Glottopedia:Dictionary articles/Technical terms

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Glottopedia dictionary articles explain technical terms of linguistics. A technical term is fixed expression whose meaning is peculiar to linguistics. This page explains in more detail which technical terms are appropriate for Glottopedia articles, and what conventions should be used for article names.


Fixed expressions

Since they are not fixed expressions, the following would not be suitable terms for dictionary entries:

  • accusative plural, two-place adjective, substratum effect

But of course, fixed technical terms need not be single words. They may be noun-noun combinations (surface structure), adjective-noun combinations (distributive numeral), and perhaps other more complex expressions.

Technical terms of linguistics

Since it is a term that is peculiar to linguistics, the following technical terms would not be suitable for dictionary entries:

  • Occam's Razor, corollary, principle, generalization, petitio principii

However, there are of course many technical terms that are used outside linguistics but have a peculiar meaning inside lingistics. These are suitable for dictionary articles, e.g.:

Parts of speech

Technical terms of linguistics are overwhelmingly nouns. However, there are also adjectival technical terms (e.g. velar, syntagmatic, stative), and verbal technical terms (e.g. to ellipt).

In many cases, there are closely related nouns and adjectives, and sometimes also verbs, e.g. adjective/adjectival, phonology/phonological, synonym/synonymous, passivization/to passivize. Where there is no meaning difference between the different parts of speech, only one (the most prominent one) should be regarded as a technical term, and the others should be briefly listed under Term properties. See adjective, phonology, passivization. The non-prominent derived terms should be related to the main entries by redirects.

Dealing with homonymous terms

In traditional lexicography, homonyms are distinguished by number diacritics (e.g. case(1), case(2)). Glottopedia, like Wikipedia, only uses descriptive distinguishers, added in parentheses. Such distinguishers may be of the following types:

If one of the hononyms is much more prominent than the others, it may have no distinguisher (e.g. case vs. case (in generative syntax), polysynthesis vs. polysynthesis (in Mark Baker's work)).

Dealing with synonymous terms

Unlike Wikipedia, which has only survey articles and therefore does not have different articles on terms that have basically the same meaning, Glottopedia often has separate articles for synonymous terms (e.g. subordinator and subordinating conjunction).

Disambiguation pages

Disambiguation pages are often helpful when there is not one use of a term that is significantly more prominent than others (see, e.g., borrowing).

Disambiguation pages may also be set up for words that do not occur as terms of their own, but only as parts of terms (see, e.g., free, weak).


Glottopedia uses redirects only for term variants which are so similar that a separate article on both of them is superfluous. This concerns spelling variants (e.g. code-switching redirects to codeswitching), part-of-speech variants (e.g. elliptical redirects to ellipsis, genericity redirects to generic), abbreviations (e.g. HPSG redirects to Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar), and individual terms that are parts of term pairs (e.g. unmarked redirects to marked and unmarked).

Term pairs

In many cases, two terms often occur together as a term pair and cannot really be defined and discussed in the absence of the other term (e.g. langue and parole). Such term pairs (which can be called "Ying and Yang pairs") should get a single article (see langue and parole).


Article titles use "Sentence case", i.e. capital letters are used only for proper names (such as names of theoretical approaches, e.g. Role and Reference Grammar).

(Note that Mediawiki automatically capitalizes the first letter of every article title. The issue of capitalization or non-capitalization thus only arises with article titles consisting of several words.)

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