Disambiguations as reiterations of an artist's name

As you all know, some artists’ names are natively written in scripts other than Latin, In these cases, some editors see it fit to retype a transliterated version of an artist’s name in the disambiguation box. I am strongly against this, as it feeds into stereotypes that Westerners are too stupid, ignorant or arrogant to learn to read those scripts.
Where does everyone else stand on this? It may seem like a non-issue to a lot of people, but as someone who spent over 2 decades of my life learning to read, write and speak Japanese (and later Chinese), I was confronted with these stereotypes on a near-daily basis.


Not everyone has spent decades learning foreign scripts. The discussions and documentation around this community are primarily in English, so it can for the most part be assumed people here can read the latin script.

This disambiguation for sure helps to identify the artist if someone does not understand the Thai script. Helping those who can’t read Thai to be able to identify an artist is not disrespectful towards those who can read Thai.

In general I think we should never be too strict in what to allow as disambiguation. Whatever helps identifying an artist should be fine.


IMO there is no point in putting redundant information, that does not disambiguate anything, in a disambiguation comment.

Especially for artists: the sort name for artists is already transliterated to latin script and is either shown everywhere directly on the pages, or it is in the title text for entity links.


Sorry. I am in this category of being too stupid. I can’t read Tchaikovsky’s name in his native language. And even less chance of reading something Japanese. Having a hint that I have the correct name from a search is a big time saver. Using a common way to display their name in the disambig seems sensible.

For the average user, if they fail to find a name they can understand then they will just create yet another Tchaikovsky.

I would rather see a system that gives a Latin hint in the Disambig that need to request a database feature to choose a language to display. At least MB shows text in that native language, even if I can’t read it.


Generally, for artists, it’s useless to have the transliteration in the disambiguation if the sort name is properly set, since pretty much anywhere that has the artist should show the Latin sort name either on hover or as a disambiguation-like grey text.


@reosarevok - didn’t realise that happened. And pretty cool as just tried it on Tchaikovsky

So that pretty much deals with my “dumb Westerner” case. Nice.

This also seems to imply that for the Thai artist in the original question, their Primary alias is set wrong? I don’t know them. Are they Ratah or Ratah Chinkrajangkit?


For this Thai artist…

… so no need using the disambiguation comment to store another Latin transcription.

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There needs to be a louder explanation of this feature. I am probably not the only person who did not realise how clever the system can be. I did do a test for “Chinkrajangkit” and saw it came up with the Latinised artist as (Ratah) was added to the search results box. The only reason I questioned “is that correct” is due to being that stupid Westerner who can’t read the text and kinda expected to see a surname as well. :slight_smile:

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It’s a UI problem if the entity sort name and/or locale aliases aren’t being displayed.


As much as I respect @HibiscusKazeneko 's work, I cannot agree with this as a reason to make MusicBrainz policy. I grew up in North America, and spent some years learning Japanese. But I realise that the world contains many scripts, and even more languages, and no human will ever learn more than a sliver of them. All of us have some scripts which are opaque to us.

This sounds to me like a reaction to a deficiency in the MusicBrainz UI. In my humble opinion, MusicBrainz should be able to display any string in the database, in whatever script or language, transliterated into one of the script(s) or language(s) which the user prefers. Thus, I think MusicBrainz should render Thai names into Katakana for users who prefer Japanese, and have not learned to read Thai. (And I believe software libraries exist which make this practical.)

As an incremental step to that future, consider supporting https://tickets.metabrainz.org/browse/MBS-11965 . It would have MusicBrainz at least display a friendly name in the user’s locale, instead of a Latin-script sort name, where possible.


I also hadn’t realized this. So in the case of the artist in question it also shows the primary English alias, which is “Ratah”. In this case I agree that having the name duplicated in the disambiguation is not necessary.

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I don’t remember info from “title text for entity links”.
And there are many MB pages where only the script is shown.
These include;
inline search results &
users’ Collections eg Collection “artists of interest” - MusicBrainz

The scripts that I am functionally illiterate in and would like to be able to read include Cyrillic, Greek, Pashto/Dari, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Akson Lao, Sanskrit. I’m sure there are others that I would also like to learn.
I acknowledge the dedication of editors who have taken the time and applied themself to becoming literate enough in these scripts or even one extra one of them.
But don’t see myself taking that path.
And I find that I just dont use/edit where only these scripts are shown. I tried but it’s not fulfilling - I get feeling my time isn’t valued by MB if it can’t be bothered showing me a understandable script.

But I do find the transliterated disambiguations problematic.
To me they look like cultural imperialism - “You only have worth if you’ve got a name in Latin script”.

I’m coming more to think that globalisation (as represented by latin script name disambiguations) is not a good thing and that it would be better if Musicbrainz was atomised into script-defined sections with no quick and easy way for the illiterate to browse or edit outside their script-set. On this path Latin sortnames would be only for Artists whose name is in Latin script, etc, etc.

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Last time I tried it on a famous Russian composer I just got Cryllic.
After years of that I just gave up.
Latin disambigs were available to make editing easy but instead just Cryllic was served up. Wasted enough of my time there.

Inline search results show the English primary alias, if available, or the artist sort name if there is no English primary alias.

I only see one artist (สายัณห์ สัญญา) in a different script there, but the link’s title text is “Sanya, Sayan (Sayan Sanya)” showing both the sort name and the (mostly) redundant disambiguation text.

Some browsers might make it difficult or impossible to see the title text so perhaps the website would benefit with a more accessible method to access it?

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That would be a partial solution.

A. It would be a good solution for Latin-mono-scripters.
But not for Chinese or Khymer mono-scripters.

B. It doesn’t work reliably to show the Latin sort name as a fallback.

E.G. Edit relationships for Revelation RV 10083

Click magnifying glass.
Aнтон Степанович Аренский does not display the Sort name that is on his Artist page. and multiple other Artists have no Sortname displayed.
Anton’s page: Антон Аренский - MusicBrainz

I added another Thai artist to my above Collection.
Shows no Sort name.

If/when very widely and reliably implemented this would work for Latin-mono-scripters.

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That artist has the English primary alias set to Anton Arensky, so the sort name will not be used and Anton Arensky is indeed shown in inline search…


It seems weird to me that the artist name has primary alias seems to be missing words compared to the actual artist name. Maybe the aliases need to be fixed.


Mouseover does not work on my Android device.
Mouseover on PC on multiple Artists provides a sequence of names that disappear.

My Label Collection has a Thai script imprint. No sortname for Labels. Opaque to Latin-script-monos without Latin disambig.

My confidence that mouseover is an adequate replacement in Collections for an understandable-script disambiguation is pretty low.

That the Anton sortname has shown for you is great for you, didn’t show for me as I’ve already written.
The sortname display is unreliable. I can only use what actually is displayed on my screen. What is on your screen is of no use to me.

I realize that. There are scripts out there that even I may never learn to read.
However, this does not mean that such data in MB should be dumbed down with redundant disambiguations. One method I’ve come across in the past that helps avoid some of the UI problem other editors are discussing is by making use of the “primary” check box next to aliases. This doesn’t erase the problem completely, but it does help with identification of entities in drop-down search menus.

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I’m not seeing the

when I get inline seach results or on my Collections page.

Your suggestion seems to not erase the current problem at all.
At best it seems to be something that when the vast magority of Artists have been so ticked would allow for a reconsideration of the ongoing need for transliterated disambiguations.

I’d like to find the algorithm one day I have time, because maybe it’s current MB selected language with a fallback to English?