I tried entering some Chinese characters into the body of an ELU question, and it said Body cannot contain (Chinese character).

Even putting it inside backticks or blockquotes doesn't seem to help.

In case it matters, the characters involved were from the Japanese title for Somewhere Street (I can't enter the characters even in meta).

While I understand questions and answers should be written in English, I think it should be ok to quote or discuss phrases in other languages (though it isn't vital for the question I'm writing).

There's a ban on Chinese characters because of spam, but I think there should be an exception for ELU, just like there are for other sites about language.


1 Answer 1


The ban was implemented because of a spate of oriental spam on ELU (and other sites, but ELU was one of those targeted).

As you say, Stack Exchange is an English-language network — with a notable exception for Portuguese — and as we're discussing English here, there should be no need for characters from other languages. Especially non-Latin characters which don't exist in English.

While there may be a case for quoting a phrase in a non-Latin language, there won't be a high percentage of the readership who could read it, and it's probably not necessary anyway: it would be sufficient in almost all cases to provide a literal translation in the body of the question. As you say yourself, to include the characters themselves not usually vital.

Where it is vital, I suggest including an image with a worthwhile description both in the image tag and in plain text, together with a transliteration. That provides the most accessible way of including banned characters.

Footnote: Japanese.SE is obviously a case out on its own.

  • 6
    You might want to substitute "spam originating in Asia" for "oriental spam." Quite apart from being a word that hearkens back to racist attitudes, "oriental spam" also puts one in mind of some highly repugnant cooked dish.
    – Robusto
    Sep 22, 2015 at 11:39
  • @Robusto hahahaha, I read your comment, and a second later my brain came back to me and whispered "oh, gross!".
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 22, 2015 at 17:09
  • 4
    Sorry, but I don't want that. There's nothing wrong with oriental or oriental in the British English I use. And you know what they say about British cuisine...
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Sep 22, 2015 at 22:04
  • @AndrewLeach Just so you know, in AmE, 'oriental' has slowly become ... undesirable. 'That person is oriental' is considered in bad taste. Not an epithet exactly but like calling black people 'colored', it sounds out of date and slightly racist. So that taboo has rubbed off on any use of 'oriental'. So things like 'oriental rug' are OK but people will wonder. The preferred replacement is 'Asian' (meaning east or south-east Asian (Chinese Japanaese Korean Thai Vietnamese etc) and not the subcontinent, which I understand is the meaning in the UK.
    – Mitch
    Sep 23, 2015 at 0:30
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    @Mitch Just so you know, oriental is utterly unremarkable in rural Wisconsin. Nobody means anything bad by it and it is aggressively unfriendly to pester them for using the word they grew up with.
    – tchrist Mod
    Sep 23, 2015 at 20:29
  • @tchrist Oh, yes, I forgot. How about the west coast? (definitely deprecated on the east coast)
    – Mitch
    Sep 23, 2015 at 21:26
  • @Mitch: you know, there's already been discussion on this over at the main site; most people seem to say that "oriental" is only questionable when applied to a person. If you disagree, maybe you should make a post or a comment about it at one of the following places:
    – herisson
    Sep 28, 2015 at 8:54
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