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The Monolingual KudoZ group – What is its nature?
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:08
German to English
Nov 14, 2004

Dr. Hannibal Lecter: First principles, Clarice. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?
Clarice Starling: He kills women--
Hannibal Lecter: No! That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does, what need does he serve by killing?

I'd say the monolingual KudoZ groups are incidental to the other KudoZ groups. The regular KudoZ groups are for translations into other languages. The nature of monolingual groups is that they are for questions about one language.

Given the distinction, I think we ought to take another look at the category options for monolingual questions – they're the same categories as for the language pairs and generally aren't really relevant: Technology/Engineering, Art/Literary, Medical, Law/Patents, Science, Business/Finance, Marketing, Social Sciences, Other.

The English monolingual group is seeing increasing use and the questions generally involve 1. grammar, 2. usage/style, 3. terminology/vocabulary, 4. idioms/slang, 5. spelling/punctuation, 6. EFL.

In addition, at least for English and Spanish (and probably many more languages), we really need a way for the asker to specify the version of the language they're working with: British English, American English, etc.

One advantage to changing the question categories for monolingual groups would be to send a message about what these groups are actually all about. It might improve the quality of some of the questions asked. Another is to let potential answerers know up front what kind of question is being asked so they can decide whether they want to work on it.

Often, the subject matter category is also important for monolingual questions, but we still have the option when posing a question to add the subcategory if appropriate. So if someone wants to have the meaning of term clarified that happens to be used in a sentence dealing with engineering, he could select Vocabulary and add engineering below.

We might even need to give examples of the kinds of questions that could be asked in each section.

I'd sure like to hear your opinions.


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 20:08
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
A *resounding* agree! Nov 14, 2004

That is just an excellent idea you`ve hatched there, Kim! I emphatically agree with your analysis of the current monolingual question situation, as well as the categories you have suggested which are indeed far more in tune with the needs of askers (and answerers!).

Let's see what this idea brings about - an improvement to the site is definitely in our future, folks! I can feel it!

Thanks, Kim.
Nancy


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Yolanda Broad  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:08
Member (2000)
French to English
+ ...
It would be interesting to see a breakdown on Mono uses Nov 14, 2004

My impression of how monolingual KudoZ get used matches yours. The way Henry came up with the categories for KudoZ was to check the manually-entered topics and do a breakdown of what those were. Maybe the same thing needs to be done just for mono KudoZ. We might as well have something concrete to base our claims on!

Yolanda


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:08
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
What is its nature? Nov 14, 2004

Thanks for the agree, Nancy and Yolanda! Sorry about my somewhat unfortunate choice of characters to quote from, but old Hannibal did put it rather succinctly, I think.
These monolingual groups have the potential to become more and more valuable sources of helpful information about languages and should be tailored for that purpose. Here's an example of the kind of thing we could emulate:

http://www.englishforums.com/

Cheers, Kim


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 18:08
French to English
+ ...
Great suggestions! Nov 15, 2004

Hi Kim!

I agree with you. I think it would be wonderful if we could find a way to make the asker specify British English or American English. The terminology can be so different, it's mind-blowing
Could we also request that in the French-English group? Responders get pretty upset when their BE answer is refused (although correct for BE) because the asker really needed an AE answer.

One more thing: askers need to be dissuaded from using English monolingual for general information questions on research and information questions. We are not here to fix furnaces or explain the meaning of fiber optics.

Your grammar, usage, punctuation categories would be very helpful.

Wishing everyone a good week


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:08
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
What a great idea Kim! Nov 15, 2004

I totally support your ideas Kim. I think every monolingual KudoZ should have the categories that you mention.
Monika

Kim Metzger wrote:
The English monolingual group is seeing increasing use and the questions generally involve 1. grammar, 2. usage/style, 3. terminology/vocabulary, 4. idioms/slang, 5. spelling/punctuation, 6. EFL.


Kim Metzger wrote:.. we really need a way for the asker to specify the version of the language they're working with: British English, American English, etc.


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:08
Member
French to English
+ ...
Some reservations... Feb 25, 2006

Although I am basically in overall agreement with Kim and others' comments, I would just like to add a word of caution.

My observation of the EN mono forum is that it is often used by people translating in other pairs, but seeking clarification of some term in EN first --- and this seems to me an excellent and appropriate use for it! I'm think of Askers like regular Elena Ghetti, who asks intelligent and pertinent questions in EN to help her ensure she understands and makes the right choices in EN > IT.

And now that I'm tracking the EN > FR group, it's very obvious that quite a large majority of the questions relate, not to an Asker lacking the FR term, but rather, to their failing to understand what the original term meant in EN; a clear case, it would seem to me, for seeking clarification in EN mono first!

So I would like to suggest, instead of REMOVING the categories for mono groups (which would in my view be a retrograde step for quite a number of users, and would meant that I for one would get inundated with questions to such an extent that I'd probably have to stop participating in EN mono!), why don't we simply ADD Kim's suggested new categories alongside them? That way, it would suit both types of Asker, and as long as these were publicized enough (perhaps a special note on EN mono ask question pages?), I think most people would have the sense to use them, where they felt appropriate.

One of the failings of KudoZ at the moment is that, in trying so hard to second-guess and legislate for every possible contingency, it is becoming cumbersome and unwieldy. The more we break down the categories, the more certain people might miss out. I know that when the new, narrower fields were introduced, I lost out enormously (as very clearly evidenced by fewer questions received, and a dramatic drop in my KudoZ points earnings!) --- took me a while to fully realize what was going on, and I still haven't been able to get back to where I was before --- and I think it's a shame if I or anyone else should be prevented from participating as fully as we'd like to, simply because of the system.


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Fuad Yahya  Identity Verified
Arabic
+ ...
Good categories to add to specific fields -- provided the general fields are tweaked Feb 25, 2006

Kim Metzger wrote:

The English monolingual group is seeing increasing use and the questions generally involve 1. grammar, 2. usage/style, 3. terminology/vocabulary, 4. idioms/slang, 5. spelling/punctuation, 6. EFL.



These are great categories to add to the specific fields. Here is how I would spread them out: grammar; spelling; punctuation; usage; etymology; phrasing/wording; idioms/slang; proverbs/sayings; theoretical linguistics.

By adding these to the list of specific fields, all language pairs can benefit from the break down, not just monolingual questions. In order for this to work, we need to add one more category to the general fields: linguistics/monolingual questions.

With this arrangement, it would still be possible for a monolingual question to fit into the traditional fields of technical/medical/legal, etc., if it happens to fit such a field, or, if it is more of a purely linguistic nature, it would fit the linguistics/monolingula general field, with the added ability to define the sub-field.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:08
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Searching monolingual KudoZ glossaries Feb 25, 2006

We have a lot of valuable information in the monolingual KudoZ glossaries, but I wouldn't want to try to do a search for something in particular. It's often very difficult to classify questions and enter useful terms in the answer box. What do you do, for instance, when all the asker needed was an interpretation of a sentence?

What we need is a way to make searching and editing the existing glossaries feasible. And we wouldn't want to make entering a question so difficult that people just wouldn't want to bother.

Our current system is set up for translations rather than for explanations. I'm not a computer programmer or a lexicographer, so I can't offer any really specific solutions. But for starters, it would make sense to place most of the questions asked by non-native speakers under ESL.


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