Second Edit-Premise - December, 13th 2011: I have deleted the old question body1 and I have totally reworded the FAQ including a written part for each bullet point. Some of them are empty.

Please consider posting an answer if:

  • ...you think you can fill them;
  • ...you have concerns;
  • ...you have questions;
  • ...you want to express your point of view.

Even a small contribution helps!

Now for the FAQ!

The FAQ have been updated.

1: If you want to see the old version, click on the time shown after "edited".

  • Questions about the etymology of a single word in a single language seem to have been deemed officially off topic by the way. Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 17:50
  • 1
    @hippietrail Where exactly? Are you referring your Albanese question? I'll include it. If you have more ideas, proposals, thoughts, please consider improving your existing answer. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 18:47
  • New edit, I added a small introduction.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 15:47
  • There is a loophole about single language questions for languages without a L&U of their own and made more confusing by the wording "Questions about any language from a linguistics point of view" which seems to specifically suggest qestions would normally be about a single language! Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 16:42
  • Uhm... You might have a point... Can you suggest a good re-wording? Maybe we can add "but not localized to a single language".
    – Alenanno
    Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 17:31
  • I don't know. Now that I'm in Georgia I have lots of questions since the local language is so unique but I don't want to break the single language rules by asking them )-: Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 18:21
  • @hippietrail You can elude that limit by asking also about other languages that are involved in the matter.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 20:29
  • I've tried a couple but it seems to draw the topic to less interesting places or something. Let's see what practical problems I come across... I have put a couple of sample questions up on my Georgian Language & Usage proposal too, some of which are linguistic in nature. Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 20:34
  • I've changed the term "evolutionary linguistics" to "evolution of language." The former term could be ambiguous between studies about the evolution of language in humans, and studies of language change carried out in an evolutionary framework.
    – user483
    Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 21:46
  • @jlovegren I added a small clarification in the FAQ, but I left that name because it's the name of the discipline. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 17:29

4 Answers 4


Artificial languages with native speakers should be on topic (Esperanto questions have already survived on the site- i.e. they were asked and answered without too much threat of closure). I personally think they are on topic because anything with native speakers is easily in the domain of science and has objective answers.

Artificial languages without native speakers should be off topic. (Although this could admin Volapuk and Klingon which each had/have a single native speaker) The non-natural languages are partially in the realm of art. When these questions do pop up, they should be referred to writers SE, sci-fi SE or the conlang SE proposal. On writers and sci-fi, about a half dozen conlang questions have been asked, answered and haven't been closed.

This is actually a difficult rule to write because there is a lot of grey area.


Suggested Text:

Natural languages with native speakers are on topic. Fictional, constructed and auxiliary languages without native speakers are off topic. This should not discourage anyone from asking about language formalisms, such as context free grammars. Consider asking questions about fictional languages on Writers SE, Science-Fiction Fantasy SE or the Conlang SE proposal.

This would pretty much rules out Lojban, Na'vi, Elvish, Shyriiwook, toki pona, Laadan, languages invented by a single person as a hobby, New Speak, almost all auxiliary language proposals except Esperanto. There are single reports of native speakers of Volapuk, Klingon and a handful of cases of native speakers of previously dead languages-- Latin, Sanskrit. Other than that, the rule at least would have little grey area.

I don't know about non-recreational medical conlangs, like Bliss Symbols or those communication systems invented for the deal and blind or otherwise disabled, which can have the characteristics of a constructed language (i.e. go beyond being an encoding of English). I suppose the community can figure out what to do with those questions if they happen.

  • Thank you Matthew. I'm not the only one who decides so I'd like to wait and see if other people agree with you or not. My personal opinion is that you have a point and I agree with you. Just a note: the on topic parts you highlighted should still be inside that area described in the FAQ, which means "no single word for single language", etc. Apart from that, I'm fine with it.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 17:54
  • It seems no-one disagrees with you. Do you mind wording something? Even if it's not perfect, we can adjust it together, but it would help me if you provided at least a first wording... :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:32
  • I added some suggested text to my answer. Three sentences is about as short as I can make it. Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 16:13
  • Great, thank you! :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 16:20
  • We have had a dedicated Computer Science site for some time now, too; if you have questions on formal languages/grammars, you might as well send them over.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 14:28

What about (separately):

  • morphology (I think yes, it was just a minor oversight in the list)
  • sociolinguistics/linguistic anthropology (I think yes, as long as it is linguistic in nature, not just some narrow minded etiquette thing)
  • English specific linguistics (I think no, since it should be best done at EL&U, but if posted here instead there would be nio problem)
  • individual language linguistics (I think yes, because, even if there are other 'language' specific sites, a linguistic question would be better answered here.
  • language typology and language family (yes, I don't think there's any question)
  • psycho- and neuro-linguistics (brain function for language) (I think yes, even though it might be better served at a cognitive psychology site)
  • language acquisition - I think yes (same reason as for psycholinguistics)
  • discourse analysis - I think yes, as long as it is not really a question for writers.SE
  • NLP (machine driven natural language processing) - I think no, even though it interests me terribly, the overlap in content and community is actual not that much (I'd like to be wrong here)
  • Thanks for posting! Are these meant to be On topic, off topic or mixed?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 16:28
  • 1
    Are you sure about the English specific linguistics? They used to close those questions on EL&U. The boundary is very thin there...
    – Alenanno
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 16:30
  • 1
    I'm a bit weary of putting a long list of subdisciplines in the FAQ because we'll inevitably leave some out. But a list does make a good starting point for thinking about our scope which will lead to our FAQ's wording. Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 16:40
  • @Alenanno: to your second question, well, when I say 'English specific linguistics' I mean questions like 'what is the rule for intermedial fricatives in OE to ME?'. That is they are linguistic questions specifically about English alone. If that is not wanted in ELU then definitely here. And I suppose if they're asked here then no one would really blink.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 17:10
  • Oh ok. You can add your comments to the answer itself so people can immediately see them; this, when you have decided your own position on this matter, since I understand that you haven't fully decided yet. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 17:11
  • @Alenanno: done. removing trail of comments about that.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 17:18
  • @hippeitrail: I understand that weariness. What's wrong with '...and other related topics'. If you see your subject there then you know it's appropriate. If it's not there, there's still some question but it doesn't stop you from trying.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 17:20
  • There's also the endlessly growing list problem and I seem to recall there might only be a certain amount of space we get to fill in in the FAQ. Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 17:42
  • I agree with @Mitch about the CL/NLP part - there is another proposal for CL/NLP (bit.ly/u4lZUG)
    – tobigue
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 14:06

I would really want to prevent questions of the type "How do you pronounce word X of language Y in dialect/accent Z". And questions about spelling reforms for English. If there ever were to be stack exchanges for either of those I fear they might wind up with more traffic than even SO itself :) though the answers would be lists... endless lists...


We might need to specifically detail how to choose when your question belongs here as opposed to one of the extant Language & Usage sites.

Also whether any questions that might be on topic for a Language & Usage site which does not yet exist would also be on topic here.

  • Well, I think that the point is always that one: whether the question concerns one, two or ten thousand languages won't make it necessarily off-topic, but rather if that question concerns also, and mainly, linguistics.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 15:10
  • 3
    The question is if a question is only about Japanese linguistics is it on-top for both us and Japanese Language & Usage, especially since Stack Exchange officially discourages cross posting. Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 15:48
  • For example, the question How did Korean become a language isolate? is an example of a question just about one language (also considering there is not a Korean SE).
    – Alenanno
    Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 15:56
  • 1
    Wouldn't it be sufficient to have a list of other relevant SEs in the FAQ with a text like: "You might get more detailed answers at one of the following SEs". Let's keep the number of rules down to a minimum, this isn't wikipedia.
    – kaleissin
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 9:02
  • @kaleissin You're obviously invited to propose yourself some draft or ideas so we can all decide together.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 9:23

You must log in to answer this question.

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