This is the Latin Language site, and has been proposed and defined as such. I would like to float the idea of turning it into a Latin and Greek Language (or, Classical Languages) site.

There is currently a proposal for a Greek language site, but it doesn't have enough activity to make it past the definition stage, and the one-year deadline is looming. It occurred to me that a substantial subset of members here might also be interested in Greek, and vice versa. What if we combined the two sites? Latin SE isn't a particularly high-volume site, and there would presumably be many fewer Greek questions than Latin questions, so there's no risk of the Latin side getting swamped by the Greek side. We'd probably get some new users, many of whom might be knowledgeable about Latin too. And there might be the added advantage that users who are currently interested in just one of the two languages might have their interest sparked in the other.

I have no idea if this is even feasible, and very possibly there are reasons that haven't occurred to me why it wouldn't be desirable. But I thought it was worth suggesting. Thoughts?

ETA: a more recent Meta question on this subject is here. Let's make that the place for any subsequent discussion.

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    This was discussed early on in the proposal process for Latin.SE – see Classical Languages/Cultures? on Area51. – Nathaniel is protesting Jul 4 '16 at 2:17
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    @Nathaniel, thanks -- I hadn't seen that. That proposal is somewhat different, though -- it's suggesting opening up the site not just to "Latin and Greek language" but to "classical studies" generally, which is much broader on the one hand as well as excluding post-Classical Latin on the other. The latter problem seemed to be people's main objection to that proposal, which wouldn't be the case with this. – TKR Jul 4 '16 at 2:24

Don't let Greek take over

I completely agree with some of the concerns raised in this discussion about not allowing all of the Greek language. Allowing modern Greek would likely result in the site eventually being overrun with Greek questions and Latin questions would slowly fall into the background, which is the original focus of the site. The change would effectively turn this site into a Greek Language site which happens to allow Latin questions as well.

Thinking about the impact, in 2012 there was an estimated 13,000,000 speakers of the Greek language, whereas the number of speakers of the Latin language isn't even measurable because it's so small and most scholars who study it do not actually speak it.

Drawing lines is hard

Not allowing modern Greek but still allowing ancient forms of Greek leaves us in an itchy spot. Creating cut-off points doesn't always work. It may sound easy and straight-forward now, but it will only cause confusion and arguments in the future. Not everyone will understand that only some of Greek is allowed if you advertise that they can ask Greek questions. Not everyone will understand the difference between ancient and modern Greek. Not everyone will agree that something belongs in the "category" (for lack of a better term) of modern Greek and not ancient Greek, or vice versa.

If your discussion devolves into drawing an imaginary line that you think will keep the scope focused, then you better be prepared for that line to end up looking like this after a while:

Insane Imaginary Line

And this is for something meant to be a side-topic, of all things.

Think back to the Area 51 process

You ran a Latin proposal through Area 51, and acquired a mass of users interested in the subject of Latin. Nowhere in there was there any mention of Greek, nor can you assume that any of the users who wanted this proposal to succeed have any interest of abilities in Greek. To throw out some numbers from the Greek proposal currently on Area 51, only 14.1% of those followers had followed the Latin proposal, and there is currently not even a high enough percentage of users active on this site following that proposal to show up in the list.

To me, it looks like Greek is targeting a completely separate audience than that of Latin. Yes, the Greek proposal is approaching its cut-off date of the one year mark, but just because a proposal is about to fail doesn't necessarily mean that we should go and shove it into some other site in hopes that it will survive somewhere it just doesn't belong. Those users are always welcome to try again.


Ultimately, we need to be thinking about what is best for Latin Stack Exchange, and not what might help other proposals. Will including Greek into Latin's scope improve this site? I haven't seen a lot of arguments of how it will, but mostly arguments of "well, why not?" I've seen a lot of reasons of how it might damage the site, so maybe it's not such a great idea.

It's unlikely that we will support changing the name and/or URL of the Latin site to include Greek components. However, the decision to allow various, smaller subsets of Greek questions is ultimately up to all of you and your willingness to moderate such content.

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    Thank you! This confirmed some of my doubts. Our site does not seem to have an alarmingly low level of activity, so I don't see the need to expand our scope for that reason, especially at the expense of a clear scope. The site is still young and we are actively working on site promotion. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 5 '16 at 19:04
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    I don't think the "where's the boundary" issue would be likely to be a real problem. How many Byzantine Greek questions would we really get? Probably none. 99% of potential questions would be either Classical/Koine (on topic) or Modern (off topic). Greek takeover then wouldn't be an issue (more Latinists than Hellenists). That said, it's admittedly possible that however clearly we stated the scope, we might still get occasional Modern Greek questions which would have to be flagged and deleted, and this would be annoying if it happened frequently; not sure how to gauge the likelihood of that. – TKR Jul 5 '16 at 23:41
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    I and a couple others actually wanted a "Classics" Stack, but that got some vocal opposition, including by people who no longer show up (and rarely showed up in the first place). – cmw Nov 19 '16 at 22:45

Questions mostly about Greek but related to Latin are already welcome — I am willing to bend the definition of "questions about Latin" that far without hesitation. I am against wholly including Greek to our scope.

I acknowledge that many Latinists have interests in Greek and that expanding our scope could make the site more active and viable. Your proposal is worth serious consideration, but in my opinion the cons outweigh the pros.

I see problems with era restrictions. Our scope includes Latin from all times and places, and I strongly want to keep it that way. If Greek is allowed, would we be equally inclusive with it? If not, the scope definition might be confusing. If yes, we need to include modern Greek, and that feels too far from the idea of this site. Modern Greek could also potentially outnumber Latin on the site, unlike older Greek. If only ancient Greek is allowed, I would be happier about including Greek, but drawing the line is not easy. Classical Greek is not far from koine Greek, which is not far from Byzantine Greek, which is not far from modern Greek.

If there is a modern Greek SE site that excludes older Greek, then I am ready to let our site fill the hole. As long as that is not the situation, I think another SE site would be a better home for questions about old Greek.

On the other hand, I would not object to questions solely about Oscan. I am fairly confident that there will never be an "Oscan SE" site or even "Ancient Italic languages excluding Latin SE". Besides, other Italic languages are closely related to Latin. (If Italic languages require more discussion, it should be taken to another thread, either the old one or a new one.)

Another problem is in branding the site. I think the address latin.stackexchange.com is here to stay, and that can be misleading if our scope shifts too much. The name of the site can be changed, as far as I know. If we rename ourselves "Classical Languages", questions about more recent Latin are discouraged. Even if such discouragement is not intended, it is inevitable. I for one would feel less comfortable asking about contemporary Latin if the name changes that way.

If Greek is included in our scope, then it should be allowed to ask questions in Greek. My command of Greek of any era is far below what is needed for communication on the site.

However, if many people feel that Greek should be included here, I am ready to concede. If we include Greek, I would like to see a preliminary description of our new scope.

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    I definitely agree that post-Classical Latin questions should remain explicitly on topic and encouraged. I don't think this makes for as great a difficulty with Greek as you suggest, though -- it seems reasonable to me to limit questions to Classical and Koine Greek. Latin is much more unitary across time than Greek; Modern Greek's relationship with Classical Greek is more like that of Italian to Latin, so I don't see a problem with simply excluding Modern Greek. You're probably right that renaming to "Classical Languages" is a bad idea, but maybe "Latin and Classical Greek" is OK? – TKR Jul 5 '16 at 2:00
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    As for the problem of questions posted in Greek, I very much doubt we would see many -- or any -- of those (though to be honest, I would hope to be proven wrong...). Many fewer people study Greek than Latin, and it's a more complex language, so probably proportionately fewer of those would be bold enough to write their questions in Greek. – TKR Jul 5 '16 at 2:02
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    @TKR, it just occurred to me that one option is to allow questions about classical Greek but keep the site name "Latin Language". We could argue that classical Greek is so closely related to Latin that it is within our scope. I would like this more than changing to "Latin and Classical Greek". Would this be ok? – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 5 '16 at 13:02
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    @TKR, I agree that questions written in old Greek would be rare. But out of principle we should be prepared to take in questions written in Greek if the site is called "Greek and Latin" or some variant thereof. If Greek is explicitly given a side role (by excluding it from the name), it is not an issue. Questions in Greek are a bigger problem if modern Greek is included, but I'm sure we want to exclude it anyway. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 5 '16 at 13:05
  • I think limiting the scope to Koine Greek and earlier is fine. I suppose I have a slight preference for "Latin and Ancient Greek Languages," but only a slight one, and I certainly don't mind keeping the title "Latin Language." (I think anybody who knows enough to understand the difference between Koine and Byzantine Greek is likely to be able to read a description of the scope and understand that Byzantine Greek isn't what we're talking about.) – Joel Derfner Jul 5 '16 at 13:55
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    @JoelDerfner if we change the site's name to include some form of Greek as well, that is a big step. I am not even sure the SE staff would allow that. I would like to have an SE site that welcomes Greek, but I am not yet convinced it should be this one. Our site and the linguistics one cover some aspects of Greek already. (We are contacting a community manager to get an idea about the feasibility of ideas presented here.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 5 '16 at 14:04
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    @JoonasIlmavirta "...one option is to allow questions about classical Greek but keep the site name "Latin Language". We could argue that classical Greek is so closely related to Latin that it is within our scope." — This may be a good idea! It will certainly not attract questions about Modern Greek. If anything, it will deter questions about Ancient Greek because people won't know they're allowed, but it's something. – Cerberus Jul 16 '16 at 1:19
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    @Cerberus, this is my preference for now if people want to ask questions about Greek. I want to keep the site Latin-oriented and the name to reflect that orientation, but that does not exclude old Greek as a minor topic. I think we can treat Greek just like Oscan. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 16 '16 at 13:11
  • @JoonasIlmavirta: Right! If pressed, we could argue that Latin borrowed so many words and constructions from Greek (through the Greek colonies that bordered on Roman territory in archaic times, through the import of Greek slave teachers, and through the conquest of Greece by the Romans), that the history of Greek is in fact to some degree the history of a part of proto-Latin... – Cerberus Jul 16 '16 at 14:43

While I understand @JoonasIlmavirta's objections and think they're valid, I also feel like, in the world today, ancient Greek and Latin really are thought of as very close together under the same umbrella, and I think it would be nice if we could figure out a way to add it—even though I've lost most of the Greek I once had, and it wasn't that much to begin with.

I'd have no problem picking an arbitrary date at which to set a cutoff (330, the date of the founding of Constantinople and generally considered the boundary between Koine and Byzantine Greek? 1796, the publication date of the first work written in Katharevousa? 1832, the date of the London Protocol establishing an independent, sovereign Greek state?).

I suspect that there are far fewer people in the world studying ancient Greek (however we define that term) than studying Latin, so I'm not worried about being overwhelmed by a horde of folks asking about the optative imperfect middle. There would definitely be questions I didn't understand, but perhaps I could use that as a spur to get my Greek back.

That said, I don't feel particularly strongly about this. In other words, I think it's a nice idea, but if it would be insanely complicated then we should probably just leave it alone.

  • My worry of being overwhelmed is not about including old Greek but including all Greek. If drawing a line between old and new Greek is indeed natural (I don't know modern Greek well enough to tell), then I like the idea of including old Greek much more. I don't know if we should include Greek in the site's name, however. (See my comments to my own answer.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 5 '16 at 13:12
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    @JoonasIlmavirta: In my opinion, the line is very clear. Those who study Ancient Greek and those who study Modern Greek are almost always different people. As someone here said, it is like the difference between Latin and Italian. Questions about early Italian are likely to be rare on a site about Latin. It's just that the names are closer. – Cerberus Jul 16 '16 at 1:17

I just wanted to add a small little note here:


There were three replies to me all indicating negativity toward the proposal, though I should note one never even bothered to post on the main site at all.

I should also note that not only are people here competent in Ancient Greek, but in cultural and historical aspects as well, and many such questions have been answered to a high degree of quality.

I stand by my original proposal and would be happy to revive it if others now think it might have been wise.

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