The end of this answer contains some text of which I think that it is a Russian poem (it is written in cyrillic letters, and the author of the answer was talking about russian language). There is no translation of this text, so you have to speak Russian to fully understand this answer.

Is it ok to insert untranslated texts in questions and answers in languages other then German or English?

For me it is hard to understand, why someone writes about a special aspect of German language in English with Russian examples in a board that is made for German language!

2 Answers 2


In the example question the author clearly showed they are capable of speaking Russian and give the impression they seek for differences between the Russian an the German language:

In Russian, each noun is either animate or inanimate.

an interesting minimal pair example is the different declensions of the word мышь (mouse) depending on whether it refers to the animal or to the input device.

Such a question is on topic, because is puts focus on the German grammar. Certainly only somebody speaking Russian, and having at least some idea on Russian grammar may be able to answer this.

I believe it is fine to answer with Russian examples as long as the answer itself it written either in German or in English.

Having said that, of course it would be nice to also provide a translation to German or English (depending on the question's language). If however this translation does not add value to the answer it may also be omitted without much harm. So it really is up to the user who posts an answer to decide whether they want to share a translation or not.

If you can not understand an answer due to it partly being written in a laguage you do not speak it may the best approach to just move on an let other people judge. There is absolutely no obligation to read or vote on answers having examples in a language you don't understand.

  • I have not called into question if the question was ontopic, and it is also clear, that knowledge in Russian language helps to write an answer. This is not what I have criticized. It is also fine to give examples in other languages. I didn't criticized this either. But not translating foreign language parts causes harm: Those parts are not understandable. I want to understand the answer, but I'm not going to learn Russian for this reason. I think: The best way to solve such a problem is to add a translation, either in German or in English (German preferred since it is GERMAN stackexchange). Nov 13, 2015 at 10:30
  • 2
    @HubertSchölnast: please write your own answer then. I fail to see what "harm" an untranslated example may cause here. I agreed that it would be nice to also provide a translation but we should not force users into this. Just ignore the rest of my answer as too general for answering your specific concern.
    – Takkat
    Nov 13, 2015 at 10:49
  • Anyway I added a small translation. I also didn't think that, other than for Russian speakers (the OP among them) would be useful that information, which is why I didn't translate the poem initially.
    – c.p.
    Nov 13, 2015 at 13:22
  • @c.p.: in addition all what you wanted to show and why you chose that example got lost in the translation.
    – Takkat
    Nov 13, 2015 at 13:25
  • @Takkat well, I guess I should have posted the whole poem or nothing. What I tried to show, is that you don't decline in German nouns as depending of its inanimateness, as in Russian. Nothing in the question says that the OP already knows that.
    – c.p.
    Nov 13, 2015 at 13:35
  • 1
    Sag einmal, Takkat, willst du nicht verstehen? Ich kann keine Antwort auf eine Frage über einen deutsch-russischen Sprachvergleich schreiben, weil ich nicht nur kein Russisch kann, sondern auch keine Ahnung von russischer Grammatik habe. Das was ich von der Antwort verstehen konnte, war gut und sehr interessant (was auch auf die Frage zutrifft). Nov 13, 2015 at 14:38
  • 1
    (Fortsetzung): Der Schaden in der ursprünglichen Antwort besteht darin, dass Teile der Antwort in einer Fremdsprache geschrieben wurden, deren Beherrschung man vom Großteil der Besucher dieser Seite nicht erwarten kann. Somit enthielt die Antwort unverständliche Teile und war daher vor Otto Normalverbraucher nicht zu 100% verständlich. Daher wäre es meiner Meinung nach nicht nur nett, sondern zwingend erforderlich fremdsprachige Teile zu übersetzen. Nov 13, 2015 at 14:39
  • 1
    @c.p.: Danke für die nachträgliche Übersetzung. Jetzt konnte ich dir auf deine Antwort auch die verdienten +1 geben (die -1 sind nicht von mir, ich hatte deine Frage vorher gar nicht gewertet) Nov 13, 2015 at 14:41
  • @HubertSchölnast Alles gut, -1 wäre nicht so schlimm. Ich lerne auch, wenn ich was Falsches schreibe. Schlimm nur, nicht gleich danach Zeit zum Korrigieren zu haben.
    – c.p.
    Nov 13, 2015 at 14:57
  • @HubertSchölnast: sorry for the confusion. I was thinking of your own answer to this meta question here. This would be the right place where you can elaborate the "harm" you see.
    – Takkat
    Nov 13, 2015 at 17:03
  • +1 für den allgemeinen Teil, aber die spezielle Frage betreffend stimme ich nicht zu. Alles, was man über die russische Sprache wissen muss, um die Frage zu beantworten, steht in der Frage.
    – Carsten S
    Mar 28, 2016 at 1:17

Principally, answers are meant to help the person asking. From that point of view, Takkat’s suggestion sounds reasonable.

However, remember that we only accept questions and answers of lasting value, i.e. those that can be helpful to other people, too. Said question was visited by at least 13 people at the time of writing this post, of which at least two (Hubert and me) have little to no knowledge of Russian. However, we deemed the question to be interesting (we upvoted, or at least I did; I cannot tell if Hubert did) and wanted to know more about this phenomenon, ideally about its Russian implementation, too.

I myself am guilty of offering quite a few examples from languages that are not German or English (usually Finnish, French or Japanese). I strive to provide a translation where I use them (or where a translation cannot be inferred by context). I feel that that should be the rule. I propose the following guideline:

It is fine to use examples from other languages (not English or German) in questions and answers. However, a translation into the question’s language (German or English) must always be provided or inferable by context.

This helps those that find the question interesting but cannot speak the post writer’s third language to understand what is being talked about. Said guideline should apply for single words and longer verses. Knowing what the meaning of the poem is, I can take an online dictionary I trust, go through the words and map them to deeper understand the phenomenon. We are here to learn, aren’t we?

  • 4
    I am all against another rule addressing a phenomenon that is extremely rare. I also believe that making this a "must" does not help anybody. If somebody writes a question or an answer they should decide for themselves whether they want such parts translated or not. After all we all are grown-ups. We may give a recommendation (this is what I did) but we should not go further.
    – Takkat
    Nov 13, 2015 at 16:56
  • 1
    @Takkat I don’t see the harm in writing a rule for extremely rare occurances. We have it written down right here, and if it happens again, we can link while adding ‘could you please translate?’ as a comment to the post. I for my part will go around and ask for translations in any post that I find interesting anyway, so we might as well just turn it into a rule imho.
    – Jan
    Nov 14, 2015 at 13:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .