Wiktionary:About Translingual

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link={{{imglink}}} This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. Specifically it is a policy think tank, working to develop a formal policy.
Policies – Entries: CFI - EL - NORM - NPOV - QUOTE - REDIR - DELETE. Languages: LT - AXX. Others: BLOCK - BOTS - VOTES.
Main category: Translingual language

This page explains the Wiktionary treatment of "Translingual" entries. These are entries that have identical definitions in many languages. This generally occurs for terms that are not inflected. For simplicity, these terms have a single entry with a "Translingual" language header, and use the mul language code. There is some disagreement about the criteria for what makes certain terms Translingual, though some agreement has been found on a variety of terms.



The range of use varies a bit between types of current Translingual entries. Chemical formulae, for instance, are used identically in practically all languages, whereas Han characters are not used natively outside of Asia. There is disagreement over whether "Translingual" should be restricted to only those entries used in all languages, or whether it is sufficient to have very similar usage in a large number of different languages. For entries of the second type, often the common information is explained in the Translingual entry, with individual language differences detailed in separate language sections.



This document does not supersede the WT:Criteria for inclusion, and entries must be attested. However these attestations can be in any language that meets WT:CFI. The following types of terms have been accepted as being Translingual.

  • Chemical formulae (category) such as H₂O.
  • taxonomic names (category) such as Escherichia coli
  • Codes
  • Symbols
    • Characters (e.g. 'a' and '1' and ) that have the same definition in multiple languages.
    • Mathematical symbols such as operators (e.g. +) and functions (e.g. min)
    • Common punctuation such as ?. Note, however, that this is not universal. For instance, '¿' is used primarily in Spanish.
    • Miscellaneous symbols such as © and .


  • Place names such as Malta and Paris, as uniting these under a Translingual header would mean the loss of grammatical information for the individual languages concerned, such as gender and pronunciation.
  • Italianate music terms such as lento and adagio. Again, uniting these under a Translingual header would mean the loss of grammatical information for the individual languages concerned, such as gender and pronunciation.

Under discussion


The classification of the following types of content is so far unresolved:

  • Translation sections. Usually only English sections are allowed to have translations, however many Translingual terms are used in English, so it seems logical to allow translations in Translingual. See Wiktionary:Translations for more information. However note that Wikispecies contains sections for vernacular names of biological taxonomy – see for example Capra nubiana there –, which can be adduced as a reason to shun the creation of translation sections at least for the scientific names of biology (Wikispecies can actually peruse contributors interested in such sections and we do not want to waste manpower and get out of sync by having redundant sections).





Since pronunciation varies by language, Translingual entries should not generally have pronunciations. For a small class of entries such as single letters, a pronunciation section is acceptable, such as at A#Translingual.

Other languages


The classification of a term as Translingual does not prevent the article having sections for other languages e.g. .com has an English section and a Translingual section.