It's recently been pointed out that we have a tag.

I guess there are two questions here:

  • Do we want a tag for "finding the right translation in English for a very specific idiom/phrase in another language"? ELU has a bunch of these questions but I'm not sure how many we have here, or if a "translation" tag encourages proofreading/dictionary requests.
  • If we do want to tag those questions, do we want/need specific , , , etc., tags?

Possibly relevant: ELU has a translation tag for this type of question. We also have a translation tag, but it seems to be used a bit more inconsistently, and not always as described above.

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    I think using a generic "translation" tag seems like the simplest solution. What does everyone else think?
    – WendiKidd
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 6:00
  • 1
    @Wendi - Part of me agrees with you – it's easier to have one tag than several. Then again, what are tags used for? What if we have regular users who are fluent in French, or fluent in Italian, and those users want to find all the French (or Italian) translation questions, to lend their expertise. If they are all tagged with translation, then those questions get lumped together with all the German, Japanese, and Arabic translation queries. It might be best to keep the language-specific tags, so that curious onlookers can easily find all the questions related to one particular language.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 9:17
  • @J.R. I can see the argument for that, and I'm not necessarily disagreeing. But on the other hand, what if we have users who are skilled at taking a concept familiar to another language and looking for the perfect English phrase for it? Those users wouldn't be able to find all the translation questions if there's a separate tag for every separate language. The questions do have to explain the concept in English anyway to be on topic, so it seems to me that being able to find the phrase for a foreign concept is possibly a more relevant skill than knowing the original language? Commented May 1, 2015 at 9:50
  • Then again, this is English language learners. It's possible the explanation won't be that great and knowing the original language is more helpful here than on ELU (though if knowing the original language becomes necessary, I think the question becomes off-topic). Now I'm starting to wonder if there's a case for using both sets of tags (translation and french-translation)... Commented May 1, 2015 at 9:53
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    @starsplusplus - Every question can have up to five tags. Most of these, for example, are tagged with both the french tag and the translation tag. I think we should keep a french tag, but, with that and the more general translation tag, I don't see a need for a french-translation tag.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 10:46
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    @J.R. I think it's always a good idea to have tags be more descriptive if possible. What would the tag wiki say for french? Is it intended to only be used for French translation? If so, french-translation would make it clearer what the tag was meant to be used for. If you make tags too vague, people can come in and use them inconsistently. On the other hand, if you make them too narrow, you can accidentally exclude questions from sensibly using the tag - which brings me back to the question of whether it makes sense for the scope of the french tag to cover anything outside translation. Commented May 1, 2015 at 10:55
  • As I envision it, the french tag could be used for French translation questions, or English expressions derived from French, etc. I don't think there are so many of these that we need to have a French-translation tag and a French-expressions tag, etc.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 11:45
  • @J.R. That's a reasonable point. Just to be clear, do you mean loanwords/loan phrases (faux pas, café, etc.) when you say English expressions derived from French? Or did you mean something else? Commented May 1, 2015 at 11:52
  • @J.R. I think that makes a lot of sense. I didn't see the need for both translation and French-translation, but keeping just French around is a sound idea.
    – WendiKidd
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 13:40

1 Answer 1


This is just a summary from my previous comments, but I'm ready to formulate an answer now.

My recommendation is to use multiple tags, rather than combining them into a dual purpose tag.

Consider questions about the following:

  • C'est la vie
  • hors d' oeuvres
  • Je me lance, vers la gloire
  • Hasta Mañana
  • pronto vs. ASAP
  • Feliz Navidad, prospero ano y felicidad

Conceivably, this could lead to six different tags (one for each of these):

I think it would be better to keep this down to four tags, and put two tags on each question:

The difference between four and six may seem trivial, but the savings become more significant with more languages. If we were to repeat this process for German, Arabic, Italian, and Japanese, and do this with other tags such as and , things would really get out of hand.

Bottom line: I think it's better to have N+M tags, and combine them as needed, instead of NxM tags, and account for every possible combination.

  • You make a good case. Seems logical. One question - at the moment, very few of the questions tagged "translation" have a secondary tag for language. Do you think it's worth going through and adding french, japanese, whatever tags to those questions? Commented May 1, 2015 at 20:06
  • It wouldn't hurt, particularly if the tags already exist.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 21:05
  • I added the japanese tag to one question, but I couldn't really find any others where it was applicable.
    – user230
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 6:53
  • And pazzo immediately removed the tag, so I guess not everyone agrees we should have tags like these! :-)
    – user230
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 15:31
  • @snail - Fixed.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented May 3, 2015 at 15:39
  • I think we should come up with a tag wiki to describe what sorts of questions concerning translation are on-topic. After all, the focus is on English on this site―we don't want people to see the tags and post translation requests with no effort put in.
    – user230
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 2:56
  • Maybe we could have a hindi tag too: ell.stackexchange.com/q/29758/230
    – user230
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 2:56

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