I am not a native english speaker. If you see User profile settings defined by StackExchange, it does not contain primary and secondary languages. It just contains location but a non-native english speaker may live in a country where its language is english. Now with English language and Usage StackExchange site, it would be a nice idea To create Two more settings, maybe called primary language and secondary language. I hope StackExchange support this issue.

  • 5
    Or secondary languages?
    – Benjol
    Aug 16, 2010 at 8:34
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    This request should perhaps be moved to the "main" meta site, as that's where discussion about the SE software features takes place.
    – Jonik
    Sep 16, 2010 at 9:53
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    Oh, I don't necessarily oppose the change, but in the meantime people can always list their languages in the About Me field.
    – Jonik
    Sep 16, 2010 at 9:55
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    I did suggest this on the main meta, but the proposal got beaten down.
    – takrl
    Aug 27, 2011 at 10:01
  • Primary and secondary languages (plural in both cases) is a good idea, along with country. The Chinese English spoken in Singapore is not the same as spoken in Beijing. For instance. I think English language teachers should identify themselves, as well, since they need more assistance than students do. Jun 7, 2013 at 15:39
  • @JohnLawler: They need more assistance? Could you elaborate? I'm confused.
    – J.R.
    Jun 8, 2013 at 9:32
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    Answers to questions about English grammar and usage from English language teachers affect more than one person's usage -- they affect the way many people will learn (or not learn) English. Further, such questions often betray a poor understanding of grammar and language, which can be remedied. And should be. But we can't tell who needs it most under the current system, unless people volunteer the information. Jun 8, 2013 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


First of all, there are issues that are much more urgent, such as the site search being rather useless, but even those feature requests are currently being rejected on the meta Meta.

My impression is that the powers that be are somewhat hesitant about tweaking the StackExchange engine for beta sites, and I can't really blame them for that. Who knows whether or not a particular SE site will survive its beta at all. (Before anybody panics, we are faring rather well at the moment, just as most of our siblings.)

Now, your feature request actually isn't limited to English Language and Usage. Listing one's first/second/third/Xth language could prove useful on many SE sites, even established ones such as StackOverflow. However, I am fairly certain that a request for two additional user profile fields will get rejected nonetheless, on the grounds that every user already has an "About me" field where they can share any bits of information they please.

Note that many don't even use that field. Some don't fill out their user profiles at all. Others provide incomplete, incorrect or misleading information. And that's okay, they are free to do so, it's their personal page. The point is, adding two more fields to the database would result in having two more fields that are — at best — mostly ignored, or — at worst — completely useless. (I know that I, for one, wouldn't fill them out.)

That being said, regulars have a fairly accurate understanding of what other regulars' mother tongues are. Answers and comments speak louder than "About me" fields. So, your best bet is just to become a regular to this site.

  1. Participate.
  2. ...?
  3. Profit!

The best thing is, the second step is completely optional.

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    "regulars have a fairly accurate understanding of what other regulars' mother tongues are" – Funny that you should say that, as most regulars here probably have no idea about your (two) mother tongues which you don't seem to disclose... :)
    – Jonik
    Sep 16, 2010 at 10:04
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    @Jonik: Really‽ Oh. My own impression was that I just wouldn't stop mentioning at least one of them extremely often, probably every single day. I thought that I was already getting on everybody's nerves with that. Anyway, my point is that I wouldn't fill out those two fields just as I don't fill out the "Location" field (well, I do, but not in an extremely meaningful way). Moderators can figure out my full name and street address in a minute, and I am comfortable with that, but I won't go putting up that information on billboards. And, for all I can tell, neither will many (most?) other users.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 16, 2010 at 16:17
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    Oh – I guess I haven't read all your answers carefully then, as I don't recall seeing such mentions. Your profile, or course, is all "enigmatic" about it. :)
    – Jonik
    Sep 16, 2010 at 20:04
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    @Jonik: what do you mean — you haven't read them all; how dare you? (^_^) Anyway, for starters: english.stackexchange.com/questions/1488/…
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 16, 2010 at 20:27

I fully agree this feature should be supported. Not only because of English, but also Spanish, French, etc. stackexchange sites. When you read an answer, you should know whether that answer is from the native speaker or not; one should have some measure how the answer is reliable.

I think only one multiple field for Native or Bilingual language proficiency (inspired by LinkedIn) is needed. A lot of people have more than one primary language (Canadians, Belgians, Swiss, people from bilingual families etc.).

On the other hand, I don't think secondary language field would be necessary for this purpose. What does it tell you about the knowledge of the answerer? Not much, I guess. 99% of people who visit the site have that particular language as a secondary language. So, let's make the request as simple as possible, so that it has chance to be implemented!

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    But you cannot know whether a particular poster is a native speaker of English, and implementing your suggestion would not change that. You can't force people to fill out the field, and you can't force them to fill it out correctly. Nothing prevents me from specifying that I am a native speaker of English — which is an utterly useless label anyway, on this site even more so than on others. There are any number of different Englishes, and there are any number of native speakers who don't have the most basic understanding of how their language works, or whose understanding is backwards.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jun 7, 2013 at 10:23
  • Your comment is perfect rhetoric example of how to relativize everything :) I am pretty sure you could also give Edison 20 reasons why bulb would not work, but this is not the way to make things better. One of the first questions you ask about your language teacher normally is "is he a native speaker?" And suspecting people of lying about that? Come on! Why on earth they would do that? With such a trust in people one should probably become hermit and learn alone from books (but, do you trust books?).
    – Tomas
    Jun 8, 2013 at 8:32
  • Sorry, @Tomas but being a native speaker is no guarantee that he or she has a better understanding of the language. RegDwight is correct, whether you want to disagree or not. On this website I care not a fig if someone was born in the US, the UK, Australia, India, or South Africa. It is their expertise and experience in studying the English language that I care most about. And this usually SHINES through in their answers. The upvotes are usually a good indicator of that person's integrity.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 13, 2013 at 7:22

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