Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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352 words

By now many people know and possibly love Wikipedia. One of my flatmates even keeps on talking about how he needs a new mobile phone that can run the thing… so we don’t need to get up and get the proper encyclopædia when watching Who wants to be a Millionaire. Personally, I have been amazed by the work that’s been put in there by people.

Some areas really seem to have seen a lot of work and give many details. And while these for sure are the geeky areas, there are also surprisingly many normal topics that are covered well. More than I would have guessed, anyway. And then there are things which I don’t like. Technical points, like their ubiquitous senseless self-referential linking (year numbers? WTF?!), the meagre integration between languages which may provide a link to articles on the same topic in other languages but will leave it to you to explore it on your own. I’ve also come across numerous entries which seemed rather incomplete or half-hearted in the way they were done. Oh, an I keep being freaked out that they have exhaustive entries describing the various characters of the various Star Trek series. It keeps me thinking that it can’t possible be a trustworthy source of information.

But recently I’ve run into another problem. How’s the damn thing to be pronounced in German? While this might be clear for English, there are no words ending in pedia in German. If the name were supposed to be modeled on the word for encyclopædia, we’d end up with Wikipädie in German. But we don’t.

My personal intuition was to pronounce the last syllable slightly stressed in German. However, everybody else seems to prefer stressing the second-to-last one – making it sound more like the English word. The site itself isn’t too helpful on this. At least it isn’t entirely consistent, giving both [ˌvɪkiˈpeːdia] and [ˌvɪkiˈpedɪa] on the encyclopædic and dictionary sites respectively – with the latter one sadly stating that a plural form of the word exists (what would that be?) and is wikipedias rather than wikipediae.


August 15, 2005, 0:03


Comment by Dave2: User icon

I have mixed feelings on things like this. It is always my intent to honor words of foreign origin by pronouncing them as they were originally offered. As an example, I study Japanese, so I know how “karaoke” is supposed to be pronounced, and say it that way. Of course, this only confuses my fellow Americans who have mangled the pronunciation completely.

But, on the other hand, if the localization is difficult (or impossible) to pronounce easily… then what can you do? You would think that the German Wikipedia project-leads would want to standardize the pronunciation and offer up a preferred way to refer to it?

August 15, 2005, 0:36

Comment by d.w.: User icon

My PSP is now my lying-uselessly-on-my-butt-watching-tv reference device of choice — 802.11 + Wikipedia + IMDB is a killer combination. :)

August 15, 2005, 4:21

Comment by ssp: User icon

Dave (S): Sure, but particularly for an encyclopædia or the dictionary they have it seems strange that the name shouldn’t be in the language the work itself is in. Besides, in French they got an extra accent (Wikipédia) as well.

The Japanese remark is quite funny. When you’re coming from German pronunciation, Japanese pronunciation is quite natural. But English speakers always seem to mess it up. When I played the Japanese versions of Stereo Total’s Du bist schön von hinten and The Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi battles the Pink Robots to a Japanese friend, she was amazed how right Stereo Total got it and how ‘funny’ The Flaming Lips were.

And yes, I’d prefer if they at least fixed one of the pronunciations…

Dave (W): Good to know it’s not just us who enjoy the lazy TV and internet thing… hmmm, IMDB.

August 15, 2005, 10:10

Comment by red: User icon

Ja! Lets go down to ein fraternity! We vill be roomies!


November 18, 2005, 16:46

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