What will be our best choice of formatting for including glosses of foreign language samples in our questions?

  • 2
    Did you mean linguistics.SE?
    – user101
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 5:25
  • 3
    Yes! I was brainwashed by the broken logo as I typed apparently (-: Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 8:09

3 Answers 3


I usually writes the translation under the quotation, between quotes, and the gloss between them, in roman, as in

Gwenn eo ar c'haz
White is the cat
“The cat is white”

Slashes and dashes may be used for compound words

Bayerische Seenschifffahrt
Bavarian / lakes-shipping
“Bavarian lakes shipping”1

1. This is probably not the best example I could come with, but the triple f made me do it anyway :).

  • Is there anything we could do as the samples get longer to keep the glosses in line horizontally? Perhaps we could force a monospaced font? Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:43
  • @hippietrail: It would solve the alignment issue, but I don't like the look of code blocks. Perhaps a <pre> block would fit better.
    – Evpok
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:45
  • Yes how do we do a pre in markdown? Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:47
  • 1
    @hippietrail: See edit's help popup ? -> HTML or this question on MSO
    – Evpok
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 22:52

Someone asked about rendering glosses in HTML on linguistics.SE, so there's some worthwhile discussion going on there.

Naturally, I'm biased toward my own suggestion. :) But in all seriousness, the approach I describe there does have the advantage of being encode-able with markup that the SE software already supports (embedded lists). However, in order to get it to render in such a way that it looks like a gloss, there would have to be a way for this particular site (linguistics.SE) to edit its CSS file, and then, I suppose, secondarily, some way to tell Markdown that the <ol> (or whatever people ended up settling on, hypothetically) should have a class of .gloss or something like that.

I have no idea if both of those are possible, but I thought I'd throw out the possibility.


A common glossing convention is the Leipzig Glossing Rules.

Unfortunately it mandates horizontal alignments that are difficult to achieve in plain Markdown.

As a workaround, you can write the gloss as a code block (indent by 4 spaces), as in The stylistic effect of chiasmus in Latin:

sidere         mens           eadem          mutato
star-SG.N.ABL  mind-SG.F.NOM  same-SG.F.NOM  change-SG.N.ABL

But this prevents you from using formatting.

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