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Are questions purely about Hebrew in-scope?

+7
−0

On Mi Yodeya, questions about Hebrew that aren't clearly about Judaism are considered out of scope. Should that be the case here, or should questions about the Hebrew language be ipso facto on-topic?

Questions to consider (please edit in more if you see fit):

  • Is Modern Hebrew treated differently than Rabbinic, Mishnaic, Biblical Hebrew, etc.?

  • Are other languages of the Jews, such as Aramaic, Yiddish, and Ladino, treated similarly?

  • What about comparative Ancient Near Eastern linguistics?

  • Are questions like "how does one conjugate this verb into this tense" on topic?

  • Are questions like "what does this Hebrew tattoo mean" on topic?

  • Are questions like "please translate this sentence into Hebrew" on topic?

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General comments (4 comments)

5 answers

+3
−0

Given that this site is for Q&A's about Judaism, it would seem appropriate that any Hebrew (or Aramaic) language questions should in some way connect with or originate in “source texts”. (I realize that begs the question: which texts!)

Of the six broad sample questions posed by OP, I can imagine the first four...

  1. Is Modern Hebrew treated differently than Rabbinic, Mishnaic, Biblical Hebrew, etc.?
  2. Are other languages of the Jews, such as Aramaic, Yiddish, and Ladino, treated similarly?
  3. What about comparative Ancient Near Eastern linguistics?
  4. Are questions like "how does one conjugate this verb into this tense" on topic?

...could be related fairly readily to source texts, while the fifth...

\5. Are questions like "what does this Hebrew tattoo mean" on topic?

...might be more of a stretch (not impossible, but unlikely!). Probably the sixth:

\6. Are questions like "please translate this sentence into Hebrew" on topic?

is the only one that is probably excluded altogether.

These would all be at home on a “Language & Linguistics” site, but that's not what Judaism.CD is.

(I may be misunderstanding the concept of “categories”, but I take it that a “category” is something like a post-type, whereas the issue of whether Hebrew-language-only questions are in scope is still a matter of Q&A that is related more to tagging than categories (I would have thought).)

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General comments (2 comments)
+4
−1

We should allow any Hebrew, Ladino, Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic questions with no restrictions, even ones that clearly have nothing at all to do with Judaism as chances are we won't get so many of them to create problems. Handling the few that we get and knowing we explicitly allow non-Judaism content on a nominally Judiasm site are simply the cost of having a simple (and simplistic) scope definition. If it ever becomes a problem we can reevaluate.

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General comments (4 comments)
+3
−1

Speaking personally, I agree with the other posts which propose allowing questions related to these Jewish languages but not related to Judaism as a religion.

Speaking as a moderator, I just want to emphasize that the help center mentions that you should do some basic research before asking your question. Presuming for the sake of example that these types of questions are, everything else being equal, allowed:

  • Translation wouldn't be allowed because of the ease by which any of these languages can be translated with a Google search (yes, there are actually Aramaic to English translators out there!).
  • Spelling questions should similarly be off-topic, but asking why a word is spelled the way it is would not be. (Compare "how do you spell the name Ahasuerus in Biblical Hebrew" with "why is Ahasuerus spelled אחשורוש in some locations in the Megillah, but אחשורש in others.")
  • Verb conjugation would be off-topic because of the ease by which one could search for that. Alternatively we might have a post at the introduction of this policy which gives a brief description of the verb conjugation rules, and all later conjugation questions can be closed as duplicates unless they demonstrate why that word is an exception to the general rules.
  • "What does this word say" should similarly be off-topic considering the fact that there's a number of free apps which allow you to take a picture of a foreign language and will automatically translate it for you.
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General comments (5 comments)
+2
−1

One solution is a Hebrew Language category. See here. Potentially all your examples would be in scope in that category.

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General comments (9 comments)
+1
−1

I think that questions about Hebrew and Jewish languages should be allowed. Knowledge of Hebrew/JL is useful for studying Torah and Jewish texts, even though requiring questions about it to be asked specifically with regard to a specific passage in a Jewish text (as was expected on Mi Yodeya) can sometimes be burdensome. If this site were an ideal "community of experts," users of this site would be particularly well-positioned to answer these kinds of questions, since knowledge of Judaism and Hebrew/JL often come together.

I see no reason to limit them to a separate category. Hebrew/JL questions already overlap very much with the already diverse set of questions that could be considered Judaism. Restricting them to a category is arbitrary; if they aren't "Jewish enough," the same argument could be made for all kinds of other categories of questions, such as e.g. product recommendation (as opposed to Purim Torah, whose restriction to a category would serve a purpose: so as not to be confused with more serious questions). Hebrew/JL questions could simply be identified by a tag.

(On the other hand, A A's cryptic suggestion to allow posts in Hebrew might in fact warrant a separate category for questions written in Hebrew, whether about Judaism or Hebrew language. I don't know whether there is enough support for such an idea, though; it depends on whether there are enough Hebrew-speaking users who would participate.)

Is Modern Hebrew treated differently than Rabbinic, Mishnaic, Biblical Hebrew, etc.?

Are other languages of the Jews, such as Aramaic, Yiddish, and Ladino, treated similarly?

All of the above should be permitted, as Modern Hebrew and the others all have a Jewish literary tradition.

What about comparative Ancient Near Eastern linguistics?

Insofar as they relate to Hebrew or Jewish languages.

Are questions like "how does one conjugate this verb into this tense" on topic?

Are questions like "what does this Hebrew tattoo mean" on topic?

Are questions like "please translate this sentence into Hebrew" on topic?

Some of these might look like bad/uninteresting questions, but that would depend on how much work and research was put into the question. Bad questions are obviously not particularly wanted, but the scope itself may allow for them. Other policies (e.g. no translation requests for lengthy texts/without research) could potentially be implemented if inundation with this kind of question becomes a problem.

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General comments (9 comments)

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