How do you think our level of question quality is going so far? Wouldn't some exemplary questions be great for our site? We already have some exemplary answers.

Now some of you my fellow contributors have done a great job answering the wonderings of the rest of us, yet you seem not to wonder about anything yourselves? I don't want to name names (-;

Especially those of us who work in or study linguistics must have some puzzles or ideas they've been wondering for a while but which still stump them.

So here's a challenge especially for our contributors with high reputation for their excellent answers but who have not yet asked even a single question.

Give it your best shot. Ask the site your trickiest linguistics question that has puzzled you for the longest. Maybe the others with great answers can answer this one too! Maybe some real heavy duty linguists who have been watching this site with a touch of scepticism waiting for a real heavy duty question will feel the need to pipe up and contribute their first excellent answer. So what's your best/toughest real linguistics question?

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    I think this is a worthy cause, and so in no way do I want to discourage any responses to it. But I wanted to make you (and other users) aware that there already exists a forum for experts to ask other experts linguistics questions: linguistlist.org. The Linguist List is twenty years old and is a staple for grad students and professors in the field, and it undoubtedly competes with SE in this regard. Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 16:32
  • We might try asking some questions based on things we read there actually. Not rote copypasting though. Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 7:43
  • Where on linguistlist does one ask a SE style question? The Q&A section seems more tuned to connect journalists with linguists who have a business card that says linguist. I'm neither, so I'm not sure that it really competes. And the browse questions section is turning up 25 Q and A's combined. Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 15:58
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    @MatthewMartin Sorry this response is so late! I happened upon your comment after clicking on the Community Bulletin and then browsing the related links. There is a Linguist List e-mail listserv one can join where users submit all sorts of questions as well as post announcements. When a question is submitted (they're called queries there), responders reply directly to the OP and then etiquette dictates that the OP reposts with a summary of the most helpful responses. All queries and summaries are archived on the site, and they are searchable and browseable. Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


I also notice that our top answerers tend to not ask a lot of questions here, and (just guessing) maybe one of the reasons is that they think that there is little probability that their difficult, intruguing questions will get satisfactory answers here due to the still limited number of users and experts. If this is true, consider this

  • I'm pretty sure that there is a number of expert lurkers here, who are just looking around but have not participate actively. Hopefully, your question will interest them and they will answer it.

  • Even though we now have limited answerers here, and your questions might not be answered soon, hopefully as the site progresses, more experts will join and some will revisit and answer your que stions. It's best to post now than forgetting it entirely

  • Your questions can be a good search engine magnet! Even though your questions are not answered immediately, search engine indexer will find it, and if you wrote good titles, tags and description with the appropriate key words and phrases, other linguists with similar interest will find it in search engines and this will (a) be helpful for increasing our site's traffic and expert user base and (b) increase the probability that your questions get answered.

  • More importantly, your questions will help set the direction and the expectation of this site to be more suitable for experts like you.

So, please give it a shot even though you think it will not probably be answered.

  • +1 I agree with you, and the third point is especially a good one.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 10:19
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    i would also say, dont accept questions without top-notch links to linguistic papers or exact explanations too fast in BETA period. This might demotivate browsing experts to answer those questions and people will tend more to vote those answers if a answer they upvoted is not yet accepted
    – Hauser
    Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 16:18
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    @Hauser: I think this is why there are a lot less accepted (and upvoted) answers on this site than most SE sites. Though people do feel a bit of pressure to do both. Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 8:30

Not sure how to start? (C'mon, I know you know how to ask!)

  • Ask a hard question you can't answer yourself, and encourage your colleagues to visit the site to help answer it!
  • Or, ask and answer your own question! If you struggled to understand or find something, chances are, others will too.
  • Trying to formulate a good question, but it's fuzzy, or you're not sure it's on-topic? Visit chat to discuss! If the chat doesn't look lively, ping someone who's "sleeping" in the side, using the @ sign :) Your messages will also be logged so that others can respond later, if you're not in a hurry.

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