Should we treat questions related to a given foreign language differently depending on their history of interaction with english?

For instance, there are currently more than 60 questions involving japanese, words of japanese origin, english equivalent of japanese phrases or sentences. Several of them are from japanese-speaking people trying to get tips on how to say one particular thing in english. I do find some of them very interesting, but I am biased because I am studying japanese culture.

Should we vote or have chosen to vote to close them as off-topic?

Most of them have been answered, often with accepted answers.

For the time being there is only an Area51 proposal for japanese in the commit phase, so it is not possible to reroute them to another S.E. site

The case of this language is different from French for instance because of the intense and very ancient interaction with english. In fact many important or popular questions here involve french or romance loanwords in one or several ways (meaning, spelling, pronunciation, origin, use, ...) but most of them cannot really be criticized as 'translation' or 'second language' requests because many loanwords are ancient and now recognized parts of the english vocabulary.

There are several Area 51 French proposals, but here again no current online site to reroute the questions.

And we could elaborate about other languages such as Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Turkish, Dutch, German, Russian, Chinese, and so on ...

What is your opinion on the subject?

Where to draw the "on-topic" line when a question is multilingual?

Should the English.SE community be involved in all language related Area51 proposals so that questions can be distributed and treated effectively?

1 Answer 1


It depends on the question.

If it involves English and is centered on how English deals with the non-English thing, then I'm all for it.

If it is about the nonEnglish phenomenon and the question just happens to be written in English, then it is definitely off topic.

Somewhere between the two? It should be -about- the English aspect to be acceptable.

So that is my opinion about the nature of multilingual questions. I very much wish the Linguistics.SE existed (go there to commit!).

As to 'should', somehow I don't think English.SE as a thing should have anything to do with Area51 as a thing. Surely, many individuals who are interested in ELU will also be interested in other specific languages, languages in general, and linguistics, too. You'll notice that on the commit page for these different areas there is an area that says where the committers are already members, and they overlap quite a bit with the list I just gave. It just seems weird to have the ELU community as some sort of official deciding body, have anything to do with these other areas.

  • Thanks for you answer. When I said involved, I meant help accelerate the existence and growth individually of other languages SEs, as many members of English.SE are knowledgeable about the SE system, and, as your remarked yourself, either not native english speakers or interested in other languages than english.
    – ogerard
    May 20, 2011 at 3:36

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