Recently, someone noted that a German-sounding word, "smuck, had a highly pejorative meaning in English, and asked if the word had similar connotations in German?
A simple dictionary definition was that Schmuck meant jewelry. Some people might consider that the end of the question, and that it is "general reference." But while the question CAN be answered by a dictionary, the answer might not be all that "basic" or"definitive," given some surrounding facts.
A better question might have been, "The word smuck has pejorative connotations in English, and yet when I look up Schmuck in a German dictionary, it seems to mean jewelry. Are the two words totally unrelated, or does Schmuck have other meanings? Or is there a connection I'm missing?"
The answer was that the English "smuck" is not translated by the German "Schmuck," but by the German "Schmock." In other words, the two are "false friends." This result apparently surprised the native speaker who came up with it.
And sometimes there ARE words with hidden connections.
Could it be that it is worth probing such connections, and that a question that does so is NOT "basic," or "general reference?"