I am assuming that the status quo is that puzzle-type questions are off-topic.

In my opinion, looking at data from an existing language (natural or constructed) and attempting to determine the rule that describes the data is a good source of inspiration and an interesting sort of puzzle.

I would enjoy trying to solve puzzles like this if they were acceptable to post here, and I'm wondering if others would too.

With that in mind, is it acceptable to post linguistics puzzles of sorts using a natural or constructed language and ask others to determine what the rule is?

For instance, here's a puzzle that involves working out, based on some given data, how Yaqui word order works https://lingclub.mycpanel.princeton.edu/challenge/yaqui.php

The prototypical example I am thinking of would involve guessing a rule rather than completing a puzzle by matching stuff.

For instance, the following Khoekhoe data might make / might have made an interesting puzzle since using pronouns as nominalizers is a) unusual and b) extremely consistent and elegant.

I'm not thrilled about referencing my own answer, I'll edit this question with other examples from other users when I find some.

1a) saa=ts  ge   ra  |khii
    you=2ms DECL TAM come
    You (m) are coming.

1b) om=s      ge    (a)  kai
    house=3fs DECL  TAM  big
    The house is big.

1c) saa=ts    ge    (a)  gao-ao
    you=2ms   DECL  TAM  king
    You are a king.

1d) saa=ts    ge    (a)  Petru
    you=2ms   DECL  TAM  Peter.
    You are Peter.

1e) om=s      ge    (a)  nee.
    house=3fs DECL  TAM  this
    The house is this one.

1f) tii=ta    ge    (a)   saa
    I=1sg     DECL  TAM   you
    I am you.

1g) tara=di   ge    a  !nona
    women=3fp DECL TAM three
    The women are three.

1h) om=s      ge    a   tii
    house=3fs DECL TAM  mine
    The house is mine.

Link to original source and my answer citing it.

Some arguments against permitting this type of question, off the top of my head:

  1. It has no value to anyone other than the question asker.
  2. It might flood the site if permitted.
  3. It's logistically annoying.
  • 1
    Linguistic puzzles should be on-topic at Puzzling I think.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Aug 24, 2020 at 23:37
  • @curiousdannii I'm undeleting this because I appreciate your answer. Please feel free to promote the comment to an answer. Aug 25, 2020 at 0:49

1 Answer 1


While puzzle type questions of this sort would work great in a more discussion oriented forum (Conlang-L, CBB, perhaps Reddit), SE works on a different model in that it is not geared towards this kind of question type.

According to SE itself: We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise. You note yourself that this kind of question is logistically annoying and really only of value to the querent.

SE also says: Get answers to practical, detailed questions. And C.SE specifically says: Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do. You could ask about the essential details of the puzzle, just not in a puzzle format. I think we kind of expect that you are either working on an invented language of your own, are learning another's, or else are simply interested in invented languages. Questions should therefore stem largely from your own work on your own language or on how other invented languages function.

Lastly: Not all questions work well in our format. Avoid questions that are primarily opinion-based, or that are likely to generate discussion rather than answers. Puzzles are bound to create chit-chat, multiple opinions, discussions, and digressions; all of which are off-topic here.

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