I asked this yesterday: Is "say me" really correct English?

Not only was it downvoted, which is weird in itself, but it was actually closed a "off-topic". This time, I simply need to know: what is off-topic about asking about English in the "English language & usage" category of this website?

Usually, I at least have a "gut feeling", but not this time.

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    Because it’s not a question which would occur to “linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts”. In fact, the answer to the question would be immediately and instinctively obvious to that (our) audience.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 9:13
  • Have a look at english.stackexchange.com/questions/90167/…
    – Greybeard
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 10:12
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    @DanBron but how many avid users on EL&U are actually etymologists? How many are actually linguists? I can count the latter on, maybe two hands, and that's being optimist. The question could have done with a little more effort, and a source would have been appreciated. Instead of explaining how to help newcomers write their first on-topic question, they are fobbed off as time wasters. There's no hope for Stack Exchange.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 11:19
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    @Mari-LouA A small few in each category. But most of us fall into “serious English language enthusiasts”. And “serious English language enthusiasts” — or even just native speakers — know immediately “say me” isn’t possible, and would not take a half-remembered comic strip from 30 years ago about speaking to rural Swedes as a meaningful clue that it is. I’d have suggested that the Q would be better asked on ELL, but the OP is clearly an advanced speaker.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 11:29
  • @ Dan Bron But most of us fall into “serious English language enthusiasts” Most? Citation required please.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 11:42
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    @Mari-LouA The citation is precisely the fact that we all debate this stuff on the daily! Who would put themselves through this if not for love of English? (Also the space between the @ and my username means I don’t get pinged.)
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 11:52
  • @DanBron apologies for the gap, a genuine slip up, I hope you were not hurt :) Yes, but there's a rather tepid participation on meta. How many views has this post attracted? 16 views in 8 hours and I bet five of them were yours. How many visits did the featured meta post attract? 236 visits in two weeks. The site is dying because long-serving users such as myself and you have stopped taking part and, ultimately, have stopped caring. Yet old habits die hard, when the following excuse is bleated: "A site for etymologists, linguists and serious English enthusiasts"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 13:00
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    @Mari-LouA Yes, the site is dying. Want to know why? We never figured out a way to attract a flow of new, deep, meaty and interesting questions about English. There are 10,000 other sites for people learning English, or wanting someone to proofread their email to their boss, etc. EL&U is dying because there’s no interest in creating a 10,001st. The people who want that are already on the other sites.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


I don't consider the question to be low-quality. But it does lack a source, it does lack evidence of research. So, quickly, here is what I might have posted if I had been a newcomer

Can you say me where the nearest inn is situated?

Is this really something that would be asked by a native English speaker? I read it in a cartoon from the 1990s where a tourist (apparently native English, but possibly not) says that exact phrase to a couple of Swedish peasants standing by their road.

I searched on Google the expression "Can you say me" and it did not come up empty-handed. Here are a few examples

  1. Please, can you say me what is the present situation of the renovation construction here?

  2. Hello, can you say me if the cottage rooms are ronovated [sic]?

  3. Hello, can you say me what is the difference between standard and deluxe roms.

Yet online I found evidence which suggested “say me” is ungrammatical but they didn't explain why.


Tell is usually followed immediately by a person. Said is not:
He told me where to go. (NOT He said me...)

and elsewhere native speakers explained: "Tell me ..." is natural.

Is it possible that in the past English native speakers said "say me" but then it fell out of fashion? Why didn't the tourist ask the Swedish villagers

Can you tell me where the nearest inn is situated?

  • 1
    Wouldn’t this answer be better split into the meta commentary for meta and the response to the question on main if/when it’s reopened? (Also everyone’s google results are different and I can’t tell the exact sources your examples came from, but I suspect all or most of them are from non-native speakers, likely from India).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 12:49
  • I wonder if the Lionel Richie song "Say You, Say Me" has anything to do with this. (It's actually the first thing that popped into my head for the phrase.) Of course, it's only a song … Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 21:18

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