I was about to ask a question on the main website, but was not sure if we are supposed to ask questions in English, or in German, or a mixture, or even both. My guess would be that most questions will get asked in English. But I wanted to be sure before posing my question!

  • I agree with both languages being allowed; and it seems that most others do too---so it's all good.
    – Suvrit
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 9:43
  • What about the header?
    – colidyre
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 11:25

7 Answers 7


I think on Area51 it was suggested that we accept both English and German as question language, and I quite agree with that. While it might be a bit messy later on, that way we can make sure that everyone is able to ask about anything.

After all this page is not limited to people that are not native, right? I mean native German speakers should be allowed to ask questions too.

  • 2
    If we do not allow German questions, native speakers will still be allowed to ask questions, just not in their native tongue. I am a native speaker by the way.
    – Kim Stebel
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 19:50
  • 10
    But it might be possible, that a native speaker wants to ask a question but is not able to communicate that well in English.
    – poke
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:04
  • 1
    Or it might be possible that a non native speaker wants to train and improve his/her German skills, like me. :D Of course, being sure that the question is grammatically correct. I wouldn't ask something in German if I thought it was THAT wrong.
    – Alenanno
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 23:03
  • Please note, that non native Geman speakers are automatically better in English. Think of Syrians, Turkish, Afghanistan, Chinese and Indien people. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 17:53

Either English OR German question should be acceptable.

Many of the questions will be about difficult-to-translate phrases or really subtle nuances that would get lost in translation. There will be German users who I hope will use this site in much the same way English speakers use "English Language & Usage". Asking native speakers to "think in English" would remove much of its usefulness.

Stack Exchange sites are fundamentally for experts and avid enthusiasts in the subject. It's not unreasonable to expect the participants here to at least understand the subject matter.

This site is the first of the (non-English) "language" sites to get created, so we're going to have to work our way through some of the issues raised by a multi-lingual site.


I fully agree with the free use of German and English.

What is less clear to me is the language on meta and the language in answers to question.

I propose that ideally answers use the same language as the question, but to maximize participation, if people fall short of the ideal, someone can just add a translation.

  • 2
    I think reading questions in German is good practice. I think maybe ideally, answers would be in both languages, however otherwise I think answers being in the same language as the question is the way to go. Commented May 24, 2011 at 19:54

I totally agree that questions in both languages should be accepted. What I'm not sure about is how effective searching this site might become - you could extensively search for a term in one language and not find a question written in the other.

How big a problem is that going to be? Other than writing each question and answer in both languages, I'm not sure how to get around it.


Nach mehrfachem Nachdenken komme ich zum Schluss, dass Fragen, Antworten und Tags ausschließlich auf Deutsch sein sollten.

Natürlich können sie englische Inhalte behandeln und fragen:

Was wäre das dt. Äquivalent für "think outside the box"?, aber die Kommunikation sollte auf Deutsch stattfinden.


  • Es ist absurd, dass ein Chinese, Inder oder Franzose Englisch lernen muss, um den meisten Fragen hier zu folgen. Die Annahme, dass die meisten Menschen Englisch können, ist schon fragwürdig - eine Minderheit, selbst Muttersprachler, werden hier ausgeschlossen, was große Teile weniger gut gebildeter junger Menschen betrifft, und viele Ältere aus dem ehemaligen Osten, die zur Schulzeit Russisch gelernt haben.
  • Meines Wissens ist es allgemeine Praxis, dass Sprachunterricht in der Zielsprache stattfindet. Die Kommunikation über die Sprache findet auch in dieser Sprache statt.

Eben wurde ein dt. Tag, "Redensart" aus meiner Frage gelöscht. Jetzt habe ich Beiträge zu "Language" und "Tag" gesucht, und von dt. Synonymen gelesen, die im Hintergrund werkeln sollen. Eine Suche nach "Redensart" bringt aber 0 Treffer zu Tage.

Es ist absurd, dass dt. Muttersprachler die Seite nur richtig benutzen können, wenn sie Englisch benutzen.


Questions, answers and tags should be in German.

Of course, they might deal with English content and ask:

Was wäre das dt. Äquivalent für "think outside the box"?, but the communication should happen in German.


  • It's absurd, that a Chinese, an Indian or French have to learn English, to follow most of our discussions. The idea, that most people know English, is questionable – a minority, even native German speakers are left behind: People without much education in general and older ones from the eastern part of Germany, who were taught Russian instead.

  • It is common practice to teach a language by using it. So I expect that most people, trying to learn German, are done a favor by teaching them German in German.

The tag "Redensart" (idiom) was deleted from one of my questions recently. So I searched for meta entries to language and tag, and read about German synonyms, which act in the background, but a search for "Redensart" yields 0 results.

It's absurd, if Germans can't use the page without good English knowledge.

  • 2
    Ich bin auch der Meinung, dass Tags auf Deutsch sein sollen. Das Meta muss aber auf Englisch beschrieben sein, weil die Leute von StackExchange unsere Grundsätze verstehen müssen.
    – StrixVaria
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 16:53
  • @StrixVaria: Ja, ein entsprechendes Posting mit einem Link nach Französisch.SE, wo ein Moderator im Namen von SE Englische Metadiskussionen verlangt hat, habe ich gefunden, und bin widerwillig bereit mich daran zu halten. Ich schreite also sogleich zur Übersetzung meines Beitrags. Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 0:38
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    I support this point of view. It doesn't make sense to require that everything is written in English in a forum dealing with German language. I do not have any problem reading questions and answers in English, but it would not be acceptable if German would be banned.
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 23:31

I think that both languages should be allowed, for questions as well as for answers. I suggest some rules on how to meet a decision:

Language of a question

Use German if ...

  • ... you are a German native speaker
  • ... your German is excellent, even when you are an English native speaker
  • ... your native language is not English, and your skills in German are equal or better than your English skills.
  • ... you are an English native speaker with mediocre German skills and want to give your best to write a question using absolutely correct German language. (Users with enough privileges will edit your question to correct minor mistakes.) (also note item 1 in "use english if...")

Use English if ...

  • ... your English is better than your German and you think that your question is mainly of interest for English native speakers who are learning German as a foreign language.

Language of an answer

When ever possible try to give an answer in the same language as the question was asked.

Some reasons why you might use the other language:

German answer to an English question

  • Your English is way worse than your German and you think, that the question's topic deals with something that is more interesting for people with high skills in German language (for example: Questions on regional aspects of German language or questions on language styles in old poems)

English answer to a German question

  • Your German is way worse than your English, but good enough to understand the question. So it's much easier to write your answer in English.

I think accepting German questions will just divide the site into people who speak German well enough and people who don't. Thus we should accept only English questions. Almost all Germans I know speak English well enough to make themselves understood. The rest can be fixed with editing.

  • I totally disagree. This site should also be for expert question on the usage of German and for German speakers who search for the right phrase in English.
    – Phira
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 19:51
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    I have to disagree that Germans should be asked to "think in English" to discuss the finer points of the language. Many of the questions will be about difficult-to-translate phrases or really subtle nuances that would get lost in translation. Stack Exchange sites are fundamentally for experts and avid enthusiasts in the subject. It's not unreasonable to expect the participants here to at least understand the subject matter. Commented May 24, 2011 at 19:59
  • 1
    I guess I won't be using this site then.
    – Kim Stebel
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:05
  • Why? We could introduce tags to indicate the language of the question and you can filter out all the German questions. The equivalent option is not open to me if you forbid German questions.
    – Phira
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:08
  • If you ban German, you will only reach a limited audience.
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 23:33

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