I beg for your forgiveness if https://ell.stackexchange.com/q/33430/8712 offends, but I would like to request its reopening. While it's from my law preparation book, my question concerns English, so why was it 'closed as off-topic'? I've either misread or misunderstood the first clause, so would someone please advise how to improve or emend it? Due to personal bias, I'm scared of deleting potentially necessary context. Please feel free to do so, though. I apologise if my question confuses, due to my very rudimentary English.

1 Answer 1


The reason this question was closed (which is also the reason so many people object to so many of the law-test questions you ask) is that it is not a question about language.

Language questions—the sort of questions we can answer here—concern the form of an utterance: the particular words and syntax the utterance employs. Now it is quite true that such formal concerns involve the entire context of a discourse, for that context has a powerful influence on what words and constructions are employed: the referent of a pronoun, for instance, or the differing senses of strike in discussions of labor relations, or mining, or baseball. These matters which are internal to the discourse, its internal formal coherence.

The questions you bring us, however, are mostly not about internal form but about the content which is informed. The examiners want to know what you do, intellectually, with what has been communicated after you have grasped its linguistic meaning. In the specific question at hand, for instance, they ask what inferences you can draw from what the author has written. These are not matters of linguistic analysis but of logical and rhetorical analysis. They are not suited to this site.

  • I'd probably add that it's not just that it's about the content but the particular meaning of the content specific to a certain field, which renders the question as off-topic or, at best, too localised.
    – jimsug
    Sep 23, 2014 at 18:35
  • @jimsug I agree that in some of OP's questions that is an additional concern; but in fact few of them deal with specifically legal jargon, so I did not raise that matter. Sep 23, 2014 at 18:41
  • It's not necessarily about jargon, though; the fact that it's in a textbook designed for those navigating the LNATs (or whatever standardised admissions examination it is) means that the language used in it is more likely to be both more uncommon, and have more uncommonsense meanings. Even everyday terms have special meaning when it comes to the law.
    – jimsug
    Sep 23, 2014 at 18:45
  • 2
    @jimsug True: this is not everyday social or commercial English. But it should be kept in mind that a significant proportion of our quaerents are in (or trying to get into) advanced studies in various fields, and are (or will be) confronted there with texts of comparable complexity. Sep 23, 2014 at 19:12

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