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GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Etymologiae/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Maunus (talk · contribs) 03:36, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]

This article looks incredibly interesting, and I will be happy to review it.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 03:36, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Many thanks for taking this on. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:27, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]


  • I think this article is of vital importance to wikipedia, being about one of the earliest efforts to undertake a project similar to our own. I am very thankful that someone has taken the time to bring it up to this level of quality. It should honestly be a FA, given its importance to our own sphere of interest as encyclopedists. So thanks for that! However the vitality means we can't skimp on quality, and there are some things that can definitely be improved:
Thank you. All the same, this is just a GA! Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:41, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • The lead is not an adequate summary of the article. It should include material about the structure of the contents of the encyclopedia - its books and general format. And also its manuscript and printing history.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 23:16, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Done. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:17, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • The citation format is odd. The notes include both short and long references, but one book is separated out into the bibliography. I think the best solution is to take all long citations into the bibliography and use only short citations in the inline references - possibly excepting web-only references.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 23:16, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Noted. This is outside the GA criteria but I will try to find a sensible resolution. Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:41, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The 'one book' is the critical translation of Etymologiae by Barney and others into modern English, and it is cited many times, so it is placed in the Bibliography. I have used the sfn/Harvard templates to automate links between the short form references and the book, so like the other references it is now possible to navigate directly to online sources, where available. I hope you'll agree this elegantly solves the formatting question and provides the "quality" we all desire. Chiswick Chap (talk) 09:50, 27 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I still think it is odd not to move the long refs into the bibliography just because they are only cited once - I don't know any style guides that do that. But if this is how you like it then ok.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:35, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I missed a little bit of historical context surrounding its production - how and why was it made? What gave Isidore the idea or inspiration? Who paid for it? How long did it take? Who helped him? Why were in that period interested in encyclopedias like this? What was Spain like in this period, and was there anything special about the period and historical context that favored the production? That kind of thing, I think is missing.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 23:16, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Added a Context section, which may begin to hint at your excellent questions. Chiswick Chap (talk) 16:56, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
It definitely is an improvement. I think it still could do with some fleshing out as far as sources allow - the section is mostly about Isidore and not so much about the intellectual milieu of the time or about the function of encyclopedias. Why is Pliny the Elder not linked anywhere, and why is it not mentioned that his was the only other previous encyclopedia? Not something I will fail the article for, but something I think can be worked on for subsequent levels of improvement.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:35, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Wikilinked Pliny, and mentioned the Natural History! And one or two other links too. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:12, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
This made me wonder if his citations to Pliny actually are to the Natural History? That would be interesting I think. Also do we know anything about whether Pliny's natural history was a direct inspiration?·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:19, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Hmm, I found another source stating that Solinus' work was also an encyclopedia, so maybe that claim is not true. Definitely I think the article could use some material on the Etymologiae's place in the history of encyclopedias.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:22, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Pliny's was by far the largest (and most influential). The Etym.'s Books XII, XIII and XIV are all based largely on the Natural History. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:25, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Cool. There is a book by Andrew Brown on the history of encyclopedias, it mentions Pliny and Wikipedia - but there is no snippet view so I can't see if it mentions the Etymologiae too. But it probably does.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:27, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The use of Pliny's NH is cited in the article. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:34, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Yes this was more for something more general about the Etymologiae's place in the history of the encyclopedic genre. Here is a link to another work that may be useful[1].·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:38, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Ok, why not, said that Isidore fits into the classical tradition (i.e. not observational research), Brehaut is certainly right on that point. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:53, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I liked that edit of yours. I looks to me as if Brehaut can provide some analytical content in general which I think will be needed for further improvements beyond the GA level.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:55, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • I think the section on manuscript is too short, and not coherent enough as prose. I actually don't understand what it says - untill the reference to Codex Gigas - and even then it is not very informative overall, but seems to assume a lot of background knowledge. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 23:16, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Rewritten, new wikilinks and references. Chiswick Chap (talk) 14:59, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Much better.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:35, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • The section on "contents" is quite odd in the way that it is broken in to short sections on each book. Maybe a different organization might make sense, one without a header for each book?
Removed the headers. Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:41, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Much nicer in terms of readability and layout I think.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:35, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • There are many paragraphs that have no citations throughout the article - but especially in the contents section. I understand why the contents it section might not feel necessary to cite, since it summarizes the actual book - but outside of that section all paragraphs need at least one citation.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 23:16, 25 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, contents and 'plot' sections are generally agreed to be self-citing. I've cited the rest. Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:44, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Great.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:35, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Thanks for your improvements. I will be traveling the next three days and will probably not be able to review the changes until Friday, so you can take your time with the improvements, keep up the good work!·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:09, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Many thanks. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:17, 26 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]


  1. Well-written:check
    1. the prose is clear and concise, it respects copyright laws, and the spelling and grammar are correct; and
    2. it complies with the manual of style guidelines for lead sections, layout, words to watch, fiction, and list incorporation.
  1. Verifiable with no original research:check
    1. it contains a list of all references (sources of information), presented in accordance with the layout style guideline;
    2. all in-line citations are from reliable sources, including those for direct quotations, statistics, published opinion, counter-intuitive or controversial statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, and contentious material relating to living persons—science-based articles should follow the scientific citation guidelinescheck
    3. it contains no original research.
  2. Broad in its coverage:check
    1. it addresses the main aspects of the topic;
    2. it stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style).
  3. Neutral: it represents viewpoints fairly and without bias, giving due weight to each.check
  4. Stable: it does not change significantly from day to day because of an ongoing edit war or content dispute.check
  5. Illustrated, if possible, by images:check
    1. images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content; and
    2. images are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions

I have concluded the review and am passing the article: I think that for the next stage (FA level) the article needs to give more of an analytical account of the Etymologiae, including their social, historical and literary context, and their place in the history of encyclopedias and knowledge, and it also needs I think to cite a little bit broader in the literature. It is however well within the GA criteria and deserves to be promoted.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 20:48, 29 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Thank you very much for the review, and for the suggestions for the future. Chiswick Chap (talk) 05:23, 30 May 2015 (UTC)[reply]


I have never made a suggestion for a Wikipedia article before so apologies if this is the wrong way to point this out, but Tertullian was a Christian author, not a Pagan one as it says in the article. (talk) 12:39, 19 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Whether or not it supplanted other resources[edit]

It says right in the current text (which the reverting editor says he wrote himself) that "[t]hrough the Middle Ages Etymologiae was the textbook most in use, regarded so highly as a repository of classical learning that, in a great measure, it superseded the use of the individual works of the classics themselves, full texts of which were no longer copied and thus were lost. It was one of the most popular compendia in medieval libraries" (emphasis mine). This is referenced to: Barney, Stephen A.; Lewis, W. J.; Beach, J. A.; Berghof, O. (2006). The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-511-21969-6. I think that "superseded" and "supplanted" are pretty equivalent, particularly since the full texts were lost and no longer available, whereas Chiswick Chap disagrees and would rather edit-war than follow the standard process for discussing disagreement on content. That two separate and very different editors disagree with the reverting editor does not appear to have occurred to him. So...let's discuss. Risker (talk) 21:00, 3 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Please maintain politeness. What the text, and the cited source, does not say is that "Scholars recognize its importance less for the preservation of classical texts that it largely supplanted than for the insight it offers into medieval thought." In other words, it is agreed by everyone that it did the supplanting; it is not at all agreed that scholars recognise its importance for that fact. The opposite may well be (I think is) true, namely that scholars are incredibly interested in the fragments it preserved. If you want to maintain that they aren't interested in the fragments but in the fact of supplanting, you definitely need sources for that. Chiswick Chap (talk) 21:17, 3 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
My message is considerably more polite than the one you left on Wetman's talk page, and I am quite shocked that you found it more polite to re-revert than to follow BRD, which is pretty much the type of rudeness that BRD is meant to prevent. The modern scholars, according to the article (and references 48, 47, and 4) all imply that the main longterm impact of the work is the reflection into the medieval mindset. Risker (talk) 22:05, 3 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I've added a mention of the medieval mindset in the lead. Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:21, 4 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Typography in volume 1[edit]

There is a reference based on a (respected) French magazine source at Quotation mark#History which quotes from the Etymologiae. I suspect that it is volume 1 from the table given in the article. To save you the effort, here is the relevant section:

The single quotation mark is traced to Ancient Greek practice, adopted and adapted by monastic copyists. In his seventh century encyclopedia, The Etymologiae, Isidore of Seville describes their use of the Greek diplé (a chevron) " ⟩ Diplé: our copyists place this sign in the books of the people of the Church, to separate or to indicate the quotations drawn from the Holy Scriptures".[1]

Even though the source doesn't say so, would it be reasonable to say "In Volume 1 of his seventh ..."? Is "Diplé" the correct word?--John Maynard Friedman (talk) 22:00, 5 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Pedro Uribe Echeverria (7 August 2009). "Deux-points et guillemets : le " procès-verbal "". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 5 June 2020. Dans le chapitre sur les symboles graphiques, Isidore évoque la diplè (chevron, en grec) : " > Diplè : nos copistes placent ce signe dans les livres des gens d'Eglise pour séparer ou pour signaler les citations tirées des Saintes Ecritures."


Daphne Preston-Kendal appears to have captured a citogenesis in the wild! I've been waiting for ages to see one. I'm not sure that this one stands being pinned to the board though?

  • CBSNEWS.com staff (February 6, 2001). "Isidore — Patron Saint Of Internet?". CBS News. Pope John Paul is considering naming St. Isidore of Seville the patron saint of Internet users and computer programmers, Vatican sources said on Tuesday. Saint Isidore was nominated two years ago but the Holy See has yet to make a final decision.

Yes, I know, spoilsport. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 23:31, 10 November 2021 (UTC)[reply]

I went to update the sentence with this extra information but before saving, concluded that the whole thing is off-topic, and furthermore violates wp:LEAD because it doesn't summarise body content. I moved the citations to the article about Isidore, where it belongs. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 20:33, 11 November 2021 (UTC)[reply]