Are language questions such as "What language did the Hittites speak?" or "Why did Arabic replace Aramaic?" on topic?

Do they belong on the Linguistics beta site instead?

2 Answers 2


We are discussion lots of different nations, countries and tribes here, and there are obviously different aspects to consider, e.g. religion, tradition, origin and language. It would be illogical if we could ask "What was the religion of Visigoths?" but not "What language did Visigoths speak?". IMHO, most language questions should be on-topic:

  • Did Native Americans have a common language? (means: How did they communicate with each other?)
  • When and why did Germans choose High German as the "official" German dialect?
  • Which translation of the Bible did Constantine the Great read?
  • Was the use of Greek language wide-spread in the Roman Empire?

I would only consider questions off-topic that only refer to the language itself and would indeed belong into the field of linguistics:

  • Why is the Norwegian and Russian word for "cucumber" so similar?
  • What languages had to mix with Latin to create modern French?
  • Is there evidence for a common origin of all languages?
  • What if your first off-topic one was rephrased to "Is there any historical basis for why the Norwegian and Russian word for cucumber are so similar?" How would you feel then? After all, if the cucumber was vital to the survival of the local land, it would have incredible historical significance.
    – corsiKa
    Oct 29, 2011 at 14:12
  • 1
    @glowcoder: If the question indicates the historical significance then it is on-topic IMHO. Oct 29, 2011 at 14:18

The general rule is that, if a question is on-topic on more than one site, it's up to the asker to decide where to post the question. Heck they can even post the question on different sites as long as they tailor the question to fit the specific site (i.e., not an exact duplicate).

The history of language, IMHO, should be on-topic.

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