In which language should askers and answerers write in sites like German Language, French Language, Spanish Language or Italian Language?

  1. In English: those sites are meant for people of all nationalities to learn the corresponding language, hence English should be used as a meeting point so that anyone can understand anyone else, especially when clarifying complex concepts concerning the language

  2. In the corresponding language:

    1. Sites like those are meant for native speakers to clarify curiosities about their idiom (and they could very well not know English)
    2. People having questions about a language should be able to speak it already at an elementary level at least, and writing about it in it helps to practice it
    3. People helping in those communities and having wider knowledge of a language could not perfectly know English as they are specialised in their own idiom, and won't be comfortable in expressing complex concepts in English

I know there probably isn't an official way and both are good, as clarified by German Language's description, but which approach is preferred and more indicated? If I can do both, which one should I prefer when asking a question? When answering, should I write in the language the OP chose? Or

  1. Do both if you can, native first and English below?

3 Answers 3


You can ask in either English or the native language, according to your convenience.

The sites are for both learners and experienced people. So, one can ask questions in either English or in the native language of the site, according to the convenience.

For example, if I am a learner and have a doubt about the gender of nouns in French, I can definitely not ask in French, so I would very much prefer to ask in English, with a short note, which says that I would appreciate an answer in English (however it is the answerer's choice whether they want to answer in English or not).

Native people asking doubts about the language, can ask them in the native language, and can also expect answers in the native language.

But, as Gilles rightly pointed out here, it would be better if the questions are asked in the native language, rather than in English, for the reasons given in his answer.

So, IMHO putting a restriction on the language of the question isn't a healthy decision moving forward.

Helpful Post


Each language site/community has slightly different conventions. On German.SE, questioners are welcome to ask in either English or German, whichever they are more comfortable with. Answerers are encouraged to use the language of the question (but if need be, they may also write an answer in the other language).

Sometimes, the same question is asked twice, once in German and once in English. Those are not considered duplicates, but get crosslinked with a banner that resembles the “duplicate question” header so that those readers who understand both languages can benefit from a larger set of answers.

Bilingual posts (i.e. including a translation to the other language) are very rare, as they have proven to be rather impractical.


Until someone from the staff or more acquainted with the community gives dispositions, I'll give my two cents:

  1. Those sites are meant for both uses: native speakers desiring to clear some doubts and foreigners trying to learn the language.

  2. When answering, one should conform to the language used by the OP, as if he/she wrote in English it means he/she still does not have a good mastery of the idiom, and doesn't feel comfortable with writing in it, while if he/she used the specific language of the site it probably means he/she's a native not too familiar with English. In both cases, answering in a language different from the one used by the OP would prove rather pointless, as he/she could have trouble in understanding it.

  3. When asking something, I think it would be better to use both language, so that both kinds of users would be able to understand the issue and benefit from the Q/A. Obviously, if one is comfortable with a language only, he/she should use that one, so that the question results clear and well-written.

  4. As for the title, one should probably make a work of guess:

    1. If the question is a really advanced one, it is meant both for natives (who may not know English) to clear some minor details and for foreigners who already know the language pretty well and have no problem in using it (and should in fact practice it). The title should then be in the site's specific idiom.

    2. If the question is pretty basic, it is probably in the use of foreigners who are still doing the first steps in learning the language (and have still problem understanding it) and are of no use to native (who may not speak English) so should be made in English.

Actually, I'm in doubt if the considerations in number 4. should apply to the question's body as well, to avoid redundancy and bloat. In the end, an advanced question or curiosity could be of use to foreigners which are not very well accustomed with the idiom (even if they should probably learn the basics first), but a very basic question is not very useful written in native language. Those sites are not grammar textbooks for primary school.

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