This is a follow-up to

What language should the questions be written in?

While the main site should accept both German and English questions, and you should be able to ask in the language you are more fluent in, what should be the preferred language if the person asking the question fine either way?

I can imagine that there are quite some users in the community that could provide better answers to a particular question if it was asked in German/English as opposed to English/German. So maybe an indicator when to ask what in which language would be appropriate?

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    What about French, Chinese, Russian? Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 3:37
  • possible duplicate of what language should the questions be written in? Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 10:54
  • @HubertSchölnast: You are aware of the difference between a duplicate and a follow-up?
    – bitmask
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 12:19
  • @bitmask: To say »This is a follow-up to ...« and really being a follow-up are two different things. In my opinion this question deals exactly with the same stuff like the other question, so it is a duplicate. But maybe I didn't understand the word »follow-up« because I am not so good in english. My native language is German. In this context I would translate »follow-up« as »Folgefrage«. This is a question that deals with a SIMILAR (meaning: not exactly the same) aspect than the original question. In my opinion a follow-up is NOT the completely same question just asked some month later. Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 12:45
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    @HubertSchölnast: Oh, I see. Allow me to clarify in German, then; Die Intention dieser Frage war wie folgt. Die ältere Frage will wissen, ob es zulässig ist in Deutsch/Englisch zu fragen. Sie wurde als erste meta-Frage gestellt als die Seite nigel-nagel-neu war. Verständlich, da im Rest des Netzwerks Englisch gesprochen wurde. Diese hier Frage will etwas anderes wissen. Es ist zulässig Deutsch/Englisch zu fragen, aber unter der Voraussetzung dass OP beide Sprachen gleich gut spricht, welche ist von der Community bevorzugt? Sollte man versuchen stets eine Übersetzung mitzuliefern?
    – bitmask
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 20:15
  • @HubertSchölnast, das habe ich mich zwar auch gefragt, aber pervers finde ich das nicht, und ich sehe auch keinen Grund zu SCHREIEN.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 19:17

4 Answers 4


It's a matter of personal choice. Actually you could even choose to provide both. :) I've done it on the French SE or on the Spanish SE, for example.

But you're forgetting another important category: the visitors.

A lot of people come to read the answers from Google, so you have to keep them in mind too. That's also why you see edits here and there.

But in the end, you can post in whatever language you want. If you want to provide the best coverage, choose English, because that's the language most people speak on the internet, but again, it's fine if you choose German.

I hope I addressed your problem well.

  • Didn't know about the meta-thing. However, essentially you're saying "Ask in German if and only if you don't speak English well enough" - right?
    – bitmask
    Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 20:03
  • @bitmask Actually I'm saying "choose whatever you want"... For example, I'm more fluent in English than French, but I try to post in French as much as I can, so I can get better at it. If your level is ok enough with some mistakes here and there, there's no problem, people can edit and correct. The problem is when you are below that good-enough level and people can't understand you at all. :D If you know both German and English, choose what you want, or like I said, post using both! :D It will just take an additional 5 minutes :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 20:06
  • What has Google to do with it? Google can search for German words too. Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 16:08
  • @userunknown Yes but if we compare the searches made in English to those made in German, then I think the English ones are much more. Even nonnatives search in English other than their mother tongue language (me included). But like I said, he can post in German too, he has total choice, except on Meta.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 17:03
  • On French Language, we try to keep our meta mostly bilingual. On the main site, it's far too much work; we recommend French if you're sufficiently proficient but don't mandate it. Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 20:40
  • @Gilles Ok, but still in Meta English is required (if not alone, at least together with the Language of the site). Besides, my post was only mentioning about writing in English for that reason. user unknown mistook my words for "Write in English not German" while I was suggesting the OP to choose whatever he/she see fit or even choose both.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 20:55

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 "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.

Everyone should choose the language of their (haha) question in the way that they think will lead to the most useful answers. If they misjudge, then it's their problem. Everyone else should relax.


Wieso überhaupt auf Englisch?

Die Seite sollte für Leute sein, die sich für die dt. Sprache interessieren. Wieso englischsprachige überhaupt gegenüber Chinesen, Franzosen und Personen, die nur Deutsch können, bevorzugen?

Letzteres scheint mir geradezu absurd.

Im Fremdsprachenunterricht ist es auch übliche Praxis alle Fragen zu der Sprache in der Sprache zu formulieren.

Ich finde, wir sollten unsere Standards eindeutig ändern.

Translation to en_US:

Why at all in English?

This pages are for people interested in German language. Why should English speakers be priviliged against Chinese, French and pure native German speakers?

The last thing looks absurd.

In foreign language lessons, it is common to use the foreign language to explain it. Why shall we do an exception?

  • Please edit your answer and post in English. Meta Discussions must be in English only.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 17:04
  • See "A Notice for Non-English Meta Sites" by Robert Cartaino about this.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 17:23
  • "Wieso überhaupt auf Englisch?" Ganz einfach; das SE Netzwerk (und effektiv das Internet) ist Englisch, und german.SE ist Teil dieses Netzwerks.
    – bitmask
    Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 17:43
  • @Alenanno: done Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 20:06
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    @bitmask: You don't know the internet, if you're restricted to english content. Your claim is wrong, and, since we're talking obviously about german content, ignorant. Commented Jan 27, 2012 at 20:08
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    Guter Punkt mit der "ublichen Praxis", allerdings habe ich die Möglichkeit Fragen auf Englisch zu formuliern als unique selling proposition gesehen (um mal beim Englischen zu bleiben ;). Es stimmt, dass man die Sprache gleich verwenden sollte, aber viele Leute trauen sich nicht eine Frage in der Öffentlichkeit zu formulieren, in einer Sprache, die sie kaum kennen. Damit sie ihre Frage überhaupt stellen, ist Englisch als Universalsprache eine gute Wahl. ("universal" bedeutet hier, dass es keine andere Sprache gibt, die weltweit von so vielen Menschen verstanden wird) Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 0:00
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    Die Frage ist aber nicht, was weltweit verstanden wird, sondern was von denen verstanden wird, die sich für die deutsche Sprache interessieren. Und das umfaßt Polen und Tschechen, Deutsche Hauptschüler und Inder - ob die ihr Anliegen besser in Englisch ausdrücken können als auf Deutsch bezweifele ich. Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 1:22
  • Guys, please write in English. Writing in German, you are denying others from understanding and participating.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 28, 2012 at 21:53
  • 3
    @Alenanno: Writing in English is denying others as well. It's just other others. Okay - translating my last comment: "The question is not what is understood worldwide, but what is understood by people with an intensive interest in German. There are people from CZ, Polen, Indians, Germans without deeper education of foreign language - whether those are able to write questions and answers in English is questionable." Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 0:57
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    @userunknown Denying who? On internet, and specifically on this site, it's more likely that you don't know German rather than English. But the problem is not that you write German (if it was I wouldn't have joined this SE), but only that you don't include English. If you keep writing comments in German and adding an English translation, then there's no problem.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 20:46
  • @Alenanno: You must mean the opposite, that it is far more likely that the people are better in German than English. -- Du musst das Gegenteil meinen, dass die Leute besser Deutsch können als Englisch. -- Btw.: Why did you join here, if you don't know German? -- Was machst Du hier, wenn Du kein Deutsch kannst? Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 21:56
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    @userunknown No, I meant what I said... If we speak about this site I'd say that while native speakers here know both English and German, nonnatives know certainly English and probably/in a lower percentage, German.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 21:59
  • @Alenanno: How do you get these numbers? Where do you know from, that everybody knows English? Why should it stay this way? I don't post answers on Biology, because I don't know much about it. Why do you want to post on topics, you don't know about, and why do you wan't to ask questions, if you don't want to learn the language? Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 22:03
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    @userunknown Who said I don't want to learn the language? :P I like German (Deutsch gefällt mir :D eheh)and I want to improve it (I already know some basics), but on Meta we need to include everyone. On other language-related sites, like French SE, they both post in French and English. If you post both in German and English, then the problem is solved.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 29, 2012 at 22:05
  • 1
    @userunknown Sorry, I don't understand... Anyway, if you keep writing like Eng + Deu, to me, there's no problem. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 30, 2012 at 9:14

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