Talk:United Kingdom/Archive 1

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United Kingdom or Great Britain?

Why has this article been moved from United Kingdom, which is a recognised country, to Great Britain, which hasn't existed as a country since the UK was formed?

The person who moved the page says "The term 'United Kingdom' is actually part of the long title for this country grouping" but this doesn't make sense to me. Richard Lamont 08:16, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Richard, most people know this country as Great Britain.Having an article under 'United Kingdom' doesn't make sense,as it is like having an article titled 'United Republic of Tanzania', when most people refer to that country as Tanzania. I hope that I was able to answer your question.Great Britain, by the way, has existed since 1707. - (Aidan Work 14:04, 27 January 2007 (CST))

This seems to me to be a general programming problem. The same issue comes up in biology with the names of organisms, common names and scientific names. Perhaps disambiguation pages would solve it? I do not have a view as to the best name, but I do know that if I put either "United Kingdom" or "Great Britain" or (forgive my lack of sophistication) even "England" in the search box I should be offered a route to this article.Nancy Sculerati MD 15:45, 27 January 2007 (CST)

This is confusing indeed, since on the European continent the UK is considered the proper name where as when one would say GB that is the UK without Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - concistent actually by standards used by the FIFA (to mention some of the users of that standard. England and Great Brittain nowadays are seen as total synonyms. However due to historical arguments there remains much to say for using the UK above GB. Robert Tito 17:06, 27 January 2007 (CST)

England and Great Brittain nowadays are seen as total synonyms. Hmmm. By whom? Not by anybody from the United Kingdom, certainly. Great Britain is the larger of the two main British Isles islands and includes Scotland and Wales. Ian Cundell 10:32, 2 February 2007 (CST)
Try and tell the Scots and Welsh that England is synonymous with Great Britain. Just because people make this error, and in the US I hear this all the time, does not make it right. I have never heard FIFA confuse England and GB. In fact, they are the ones that want a combined Scotland, England, NI and Wales team or similar. I think they are acutely aware of the difference since it represents 3 extra teams in the world cup qualifying rounds. Chris Day (Talk) 04:51, 19 February 2007 (CST)
Counting all minor outlying islands as part of Great Britain, it is 94.3% of the UK's land area and 97.2% of its population. It is not identical to the UK, so the article on the UK should not be called Great Britain. On Wikipedia, there is a separate article for the UK, Great Britain, and England, and I don't see why we shouldn't do the same here. These articles do lead readily to the UK article, because it is linked to in the first two lines of both of those.—Nat Krause 19:36, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Great Britan seems to be a subset of UK. UK should be retained, I suggest, and the distinguishing theme for the subset explained. We also need to check CZ policy on moving pages. I recall it should be done sparingly Is my memory wrong on this? David Tribe 21:43, 27 January 2007 (CST)

I have lived in the UK all my life. We hardly ever talk of Great Britain, because we don't often need a term for England + Scotland + Wales but excluding Northern Ireland. Great Britain is not a legal jurisdiction, it has no parliament or government, and other countries don't send their ambassadors there. There is English Law, and Scottish Law, but no British Law. I would like the name of my country got right, if it's all the same to you guys, so I'm going to revert the move. Richard Lamont 11:48, 28 January 2007 (CST)

As stated quite clearly in the opening line, the correct full term is United Kingdon of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (originally Ireland). So, by definition, Great Britain cannot be equal to United Kingdom. Ian Cundell 10:32, 2 February 2007 (CST)

Northern Ireland not a part of Great Britain?

That's absolutely a load of baloney. Northern Ireland IS part of Great Britain. It certainly isn't part of Ireland, even though it is located on the isle of Ireland. Northern Ireland is as British as England, Scotland, and Wales are. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are NOT even part of either Great Britain or the European Union.They're still British Commonwealth countries though. All 4 countries of Great Britain use the same currency - the Pound Sterling. - (Aidan Work 22:29, 18 February 2007 (CST))

I'll chime in here too, as a Brit, I agree with Ian Cundell and Richard Lamont above. Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain. If this is how you use the term GB then it is incorrect usage. UK = GB + NI. I think you should find it easy to confirm this with mutliple sources. Chris Day (Talk) 04:37, 19 February 2007 (CST)
If Northern Ireland was part of Great Britain, why would the country be called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? The name UKGBNI came about following the partition of Ireland, in which the Republic of Ireland was created, and NI became part of the UK along with GB. Maybe you're mixing Great Britain up with the British Isles - the latter does include both NI and the Republic. Richard Lamont 11:32, 19 February 2007 (CST)
It's not even debatable - the front of my passport says United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Important word that, "and". Although, just to confuse things it does call me a British Citizen, where once it called me a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies... Ian Cundell 12:32, 19 February 2007 (CST)

Northern Ireland is not prt of Great Britain as it is not part of Britain instead it is part of the United Kingdom once it used to be called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland but since the Irish Republic became a seperate country it is called the United Kingdom of Great Britainh and Northern Ireland. Tony Blair is introduced as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Sometimes it is also just called Britain.

I am from Northern Ireland. The state is part of the United Kingdom, but it is not a part of Great Britain, and hasn't been since the retreat of the last ice sheets. Great Britain is an island. The United Kingdom is a country - one that contains four sub-national territories: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Being from the country, I personally cannot see what is so hard to understand about it.
"Britain" is often used in the media to refer to the country. However, it isn't accurate. One wouldn't, for example, call the country "Northern Ireland", as that would be just as inaccurate. The preferable short term of the full title of 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' is either "United Kingdom" or "UK".
The citizens of the country are all British. The larger island's name has no bearing on that fact (the national descriptor) other than it having been a derivation of a name given to the people of the whole of the British Isles. --Mal McKee 02:30, 6 October 2008 (CDT)
To quote ""Britain" is often used in the media to refer to the country. However, it isn't accurate." Actually it is accurate but very confusing. Britain - on its own without the preceding 'great' can be used and is widely used to refer the UK as a whole. Not only by the media but also by officialdom. Only when prefixed with the word 'great' does the term 'Great Britain' refer only to the island to the exclusion of Ireland and any other isles. Derek Harkness 23:43, 7 October 2008 (CDT)
Obviously then, "Northern Ireland" can be used to mean "United Kingdom", for exactly the same reason. Shall we all call it that from now on? --Mal McKee 16:20, 8 October 2008 (CDT)

Getting back to more substantive matters

I've tried to make a start of hacking out some of the wiki-bloat, which at least in part stemmed from classic wikipedia POV pushing and 5c (sorry - 5p) inserting. Basic approach: try to improve the writing; remove stuff that is of interest only to a tiny minority of anally-retentive locals; remove stuff that is transient/ vicarious (or re-word in a more considered way); try to do justice to the N. Ireland situation in a neutral way (I think it needs more work).

I suspect I should have been more brutal. Ian Cundell 19:48, 3 March 2007 (CST)

You have more work to do.
Very recently the opening sentence (and, indeed, the whole opening paragraph) has been enormously blunted with, and I do quote, In articles on geography and 21st century characteristics, the preferred noun is United Kingdom or UK. In historical books and articles the preferred noun is Great Britain or Britain. The preferred adjective is British. The main language is the English language. Citizens are called Britons or (informally) Brits. Use British Empire or British Commonwealth. The UK!!!
The UK article was imported from WP where it had been exhaustively debated and honed. It is extremely unlikely that any of the facts can be altered or the emphasis substantially changed while remaining an encyclopedia article.
We can improve the way the language reads but I would suggest that a sandbox for article development is started first. Otherwise people will make unfavourable comparisons between the CZ and WP articles. I would strongly like our articles to be better - more up to date, better sourced, more balanced, sometimes with more pungent language that reads less like the report of a committee - but not idiosyncratic or too quirky in layout or emphasis.W. Frank 04:23, 29 April 2007 (CDT)
The CZ goal is to do better than Wiki, or else why bother? The Wiki is NOT edited by experts, which makes it an unauthoritative source--it is the least common denominator of a lot of amateurs, which tends to mean lots of uncontested facts and few complex ideas. In this case the article needs to start with the name of UK and usages, which confuses people outside the UK a great deal. Richard Jensen 08:16, 29 April 2007 (CDT)
Have you actually tried to read the sentence that was constructed without using circular (or 'tibetan') breathing? I thought German took the biscuit for sentences that needed help from artificial breathing apparatus or a flow diagram, but you've coined a world-beater, Richard. Even if the current sentence were not such a monstrosity, it is bizarre that you should think the most important characteristic of the UK is its funny name. I hate to say this but as a German resident in the UK for decades, I like to think I'm expert enough to say that, in travelling to more than 147 different countries, the only people that seem consistently confused or sloppy in their useage are American, English and French politicians. However, if you then ask the French person who has been wittering on about l'Angleterre what or where Le Royaume-Uni is, they still don't "confondre le Royaume-Uni avec l'Angleterre, l'un des pays qui le constitue, ni avec la Grande-Bretagne, l'île principale"
By all means stick the nomenclature clarifications in one of the first sub-sections - or even in a fourth or fifth paragraph of the lead but Not in the opening sentence.
Don't underestimate the expertise of some WP participants too much. There are lots of experts attempting to construct encyclopaedic articles on WP - it's just that they give up and roll their eyeballs when faced with the sort of non-expert howlers that confuse the Commonwealth, the British Isles, The British Islands, The United Kingdom, Britain, Great Britain and England as almost exact synonyms of each other! W. Frank 09:13, 29 April 2007 (CDT)

Well, I do agree that definitions and explanations are needed for all these names. By the way, Britain is a geographical term which also includes the Rep. of Ireland, which nobody seems to have noticed here. Perhpas it would be helpful to look at the suggestions I have just made on the Talk page for Countries of the World. It really is necessary for Encyclopedia entries to be clear and accurate, and when reality is more complex to take some rational decisions about categorisations. Please comment there. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:21, 29 April 2007 (CDT)

"Britain is a geographical term which also includes the Rep. of Ireland, which nobody seems to have noticed here."
Perhaps because its not. The British Isles is a geographical term which includes the island of Ireland (and therefore the Republic of Ireland) - but Britain and Great Britain striclty refer only to the island containing England, Scotland and Wales :-) Anton Sweeney 17:18, 2 May 2007 (CDT)
Ah, I think you are right. Of course, the name Britain is entirely informal and really rather unhelpful. I just saw a rather good diagram on Wukipedia, showing the relations of all the different terms:

--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:53, 2 May 2007 (CDT)

ONe more comment: the opening sentence is unwieldy [as well as not being completely correct]. I suggest that a table of terms is needed, with a different opening sentence referring to the table for more information. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:27, 29 April 2007 (CDT)

I agree, and that's an excellent suggestion. Anton Sweeney 17:18, 2 May 2007 (CDT)
Tables are nice but the lede paragraph has to explain the very complicated name situation. Richard Jensen 02:47, 3 May 2007 (CDT)

This isn't really complex. Once sentence can explain the whole issue. "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, often shortened to just 'United Kingdom' or UK, is..." The long name explains the relation of all the components with no ambiguity. Derek Harkness 11:21, 5 May 2007 (CDT)

No official languages?

I really think someone should check this: to my knowledge, English and Welsh are official languages. In England, all official documents are in English, and in Wales they are bilingual. It is true, though, that other languages are accepted [via interpreters] for official purposes such as legal hearings. However, this all needs clarification...--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 11:03, 3 May 2007 (CDT)

Its not really true. For proof, read the first line here - English is the official language of the United Kingdom. - Derek Harkness 10:27, 5 May 2007 (CDT)
I have rewritten the language section of this article to say that English isn't an official language, but most of the others have some official recognition. Despite what the government says, to the best of my knowledge there is no legal document establishing English as an official language of the whole UK. But I'd love someone to prove me wrong... John Stephenson 03:54, 15 May 2007 (CDT)
The Brits seem to care a lot about traditions. What happens when an MP makes a speech in Parliament in Urdu? (has anyone done that). How about a speech in Gaelic?? Richard Jensen 04:30, 15 May 2007 (CDT)
Speeches made in Scot's, Irish and Welsh Gaelic are not uncommon in their respective parliaments and assemblies. Snippets of french and Latin are also not uncommon. Additionally, "MPs take the oath or affirmation and then sign a book known as the “test roll”. The oath or affirmation must be taken in English, but the Speaker has allowed it to be said additionally in Welsh or Gaelic."[1]
There is no law on statute that says "English is the official language of the United Kingdom". The UK has no single constitutionally document of this sort and probably never will do. To look for such a law is to misunderstand the make up of the constitution of the UK. Just because the UK has no law on statue does not mean English is not official. There are other ways of making something official.
The term 'official' is a bit ambiguous. If you take an official language to mean that the language has special status in law then Englsih does. There is a law stating that all court documents must be in English. Also, since the Church of England and Church of Scotland are established churches, they are part of the state - Quite different for the USA here - and there are laws stating that, for example, Church services in the CoE must be in English and also the bible must be in English. This does not exclude other languages, but does give English a higher status than other languages.
Really we need an expert in UK constitutional law to comment here. In the mean time, I don't see any reason why we can't just leave the comment out either way round. A statement like "English is the most commonly used first language." is enough. Defining what 'official' means isn't really that important to the document. The comment that the UK has no official language is one of these random facts that people stick into wikipedia articles but don't really add anything to the comprehension of the topic. Derek Harkness 09:16, 15 May 2007 (CDT)

This issue is also discussed further down the page at Fresh start, but for what it's worth:

  • There is no legal document stating that English is the UK's 'official language'. The UK government's claims on various websites really reflect the de facto situation, rather than the legal one.
  • Derek's point above about how the UK works is also true - we do a lot of things by convention and precedent, rather than through creating rigid laws. However, from the point of view of a reader of Citizendium, I think someone coming across a statement that "English is the official language of the United Kingdom" will assume that this refers to a legal document - because that is the generally accepted definition. Elsewhere, countries define their 'official languages' in law. The only way round this is to insert a quite complicated digression about the way the political situation works in the UK.
  • I think we should call English the de facto language and try to clarify the matter in a separate 'language' section. John Stephenson 12:24, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
de facto sounds good. It seems that the digression could even be as brief as a referenced note? 14:45, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

English is not the de facto language of Wales, as many new state appointments, e.g. in schools, require fluency in the Welsh language (even if they assume competence in English). Wales, as a constitutuent part of the UK, is officially bilingual. The UK, therefore, does not have either an official or de facto language. We went through this debate some time ago, which is why the wording "main language" was used. This is uncontroversial and accurate. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:53, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

True, I forgot about the schools in Wales. Either way a note of some sort will solve the problem. Chris Day 16:39, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Much ado about nothing.

This name business is getting out of hand. Reverting is not allowed here but there seems to be the beginnings of a revert war starting in the opening paragraph. This issue should be discussed on the talk page not continually reverted.

I'm sorry to say that the line "In historical books and articles the preferred noun is Great Britain or Britain." is wrong. When history books talk about GB, they are talking about GB not the UK. Either because they are not including Ireland in the topic, or because are talking about a period of time prior to the UK existing, when it was just GB. In a few places, they reference to GB may be because the author was not up to date with the politics but we should be.

But as I said, much ado about nothing - why are people spending so much energy on the first paragraph when the whole of the rest of the article is so badly written and full of errors and omissions. Derek Harkness 23:55, 6 May 2007 (CDT)

I actually looked at recent history books and they overwhelmingly prefer "Britain" or "GB" in title of book and in main text when talking of UK history. For example I've done the bibliography on the Churchill article and looked at hundreds of titles. UK is rarely used in history titles or in the text. CZ should reflect the best practices of scholars, editors, publishers. AND we should tell users what those practices actually are.Richard Jensen 12:23, 7 May 2007 (CDT)
I have to admit, that in recent publications [published in UK] my references to the UK are continually being "corrected" to "Britain". It is only in very modern academic journals that they are happy with "UK". So, there is some justification to Richard's arguments...--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:30, 7 May 2007 (CDT)

Richard, you said on a recent revert, "all artyicles have to start with the name & its usage--end reader confusion immediately--& it's a main reason people use an encyclopedia; esp here where usage is complex" that conflicts with the CZ:Article_Mechanics#The_first_paragraph. We are an encyclopedia not a dictionary.

Additionally, you are not ending reader confusion, you are adding to it. The UK is erroneously called many names. The frequency of these errors is not an indication of 'best practice' as you called it, but rather an indication of how important it is that we do not re-enforce the mistake. For example, the UK is very frequently referred to as England and I have to regularly introduce my self as English but the UK is not England. For the exact same reason, the UK is not Great Britain.

England, GB and the UK are often confused and the lede of this article is only adding to that confusion. The history section is the place to explain, in-depth, all the various names, constituent countries, and historical names for this country and also to explain how and why the various parts came together and (in the case of Ireland) split off again. Derek Harkness 13:03, 8 May 2007 (CDT)

The lede should help the users. Note how dictionaries handle it: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: 2000. United Kingdom VARIANT FORMS: or United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland VARIANTS: Commonly called Great Britain (Britain.) ABBREVIATION: UK Columbia Encyclopedia has no UK article at all-- it says "See Great Britain." World Book by contrast has the main article at United Kingdom. CZ should have the mission of helping steer users through the confusion. If our lede is itself misleading it should be rewritten; we should not give up in despair the mission of clarity and correct information. Richard Jensen 16:16, 8 May 2007 (CDT)


I have been dropping red links left over from Wikipedia, and links to common nouns that people can be expected to know. The term "demography" means population; ""demographics" refers to market research (as in "the demographics indicate the TV show appeals to women over age 50")Richard Jensen 12:55, 14 October 2007 (CDT)


Anyone know what's causing "#ifeq: United Kingdom" to appear under the subpage template? I thought it was the UK template, but it's still there after commenting it out. Anton Sweeney 16:15, 21 October 2007 (CDT)

It has appeared in some other articles today, so it may be a temporary server error. Let's wait and see if it clears up. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:58, 21 October 2007 (CDT)

Removal of important info

Richard, you had no business to remove the sentence on British overseas territories and dependencies, which is a central aspect of its post-colonial situation, and also central to explaining the islands which are not part of the UK. I spent some time checking the correct legal situation with these in order to correct the mistakes made by others. I have reverted the text. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 19:32, 23 October 2007 (CDT)

I have again reverted! The islands are not formally part of the UK but they are owned by the UK.

Text here was removed by the Constabulary on grounds of civility. (The author may replace this template with an edited version of the original remarks.)

--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 23:21, 24 October 2007 (CDT)

The Union Jack, courtesy the CIA

I'd prefer to make a new copy than credit the U.S. spy agency for the Union Jack.  :D --Larry Sanger 08:21, 24 October 2007 (CDT)

Since there is no need to credit the CIA for a public domain image, I will remove the creditline :-P --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:53, 24 October 2007 (CDT)


T.S. Eliot MAY have become an English subject in 1927, but (1) that was after his most famous stuff was written ("Prufrock"; Waste Land) and (2) convention has it that he's an "American poet". (The most utilized textbook in English Lit classes in universities, Norton Anthology of American Literature, has T.S. Eliot.) Update: It's true that when Eliot won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, officially, apparently, his county was identified as "United Kingdom"; however, this only muddies the water I think, rather than clarifies things. The Encyclopedia Britannica Online compromises with "American-English poet". Personally, I would always say "American", stubborn that I am.Jeffrey Scott Bernstein 08:48, 24 October 2007 (CDT)

no source giving for name change

The article say; "which then changed to the current name in 1927. [10]" but [10] has nothing about the make change in 1927, can not, because it's a document from 1921 or 1922.

Please give a proper source, because as far as I know, the name was never officially/legally (by act of parliament or international treaty) changed. But this might just be another (urban) legend. Arno Schmitt 02:21, 16 November 2007 (CST)

I've moved the current reference forward in the sentence and added a new reference for the name change. Anton Sweeney 09:23, 16 November 2007 (CST)

Reversion of 2 changes

I have reverted two changes made to this article, for the following reasons of Editorial decision. First, the UK political system is bicameral and the Monarch has only a minor role [besides which does not constitute a "chamber"!]. The other change was inappropriate because the section is on nationalist regional tendencies, and the chnages inserted text about governance structure.

The point made in the previous comment about name change may be valid, although I suspect it is only a matter of sources. This needs to be clarified. In future, please discuss any major changes you would like to make on the Talk page first. That is what the Talk pages are for. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 04:10, 16 November 2007 (CST)

I disagree strongly. As stated in the article the monarch is part of parliament -- whether her/his role is minor or not. It is a matter of principle.
In the same spirit of imprecision: "The Appelate Committee of the House of Lords (usually just referred to, confusingly, as "The House of Lords") is the highest court in the land" -- The House of Lords IS the highest court in the land, the Appelate Committee acts in its name.
The sentences about Scottish Nationalists being in opposition are just wrong.Arno Schmitt 03:30, 16 November 2007 (CST)

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.

The Constabulary has removed a conversation here that either in whole or in part did not meet Citizendium's Professionalism policy. Feel free to remove this template and take up the conversation with a fresh start.

tricameral parliament

In the article their is a correct sentence: "The monarch is formally an integral part of Parliament (as the "Crown-in-Parliament") and gives Parliament the power to meet and create legislation." that is at odds with a latter statement: §the parliament "is bicameral, composed of the elected House of Commons and the House of Lords"". The second phrase is blatantly wrong. -- Please change it.

As a constitutional historian I say: For about 700 years the parliament has three chambers. The territory over which the it held sovereignty, the mode of succession (death, appointment, election, etc) changed, and the relative weight of the chambers changed, but the parliament is the parliament is the parliament.

Your comments are at variance with all the published work I have ever read on the UK constitutional structure, and unless you can provide me with two academic published references for this unknown concept of "tricameral" UK parliament, it will not be changed. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 06:42, 16 November 2007 (CST) Also, please sign your posts with 4 tildes.
The UK parliament is bicameral not tricameral. Although the monarch had the power of vito, this is no longer the case and has not been the case for a very long time. The last monarch to try to overrule the commons was William IV in 1834 and he failed. So the role of the monarch in legislation is ceremonial. Derek Harkness 08:26, 16 November 2007 (CST)

Your logic is not my logic. For me "The monarch is an integral part of Parliament" and "the parliament is composed of the elected House of Commons and the House of Lords" can not both be true. I guess I prefer the logic of teh world to yours. Good bye! Arno Schmitt 16:09, 16 November 2007 (CST)

Someone might like to remove the "King" from the last edit made. I can see no logic in any of this.--Martin Baldwin-Edwards 17:11, 16 November 2007 (CST)
Changed King to monarch. Anton Sweeney 18:42, 16 November 2007 (CST)

Duplicated section and images

This article has a duplicated section - "Geography". It appears at the beginning and then again after the "Law" section. Also, I think the article could use some images (e.g. Palace of Westminster, a map...)--José Leonardo Andrade 09:52, 16 November 2007 (CST)

Merged the two sections into one. Anton Sweeney 18:47, 16 November 2007 (CST) is a project to photographically document every square kilometer of the British Isles. There are scads of photos under Creative Commons license there. Stephen Ewen 13:50, 8 February 2008 (CST)


to United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, see also United States of America and not United States. --Christian Liem 11:24, 9 March 2008 (CDT)

It is not the policy of CZ to use the full formal name of a country, particularly where the citizens of the country do not even know such a name! I tried to undo your move, and it is too complex. Please do not rename articles without some sort of discussion about it first. You will note that there is plenty of discussion about the United Kingdom versus Great Britain on the Talk page above, which should have alerted you to the fact that the title has already been discussed by (amongst others) people living there or who are its citizens! For the moment, I am leaving the page with its renaming: any other comments welcome. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 14:36, 9 March 2008 (CDT)

I also tried to move it back, but it seems necessary to get a constable to delete the UK article redirects before we can move it back. As an aside, this underlines the problem of moving articles with subpages: we also have to manually move the /Approval and /Metadata pages, plus rename the latter. That's in addition to any other subpages. John Stephenson 22:00, 9 March 2008 (CDT)
I hope this is settled now. I'm about to add several more subpages to this article and so moving is going to become even more difficult. As an aside, we need to make a move page bot else we will end up with lots of orphaned subpages. Derek Harkness 08:25, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

Recent revisions

Ywo comments on the revisions by Mal McKee: First, the official languages of Wales are Welsh and English, so there is no official language of the UK. I have reverted that change. Secondly, I have great reservations about naming the southern counties of Ireland which broke away from the UK as "Southern Ireland". Please, any experts from Ireland have a look at this.Martin Baldwin-Edwards 16:06, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Is this the context: "While Southern Ireland chose to become an "? If so, why not write: "While the southern counties fo Ireland chose....."? Chris Day 16:19, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. To the best of my knowledge, including before the formation of the Republic, this name "Southern Ireland" was never used. However, I am not expert on this matter and would welcome some guidance. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:36, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
With regard to the official language of the UK, I have replaced the original edit I made: the British government website (which is referenced in the article) clearly states that the official language of the United Kingdom is English. "English is the official language of the United Kingdom".
With regard to the reference to Southern Ireland, that was, at one point (though short-lived) the name of the state that went on to become the Republic of Ireland. I'll have a look at the context. --Mal McKee 18:36, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
I had a look at the context and it seems perfectly fine to me. "While Southern Ireland chose to become an independent state with dominion status known as the Irish Free State". The government had provided for two jurisdictions - one called Northern Ireland and one called Southern Ireland. The one called Southern Ireland renamed itself as the Irish Free State. --Mal McKee 18:46, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Mr McKee: this is an editorial decision which you may not revert. I do not care about British government online sources: they make mistakes. This is not WP where you can selectively find sources to back up any argument you like. For any changes of this sort on the page, please discuss them here first. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:42, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

This is an editorial decision about language, since online British government documents are not reliable sources. The other problem, I will wait to see comments from other Irish authors before doing anything. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:49, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Mr Baldwin-Edwards, I have no idea who you are, but I do not appreciate your tone with me. Perhaps you are not very good with subtleties, but it is not a good idea to rile people up by telling them what they can and cannot do. The evidence for this minor edit is quite clear and stated plainly by a government website.
You should also take heed of your own advice and perhaps wait for discussion from others before you decide to revert another person's edits. I'd prefer you do not use the other online encyclopaedia as a sly attack against myself, by the way.
We clearly have a difference of opinion on this matter and I'm sure that your problem, what ever it is, with my edit can be resolved satisfactorily without resorting to patronisation or goading. I reverted your edit because I felt that a UK government website might be the best source available (if not the ONLY source available) to inform people as to the UK's official language: I thought it was quite cut and dried.
You have acted quite quickly in reverting my own revert, telling me what I can or cannot do, and comparing my actions with the goings-on in the other place. I would respectfully suggest that you calm down. What we have here is, and I find myself paraphrasing from popular culture, a failure to communicate. Both of us are obviously convinced that we are correct.
I had been looking at the situation and I was about to suggest that we include a sentence on the status of Welsh alongside the information on English (and probably the other officially-recognised languages too). I have been distracted by your swift replies and reverts, however. No doubt there will be another edit conflict waiting for me when I reply here!
If you are worried that the British government has made a mistake on its website, I would be happy for somebody to contact the government and ask them. If there is another government webpage or publication that contradicts the information available in that particular url, I'd be happy to have the article here revised, or the status of language in the UK queried or verified somehow. --Mal McKee 19:05, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
Suggestion regarding the "Southern Ireland" name: perhaps we should change it to "the Southern Ireland jurisdiction"? Would that be satisfactory? --Mal McKee 19:10, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Mr McKee:[ First of all, do not resave this page in such a way that the comments of others are edited. I reverted the page to reverse an edit conflict and to rescue your comment, whereas you have edited my comments and I do not find that acceptable. Secondly,] This comment is incorrect as the edits were made in good faith by Chris Day: my apologies. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:24, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

(continued) I have made an editorial decision about reliability of sources concerning legal facts. I am aware of the broad legal realities in the UK, and your source is not reliable. You may take this to another Editor, if you think my decision is wrong. This specific issue has arisen before on this page, which is why the wording was selected ("main language"). Thirdly, you can see perfectly clearly from my signature page that I am an editor with authority over this subject matter. If you do not accept expert editorial guidance, you might consider whether CZ is the place for you.

As far as factual information and sources are concerned, the editors can tell you what is acceptable. So, I am telling you (and anyone else who reads it) that government online sources for popular usage are not reliable statements of law or fact. You may not cite them to "win" an argument and we have no intention of correcting the thousands of stupidities or incorrect "facts" on government websites. Sorry to be a ltitle blunt, but I'm just stating it the way it is. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:07, 14 October 2008 (UTC)


Martin and Mal, it looks as though there is a reasonable disagreement about a complicated issue that requires some editorial direction to make decisions that would otherwise result in persistant circular editing. At Citizendium, we give this authority to editors that are chosen according to their expertise. Everyone else is considered an author and, while we value their opinions and input considerably, we hope that they will respect the editor's decisions. Having said that, gentle expert guidance is exactly that, gentle. Please consider that we are all working toward the same goal here; a credible accurate and approved article. If there are issues concerning naming of territory that are controversial, please look carefully at the neutrality policy to make sure they are handled efficiently. My duty is to help achieve a professional atmosphere. Let me know if I can help. D. Matt Innis 01:42, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

I'm relatively new to this environment and, as such, I'm only vaguely aware of the 'power' situation with regard 'editors' over 'authors'. I would, however, like to suggest a few things with regard to this 'authority' situation.
When an editor has a disagreement with an author (or anyone else, for that matter), I'm not sure it's wise to have the editor wield his 'power' in order to overrule the person he is in disagreement with. That leads to inherent or systemic bias. Instead, I think it would be wiser to introduce a third, neutral, party who can weigh up the pros and cons.
When an editor is convinced he is right, I believe gentle persuasion, rather than draconian language, is better placed to avoid conflict situations - regardless of Citizendium policy. Aggressive posturing, patronisation or brow-beating and the use of one's privileged position as leverage does not leave room for clear consideration and self-mediation between the involved parties. It happens all the time in the aforementioned other encyclopaedia, as many of us are only too keenly aware.
In this particular situation, I can certainly see the logic in what Martin is saying. Therefore I have suggested that the government be contacted in order to verify the situation. Certainly, English is the de facto language of the UK, if not the de jure official language - even in Wales. Perhaps editors may feel that contacting a source personally is beyond the remit of this encyclopaedia. However, (other) encyclopaedias have researchers who do leg-work to verify facts. Perhaps under the Freedom of Information Act, a definitive answer can be obtained from the British government.
I have to say that I am not looking simply to "win an argument" and I regard it as bad form to suggest that I am. I, too, seek facts which our readership might be able to rely upon for their self-education. I have no intention of reverting my edits again until something more concrete can be discovered with regard to the issue. To that end, I welcome your input and mediation in this matter Matt. I believe both myself and Martin have a, as you say, reasonable disagreement. I'm confident that the facts can be unearthed and a solution obtained though. --Mal McKee 20:08, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Mal: I agree that I was a little heavy-handed. I have put this article on my Watch list of problem pages since there is a history of controversial changes being made in a cavalier fashion. Effectively, I am the third party that you refer to, since I have made nothing other than corrective editorial contributions to this article. They are all of a factual nature, and consist of removal of massive confusion over complex political-legal issues in the UK. Please accept my guidance on these points, and my assurance that governments everywhere provide information that is only partially correct and sometime downright wrong.
I do not know of any law (and I cannot imagine one) that would grant to the English language the title of "official language": it seems to me that this is political propaganda, designed to weaken the previous multicultural attitude taken by the UK government, and revised in the light of a few terrorist incidents involving people from non-British ethnic backgrounds. In any case, even if there were such a law, it could not apply to Wales: ergo, it does not apply to the UK. So, there can be no single official language of the UK.
One of the advantages of having experts as editors is that we already know a lot, and we know when to spend time on something and when not to. This debate is a waste of energy, and that is why I simply reverted. I would reconsider only if you found a serious legal source stating the official languages of the UK, and the legal basis of such a claim. Martin Baldwin-Edwards 20:47, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
At the risk of appearing argumentative (which is not my intention), I'd like to address a couple of points. Firstly though, I appreciate your stance, and even agree with you on principle. As a citizen of the UK of some thirty-eight years, I would hope that you could feel you can accept my own guidance on occasion (I believe you are a fellow 'Brit') as well - despite the fact that I do not have any educational qualifications nor publications in the realm of politics (while at the same time, I respect yours, and others', experience, knowledge and editorial authority). I do understand that the very nature of law as it pertains to the UK, being based heavily on English 'common law', is difficult and has thus led to differences of opinion in various fora.
I would like to suggest that English is the de facto language of the UK, as the vast majority of its citizens communicate in that language and work in that language the majority of the time. All the mainstream media is also produced in English. The UK, I feel, can be treated separately from the individual states and can include all of the sub-national states, in this particular context (as we're probably not dealing with any known actual legislation re English). The extra laws which affect England & Wales, Wales alone, Northern Ireland, Scotland and also EC legislation can be noted in the article with regard to other languages.
I presume that when you talk of 'propaganda', you're referring to the possibility that the government website might be guilty of that particular attitude, and not myself! Lastly I would suggest to you that 'hobbyists' and amateurs may also know a lot about subject x, y or z, and that it might be unwise to assume that an editor is always the outright expert. I'm not trying to suggest that I know more than your good self on any particular subject (or even on ANY subject!), but it may be wise to bear in mind that others may be extremely well educated and knowledgeable in certain areas, even if they haven't the documentation and publications to prove that to be the case.
All that having been said, can we both agree that English is the de facto language of the UK in general and that Welsh is an official language of Wales specifically, and that we can therefore add those facts to the article? We can perhaps proceed, in some way, afterwards with regard to any 'official' (or otherwise) status of the English language, if someone ever decides to get an official response from the British government. Does that sound fair enough? --Mal McKee 13:25, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
All UK Acts of Parliament are in English. That's true also of all Acts of the English Parliament since 1485. Not sure about Scotland.
An interesting parallel to this question. Can anyone cite any Act of Parliament, Order in Council, Royal Proclamation, Royal Warrrant or Letters Patent saying London is the capital of the UK? If not, is it just the de facto capital? Peter Jackson 12:03, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
The phrasing used by Mal above seems to imply that Welsh is actually more official than English, which seems unlikely. Peter Jackson 10:13, 4 November 2008 (UTC)
Hi Peter. I agree that it may seem absurd that Welsh may be "more official" than English. However, we can state that this may well be the case because there is (as far as I'm aware) actual legislature governing the status of that language (whereas I don't know that there is any written legislature regarding English). I'm not sure that the case is the same with regard to English. Having said that, Common Law may prove to be overriding factor here. The fact is that there are only two 'national' or 'sub-national' flags that have any kind of "official status" in the UK with regard to written legislature. But that does not mean that the other flags do not exist or are not used.
English is, either de facto or through common law, in my experience and opinion, the 'official' language of the United Kingdom. I still haven't looked at the article since the disagreement, though I think this should be noted if it isn't already. --Mal McKee 04:27, 7 December 2008 (UTC)