Friday, August 5, 2011

Defining Queen using Shahi

The librarian at the university I teach at sent me a link to a neat website called “Shahi” which combines the text definitions of words found in Wiktionary with images of that same word collected from Google Images, Flickr, or Yahoo! 

Okay, this might be handy if I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to do a search for a definition and find a corresponding image so I can see what the text definition is talking about. (Doesn’t Wikipedia already give you a sample image on its article pages?)

Out of curiosity, I typed in “queen” to see what came up. As you can see, the Wiktionary text definition gives eight different nouns that the term applies to. Nothing about the band Queen gets a mention.


Wait a minute, if I click on the Google tab, all I get are images of the band . . . nothing about:

1) A female monarch (that’s not true, there is one shot of QEII)
2) The wife of a king
3) Chess piece
4) Playing card
5) A powerful or forceful female person
6) An effeminate male homosexual
7) A reproductive female animal in a hive
8) An adult female cat

So what’s going on? Did the Wiktionary user community fail to edit the “queen” article so it includes a mention of a band with that name? Is there a Wiktionary editorial team that edited it out? There can’t be a policy against including proper nouns or names because Queen Elizabeth herself is mentioned in the first definition as a female monarch.

If I was an alien from outer space and looked up Queen on Shahi, I’d have some choice words to describe the logic of humans.

Nonetheless, perhaps the disconnect is occurring at the search level. As mentioned, Wiktionary is great for text-based explanations of things and it’s easy to run a list of multiple meanings of that word on that same article page. But since Google doesn’t offer up images of adult female cats, playing cards, or chess pieces, one can only assume that images of the band are more popular than images of these other queen nouns.

Shahi is a web project by Abdullah Arif, a young fellow from Saudi Arabia. This would explain the Arabic logo in the top left corner of the webpage. What about the name, Shahi? Arif himself states on his About Page that “the word Shahi is Saudi Arabic for tea!”

Really? Wikipedia says it’s this: “Shahi (Persian: شاهی) is derived Shah (Persian: شاه) meaning royal.”

Wait a minute, it’s Persian for royal? All the more reason to have Freddie and the boys included in the text definitions, I say.

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