Which tag should be used for a question that asks if a word is used only in a specific English dialect?

4 Answers 4


If a question is about a specific dialect then a tag corresponding to that dialect should be used, e.g. , , , , etc. If the user wants to be more specific, then they should tag the question with the broad dialect and specify the more specific dialect in the question.

For example, if a user is specifically asking about any dialect spoken in the British isles, they should tag the question and specify the more specific dialect in the text of the question.

If the user is trying to find out which dialect a specific word or phrase is in, then perhaps they should tag the question with .


Although I disagree with FumbleFingers that we should only teach Standard English - there are cases for example where answering in Standard English is not appropriate, for example where different idioms are used in BE versus AE, pronunciation of "tomato" or whether the use of the royal "we" is valid - I do agree that in general we should teach Standard (by which I mean "universal") English first and foremost.

For example,

I've never had no money

is perfectly valid colloquial English, but an English learner would be better advised to learn the Standard English equivalent:

I've never had any money

This form is more useful to most English learners, since it is the form that is more common, more understood, better for use in writing formal letters, novels (outside of quoted speech), business speech and making themselves generally understood in the English speaking world. It's also less likely to cause offense and is more likely to get them marks in English exams or tests.

For this reason, I think ELL should encourage answers to be in Standard English first and foremost, but we shouldn't discriminate against non Standard English forms, particularly when the question directly relates to it. For example:

What does "I've never had no money" mean? Shouldn't it be "I've never had any money"?

To which a good answer might be:

They are both equivalent. The former is a colloquial form of the latter - particularly as used in the African American Vernacular.

Generally for formal writing you should prefer the Standard English form "I've never had any money" in non-quoted formal writing and business speech.

This is certainly a much better answer than

Yes. The first one is not Standard English. Always use the latter.

Often it is the case where an answerer is not aware of the fact that their answer is local to their region. In these cases, the answer should not be discouraged or removed, but a commenter may wish to point out that the answer is not valid in all regions or is not Standard English.


I think this site should address the various English dialects. I’m a non-native speaker learning US English. I’m having a lot of trouble understanding UK English (written and conversation). Anyone speaking the UK English will understand this simple sentence, “let’s ring her up”. This sentence has no meaning to me. Since I’m not at all familiar with the UK English dialect, I’m unable to form any thought in my head. Now, after knowing a little bit about the UK dialect, I’m able to at least understand how it’s being used.


I don't think ELL should directly concern itself with dialectal variation.

It's no purpose of the site to teach learners how to use Australian, or Indian English. Nor even American or British English, come to that. We're here to help people learn and understand standard English (however that may be defined).

So if someone asks about the meaning or origin of Dingo's breakfast - a yawn, a leak and a good look round (i.e. no breakfast), I don't want ELL to tag it Australian English - I want to close it as either Too Localised, or Off Topic.

On the other hand, I notice that arvo - afternoon is starting to be used quite a bit in the UK. Probably because, as with 2moz - tomorrow, it's a useful short form for txting what would otherwise be quite a long word. So that one I wouldn't closevote, but I still don't see a lot of point in tagging it "dialectal" - which might have been how it started, but isn't where it seems to be ending up.

  • 3
    There is no standard English. Everybody speak an English dialect, and everybody is taught an English dialect. In Italy, they teach British English at every level of public school. If you are going to say that learners don't know if they are learning British English or another language, that is wrong. I had an American friend, and it has been not difficult for me that the English word that was taught me for gasoline was not a word she understood.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 7:54
  • 1
    No offence, @kiamlaluno, but the fact that British cars normally run on petrol, whereas Americans ones run on gas, is hardly worth knowing until you get used to "standard" English. For example, everyone speaks, not speak. For a non-native speaker you obviously know quite a bit about English, but you don't really know it. It doesn't bother me that this answer gets downvoted - people are free to fail to learn in whatever way they choose - but I will continue to present what I see as the basics, that will avoid people advertising their "non-native-speaker" status too bluntly. Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 1:00
  • Well, at least I don't speak of Standard English, when there isn't a Standard English. Point me where I said I know everything about English, or that I don't make typos.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 2:11
  • 6
    It's true that there's no dialect that is universally perceived as standard across the world. It's usually more useful to refer to a construct as standard or non-standard, and one construct may be standard in e.g. British English and non-standard in American English. "Standard English", then, is shorthand for the dialect which contains the features that are standard in the relevant context, so a British speaker likely speaks a different Standard English than an American speaker does. Therefore, kiamlaluno is correct that there "isn't a Standard English", but there are many Standard Englishes.
    – user230
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 1:10
  • @snailplane, kiamlaluno: I put "standard" in quotes, and didn't capitalise it. It's no more a single "dialect" than Joe Public is a specific individual. But we're not so much concerned here with identifying exactly what aspects of English are (more or less) universally known and accepted as "correct". We're talking about whether a specific interest in "non-standard" dialectal usages is appropriate on an English Language Learners site. You might well find such issues interesting, but I think they should be aired elsewhere. Even if downvoters (currently 3) disagree, my opinion stands. Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 1:32
  • 4
    I think whether or not ELL should handle dialectal variation should be its own question.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 0:26
  • @Andrew Grimm: I'd have thought votes/comments against this answer address that issue well enough. Even if I'm right, not everyone agrees, obviously! Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 0:28

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