We have a reasonably healthy tag with 42 questions as of this moment, but in our on-topic section, it states:

Please don’t ask any questions about the following topics. They are out of scope for this site:

  • Translation and non-English languages

Some of these are questions about non-English phrases/words, requesting English equivalents. A few of them provide English suggestions.

Others are questions about specific aspects - how something might be phrased in English, using which preposition or noun, for instance.

If these are off-topic questions - and I'm not sure they are - then should we still have a translation tag for them? It seems to me that having translation out of scope, and having a tag, seems contradictory, and since users are more likely to use tags than check the Help Center, we'll keep getting these questions.

Looking at meta, we have the question Translation Questions, where we seem to say that if it's just a request for an English word, then it's off-topic, but if it's asking about whether a text is acceptable (with specifics), then it's on-topic.

Any comments?

  • 2
    Additionally, what about questions asking if there's an English equivalent for a particular idiom? I've seen several of those, and such questions are generally a bit more involved than a simple translation. Jun 10, 2014 at 1:08

1 Answer 1


I think the questions are fine, and we should probably try to come up with a better term for the tag than "translation", because that's not really what they're asking for.

In Spanish we say "Hola, como estas?" How can I say that in English?

That's translation, and off-topic.

In [my language] we say [phrase in other language]. We say this when it is really raining a lot outside; it's kind of a humorous way to refer to the amount of rain. A literal translation is "pouring rivers". What's an idiomatic way to refer to this situation in English?

This is the kind of question we're talking about: they're on-topic, they're not really translation, and a fair answer would be "In English we say It's raining cats and dogs."

So the questions are fair; I think we're pretty good about aggressively closing the ones that are actually translation requests. Ones asking for an idiomatic way to say something in English that they're thinking of in their native language are fine. But if someone can come up with a better name than "translation", I'd happily change the name of the tag.

  • I think in those cases, they should be tagged with the most appropriate tag that isn't translation - idioms, for instance. But I'm not sure that there's a way to prevent tags from being created by users with sufficient reputation. However, tagging them with idioms, phrase and so on, may make it easier for other users to locate in the future.
    – jimsug
    Jun 12, 2014 at 13:35

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