Wiktionary:Language families

(Redirected from Wiktionary:Families)
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.
For a list of all language family codes, see Wiktionary:List of families.

Wiktionary sorts languages into families. Most families are related through descent from a common ancestor, but a few are merely categories, such as "creoles and pidgins". Wiktionary organizes language categories and derivations categories by families. Each family is represented on Wiktionary by a name and by a code.

See Wiktionary:Languages and Wiktionary:Dialects for discussions of languages and of dialects, respectively.

Family codes


Wiktionary represents families by codes. Family codes are stored in Module:families along with related data. These codes are generally three letters, or three letters followed by a hyphen followed by another three letters. Exceptionally, they may be other strings. Family codes can reasonably be used in etymology templates like {{der}}, {{bor}} and {{inh}} and of course in the namespace dedicated to reconstructions.

Genetic families


Genetic families are groups of languages which have a common ancestry. Wiktionary follows prevailing scholarship when grouping languages into genetic categories. Each genetic family has a code.

Many genetic families have an ISO 639-5 code. When one is available, it is used on Wiktionary as well. For example, the Austroasiatic languages are aav, the Celtic languages are cel, the Germanic languages are gem.

When a family has no standard ISO-639-5 code, but one of its superfamilies does have a code, Wiktionary assigns it a two part exceptional code. The first part is the ISO-639-5 code of its nearest superfamily, and the second part is a series of three lowercase letters which generally approximate the name of the family. For example, the Pama-Nyungan family is aus-pam: "aus" is the ISO 639-5 code for Australian languages, "pam" abbreviates "Pama-Nyungan". The Brythonic languages are cel-bry; Jewish Aramaic languages are sem-jar; South Bird's Head languages are ngf-sbh.

When neither a family nor any of its superfamilies has an ISO 639-5 code, the special code "qfa" is used as the first part, with the "q..." range being allowed by the ISO for private use and "fa" standing for "family". (This system was devised on IRC and in the BP.) For example, the Misumalpan languages are qfa-min.

Non-genetic categories and isolates


Not all language groupings are genetic. Some groups contain languages with other common properties, or languages spoken in a certain area. The following are recognised:

  • art = Artificial/constructed languages, which are purposely created by linguists or hobbyists. Some may be widely used (such as Esperanto), but most are only limited to small communites (like Láadan).
  • crp = Creole or pidgin languages, which developed as a means of communication between groups that had no common language. For example, Krio, Zamboanga Chavacano, Greenlandic Eskimo Pidgin.
  • sgn = Sign languages (such as ASL), which are not spoken but communicated through gesturing.
  • qfa-mix = Mixed languages, which formed by roughly equal mixing of two or more languages, usually by speakers that spoke the source languages fluently.
  • qfa-iso = Language isolates, which have no demonstrated relationship to any other language (such as Ainu).
  • qfa-not = Languages that do not belong to a family in principle, because they are not true languages. "Translingual" (mul), "Undetermined" (und) and "substrate" (qfa-sub) are not languages, and cannot be considered members of any family. This code is also used for groupings of languages which are treated on Wiktionary as families, but which are not related. The preceding special family codes themselves also use this code.

Family names

  • All family names should be defined as English words in their respective Wiktionary entries.
  • Each family is consistently referred by only one name, to be used in etymologies and elsewhere. When there are two or more possible names, one of them is chosen.
  • For clarity, avoid using the same name for both a family and a language if possible; for instance, a certain family may be called Japanese or Japonic, but since there is already a Japanese language, Japonic is a better name for the family. (However, some homonymy cannot be avoided: for example, there is both a Kipchak language and a Kipchak language family.)
  • Multiple names of families should also eventually be listed in the sections synonyms or alternative forms at each entry.

See also