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Some of us surely know and some others of us probably are not aware but there is a "Languages" proposal for Stack Exchange on Area 51 too.

There has been some discussion about our scope, some arguably off-topic questions, and the lack of research level linguistics questions.

There would obviously be quite a bit of overlap between a Languages site and the Linguistics site if both come into existence and because of this there has already been controversy on Area 51 about whether the two proposals should be one.

So now that Linguistics is in beta I'd like to ask the thoughts of the other contributors on this topic.

Do you think our scope is too narrow and should be broadened to include the Languages proposal?

Would more language questions that are not strictly linguistics be good or bad?

It's worth bringing up overlap with proposed language-specific sites too. Many of them have very few followers and some of them are already in beta or not far off going into beta.

Should we accept linguistics questions that pertain to a language with its own site?

Should we accept linguistics questions that pertain to a language with a proposed site?

If we are to focus just on linguistics the individual sites will have a broader scope as far as their language is concerned. But if we decide to (or if Stack Exchange decided for us) to broaden to linguistics & languages then all of their questions would also be on topic here.

Of course we can migrate any question to a specific language site or overall languages site when such sites go live and we might decide to have them here in the meantime "just to be nice".

What does everybody here thing? And please feel free to bring up any questions already on the site as examples.

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I haven't participated on Linguistics yet, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt, but I'm offering my perspective as a EL&U user and mod.

Do you think our scope is too narrow and should be broadened to include the Languages proposal?

I don't think so—Linguistics is about the study of languages as a science, whereas the Languages proposal seems to be more of a "how to study [x]" site. I think the difference is, to take another subject field at random, between "What is x in 3x+5=10?" and "How do I teach 3rd graders how to multiply?". The key is that the second question is more about learning, while the first is about why something works that way.

Would more language questions that are not strictly linguistics be good or bad?

If you don't enforce the rules slowly, it's a classic "thin end of the wedge" situation. Where do you stop?

It's worth bringing up overlap with proposed language-specific sites too. Many of them have very few followers and some of them are already in beta or not far off going into beta.

Should we accept linguistics questions that pertain to a language with its own site?

Yes. Some overlap is inevitable, and if we define strict arbitrary rules on what goes where and say there's only one right place, it's going to create a lot of confusion when people interpret the rules differently.

Should we accept linguistics questions that pertain to a language with a proposed site?

As follows from above, yes.

  • Funny I never read the languages proposal as being about teaching or studying a second language. I read it as being for people who love languages. People who don't know linguistics stuff like what is a Chomsky or who is X-Bar Theory. I better give it another read... – hippietrail Sep 26 '11 at 16:40
  • How do you feel about questions concerning etymology in just one language? These would be on topic on a language-specific language & usage site, would they also be on topic here or would they be an exception? Would it be the same for etymology questions concerning only a single word in a single language? Or if the question involved a language without even a prosed L&U site? – hippietrail Sep 28 '11 at 21:12
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We should accept linguistics questions. If they could also be asked at other sites, proposed or in beta or full, I don't think we'd be 'stealing thunder' from them, or they from us. I think it could be mutually beneficial. If it is not answered here (or there) there is always the possibility of asking a moderator to migrate.

'How to study' particular languages are not appropriate -if they don't have any linguistics to the answer. Which is to say, I think it depends. How you conjugate the 2nd person subjunctive passive pluperfect in Spanish is inappropriate here, but asking how it corresponds to the same in Catalan -is- appropriate. I think common sense would tell you that a question like how you conjugate the 2nd person subjunctive passive pluperfect in Malagasy (or what ever they do) would only be motivated by a linguistic concern and so would be more likely to be appropriate than for Spanish.

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I've asked a question that could be considered a good test question on this topic:

Whats the etymology of the Albanian word for hello, “tungjatjeta”?

Since this question would definitely be on-topic if an Albanian Language & Usage site existed but such a site has not even be proposed, should it be accepted on our site or not? So far the answers on this page seem to support it so feel free to hone those answers, vote the example question up or down as you feel, I won't be offended (-:

  • The above question asks something very broad; of which questions like yours are one focused part. I'm not sure whether it would be better to hash things out in the answers here, or split off a separate meta question where the pro/con of etymological questions is the core topic discussed. – Aaron Sep 28 '11 at 23:47
  • @Aaron: I've split off a specific question: meta.linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/143/… – hippietrail Sep 29 '11 at 15:04
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Take this answer with a grain of salt or three, because I am absolutely not a linguist.

As a rule of thumb, I would say that questions about a specific feature of a specific language are not linguistic questions, they are language questions, and off-topic here. Whether a Stack Exchange site exists for that language is irrelevant. Example: What's the etymology of the Albanian word for hello, "tungjatjeta"?

Questions that involve similarities or differences between languages, when they go beyond simple etymological questions, have their place on this site. Examples: Is there a single origin for the connection between time and weather?, Why does the name of the flower 'Forget-me-not' have the same meaning in other languages?. These questions are on-topic because they look for patterns amongst languages: they are part of a scientific study of languages, applied linguistics. As a counterexample, translation questions are off-topic here, because they are about a specific case from which no general rule is drawn.

Some questions here can involve a single language, when they are about characteristics that have proved to be important in the study of languages. Example: Are there some analyses or linguists with the view that Chinese does not have lexical word class? Such questions, which apply linguistic concepts to a particular language, would also be on-topic on a language site, but this doesn't make them off-topic here.

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