Wanting to learn about sentence diagrams, and on the recommendation of an English teacher, I picked up the book "Syntactic Analysis: The Basics" by Nicholas Sobin. The thin book is, as it describes itself, an "introduction to understanding sentence structure" for "students with little background in linguistics". I am layperson (not a linguist) interested in English grammar. One of the reasons for wanting to learn about sentence diagrams is because they feature in grammar books, for example The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, including the student version. Midway through the book, I came across a minor but interesting point, and I asked a question on English Stack Exchange. I got no little backlash from people saying that the question doesn't belong there, it being about linguistics and not grammar, some surely trying to close it.

In my view the question was about grammar, but I will leave that aside. Even if we assume that the question was technically about linguistics, do people really believe that there is no overlap between grammar and linguistics? Some points:

  • Grammar reference books, for example The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language or A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, are written by linguists.
  • Grammar books cite linguistic references. Even "The Grammar Book: An ESL/EFL Teacher's Course", a book for English teachers (also written by a linguist by the way), is full of citations to linguistic references.
  • Modern grammar itself embraces content carried over from linguistic works. Would modern grammar be what it is without the 20th century linguists?
  • One person directed me to the on-topic help page. I see nothing on this page that prohibits a question on a linguistic theory relating to English grammar. This is more relevant if the theory tries to explain parts of grammar that aren't traditionally touched on, or provides some insight into why grammar is the way it is, which has to be one of the most interesting parts of studying grammar.
  • Linguistics Stack Exchange, on the other hand, is described as a "site for professional linguists" (which I am not) and covers linguistics as it relates to any of 7000 languages.

I have no doubt that some of the people suggesting Linguistics Stack Exchange were sympathetic and thought better answers might be forthcoming over there, but I also felt that there were others who seemed to be the opposite.

  • 5
    You deduce that the entire community with its hundreds of members has a phobia of linguistics based on one single episode. And even then, if it were true, the question would have been closed if everyone had this adverse reaction. In case you didn't know, only three votes in favour of closure are needed. Just three.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 1, 2023 at 14:34
  • 6
    You asked a question and received a great deal of informed, thought-out responses (both in the formal answers and in the comments). What exactly is the problem? The suggestions that the question be asked on the Linguistics Stack Exchange were well-intended practical suggestions on how to get the best answer within the Stack Exchange framework; they were not meant to imply that there is some rigid, objective boundary between the two fields.
    – jsw29
    Apr 1, 2023 at 15:26
  • I do not mean to generalize, and I am not ungrateful. There were, however, other less well-intentioned comments which were deleted. And it may be a minority but I presume a minority can still get questions closed.
    – K Adams
    Apr 1, 2023 at 20:33
  • 5
    I was the first person, I believe, to recommend Linguistics SE to you. However, that was because the question was about grammar and grammatical theory and, indeed, examples from other languages would be able to shed light on your question. There would also be many respondents there who knew a lot more about binding theory than there would be here. It was not because the question wasn't about grammar! The other thing is that you are taking recommendations for posting that on Linguistics as if it was a criticism of you posting it here, but it wasn't! It was just a helpful suggestion. Apr 2, 2023 at 11:06
  • And you got comments on EL&U from at least two professional linguists! Last thing is that EL&U is a site for linguists (as well as etymologists and serious English language enthusiasts). :-) Apr 2, 2023 at 11:07
  • 5
    You say that 'there were . . . less well-intentioned comments which were deleted'. Their being deleted clearly indicates that they should not be taken as somehow representing the prevailing attitudes among the regular contributors to this site. And, although it is true that three votes are sufficient to close a question, three votes are also sufficient to reopen it.
    – jsw29
    Apr 2, 2023 at 15:32
  • @Araucaria-Nothereanymore. Thanks. Just to be clear, I wasn't including you when I questioned the intentions of some of the comments.
    – K Adams
    Apr 2, 2023 at 22:07


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