The question Is it common to use the minor third for calling someone in Italian? has been closed as Off Topic.

I don't understand why, because I don't think it's off topic. Maybe it's poorly written, and in such a case, close it as NARQ or if it has other flaws I'm not considering now, then choose another close reason. But certainly not as Off Topic. (If you feel it's off topic, then include why you think it is in your answer.)

I'm not an expert in that subject, but I don't feel it's off topic. If it was, also this one should have been closed as such Is it common to use the minor third for calling someone? and instead it received a lot of upvotes.

So we need consistency. We either close them all or we don't (obviously I tend for the latter, because they are both on topic). The OP should have expanded on his question, sure, that I agree with, but the question is not off topic for this site. If we start setting such questions as off topic, we would have really a narrow scope, and it wouldn't be good for the site.

Note: this Meta question is not an attack to anyone, neither the ones who voted to close nor the Mod who closed it definitely; this is everyone's right (assuming you have the rep eheh). Rather, it's a meta question about my concerns regarding that decision. Since this is the place to discuss, I'd like to discuss about it. Especially, I'd like to understand the difference between this question and the other one that was linked, I don't feel there is a difference in topic, apart from writing and/or formatting issues.

3 Answers 3


Sure, "is it common to do X in language Y" is not obviously on topic a priori, but I am capable of considering situations in which it might be. (Consider the question: is it "common" to say "Every boy_i likes their_i mother" instead of "Every boy_i likes his_i mother" (the latter of which sounds atrocious to me)---where such a question may act as a simple proxy/probe for acceptability within a certain dialect grouping.) With regards to "Does language X have feature Y" or "Does any language have feature Y" questions, these seem often to be interesting in particular if not obviously in general, but why go out of your way to close them? A lot of linguists specialize in different languages or language families, and simply glory (like the best nerds) in applying their knowledge to as particular or as general of circumstances you like. I think the only time questions should be closed is when they are OBVIOUSLY off-topic, not when they simply seem "marginal" to the concerns of whatever individual happens to be pressing the on/off topic button. Especially when questions that often seem of no interest to any linguist I can think of generally seem to survive all the way through definitive-answer-allocation stage.

  • Sorry for the late feedback. Are you saying the question was on topic for you?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 23:27

I voted off-topic because of the reason I put in the comments - I think it's just a "Does Language X have feature Y" question - which is normally not a subject of Linguistics. I also think that the other question (Is it common to use the minor third for calling someone? ) is different. The latter question is more about the prevalence of the feature, while the closed question is about whether Italian has it. CMIIW, a good linguist probably is expected to know about linguistics features, their prevalence and distribution, but he's not expected to be able to know exactly which languages have and do not have it it. In my opinion, this is what make them different. Maybe we tend to think that the closed question is interesting because it is talking about a major European language (not to mention @Alenanno's mother tongue, just kidding) and it is an interesting feature. Consider: Does Amharic have the sound /ʃ/? Is it common to use the passive voice in Bengali? I think these questions would be clearly off-topic.

Speaking of consistency, I think it's more reason to close this one. If we let this one, we will have to be consistent and let other "Does Language X have feature Y" questions. Before we know it, people will be asking about single features of some obscure languages, potentially reducing the appeal of this website to people who have serious interest in linguistics and not just features of individual languages.

This is just my opinion, though, if the popular opinion disagree, we can always reopen the question.

  • Uhm I see... :P Eheh well I'm not protesting because it's my language, although I was interested in the answers, but if you think the question was bad because of its wording, then I might agree. Those questions you mentioned are nice, to me... I think you already know, but we changed the policy about single language. Such questions are allowed (with the explained conditions in the FAQ).
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 12:36
  • yes I noticed the meta thread, but forgot to respond to it. I think it's a bit vaguely worded, esp. "The question is related to Linguistics and it's not simply a language question".
    – Louis Rhys
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 13:39
  • You can propose corrections in that meta thread, if you want. Of course. :P
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 13:40

The question has been reopened after some corrections.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .