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Celebrating the diversity our community has reached, I wonder if we are allowed to post examples in local language of the question.

We have Russia here, Hong Kong here, Indonesia, India, and many more in the future!

I feel that giving example of phrases in the local language of the question will benefit the OP better than a phrase in English.

StackExchange encourage users to post in English, and I do believe that posts should still be written in English. However, should we encourage the usage of phrases in local language of the question?

How to say "good morning"? [France tag here]

Good morning.

vs

Bonjour.

To avoid confusion, like apaul's concern:

Just worried that some may start posting their entire answer in another language, because they saw other languages used.

I propose that the phrases should only be posted within a blockquote, to indicate that the phrase is "a quote".

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  • I'd be a little worried about users not seeing a distinction between posting a phrase in the local language and posting their entire answer in the local language.
    – apaul
    Aug 28, 2017 at 20:20
  • @apaul34208 I wonder why is that so? If the question asked for French, in this answer interpersonal.stackexchange.com/a/2471/49 , you just need to translate the phrases in blockquote to French. Or is there something in my question that is potentially unclear to new users?
    – Vylix
    Aug 28, 2017 at 20:25
  • Just worried that some may start posting their entire answer in another language, because they saw other languages used.
    – apaul
    Aug 28, 2017 at 20:29

2 Answers 2

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Posts on Stack Exchange, with the exception of the Stack Overflow in [language] sites and (to a lesser degree) the language-learning sites, are required to be in English. There are a couple of reasons for this.

  1. We need answers to be useful to everyone.
    If everyone speaks English, we can all translate the suggestion into our own native language. If only the person asking the question and answering it speak German, everyone who can't speak German can't use the answer.

  2. Moderation can not happen if the users can't read the content.
    We all (to some extent) speak English. How many of the users here with the ability to moderate can read Hindi or Russian or German? Probably not a lot and not any of the mods (that I know of). This means that we can't easily tell if your "suggestion" is legitimate or offensive.

Yes, we do require that answers consider the culture of the person asking the question... but that doesn't mean that the answer is only useful in that culture. As such, I believe we should require all of the content to be in English, even if the question is about an issue in a language other than English.


As a note, I agree with apaul34208's comments on the question here:

I'd be a little worried about users not seeing a distinction between posting a phrase in the local language and posting their entire answer in the local language.
Just worried that some may start posting their entire answer in another language, because they saw other languages used.

This is certainly a concern. As a user on ELL, I've seen people answer questions in a language other than English - sometimes when the OP says "I'm Russian but I'm trying to say this phrase in English" - they will get an answer in Russian entirely, which gets removed because the site requires that answers be in English.

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  • But I think it would be acceptable to add short passages in a foreign language, as long as a reasonably accurate English equivalent is included. In some cases, some situation might not be described accurately in English. Even though a response still needs to be in English, someone who understands the foreign language may obtain some additional insight.
    – user3169
    Aug 28, 2017 at 20:42
  • If it's verifiable by community that the phrase is legit, is it acceptable? I'm thinking French and Chinese is popular enough and easily verifiable by the users (I may be overestimating the users that speak those, though).
    – Vylix
    Aug 28, 2017 at 20:42
  • @user3169 Unfortunately, someone claiming that a sentence means ____ doesn't mean that it actually means ____. Plus, without true native speakers of a language, the words may clear a translator but have really bad meanings due to idiomatic phrases. I'm really hesitant to encourage this because it makes it very difficult for us to moderate. Feel free to write another answer and let people vote, though... if the top answer supports this, we can talk to the CMs to see if they have any concerns.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Aug 28, 2017 at 20:56
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    In case OP belongs to a non English-speaking country, here is an idea. Whenever there is need to include what-to-say in answers, it can be added in other language along with translation in English. This is particularly helpful, because not everybody (and possibly no one) talks in English with their friends and family members.
    – A J Mod
    Aug 29, 2017 at 8:54
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    @AJ of course I don't talk in English to my friends and family ;) Most English phrases translated to Indonesia (and I believe other language) sounds too formal to be used in daily life. I can immediately know if someone use a phrase translated from English.
    – Vylix
    Aug 29, 2017 at 14:10
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I have seen issues in the past where confusion was created by the OP presenting an incomplete or inaccurate English translation of a phrase or word in a foreign language. These issues sometimes create noise in the form of comments and inappropriate answers.

As an example, on the Workplace, there was a fair amount of confusion on a question where the OP was referring to "greeting" their boss when leaving the office. It turned out that they were translating a versatile Italian word into a less-nuanced English term.

Therefore, I feel that allowing selected phrases or words in a non-English language is appropriate, if the question (or answer) also provides an English translation. I like the idea of requiring the word or phrase to be in a blockquote. A second blockquote should be used for the translation.

Regarding the concern about questions or answers posted entirely in another language: I am not convinced that allowing carefully controlled use of foreign languages would result in an increase in inappropriate posts. It happens often enough on sites where multi-lingual questions and answers aren't acceptable that I believe the behavior is more about either not (correctly) reading the rules, or not caring about the rules. I've seen foreign language posts on parenting.se (which were summarily deleted), for example.

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  • Can you include the link to the foreign language post in Parenting.SE for example to us all?
    – Vylix
    Aug 29, 2017 at 14:07
  • @Vylix They all get deleted when found, and I no longer have an account on that site, so can't view deleted posts (nor would anyone without sufficient reputation).
    – Beofett
    Aug 29, 2017 at 14:15
  • Oh okay, I was excited to see an example where the community can tolerate foreign language posts and wondering about how they can moderate them.
    – Vylix
    Aug 29, 2017 at 14:21

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