Would it considered a good question if someone was to ask a question about the language history/evolution on ELL?


1 Answer 1


The Help Center tells us:

This is not the right site for questions about:

  • Etymology questions aren't outright banned, but people are encouraged to post them on ELU. On one hand, any English-learning-related question a learner has is, by definition, on-topic, and on the other hand, etymology questions aren't likely to be of much help to future readers on a site dedicated to learning English.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 22:40
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    I understand what you say, but a new questioner who consults the help center and reads "This is not the right site for questions about ... Etymology, evolution of the English language, or historical English" might assume that such questions are simply not accepted on ELL. Shouldn't the Help Center then be edited to express it as you do? Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 0:01
  • @P.E.Dant Perhaps; but the scope of acceptable questions (essentially, those in which, for some reason, the etymology helps the learner in some mnemonic way) is pretty small, and ELL isn't all that great at tricks of learning e.g. vocabulary anyway. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 2:51
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    In the imaginary Venn diagram which I am too lazy to create or even provide a link to, the circle describing the information provided in a useful answer to a question about etymology overlaps a circle describing the information provided in a useful answer to a question about English usage. Erring on the side of leniency in the phrasing of the Help center loses us fewer of those questions, especially from those who read the Help center closely (precisely the ones we want!) and seems to me to comport with the spirit of this place. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 4:31
  • @P.E.Dant: I wouldn't object to an effort at wordsmithing new help center text, but I also personally don't consider it a high priority, and making this point clear without losing the existing concision and muddling things for lots of others is a challenge. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 20:45
  • @NathanTuggy Oh, great. At least you don't set a very high bar. \me clears throat. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 5:24
  • @NathanTuggy Ok, i've had a stab at a paragraph. Is there an editorial process—a board or similar, or is it ad hoc? I'll plop it here first... Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 19:50
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    Questions about etymology, phonetics, pronunciation, or the history of the English language occasionally have real usefulness to new students of English. More often, unfortunately, they have no such usefulness. Most such questions will be more appropriate at our sister site ELU, but if you think yours might also help someone who is learning English, go ahead and submit it here. If the community decides that it is better for ELU, we'll migrate it to that site. In either case, you might receive a useful answer—and of course we want to see your question, wherever the community decides it belongs. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 19:50
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    @P.E.Dant: I'd suggest asking a new meta question about this for better organization. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:13

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