with the four-letters word "fire". Can you see the difference? --Abacos (talk) 15:22, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

One more example. Fire is the same thing, whatever the language, right? Therefore, let us check the etymologies of fuego and ogień, the Spanish and Polish words for "fire", respectively (translated using Google Translate). If the etymology of fire was about what a fire is, the three Wiktionaries should give you the same answer.

  • From the Spanish Wiktionary: fuego comes from Old Spanish fuego ("fire"), in turn from Latin focum ("hearth, chimney"), of uncertain origin. Compare with the similar foco ("fire") and the more distant fusil ("rifle").
  • From the Polish Wiktionary: ogień comes from Proto-Slavic (pra-słowiański) *ognь → ogień, in turn from Proto-Indo-European (pra-indo-europejski) *ngnis.

If the etymology of fire was about what a fire is, the three Wiktionaries should give you the same answer. On the contrary, the etymology of "fire", "fuego", and "ogień" are completely different. Why? Because etymology is about the origin of how words are written, not about the objects or people the words refer to. --Abacos (talk) 15:22, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

Two individual observations:

  • Sorry, Zero-ELEC, but your sentence "the real life historical and mythological origins of the words and terms used in the series is part of etymological studies" is wrong and misleading.
    • The real life historical and mythological origins of objects and character names used in the series is not part of etymological studies.
    • The origins of how the English and Japanese (since FF is a Japanese series) words are written in the series is part of etymological studies (but nobody here cares about actual etymologies, you just use that word for something else).
  • When he deleted my edit, Catuse167 wrote: Why words are spelled a certain way is not part of the scope of the wiki. Since etymology is "why words are spelled a certain way", then Catuse167 stated that etymology is not part of the scope of the wiki. I know he meant something else, but this is further evidence that this wiki misnamed their "etymology" pages. --Abacos (talk) 19:00, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

I am missing the point here. All I am asking is that a bot changes the misnamed "etymology" pages to something... better. Some suggestions:

  • Influence (suggested by DrakeyC, above; I completely agree with his point of view)
  • Name origin (suggested by Zero-ELEC, above)
  • Inspiration
  • Real world reference, with template name { {RWR} }
  • External reference, with template name { {external} }

I am sure that, once the new name is chosen, a bot could do this change quickly and a simple "Ctrl+H" or "Ctrl+R" can adjust the Final_Fantasy_Wiki:Etymology source code. --Abacos (talk) 20:15, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

If changing a namespace name was that simple, we probably would have already done it. It is not as easy as renaming a bunch of pages, and doing that would actually break the process. -- Some Color Mage ~ (Talk) 20:19, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
I see. Sorry. I will look into what a Fandom namespace is exactly, in order to better understand the problem. ---Abacos (talk) 21:52, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
Hey there, just to explain a bit further, renaming a custom namespace is not something that we commonly perform on Fandom. Creating a new namespace would be something that I would do (as FF's Wiki Representative) but renaming an existing namespace is a bit more complex on the back-end. It is definitely not as easy as simply changing the name, and can cause problems with accessing the pages already there. There is a way to do it, but I'm reaching out to higher staff to get a more definitive answer on the possibility and process since, again, it's not an action we commonly perform. I'll respond here again when I get an answer from staff. SlyCooperFan1 (talk) 22:37, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

Hey, just a quick comment, Abacos, etymology is not limited to word spellings at all. Etymology is the study of the origins of words, idioms, and phrases, their history, and how their meanings have changed, not how they've been spelled. Etymology can and does cover spelling and its changes, and in fact long histories of the written word help clarify etymology, but it's not limited to this. You're making a (fairly common) mistake which is conflating language with the written word. Language exists independently (and existed long before) the written word. Regardless, that's not what the scope of etymology of the wiki would be anyways. We're talking about the etymology, for example, of the Spell named "Fire" (ファイア, Faia?), we're not talking about the etymology of the word "fire". The etymology of the spell ファイア is quite obviously the English word "fire", hence the concept of an "obvious" etymology. — Zero-ELEC (talk) 22:15, 13 March 2022 (UTC)

Yeah, tbh the general impression I get from this whole conversation is a disagreement over if etym should go back as far as possible or just remain in the in-scope step of the etymological process (that being, what did Square derive this term from, not where the languages they pulled from derived those terms from). -- Some Color Mage ~ (Talk) 22:59, 13 March 2022 (UTC)
Zero-ELEC, I admit that saying "etymology is about the spelling" was an excessive simplification, but it was to show the misunderstanding about etymology. The mistake you are still doing is to conflate a word with the object (or person) the word refers to; the word "fire" and the spell called "fire" are two different things. The former is a word, the latter is a video game spell. You can get the etymology of a word (written or spoken), you cannot get the etymology of something that is not a word (even if it is described by one word); You have to separate the word from the object it refers to. Check the etymologies of "the", "of", "and": no "F-Fantasy Etymology" page would describe them, still they have an etymology. If you take three descriptions of fire in English, Spanish and Polish, then translate the latter two into English, you get more or less the same result. If you take the three words "fire", "fuego" and "ogień", get their three etymologies, then translate the latter two into English, you get three different results (the etymology of "fire" is older words still meaning "fire"; the etymology of the Polish "ogien" is the same as the English "igneous", even if the former is a noun and the latter an adjective; the etymology of "fuego" is a word meaning "hearth" or "chimney"). This is because a word and the object-the-word-refers-to are two different things. When it comes to etymological change in meaning, the Spanish "fuego" is a good example: the word it comes from had a different meaning. Etymology studies this kind of change in meanings.
Some Color Mage, let me write it again: "what did Square derive this term from" is not etymology at all.--Abacos (talk) 20:54, 14 March 2022 (UTC)
Then how many derivations have to occur before it is etymology? The spelling and pronunciation of words are, when not having been entirely invented within that language, derived from another language, other cultures, or an older version of the same language. If etymology is the study of the history of how words formed, then it must be the process of discovering and understanding those derivations. I, quite frankly, do not see the difference between one of those derivations being some writer looking for mythological references that eventually get added to their corporation's brand management rules and one being, say, the great vowel shift, at least for the purpose of determining if the word "etymology" is being used correctly.
And no, seeing as this seems to be your favourite argument to attempt to dismiss even the slightest amount of pushback to your assertions, I am not referring to the object. Yes, we do both word and object, and as such can alter the section name to include origin or symbolism or whatever. No, this does not change my opinion that examining the point of most recent derivation appears to be sufficient for the definition.
Also don't comment out parts of your argument, that's for things you only want people editing the page to read. This conversation's been hard enough to follow between the half dozen or so pages it spilled onto and this page's threading being all over the place without also clicking edit and finding that you hid part of your post. -- Some Color Mage ~ (Talk) 22:06, 14 March 2022 (UTC)

Okay here's my more structured version of what I would propose of how we could handle etymology going forward:

  • Make larger etymological transclusions (such as Etymology:Shiva, which had previously discussed) click-through information. This would require a modification of Template:Etym and Template:Etym-page to accommodate for these, mostly to encourage a "read more" bit in Template:Etym and to make sure Template:Etym-page properly displays the additional bits. Could it be possible, maybe, to have two settings for Template:Etym? Maybe a full version for a recurring appearance page and a shortened version for particular appearances (or other similar situations where a main article, perhaps a story one, gets the full etymology and a gameplay one gets an abridged version?)
  • Formalise the "Etymology" sections on pages to be more broadly "Etymology and origins" or "Origins and etymology" sections or something to that effect, since a lot of times that's what they end up boiling down to. This also fits with pages such as Kefka Palazzo where we already do "Etymology and symbolism" sections despite not really being part of our manual of style.
  • Perhaps expand our usage of the Etymology namespace, having navigation between different pages per origin (whether it be linguistic or cultural) or perhaps per game. Certain games and areas, for example, do take particular cultural inspirations. Final Fantasy XIV loves classical antiquity for the names and concepts behind the Ancient's civilisations, for example, while Final Fantasy XV loves more late-antiquity based Latin names for their settings and characters.

This is, of course, with the caveat that I think the way we handle etymology is pretty good already. I like having pages such as Aerospark have the etymology section be transclusions of Etymology:Aero and Etymology:Spark, as silly as it is. It gives my brain the warm fuzzies, because I'm weird. — Zero-ELEC (talk) 00:06, 14 March 2022 (UTC)

This is the most acceptable proposal. p.s. "Etymology and symbolism" is fine with the Manual of Style because it's a (strongly suggsted) guideline and not an actual hard rule.--Magicite-ffvi-ios.png Technobliterator TC 01:55, 14 March 2022 (UTC)
If you change "etymology" to "etymology and symbolism" or "etymology and origin" (as Zero-ELEC suggested), I will be perfectly satisfied. --Abacos (talk) 20:54, 14 March 2022 (UTC)

I hate to be a party-killer, especially since I made this thread, but I feel like I need to point out that if SlyCooperFan1 gets back to us and says that aliasing is not possible (without engineering intervention) then renaming these thousands of pages is not really feasible, unless someone who's particularly interested is signing up to do it by hand (something that would take thousands of edits) or knows the pywikibot API and is willing to write a Python script that can do it. I am very reluctant to commit a ton of time, either from our usual gnomes or from the bot team, to something that doesn't seem very important at the end of the day. So there's a decent chance we're debating a nonstarter proposal. Cat (meowhunt) 23:59, 14 March 2022 (UTC)

An easy workaround would be to edit the category/guideline page by writing something like: "The etymology namespace was originally about the etymology (the study of the origin of the form of words, e.g. their spelling and pronunciation), but its scope was later expanded to include the origin of the meaning. For technical reason, this Wiki keeps the original name." Then, a bot could change the misleading == Etymology== section titles to an appropriate title, e.g. ==Name origin and symbolism==. --Abacos (talk) 21:13, 27 March 2022 (UTC)

I'm closing this discussion on account of the manner in which the proponent has conducted themselves. For anyone who wishes to return to this topic in future, know that acting as though you are the arbiter of the definition of the word "etymology" (which is still up for debate, btw), behaving as though the proposed solution cannot be final unless you alone are "perfectly satisfied" with it, posting tl;dr spam messages to discourage participation, and generally portraying oneself with an air of arrogance will cause you to forfeit your role in building consensus. Though I maintain that Zero-ELEC's proposal is strong and worthy of consideration, the manner in which this discussion has been conducted forces me to close it.--Magicite-ffvi-ios.png Technobliterator TC 01:10, 28 March 2022 (UTC)