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On other language sites, like German, French, and Spanish, questions are sometimes written completely in the site's language. Should we allow all-Latin questions here?

I see two points:

  1. We should be able to understand Latin sufficiently to understand such questions, but
  2. Unlike those other sites, Latin isn't really anyone's first language. No one here knows only Latin, and we likely aren't as fluent in it as users on other sites are in their respective language.

Thoughts?

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    Since (I think?) the primary language of the site overall is English, perhaps site policy should be that any all-Latin questions should also include an English translation, as a courtesy to those less (or not) Latin-fluent. – hBy2Py Feb 23 '16 at 19:32
  • @Brian That should be discussed in a separate topic, as the concensus so far seems to be in favour of all-Latin questions. – Lilienthal Feb 23 '16 at 21:49
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    @Lilienthal Derivative question asked. – hBy2Py Feb 23 '16 at 22:19
  • Please see also this discussion from the definition phase of this site, in which sentiment seemed to clearly favor allowing questions in Latin. – Ben Kovitz Feb 24 '16 at 2:28
  • Some other discussion is here, regarding my question about "ignis solis propinqui". That question had me perplexed for a long time, I'm a beginner, and yet I was able to ask it in Latin. – Ben Kovitz Feb 24 '16 at 2:28
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    Related answer here: meta.latin.stackexchange.com/a/70/16 – Robert Cartaino Feb 25 '16 at 1:03
  • Related meta question: Should all-Latin answers be permitted? – hBy2Py Feb 25 '16 at 2:34
  • Related meta question: Should all-Latin question titles be permitted? – hBy2Py Feb 25 '16 at 2:34
  • Hey, it seems like this particular question's been decided. Any chance you could accept the top-voted answer? – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Mar 24 '16 at 17:00
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Yes. Certe.

All-Latin questions should be allowed, if not encouraged. This site is meant for experts in the subject to answer, and experts should be able to read it -- at least sufficiently to understand the question.

However, I would require an English translation of, at the very least, the main point of the question, so the question might look like this:

Hic est fluff. Fluff est bonum. Necesse est, sed non centricus. Volo loqui et scribere omnes res; licetne?

Quomodo possum rogare quaesitum? Possum rogare mero Latina?

(How can I ask a question? Can I ask in only Latin?)

I'm better at reading than writing, but I think this gets the point across.

That way, in addition to helping experts, we can help people with poor Latin skills who speak the lingua franca of this site, English, because they'll be able to read the question and answer, and so the question will show up when Googled in English. This "gist" could easily be put in the title, or appended to the bottom of the question, as I did in my example.

In addition, answers to all-Latin questions could be all-Latin, but they must have the answer translated into English as well, for the same reasons.


Latine:

Quaestiones sola Latina scriptas ponere licet, sed summa Anglica addenda est, quod hic situs talis factus est quo periti respondeant noviciique discant. Si quaestionem Anglice transferre nequeas, eam ponas in CONLOQVIO ut iuveris.

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    This answer really ought to be in Latin. – Joe Apr 2 '16 at 2:31
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Permittantur!

Qui valet aliquid latina lingua rogare, quidni responsum eadem lingua scriptum recipiat? Nil obstat quominus anglice conversetur alibi, at mea sententia peritissimi eo attrahuntur ubi se "effrenata" Latinitas exhibere possit.

Mihi autem illicitum videtur hoc quod facio: responsum anglice interroganti latine offerri.

  • As a quick addendum: by "alibi" I mean other threads, not other forums :) – brianpck Feb 23 '16 at 21:01
  • mihi pancratice constat! – cjmcnamara Feb 23 '16 at 21:24
8

Profecto Latine rogare licet!

Let there be no doubt:

    Questions and answers in Latin are permitted, welcome, and encouraged!

You need no special reason to express your question in Latin: you could ask in Latin because it's fun, because you've never tried it before, for the novelty, for practice, because of the sheer pleasure of expressing yourself in Latin, because everything sounds better in Latin, to make a witty reference to Erasmus, or for no reason at all.

Discite faciendo!

Another answer mentions studying Latin for four years and still being unable to write it or speak it. I've talked with a number of people with similar experiences. I suggest that if you spent four years studying the language and still can't communicate in it, the problem is that you didn't practice communicating in it.

There is a movement in Latin pedagogy now that proposes to teach Latin the same way you'd teach any other foreign language: by using it. We already have a tag, , for this movement's flagship textbook, Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata. Latin is special because of its very long written tradition, in which a small set of classical writings were used to teach the language (including speaking it), so you spend a lot of time with those. But you only come to really know a language by using it. That's how you get a feeling for its turns of phrase and habits of thought, the way its prose differs from its poetry, its connotations and cultural reference points. You've got to use it to communicate with another person, where it matters to you that you and the other party get the information right.

Not everyone agrees with this approach, of course, and we don't all need to agree. We should just make clear that if you want to post in Latin, you should do so without hesitation! Some of us want to see and answer those questions. If you don't feel like you have enough mastery of Latin to ask without making mistakes, ask anyway! You may receive helpful corrections from others more knowledgeable. Discite faciendo, scribendo, legendo, te exprimendo!

Sensus communis

Of course, you will know that by writing in Latin, the more non-expert users might not be able to understand your question.* I trust that you can use common sense in deciding whether to supply an English translation, or maybe a little English crib, as I did in this question.


*Or you might unwittingly help the non-expert users by asking something they wanted to ask, struggling with the same difficulties they're struggling with, and giving them just the bit of help they needed. If anyone fears that questions in Latin might put off beginners, consider that despite being a tiro, I had no difficulty composing this question.

  • I'd like to point out that, as of right now, your question is the only one in llpsi. – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Feb 24 '16 at 19:48
  • @QPaysTaxes Well, post another one! :) Seriously, it was the first day of the private beta, and someone else tagged my question, so I took that as evidence that the love for LLPSI extends to this site. If no more LLPSI questions emerge, though, I'll take out that sentence. Also, I know that some people don't like LLPSI. What I really want to establish here is that this site welcomes that approach as well as others: there should be no "discouraging" of learning by doing, nor of the opposite approach. – Ben Kovitz Feb 25 '16 at 1:03
  • Oh, I'm not saying it's a bad tag. Just a fun fact that's worth pointing out. (Also, I would, if I'd ever heard of the thing until just now) – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Feb 25 '16 at 1:57
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Absolutely, you can. But let's think about questions entirely in Latin for a second first.

I want to say right off the bat that we should expect very few entirely Latin-language questions to exist on this site. Latin is not a spoken or written language anymore, unless you are a part of the Roman Catholic Church in The Vatican. No one actively types real sentences with it, and I would strongly discourage anyone from using up their time to ask a question completely in Latin just for the sake of it being in Latin. That's not to say they should be disallowed, but that it's a pretty big waste of time.

Latin Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, teachers, and students wanting to discuss the finer points of the Latin language.

This site is not only for experts. There are plenty of students out there who study Latin, and studying Latin is vastly different than studying any other language.

I personally took four years of Latin classes in high school, and I can't say in that time I ever made it to a point where I could read sentences fluently without having to look things up. I can't even remember one time where we were asked to write anything in Latin. Why? Because we weren't expected to do that. Latin isn't that kind of language anymore. Most of the time you spend looking at Latin text is spent analyzing the text both before and after translation to determine the true meaning of what was written - it's not as simple as just "Can I read what this says?"


Let's not spend time comparing Latin to other languages and saying "well those ones allow it." That's not really relevant because Latin is not like any other language currently out there in regards to how it is used in modern times. If you know English, just type your question in English - it's a lot easier for everyone. There's no need to show off your skills of how well you can write in Latin.

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    I agree with the response ("yes") and the caveat ("rarely a good idea") – brianpck Feb 23 '16 at 21:03
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    I agree with one of the messages of this post (don't post questions in Latin as a fun exercise), but I don't see why one should want to discourage questions in Latin. You don't want to compare Latin to other languages, but there are people proficient enough to communicate in Latin (maybe even more proficient than English) and I don't see a reason to discourage Latin as a form of communication. (If there are questions in Latin that are bad/decent/good attempts at writing in Latin, then these question can be closed/downvoted/edited accordingly.) – Earthliŋ Feb 23 '16 at 21:21
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    @Earthliŋ I don't have a problem with that, but you're also talking about an extremely low number of people. As I said, the only people who actively use it as a language are in The Vatican. I'm not discouraging all instances of pure Latin questions, I merely want people to think twice about whether their question really needs to be in Latin, because there are plenty of people out there who think "if I can, I will." My response is "please don't." – animuson Feb 23 '16 at 21:37
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    Vatican is the only place where Latin is official language, but there are more people speaking it, either Catholics or history fans. Yes, there are very few of them, but much more (by percentage) on specialized sites on Latin. Also, not all SE users are native English speakers or even good English speakers, and there are people who can write in Latin but not in English. There might be hundreds of them soon if we start to invite them on all-Latin forums and traditional Catholic parishes. – Pavel V. Feb 23 '16 at 22:45
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    @PavelV Stated again: I'm not discouraging all instances of pure Latin questions. I'm only discouraging those instances where it is not necessary. My answer does actually say "yes" in the very first sentence. – animuson Feb 23 '16 at 23:30
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YES.

I'll point out, by the by, that it's actually incorrect that there are no speakers of Latin as a first language. I know of at least two kids whose parents talked to them in Latin from birth (the kids' birth, not the parents) and who speak Latin fluently as one of their first languages.

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Yes! As far as I am aware, all language sites across the Stack Exchange network (I've looked at Japanese, German, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Italian) allow questions in either English or the target language. I don't see a reason why this should be any different here on Latin.SE.

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    "I don't see a reason why this should be any different here on Latin.SE." The fact that Latin is the only dead language in that list? That estimates of the number of fluent speakers are in the low hundreds? – Lilienthal Feb 23 '16 at 21:46
  • @Lilienthal So what? If there are people proficient enough to communicate in Latin, why should we tell them that they have to post in English (only) here? (I don't support the idea of low-quality questions in Latin riddled by mistakes.) – Earthliŋ Feb 23 '16 at 22:14
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    That's not what I meant to say. I'm merely pointing out that active users of a language posting questions in that language on their site is not a valid argument to support doing the same on this site. The average user on the French site is likely to be vastly more proficient in French than the average user would be here, mainly because most people's interest in Latin is purely academic. – Lilienthal Feb 23 '16 at 22:23
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    Ah, but lots of people who aim to join that community of the low hundreds might come here to ask questions, and some of us might be edging closer to joining it and, even if we're not fluent, we can still offer our potentially better-informed thoughts. – Joel Derfner Feb 24 '16 at 3:58
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No all-Latin question should be allowed, because English speakers may not fluently understand them. See the post State of the Stack for more information.

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