I'm not exactly a regular contributor in linguistics.se, so maybe it's a bit cheeky of me to ask this, but I'd like to know more about the consensus re the request for a sentence with different meaning in two languages.

I'm having difficulty seeing this as a serious question. I see it hasn't attracted any upvotes for the question - but the answers have a total of ten upvotes as I write, which seems relatively high when I look through a few others (I admit that I upvoted JPP's answer myself, because I found it interesting/amusing).

Is this type of question actually considered "desirable"? Should I ignore the upvotes for answers and assume it's not, on account of the lack of upvotes for the question? And should I ascribe the lack of closevotes to the fact that the FAQ doesn't explicitly debar it (or maybe that linguistics.se doesn't have so many questions it can afford to casually close them)?

2 Answers 2


Edit: The question has been closed as "Not a real question". The question was actually good (the subject) but it was vague and not so well-asked, besides the OP showed really no interest on improving it. (If the OP comes back and improves it, I can reopen it, assuming it will fit SE's and our standards.)

Thanks for asking.

I think we need to separate two things here: first, the subject of the question and second, the question itself.

  1. Subject/Topic: I think most would agree but I'd like everybody to confirm or not that the topic of the question is actually very interesting for those who have studied Linguistics. Take the "false friends" for example. They're interesting for us, so why wouldn't a whole sentence that works as a false friend be interesting as well?

    In other situations, the question would have been prompting for list questions, and this one is as well, but given the fact that such sentences are very rare, it might only prompt a few answers which is ok in terms of Q&A requirements. As a proof for this, only one answer in that question actually provides a sentence. The others just words.

  2. Question: The question has received downvotes and upvotes, while the answers only the latter. I could think that this is due to the fact that the question is not the best one I've seen in terms of wording and detail/context. Not to mention that the OP basically disappeared and we received no answers at all to our requests for clarifications. Maybe this is why it's getting downvotes.

According to what comes out from this Meta question and also from what comes out between me and the other mods, I'm going to either save or close the question, but you (and everyone) must know that I'm tending to decide for closing it. Not for the topic, which is very interesting and stimulating, but for the fact that the OP didn't answer and we can't certainly edit the question without being aware of his/her real original intention.

I think I addressed all of the points, but if there is something I missed, let me know.

  • I certainly take your point about false friends - interesting to linguists, people learning a foreign language (even Brits trying to interact with Americans!), and comedians everywhere. I still don't see how the "question in question" was ever going to enlighten anyone on that front, but let that pass... I think I was overly concerned because there were no closevotes or downvotes. Now I realise that the up/downvotes presumably cancelled out, but I don't have the rep to see that. And like many others, I don't have the rep to closevote. But I'm not so bothered about it now, thanks! Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 23:47
  • @FumbleFingers If you don't have the rep to close-vote, you can still flag-to-close. FlagIt doesn't belong here"Choose reason" ⟶ Done! :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 23:50
  • Erm. If you weren't minded at the time to close it in response to my comments, why should you be more minded to do so in response to my flagging? Seriously, in these particular circumstances I feel more comfortable being out in the open about what I think. I see flagging as something done to help the mods out by calling attention to things they might otherwise miss (no-one has infinite time to eyeball everything). I'd rather not use it as a "backdoor" way of expressing opinions. If I'm active here for long enough, and say/ask well-received things, that's how I'll gain my spurs! Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 2:20
  • @FumbleFingers It's not a backdoor. Moderators need feedback from the community, so if you think that deserves to be closed, flag it. If not, don't flag it. If I see flags or close-votes, I'd be more keen to close it.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 9:50
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers I updated the answer saying that the question has been closed. Read the answer for more details.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 18:31

The question is indeed a serious question if by 'serious' we mean it touches on a genuine linguistic topic and the questioner asked it in earnest. Personally it doesn't bother me that he hasn't come back yet; people do have lives and work and things come up.

It just wasn't asked very well, or with much insight. I think open but not very many upvotes is the expected fate for this kind of question. It's just a middling question in my opinion; not bad enough to close since it really is a linguistically interesting exercise, but not good enough to upvote very many times times either.

That said - this is the kind of middling question that could lead to a great answer, and JPP's answer was pretty nice.

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