Goban / Discussion

Sub-page of Goban

Hicham: Is the use of goban really depreciated or is this just a personal opinion? As far as I know in dutch and french , the term goban is widely used, and I never encountered any english speking player who had a problem with this term.

John F. The reason it's deprecated is usually because many westerners use goban to refer only to a traditional Japanese legged board, but in Japan any go board is a goban. But since the Japanese traditional board is both an unusual object and on object of veneration in the west, it may not be a bad idea to have a special word for it. In which case goban will do as well as any.

In SL terms, I think the only word of warning needed is not to sloppily or pretentiously use goban when any go board is meant.

Morten: Sorry, but that sounds like a bunch of over politically correct nonsense. I have never heard the term 'go board' used by anyone, except those who avoid using 'atari' and invent their own term ("warning" being a particularly bad offender).

How to judge this 'subjectively'?

Date of creation of pages on SL:
 Goban (May 1, 2001 - 09:32)
 Go board 	June 23, 2003 - 12:02
Number of hits (24 Sept 2005)
 Goban: 14671 - hit/mth: 282
 Go board: 2916 - hit/mth: 108
Usage of terms on other SL pages:
 Goban - exceeds 500 pages
 "Go board" - 188 pages

<RANT> It annoys me when people try to put everything into basic basic mode just because it's meant to make it 'easier for beginnners' and then proceed to label those who do not do this as 'pretentious'. Any field, whether it be a sport, game or field of study, has its own specific terms and phrases. Dumbing them down to the lowest possible denominator is counterproductive in the long run. Would you rather be caught out by the "off-stump slip" or by "the man standing behind you to your left, assuming that you are a left-handed batsman"? </RANT>

Bob Myers: Re: your "rant", could you clarify why "goban" should be an exception to the rule to use English where it's available, in the same way we use "stone" instead of "ishi"? Using "go board" is not "dumbing down", it's using an obvious, meaningful, well-understood, 100%-mapped term in the language being spoken. And no one labeled anyone as "pretentious"; rather, a term was indicated to be "deprecated".

Actually, this is nothing new anyway. A comment on the pre-edit go board page said exactly the same thing, just without using the word "deprecated".

It is not acceptable to entirely revert the page without having the appropriate discussion. That's what a wiki is about. Please restore the most recent edits, and then we can have a discussion about the best way to deal with this.

Morten Which most recent edits? The one that deleted the entire contents of the Goban page or the one which was marked as a minorchange? You may have noted that my edit did not remove any text but reinstated a previous version. Your comment regarding acceptability would have been valid had I removed the Go board contents, which you can see that I did not, indeed, I never edited it at all.

I missed when the content of Goban was moved to Go board, and I also seem to have missed the discussion of that event which you, quite rightly, point out should have taken place. Nor can I, a posteriori, find any trace of such a discussion. Ah well.

To get back to the issue at hand, and as hinted at above, the word "Goban" appears to carry far more relevance on SL than the expression "Go board". It therefore seems logical that Goban should be the 'base term' and 'go board' just an instance of a local variant. If you want to define Go board further than 'translation of Goban, sometimes used to specifically imply a table-top play surface', please feel free, but why should it upset you that I reinstate the Goban page? (As an example, the 'french SL' defines a Goban as "the board you play Go on" ;^)

Taking your sarcasm (always a great technique for constructive discussions) at face value, if 'ishi' is current usage, I would be happy to use it. In a reciprocal vein, I suspect that you would prefer a page on 'clever plays' rather than 'tesuji', since this is an obvious, meaningful, well-understood, 100%-mapped term in the language being spoken? If I wanted to be really pedantic with respect to the rule you appear to want to adhere to, I'd say that, as long as 'Go Board' includes the word 'Go', you are still not using an english term.

I posit that the desire to translate everything into words already existing so that any unusual concept can be interpreted purely in terms of what you already know, if followed, would have meant that we still lived in the dark ages.

BTW, I think you will find that the word 'pretentious' was used on this page before I repeated it... Of course, pretentious has its roots in Latin, coming to english through French, so we shouldn't use it?


Bob Myers: For the record, the status of these pages before I edited them was that "goban" was aliased to "go board". What I did what unalias "goban" and create a short new page stating that "goban" was deprecated. Although I can't tell for sure, you appear to have restored an earlier, non-aliased version of "goban" with content which largely overlaps that of "go board". That doesn't make sense. If you just wanted to go back a step in time, I think you should have restored the earlier situation where "goban" was aliased to "go board". In any case, I'm a little bit unclear as to the role you're adopting in choosing to roll back time. Is it SL contributor? Wikimaster?

In the below, I'll assume you're interested in having an actual productive discussion. There is an issue here about how to structure SL pages. There are concepts, and then there is terminology. Certainly, each concept needs a main, or central term under which it is described. In one model, alternative/variant terms could be aliased to that page, with information given on that page about the preferability of using one term over another, or differences in nuance. An alternative model would be to set up separate pages for alternative terms (as long as they are not absolute synonyms), and give the distinctions on each such page.

That was all I was trying to accomplish, to create a separate space to discuss the unique aspects of the term "goban". There may be disagreement over exactly what those unique aspects are; that is why we have a Wiki, and discussion pages. For instance, I've learned from this discussion that the term "goban" seems to be much more prevalent in Europe than in the US; if so, the "goban" page would have been the perfect place to mention that. Or, instead of saying the term is "deprecated", which seems to have upset a lot of people, we could have wiki-ly tuned this to say "some question the need to import this Japanese term into English". The "goban" page would also be the right place to point out that, for whatever reason, many Westerners have begun to associate "goban" with the legged boards, as John F. mentions, and note that that can sometimes cause confusion (and could be a reason to avoid "goban" altogether). And so on.

I'm a bit confused as to what the problem is with all of that.

Morten Sigh. 'The problem'... which I tried to correct, and the correction of which seems to have annoyed you was that sometime in the past (May 2005, to be precise), the contents of the Goban page were removed and the page made an alias of Go Board. Before that time, the GoBoard page had been created as an alias to Goban (which seems perfectly fine), and stayed like that for 2 years, until in May 2005, the contents were copied across to the Go board page and the process reversed. It is that change across and deletion which I object to and which I undid. I gave my rationale for doing so in my first post above, viz. hit count, link count. If I had noticed the change at the time, I would have commented on it at the time.

Bill: Velobici was on a campaign to make English pages primary on SL, and pages in othere languages aliases, where it had been the other way around. I did not notice this particular change, but I was well aware of his program, because there were cases where the aliases were incorrect to start with, such as the one Bob Myers recently found with Trick Play being an alias for Hamete. And his campaign was in line with the philosophy (if not policy) of having English as the principle language of SL.

Velobici: A well known complaint against early English language go books is that the quantity of non-English obscured the meaning to all but those already well-versed in Japanese go terms. Sakata Eio's Modern Joseki and Fuseki volumes 1 and 2 are prime examples. As a result, I have been converting non-English language titled pages into aliaes and moving content to the English language page. Sometimes, rather than aliases, I have left both in place; particularly when the Chinese/Japanese/Korean language term is not clear to me or does not have an English equivalent. Undoubtedly, I have made some mistakes. Hopefully, the overall result has been to improve Sensei's Library. All assistance is warmly welcomed.

I have not always been happy with that philosophy. For instance, I think that approach is too vague to replace kakari. And Focal Point makes me want to gag. Furthemore, I suspect that people have been inventing terms on their own, and making them primary pages without saying so.

Still, I am in agreement about making Go Board a primary page. I do not know about the usage of goban on SL, but the hit count does not mean very much, I think. After all, people may look up an unfamiliar term, goban, but not feel a need to look up go board.

I sympathize with the idea of the value of jargon. I think that something was lost when the 7 iron replaced the mashie niblick in golf. But go has so many, many terms that the language is a barrier to beginners, and I think that we do well to reduce that burden. Unlike wedge, go board has an obvious meaning. If we are going to prefer English to Japanese terms at all, then go board is a prime example for doing so.

I would invite and still do a discussion of whether Goban or "Go board" should be the prevalent term, but in the meantime the evidence on SL seems quite unequivocal. Googling for 'goban' and 'go board' is more equal - 161k v. 140k (both of these include some irrelevant search results). John seems to have other experience. FWIW, "Goban" is used by other users than the US/english - e.g. the french use Goban and others possibly as well. SLs users are not all native anglophones...

I am far from saying "Thou shalt only use goban because I and all my friends do", but I object to being told "Thou shalt not use goban because I and all my friends do not".

After my revival of Goban, both SL pages are now 'equal' which is obviously not ideal either ...

What I do not appreciate are assertions of 'unacceptability' of my edit and 'rules' which are not.

Regarding the minor edit on 'depreciation', this was lost and should not have been - I have edited the page correspondingly. How does my last edit sit with you?

Bob McGuigan: Maybe this is an example of difference between American and European usage but my impression is that here in the U.S.A. the object in question is generically known as a go board. When a friend suggests meeting at a cafe for a game the usual question would be are you bringing a board and stones, not are you bringing a goban. Of course using goban is understood, so this is not such a big deal.

  • DrStraw: If I say I will bring a board (never "Go Board") I mean a table board. If I say I will bring my Goban I mean the one with legs.

John F. I've listened in to go (and shogi) talk for 40 years now and I'd estimate that the number of people who say goban regularly is in the low per cent - well below a quarter, anyway. Of those, most, but far from all, tend to use it to mean a legged board or to refer to a Japanese scene.

Why this word and not others? May be to do with the mention in many older books of games of Go-bang, which is now usually called Reversi. I can imagine other reasons.

Why deprecated, sloppy or pretentious, or whatever? Mainly in my view because it's discourteous to beginners or people who are being introduced to the game. Many years ago now the BGA did a survey. I was not involved and only have a hazy memory of the result, but what I do seem to recall is that half of people thinking about playing go found the Japanese connection offputting. This was in the days before China and Korea hit the go scene, and before the wide availability of the internet, of course. But it seems foolish to me to exclude so many potential players because of true political correctness: "Thou shalt only use goban because I and all my friends do" The proposed SL page offers the diversity of options, one of which (the English) is more likely than the other to make go sound more welcoming to outsiders. It only asks that you try to maintain this diversity by not mixing up the nuances.

Morten BTW: the AvoidJargonWhenPossible? page, referred to on the main page) or similar does not exist - it might be useful to create it and copy this discussion onto such a page if you feel that such a rule is indeed required.

unkx80: Shall we turn Goban into a disambiguation page with the following contents, from what I gather from the discussion?

Goban (碁盤) is the Japanese word for go board.

However, in English, goban has two related but slightly different meanings.

  1. The primary usage of goban is that of go board. Since it has no particular nuance which is not conveyed perfectly well by go board, a widely understandable English term, some may therefore see goban as deprecated in English usage.
  2. Some English speaking people will use goban only for a go board with legs.

John F. There seem to be two issues going on here: the definition/usage of goban and the etiquette of changing pages.

To try to move the former on to a conclusion, I would be happy with unkx80's definition, except that I think "Japanese" needs to be inserted before "go board with legs", as there are table boards such as those made by Ing (table height with long thin legs) that no-one, I think, would call a goban.

On usage, before it becomes an urban myth, it is disingenuous to google "goban" and "go board" as a fixed phrase and claim equality. I suggest a better comparison is with /board Japanese game go/ or similar. In that case, the 161k for goban competes with 14.8 million for normal English. I note also that, small sample, though it is, all the native English speakers here seem to give primacy to "go board". All are free to do what they want but 'When in Rome' is a useful concept.

That leads, slightly obliquely, on to what I think is a much, much more important point, raised by Bill, which has become apparent only, it seems, in the course of changing pages. This is the philosophy behind page creation and whether to give primacy to English.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Japanese was the only Oriental language that mattered in western go. That no longer applies, though I don't think everyone has adapted. That makes the use of goban and the like even harder to defend - why a page for go ban and not one for qipan, qiban, ping, ju etc in Chinese (and so on for Korean, and maybe now Tibet since research there has started big time)?

With three-plus Oriental languages vying for attention, it seems to make sense to regard English as the default for page creation, not least because the base language of SL is English anyway.

I don't really have a grasp of SL structure, but wouldn't it make more sense to have a *clearly marked* Japanese section, Chinese section and Korean section, all in addition to a main English section? There could then be a page in the English section on "go boards" which might discuss the various sizes, dimensions, materials, styles, archaeological examples, where to buy, etc. Within the Japanese section there would be a page called "goban" which might describe the specific Japanese manufacturing process, the woods, technical terms, famous boards, signed boards, historical specimens. And so on for Chinese. Korean and Tibetan boards.

Dense pages like that would look more like what I see in Wikis for other subjects. SL instead is thin gruel and the tone of discussions reminds me often of Kissinger's maxim about academic disputes: so bitter because the stakes are so small.

Incidentally, it is ironic (to me) that we are here discussing a technical term in Japanese yet much of the discussion passes me by because I haven't a clue what is really meant by an English term: "alias". What ever happened to good old cross-references?

Bob Myers: Sorry, Morten, I didn't understand the page history correctly. I see what you were trying to do. Having looked at the page history now, I conclude that version 2 from four years ago is the best one. :-)

I also agree with unkx80's proposal, with the minor caveat that this is not really "disambiguation".

As for Morten's comment about rules and John's discussion about terminology, perhaps people have forgotten the UsingJapaneseTermsWhenYouDontKnowWhatTheyMean page which went over this in some detail, although without reaching anything resembling a "conclusion". Then again, on such a topic, there may never be a "conclusion".

John, as for the meaning of "alias", just imagine the following entry in your mental dictionary.

Alias. See cross-reference.

Actually, though, isn't a cross-reference more like a "See also"? An alias is a direct, immediate mapping.

Bill: I like John's suggestion for different language sections.

John, alias has a technical meaning on SL. If A is an alias for B and you click on a hyperlink for A, you go to B.

Velobici: Currently, goban and go board appear to have nearly the same content. Is this a desirable situation ? Shall we adopt unkx80's suggestion for the content of goban.

Kenn: I'll add my vote in favor of unkx80's suggested content.

unkx80: I have modified the contents to the my suggestion taking into account the comments. Feel free to improve.

John, I believe the page alias, which is an alias to how aliases work, explains pretty well aliasing on SL.

Velobici, I do not know. But this is definitely better than having two nearly identical pages.

Hicham: I still have the feeling that this page says that using goban is politically uncorrect, though I fully understand and apreciate unkx80 attempt to make a compromise here. For me goban is the normal word, used by my dutch speaking friends and french speaking friends. Why make a problem when there is none?

Velobici: Hicham, you and I are both comfortable with goban, both using and understanding the word without effort. I find warikomi and uchikomi somewhat harder; takes a moment's thought to remember which is which. Osae, by contrast, I must deliberately remember the definition...the word is essentially Greek to me ;) I am sure that John F., Bob and Bill are comfortable with these terms and many, many others.

The point is not political correctness, at least that's not my point being a staunch opponent of political correctness, rather its to make the site more accessible to newcomers. Lord, knows there is enough to learn in terms of shape, concepts, big vs urgent etc. that using the Japanese for empty triangle in place of the English just doesnt seem to have much advantage. (its akisankaku in case you were wondering.)

Consider the following from Basic Techniques of Go page 84:

Dia. 15 (White's defeat) One good way for Black is to play 1 and if White plays keima with 2, Black simply plays oshi with 3 and 5 after which White must cut (why not kiri?) with 6. Now Black 15 is followed by the ate tesuji of 17, 19, and 21, which is similar to the tesuji we studied in Chapter 1. After Black 21, White is in serious difficulties as Black is threatening to play at 'a' to kill the White stones. (italics added to highlight Japanese terms.)

This book's title contains the word Basic!

  • DrStraw: This was part of the game's attraction for me. I learnt to play when the only books in English were Basic Techniques, Sakata's MJ&F and Middle Game plus one or two others. The two Sakata books have even more Japanese. But having Japanese terms made me realize that these moves have a purpose (otherwise why the name) and so I strove to understand them. Had the text been completely in English I would almost certainly not realized that there was some concept there to understand. To this day I still regularly prefer to use those terms, but not with a beginner who seems to show no interests in them. On the other hand, if a new players seems interested then I think the Japanese terms have a value - they emphasize the existence of the concept.

Interestingly, the same book on page 106 explains some of the Japanese go terms in the commentary (rather inconsistently, I might add):

White can also play oshi (push) of 3 against Black's katatsuki, and after this Black plays osae with 4. (italics added.)

Bob McGuigan: I almost always use "go board" when speaking English, even when there are legs. I note, however, that the "board" part of game names is not always there in other languages. For example in French it is damier for chess board; "schachbrett in German, with "brett" being the equivalent of "board" in English. In a language which does not use "(name of game) board" then borrowing goban seems natural. I also appreciate John's comment about the increasing presence of China and Korea in the Western go world. Velobici has a good point about accessibility to beginners, too. Finally, if we can't decide what to call a basic piece of playing equipment, do we have any chance at all when it comes to nuanced technical terms?

J. Hubert? : In French "échiquier" is a chess board and "damier" is for draughts board. We prefer goban for go board.

Morten I modified the text slightly to remove what still strikes me as a 'negative bias' - in particular, since Goban is used in other languages, it seems arrogant to focus on the English version. I'm still not happy about the main 'goban' page being on 'Go Board', but that's life....

Goban / Discussion last edited by on October 15, 2005 - 11:06
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