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Are questions purely about Hebrew in-scope?

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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?

Why should this post be closed?

2 comments

This is a question not a proposal, so I interpret upvotes to mean "this is a good question" and not "we should include this in our scope" (and I would not interpret downvotes as "we should not include"). To express opinions on the scope question, please write answers. :-) Monica Cellio 7 days ago

"Please translate this passage in Agnon into English for me" "Why did Agnon choose this image to describe X" "Which parts of Israel prefer conjugation X over Y in daily speech" "What does this slang term I heard from a cab driver mean" AA​ 6 days ago

4 answers

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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).)

2 comments

Is there any difference between this suggestion and the policy at Mi Yodeya? I'm having trouble seeing one. AA​ 5 days ago

@AA - couldn't tell you, as I don't know what the MY policy is. (I was a user on the site, but very minimalist.) If this post is convergent with MY policy, that would be an instance of: בחיק יוטל את־הגורל ומיהוה כל־משפטו :) David 5 days ago

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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.

4 comments

I don't particularly like this suggestion. If this feels too loose to you or asking for trouble, consider the other answer which suggests isolating this scope-anomaly to a separate category https://judaism.codidact.com/questions/276383#answer-276424 AA​ 5 days ago

How about allowing (in general) translation from Hebrew/Ladino/Yiddish/Judeo-Arabic/Aramaic into English (i.e., that is typically what people trying to learn from source texts will need) but not from English to the other languages? I suspect (but this is really just a hunch) that typical "Translate English to Hebrew" will be more likely a homework question (but there can be exceptions) where "Translate Hebrew to English" covers far more - e.g., Need help understanding a source text,... manassehkatz 5 days ago

visited Israel and saw a Hebrew sign, Rabbi gave a speech and didn't explain a particular Hebrew term (I get those questions at Kiddush...back in the days when we had Kiddush in Shul), etc. manassehkatz 5 days ago

@manasseh That would only address translation questions. What about the rest of language questions? AA​ 5 days ago

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

9 comments

I know there's already a subject-matter category (meta), but I nonetheless am very wary of having more subject-matter categories (like Hebrew). Where does it end, then? How are categories different from tags? I think anything that fits as a tag in Judaism Q&A should be included in the Judaism Q&A category or should be excluded from the site altogether. (Now of course someone will think of an edge case where I'm forced to concede that that rule doesn't work.) msh210 6 days ago

@msh I agree that we should use categories very sparingly but that doesn't mean we don't use them at all. Hebrew is often not sufficiently Judaism related to fit in the regular Judaism QA but the expertise is clearly sufficiently closely related that we can capitalize on shared expert attraction. Seriously, what else are categories for but very large scale division that allows for more important useful related content? Something as inane as Purim Torah is better for the site than this?? AA​ 6 days ago

We envisioned categories (for Q&A) for where the scope and/or expectations of posts are different somehow. Meta isn't about the topic of the site but about the site itself; that's a scope difference. On Scientific Speculation Rigorous Science category, more is expected of both questions and answers; that's an expectation difference but not a scope one (those same questions would be on-topic in Q&A). Categories can also do other things (e.g. wiki). Monica Cellio 5 days ago

@Monica Here I propose a scope difference (and potentially a language of discourse difference). (Ping @msh above) AA​ 5 days ago

@AA understood. I just wanted to clarify what we intended for categories, for context. That doesn't limit how communities use them, of course. Monica Cellio 5 days ago

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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.

9 comments

"if they aren't 'Jewish enough,' the same argument could be made for all kinds of other categories of questions" I agree completely except that I don't know what other things you're talking about that aren't about Judaism but could be a good use of site resources. Product recommendations, at least for products used in the practice of Judaism, are already fine (qua Judaism) in regular QA. AA​ 6 days ago

You like msh210 are making a reductio ad absurdum argument. But then we get nothing. We have categories. Let's use them. Let's use them judiciously and not be so afraid of them that we don't ever gain from them. Separating out Hebrew serves a purpose too: it allows for maintaining a different set of scope rules. AA​ 6 days ago

@AA "Product recommendations, at least for products used in the practice of Judaism, are already fine in regular QA." Why? Because they were fine in Mi Yodeya? A priori, there is no reason to distinguish. "You...are making a reductio ad absurdum argument. But then we get nothing." No, we get the exact same thing, except for a division that I consider arbitrary. user8078 6 days ago

You see no reason to distinguish "Please translate this passage in this Hebrew Christmas tree store pamphlet to English" and "What's the best sukkah material that will withstand freezing temperatures" as regards their fitting on a Judaism QA site? AA​ 5 days ago

@AA Either could be included or excluded for separate reasons user8078 5 days ago

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