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About a week ago changes were introduced to the Area 51 process which effectively make it much harder for site proposals to proceed to the beta stage. This includes the Greek proposal, which was just closed. This was at least the second Greek proposal, possibly the third or more. Considering the rate of progress that proposal went through, I don't think another proposal could succeed under the new rules, unless the general Stack Exchange user base was increased ten fold.

Questions on classical Greek have a home here, so I think for classical Greek questions it may just be time to give up on the idea of a separate site, and to direct people here.

But this brings me to my question: how has the Latin.SE community felt about including Greek questions has gone? Most of the Meta discussions I can see on it are about a year old, so it could be good to gauge the community's current feeling of those questions. It is the fifth most common tag on the site, which is a decent measure of success, while still making up only 9% of the questions, so it's not taking over as one old post warns against.

If the community feels like Greek questions have been a positive thing in this site, how would the community feel about opening the site up for other classical languages, even if just tentatively for a trial period? I recognise that some people see Greek as having a special connection to Latin which many of these other languages wouldn't have. That said, although there is much less of a historical connection, languages such as Sanskrit have a very important linguistic connection to Latin, as they are old but reliable records of the early stages of the Indo-European family. Such an argument wouldn't apply to other classical languages, such as classical Semitic languages. I would like to ask this site's community if they would consider them on the basis of the old rule of thumb of looking at university departments as a guideline for the bounds of a site's scope.

Would the Latin.SE community be interested in opening up the site (even for a tentative trial period) for the languages that might be studied in a university's Classics department, as an act of mercy considering that none of these sites are likely to be able to progress through Area 51 under the new rules?


I'm aware that this was basically proposed and rejected three years ago, but in that time the community has changed and grown, and a trial of sorts has been made with Greek. It's worth asking again now as I don't think there's any reasonable chance of these sites getting through the Area 51 proposal now. Of course the Latin.SE community may just decide to keep the site scope as it is now, and that would be fine. (Though sad for our other languages.)

Just closed Area 51 proposals: Greek: 142 committed, Sanskrit: 100 followers, Semitic: 84 followers, Arabic: 76 committed. If the Latin.SE community decided to open up the site, I think most of these sites could translate into viable sub communities here. (I'm less sure about the Arabic site, I'm not sure how many questions are about classical Arabic rather than contemporary Arabic.)

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    Hmm I'm on the fence myself. You make a good case. On the other hand, none of the Classics departments I know (nor the pertinent programmes and diplomas) include any language other than the classical languages Greek and Latin. Only in the theology department (now abolished) at my university did they study both Greek and Hebrew. – Cerberus Apr 29 '18 at 3:25
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    I've found quite a few which do. Brown includes Sanskirt. UC Davis has Semitic and Indian languages. George Washington has many. But you're right that many universities limit the "Classics" to only Greek and Latin, and some such as Oxford have the others in "Oriental Studies". Maybe the definition is shifting with younger universities? – curiousdannii Apr 29 '18 at 3:41
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    The pertinent question is whether this site's current community feels that enough of them have expertise in additional languages to make expanding the scope viable at all. That I have no idea about. – curiousdannii Apr 29 '18 at 3:45
  • I think I agree about the pertinent question. Equidem know only Greek and Latin. But I don't know about the others! I think I have seen one or two users quoting Hebrew. (I've also seen those other Ancient languages grouped under different programmes, or as separate programmes, like Hebrew; A few years ago, there was this issue about combining Hebrew and Arabic into one programme at my university, which some people did not take well...) – Cerberus Apr 29 '18 at 4:02
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As mentioned in the comments, the definition of classic languages or classics varies quite a bit. I am opposed to expanding beyond Latin, Greek, and the smaller languages related to Latin (Oscan, Umbrian, Faliscan, Etruscan). There are two main reasons:

  • I prefer to have the site focused on Latin. Languages with close relation to Latin (as old Greek arguably has) and questions with clear connection to Latin are welcome. That is, I would allow a question about only Faliscan, and a question about Arabic if it concerns its relation to one of our main languages (preferably Latin).

    Hebrew comes up occasionally on the site, as the Vulgate contains a number of Grecisms and Hebraisms that can only be explained by its translation history. This is the kind of clear connection to Latin or Greek I mean. Sanskrit is perfectly fine as well, as long as the question itself makes a connection to Latin.

  • This site cannot become a homeless shelter. That a topic has no other home on the Stack Exchange network is insufficient reason to allow it here. If we expand our scope, it has to be because sufficiently many people are interested and the rest aren't too bothered.

    There is a strong correlation between people who know Latin and people who know old Greek. The two are often taught together to some extent, and there is a lot of clear Greek influence in Latin. The connection to, say, Sanskrit is far weaker, as far as I know. A connection is needed at two levels to make the scope extension viable: the language itself is related to Latin somehow, and the two language communities overlap significantly. I find this overlap insufficient for Sanskrit, Arabic, and Hebrew.

Some of the questions could also be asked at Linguistics. That site will only cover a fraction of the questions people might have about Arabic or Sanskrit, though. Whether something is on-topic there doesn't have an effect on what is on topic here, but neither should the existence or absence of a Semitic site.

I assume that not everyone will agree with me. I would be happy to hear other views.

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    I'd just note that the Linguistics site is pretty strict, and it's unlikely many questions that would fit here (if the language was allowed) would be on-topic there. Which doesn't affect how this site chooses its scope at all. – curiousdannii Apr 29 '18 at 11:38
  • @curiousdannii I have the impression that Linguistics is indeed strict, but I have no personal experience. They are likely to allow linguistically oriented questions, but perhaps not others. And you are right, it doesn't really affect how Latin Language Stack Exchange is scoped. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 29 '18 at 11:59
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    Another point that could be made is that Latin was able to create its own beta based nearly completely on Latin-based questions. We've worked hard to get it to this point, and to expand our scope too much now defeats a lot of that. – Sam K May 1 '18 at 3:00

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