As far as I was able to find and understand current policy on dialects,

Now I found an answer is only about Yiddish. I'm not an expert but as far as I can tell, Yiddish

  • branched from Middle High German in the 9th century,
  • has developed to include elements from many other languages (from other families even) and
  • uses Hebrew script.

Thus, I don't think Yiddish qualifies as a dialect or variant of (modern) German and it should thus not be ontopic. For what it's worth, I'd also say that questions about Middle High German are offtopic here.

What does the wider resp. more established community think?

To make my intention more explicit: please define which languages are ontopic here and which are not, preferably in a way that can be concisely and objectively defined so that a reader of the FAQ can quickly decide if their given question is ontopic.

  • OK, I thought when you said you wanted to take this to Meta, you wanted to discuss whether Yiddish was a dialect of German. No, I'm not interested in getting into a discussion of whether Yiddish is on-topic. – Marty Green Jun 5 '14 at 7:00
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    For the purpose of this site, the questions seem to be equivalent. – Raphael Jun 5 '14 at 7:04
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    BTW, while Yiddish does make use of the Hebrew script, it does so in a very different way than the Hebrew language. In particular, vowels are represented by regular characters; therefore, Yiddish is quite easy to read after a bit of practice. – chirlu Aug 10 '15 at 4:08
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    Raphael is right: The rule is: All Languages other than German are off-topic. German and it's dialects are on-topic. So, if Yiddish is a language, then it is off-topic. If it is a German dialect, then it is on-topic. But after googling some hours I only could find resources, that classify Yiddish as a language. There is not a single resource out there, that classifies Yiddish as a dialect of any other language. (btw: Yiddish is neither an earlier form of any other language, nor is it a dead language. Now there are about 1.5 million people who speak Yiddish as their first or second language) – Hubert Schölnast Aug 12 '15 at 13:17
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    @Raphael: Can you please unaccept the answer to avoid the impression that this is an established consensus? See this comment. – Wrzlprmft Aug 22 '15 at 18:02
  • @Wrzlprmft Interpreting acceptance in this way does not make any sense at all, but if it helps you... – Raphael Aug 22 '15 at 20:56
  • @Raphael: the problem is the acceptance is often used (at least in other SE sites) to indicate what the final solution to the problem posed in the discussion is, if agreement has been reached. (e.g. here, where the policy that we ended up with was the accepted one.) – Maroon Aug 22 '15 at 21:32
  • @Maroon That makes sense if the OP is a mod asking, "we had this and that discussion, now let's vote!". It doesn't make sense if the OP is a random community member, as is the case here. But anyway, I unaccepted so the currently highest voted (which does not mean most shared, btw) answer will bubble up. (Imho, Hubert Schölnast gives the most reasonable and robust answer that can lead to a consistent scope definition. The others... don't.) – Raphael Aug 23 '15 at 9:18
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    @Maroon thanks for inquiring about this rule again, and prompting me to explain my vote on your question. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 23 '15 at 19:30

I consider the formalist attitude in some of the answers misguided and would argue for a pragmatic approach that doesn't make questions on Yiddish completely homeless.

Raphael linked two earlier discussions as if they established in a quasi-legal definition that just needs interpreting that German dialects are on-topic and other languages are off-topic. That's not what I am seeing. Under the first link there is a question with one immediate consensus answer and no discussion whatsoever: that Swiss German is on-topic. Under the second link I see a consensus that without evidence to the contrary, questions are assumed to be about modern standard German, but that speakers of the Austrian or Swiss variant of standard German are welcome to volunteer information on how it diverges.

The definition of German Language Stack Exchange basically just says "questions about German". This gives us a lot of space for interpretation. It is not appropriate to just deny that this maneuvering space exists and claim that unfortunately, for purely formal reasons, questions about Yiddish and other speech varieties closely related to German must be excluded because they are languages and therefore can't be German dialects.

A language can be a dialect of another language. To quote Wikipedia's dialect article:

The terms 'language" and "dialect" are not necessarily mutually exclusive: There is nothing contradictory in the statement "the language of the Pennsylvania Dutch is a dialect of German".

(An even better example might have been Lëtzebuergesch, i.e. Luxembourgish. It is both a national language with its own writing system and a dialect of German.)

Saying that there is a 'dispute' about whether Pennsylvania Dutch is a dialect of German, and that there is no such 'dispute' about Yiddish, doesn't really nail the complex truth of the matter. Pennsylvania Dutch and Yiddish have both branched off the German continuum in the sense that they have speaker communities that are for the most part not in contact with the three large German-speaking countries. But in both cases this is a relatively recent phenomenon:

  • The majority of Pennsylvania Dutch speakers are deeply religious, and bible translations to their language are a very recent phenomenon. Only a generation or so ago, for most Pennsylvania Dutch speakers the language of scripture was standard German. And so they had to learn it in their schools in much the same way that even today some children in rural Swabia, Switzerland, Bavaria and Austria have to learn standard German in school - along with reading and writing.
  • Obviously, for most Yiddish speakers the language of scripture is and was Hebrew and definitely not German. (This is also how it evolved originally: Its earliest form, Judendeutsch, was simply contemporary German written in Hebrew letters by people who felt more familiar reading and writing these than Latin letters.) However, the speakers of Western Yiddish lived in German-speaking countries until almost all of them were either killed in the Holocaust or found refuge elsewhere. Due to the lively contact between speakers of Western Yiddish and Eastern Yiddish, and also between German-speaking traders and Yiddish-speaking traders in Eastern Europe, Yiddish was in close contact with the German dialect continuum until very recently.

Pennsylvania Dutch is clearly a language rather than just a dialect of German because English has taken over the role of superstrate language. (It's also not a dialect of English because it's still too different.) Yiddish is clearly a language rather than just a dialect of German because after the Holocaust something very similar has happened.

But Pennsylvania Dutch is also a dialect of German because apart from plenty of English terms related to life in the United States, it is practically identical with the German dialect spoken in the Palatinate. And Yiddish is also a dialect of German because until recently there were Middle Franconian (the varieties spoken in the area of Luxembourg, Trier and Cologne) and Alemannic areas where people basically didn't distinguish between the local dialect of German and the local dialect of Yiddish, and until recently German was the most obvious choice of language for ambitious writers whose native language was Yiddish.

Yiddish is both a language and a German dialect, though the latter classification is politically inopportune. The reason why Pennsylvania Dutch is called a German dialect more often than Yiddish is a purely political one. At the time when all the varieties of Germanic languages spoken in Germany were reclassified as German dialects because it fit into the idea of homogeneous nation states, most scholars didn't want to include Yiddish, for reasons that should be obvious if you consider how antisemitic many scholars of the era were. And conversely, the Holocaust didn't exactly make the children of the survivors want to classify their language as a dialect of German.

[PS: I can write in this discussion that Yiddish is in some sense (also) a dialect of German because I am just a random guy on the internet that nobody takes seriously. But if I were a linguistic scholar who has to take care of his reputation, then I would be very careful to tiptoe around the issue to avoid stepping on other people's toes. Political sensitivities can be an important factor even in academia, and it really doesn't feel right for German speakers to first distance themselves from Yiddish speakers, then try hard to kill them all, and then finally annex the few remaining ones.]

Some questions that should be asked.

  • Is it legitimate to ask for a place on Stack Exchange where questions on Yiddish can be asked? - Obviously yes.
  • Are questions about Yiddish "questions about German" in the widest sense? - As I explained above, the answer is yes.
  • Is there another place that could be well suited to questions on Yiddish? - Judaism has been proposed, but it is really about Jewish law and tradition and therefore only fits for questions related to Yiddish and Judaism. Linguistics has been proposed, but most questions on details of an individual language just don't fit "linguistic research and theory" and most users there are unlikely to have much to contribute.
  • Will there ever be enough activity on Yiddish to warrant a Yiddish Stack Exchange or to overrun German Language Stack Exchange? - Obviously no.
  • Are questions on Yiddish likely to be incomprehensible to users of German Language Stack Exchange? - Experience so far indicates no.
  • Is it always clear a priori whether a question is about Yiddish or German? - Absolutely not, as some of the prior questions demonstrate. A typical question about Yiddish is: I heard ... Is it German or Yiddish, and what does it mean?
  • What community at existing Stack Exchange sites is most qualified to answer questions on Yiddish? - I would say that in general it is split between the two very different communities at Judaism and at German language. Sometimes one fits better, sometimes the other. The Yiddish tag over at Judaism has questions whose flavour is totally different from the Yiddish-related questions asked at German Language.

Conclusion. My conclusion to all this is that questions on Yiddish, and also on East and North Frisian, on Pennsylvania Dutch, on Luxembourgish, Swiss German and Alsatian German, should all be considered on-topic at the German Language Stack Exchange because it is the best fit for them just like it is for every German dialect. Except in case of religious relevance, but those questions don't seem to need help finding their way to Judaism SE.

PS: As Hubert Schölnast has demonstrated, the majority of Yiddish-related questions asked at the German Language SE are on-topic there even under a strict definition. Since Yiddish doesn't have the activity required for splitting it off and there is no other appropriate site for these questions, any rare instance of a similar question that is not technically related to German should be admitted there as well, for reasons of expediency, efficiency, and friendliness.

PPS: Taking up the comments below, yes, for questions concerning the large body of Hebrew loanwords in Yiddish the above arguments don't really apply and they are probably better placed at Judaism. Since most Hebrew words in Yiddish are related to Judaic tradition, I would expect that they are welcome there. If there are ever any questions regarding how Yiddish is written, I think they can go either way on a case-by-case basis. (Yiddish uses appropriately modified Hebrew letters as if they were Latin letters. E.g. aleph gets a diacritic sign marking it as a or another marking it as o. The Hebrew letter vov is used for u. Used twice it becomes the Yiddish letter tsvey vovn standing for v and w, just like Latin w evolved out of double v and Latin u was just a different way to write v.)

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    I prefer this to the accepted approach, which seemed unnecessarily restrictive to me. (The bonus of having a better discussion than some of the other answers of some of the commonly suggested alternatives to German.SE for Yiddish questions helps as well.) – Maroon Aug 22 '15 at 17:03
  • "[an] approach that doesn't make questions on Yiddish completely homeless" -- that such questions have no "better" place on SE is a horrible reason to make them ontopic. – Raphael Aug 22 '15 at 21:02
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    @Raphael: This is definitely true of extreme cases (e.g. asking about Dutch or Norwegian here solely by virtue of them being Germanic languages and there being no dedicated SE site for them). However, this isn't really all that extreme to begin with. (In fact, the relatively close placement of Yiddish/etc. with the German dialect continuum has been noted here.) In such cases, it makes some sense to have a slightly broader scope to give some questions a home (assuming good questions can be asked about the topic, which assuredly will be the case for languages). – Maroon Aug 23 '15 at 0:50
  • (cont'd) I might be inclined to discourage posters from asking about questions that largely would only require Hebrew knowledge (e.g. conjugation problems), but this isn't quite a problem the questions here have had, as far as I'm concerned. – Maroon Aug 23 '15 at 0:57
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    @Raphael: Yiddish and Dutch are closer to German than some varieties generally considered just German dialects. They are approximately where I'd draw the line of what can be included. There are three reasons why I don't argue for including Dutch, too: (1) Dutch questions don't seem to find their way naturally to German SE. (2) If they did, they could become frequent enough to be a nuisance to those uninterested. (3) There is potential for a Dutch SE covering language and Dutch-speaking countries. (And that should probably include Afrikaans!) – user2183 Aug 23 '15 at 6:11
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    @HansAdler You can hold that opinion. However, it makes for horrible, case-by-case scope definition rules. As a mod on another site, my experience has been that the more general and clear-cut a rule is, the better. – Raphael Aug 23 '15 at 9:21
  • @Maroon I find the "nearness" of languages to German in these of "will a German understand?" (as some seem to be proposing) highly subjective. For instance, I can understand Luxemburgian better than Bavarian. I can barely make out Dutch. That Yiddish song someone linked, I understood nothing. I know people who, without having ever learned it, can understand Swedish pretty well. So, in which sense is such a metric leading to a reasonable scoping rule? – Raphael Aug 23 '15 at 9:27
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    @Raphael: I am under the impression that you are arguing for a legalistic approach to question scope and strict policing that make for a horrible user experience. It contradicts the principle of least surprise. If most purely language-related questions on Yiddish are on-topic at German Language SE by pure accident and are asked and answered there because there is no better place for them, similar questions that happen to be off-topic will of course be asked there too. I don't understand how one can enjoy sending off people who exercised due diligence - without even offering an alternative. – user2183 Aug 23 '15 at 9:33
  • @HansAdler Actually, this meta question exists because I was surprised! As I state, the scope seems to indicate that this site is about German so I was confused to find material about another language here. Where's the line? I can't tell, and apparently there is none yet. By your reasoning, why not post Swedish questions here? Swedish doesn't have an SE site, either, and it's quite close to German (and closer yet to Plattdeutsch). – Raphael Aug 23 '15 at 9:39
  • @HansAdler To make a point, I can only restate that in my experience, defining a reasonable line and then defending it is the only way to keep your site focused. And that is very important for the user experience of th regulars, which are way more important to the site than drive-by askers. (For the latter, a clear-cut rule easily understood from the FAQ resp. explained in a comment, is still the best way. Imho.) – Raphael Aug 23 '15 at 9:40
  • (Admittedly, this point of view is certainly informed by the way I've been wired since I studied computer science.) – Raphael Aug 23 '15 at 9:41
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    @Raphael: Phonetically, Yiddish is much closer to southern dialects than to northern dialects. For me, Alemannic and Bavarian dialects are slightly easier to understand than Luxembourgish, Yiddish is slightly harder, and Dutch was much harder before I started to learn it. Yet for Germans close to the Dutch border, Dutch is easiest. In any case Yiddish is much closer to German than Frisian, even though North and East Frisian are often considered German dialects. This is where I would draw the hard line: everything that isn't continental West Germanic is automatically off-topic. – user2183 Aug 23 '15 at 9:43
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    @Raphael: I don't think the line you want to define is reasonable, for the simple reason that it is not easily defensible. There are users who want to ask these questions at German Language SE because it's the only place where they can arguably fit. There are regular users who find these questions interesting and give answers; we even have some with relatively deep knowledge of Yiddish. Having a restrictive name for the site and a more inclusive rule for inclusion is an excellent strategy for avoiding conflict. Especially when the rule includes most questions that people actually ask. – user2183 Aug 23 '15 at 9:50
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    Yes, that seems to be the problem. Apparently you don't mind exercising power and the internet equivalent of violence against the users of the site. – user2183 Aug 23 '15 at 9:57
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    @Raphael: Are you actually offended by the notion that you might be the kind of person who, when someone asks a question that is reasonably close to the topic of an SE site but isn't strictly on-topic on any SE site, might use your power to send them away without an alternative? Without worrying about how that reflects on the site and how getting one's will broken for a merely technical reason makes people feel helpless? I was under the impression that that was what you were trying to defend. – user2183 Sep 5 '15 at 11:49

please define which languages are ontopic here and which are not, preferably in a way that can be concisely and objectively defined so that a reader of the FAQ can quickly decide if their given question is ontopic.

For further explanations and justifications see my previous answer. I don't want to add the following to it after some people have supported it, as some might consider it a substantial extension.

In real life there is usually a grey zone between social prohibitions ("you just don't do that!") and legal prohibitions. This is by design. Whenever that grey zone is too small or completely absent (e.g. copyright), it leads to conflict. The purpose of laws is to prevent frequent conflict between citizens through the deterrent effect of occasional conflict between citizen and state. This goal cannot be reached if too many citizens consider a law unjust because it regulates things beyond their own personal judgement. Social prohibitions don't closely mirror legal prohibitions - even laws always have edge cases that need interpretation, and this is even more true for social prohibitions, which are just statistical phenomena.

There is also another grey zone between legal prohibitions and their enforcement. If I technically break the law it's still quite possible that police and prosecutors have no interest in pursuing the matter because they consider it a trifle and a waste of time.

In our case, social prohibitions correspond to how questions that are actually asked on German Language SE are restricted. This restriction is in part a consequence of how people interpret the site's name. But it also has a dynamic component: If I google for a specific question and I find a very similar one that was answered on Stack Exchange, I am likely to ask my question on the same site provided that it isn't obviously out of scope. Legal prohibitions correspond to the scope rule we are looking for.

Currently, most questions on the Yiddish language that are unrelated to Judaism are de facto at least in the grey zone. In fact, most that have been asked are obviously on-topic in the strictest sense because they are sufficiently related to German itself. Since these questions do not, and are not likely to, present any problems for the site, it is expedient to find a scope definition that includes them. (It would also be possible to use a scope definition that excludes them but not to police it strictly. However, just like that didn't work for Wikipedia in the long run, Stack Exchange now seems to have the same problem with lack of common sense among site functionaries when it comes to application of rules. (Maybe there is a natural law of the internet that the self-governance of social communities automatically has problems similar to those described by high-functioning autists, e.g. in The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism. The strong American influence might also be a factor, since schools and the police force seem to have very similar issues in some places in the US.)

I think there haven't been many questions on North or East Frisian, but I think we can all agree that it would be very unfortunate if the scope definition included Bavarian and Swiss German but not these. (North and East Frisian varieties are often considered German dialects, and West Frisian varieties are often considered Dutch dialects. Functionally that's what they are. But genetically they are really all dialects of Frisian, a language that is placed somewhere between German/Dutch and English. It's the closest relative of English if you consider Scots a dialect as some people do.)

The smallest relatively standard linguistic category that includes German with all its dialects including North Frisian and East Frisian is called continental West Germanic. It can roughly be split into two groups: (1) Frisian (2) Dutch and German. Two offspring languages (Afrikaans and Yiddish) have been influenced by non-Indoeuropean languages but are still close enough to their ancestral languages (hardly more different than a typical pure dialect) to be included in the second group. Source.

Continental West Germanic is not an appropriate scope for pragmatic reasons, and cutting off Frisian would only make things worse. This should become clear when looking at the speaker statistics (numbers from the Wikipedia articles):

  • German has about 100 million native and L2 speakers and up to another 100 million foreign language speakers. (For the other languages, the numbers of foreign language speakers are insignificant.)
  • Dutch: about 30 million speakers.
  • Afrikaans: about 17 million speakers.
  • Swiss German: about 4.5 million speakers.
  • Yiddish: about 1.5 million speakers (rough estimate).
  • Frisian: about 0.5 million speakers.
  • Luxembourgish: less than 0.5 million speakers.

People asking about Dutch would not be well served at German Language SE. For a major European national language one can expect better than getting opinions from a bunch of speakers of a neighbour language. While I like the idea of Dutch speakers and German speakers interacting at a single site, I am afraid both languages are too 'big', so that the friction would outweigh the synergies. It would make a lot more sense to group Dutch and Afrikaans together. By also putting the culture of Dutch-speaking countries in scope, as well as the Dutch aspects of Afrikaans-speaking countries, I think one could get critical mass for a separate site.

I might see things differently if we had a status quo of lots of Dutch-related questions being asked and answered at German Language SE. But there isn't even a tag for them, so it appears that basically it just doesn't happen.

Even in academia it is not unheard-of to exclude a subclass from a category for pragmatic reasons. E.g., instead of a clean definition of the clade dinosaur, biology uses one that specifically excludes the subclade bird. So it's perfectly fine to define our scope as follows:

Continental West Germanic with the exception of Dutch and Afrikaans.

Another way of putting this is as follows:

German in the widest sense including its origins and all its dialects that are not major national languages.

(I think it's clear that Dutch and Afrikaans are major national languages, but not Luxembourgish, which is only one of three official languages of a tiny country, and not Swiss German, which isn't an official language yet.) And yet another:

All continental West Germanic varieties on the German side of the German-Dutch subgroup. As a special exception for pragmatic reasons, also North and East Frisian.

I think these three quite different but equivalent definitions demonstrate that the scope that I am proposing is about as sharply defined as we can hope for. (Technically, some include East Frisian and some don't, but I wouldn't worry about that at all.)

PS: As has been pointed out below, questions presenting Yiddish text in Hebrew letters without transcription are problematic. I think a clarification similar to the following would make sense:

Questions related to Yiddish in the context of Judaism are usually asked over at Judaism SE. At the present site, Hebrew letters should always be accompanied by a Latin-based transcription.

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    I would upvote your scope proposal, were it not for the tangential and rather judgemental first half of the post. – Raphael Aug 23 '15 at 13:12
  • I like the basic inclusionist approach of "German in the widest sense including its origins and all its dialects that are not major national languages.". In the spirit of said inclusionism, I'd very much like opinions on taking this rule as the center scope, and amending it with a rule that prescribes mandatory transliterations of texts/words in non-latin character sets. One major factor in tipping me towards voting to close @Maroon 's Q was that an average user would not be able to easily understand his text, no matter how easy Hebrew might be to learn. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 23 '15 at 19:15
  • So I guess what I'd like to propose based on this answer: Include Yiddish as per "German in the widest sense including its origins and all its dialects that are not major national languages.", but make sure to also include the average German SE consumer by making transliterations to the latin charset mandatory (while keeping the "ask in German or English" rule). Yes, specialist Qs are OK, but we are a long way off from SO user counts to allow to exclude average drive-by users. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 23 '15 at 19:18
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    I agree that questions about Yiddish should require a transcription. But if one is missing, anyone can provide it using this site. (Select transcription from Unicode to YIVO.) – user2183 Aug 23 '15 at 20:16
  • @hiergiltdiestfu: I can easily imagine some questions totally written in Latin script to be inaccessible for someone without a linguistic education; but there is certainly nothing to be said against giving Latin transliterations of words in Hebrew script or runes. – chirlu Aug 23 '15 at 20:43
  • @chirlu point taken. But chances are, you would still be able to understand the topic and the main points without having to transcribe the ("encrypted", main) words first even then. At the very least you could drop the transliteration/translation step before looking up the funny words on the german Wikipedia :) – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 23 '15 at 21:41
  • Funnily, the suggested scope matches the army-and-navy definition of language pretty well. The Netherlands have a navy; Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg do not; South Tyrol probably does not have it’s own Navy divisions, bases or similar, while the Afrikaans-dominated parts of South Africa probably do. – Wrzlprmft Nov 6 '15 at 23:17

I try a different point of view:

German-SE hat a total number of 5340 questions. 14 of them are tagged as “Yiddish”. Mi yodeya has 16k questions, 46 of them tagged “Yiddish”. I think we could keep all Yiddish questions in German-SE that really have a connection to German language, and should shift to mi yodeya (or to linguistics if that fits better) questions that don't have any connection to German language.

Here are the rules that I suggest (Acording to my other answer):

  • Yiddish is not a German dialect
  • Yiddish is a separate language
  • German StackExchange deals with modern German language, its old forms and its dialects.
  • German StackExchange doesn't deal with questions about other languages
  • If a question brings any other language in a meaningful connection with with modern German language, its old forms or its dialects, then it is on-topc.

So, let’s analyze the 14 Yiddish questions in German-SE with my rules:

Yiddish phrase for "turn out the lights and go to sleep"
The question asks for a translation of a Yiddish sentence into English. The only connection to German language that I can see here, is the general similarity of both languages, but the concrete question is not asking for anything, that has to do with German grammar, German orthography, German vocabulary. It also does not ask for a translation of this Yiddish sentence into German.
So, in my opinion:
off-topic, should be shifted to mi yodeya.

Beziehungen: as "attitude towards"
The question asks for a translation of a Yiddish word into German. So here we have a direct connection to German language, and so, I think this question in

Translate this quote from The Producers?
The question asks for a translation of a Yiddish sentence into English. Same argumentation as in Question 1, and so, in my opinion:
off-topic, should be shifted to mi yodeya.

The question is already closed, I don't want to debate about closed questions.

Buchstabieren = to spell?
The question asks for the different meanings of an English word and it’s German translation. The OP compares this with a Yiddish word, but this not the main aspect of this question. In fact, I think it is unclear, if the tag “Yiddish” really is suitable for this question.
But imho this question is

What's the matter: Yiddish "was is der mehr?"
The question asks if a Yiddish phrase (who’s English meaning is known) is equivalent to a German phrase. So here we have a direct connection to German language, and so, I think this question is

Is Yiddish a dialect of German?
Here we definitely have a connection to German language.
(btw: This question has 5 answers. 4 of them say: “Yiddish is not a German dialect, it is a separate language.” The 5th answer says: “when I use my private definitions, then Yiddish and German are both dialects of the same language.”)

Spittings, shellings, etc
This question asks, if a special grammatical construction that exists in Yiddish is also used in German.
The explicit connection to German is here, so imho

Yiddish: common in Europe?
Asks if Yiddish is taught and used in Germany, Austria Switzerland and Liechtenstein. (I’m not sure if this part is on-topic. What if the OP would have asked if English is taught in this countries? Would this be on- or off-topic?) But this Question contains a second part, where the OP wants to know if Yiddish is a German dialect.
The second part definitely is on-topic, so I would vote to count the whole question as
(This question has 2 answers. Both of them say: “Yiddish is not a German dialect, it is a separate language.”)

Was "träumen" ever a reflexive verb?
The OP asks for the historic usage of a German verb and compares it with it’s Yiddish counterpart.

Change of meaning: are words whose meaning has been "verschlechtert" preserved in Yiddish?
The OP asks for examples of words that are similar in German and Yiddish, and who have developed from a common root, but now have different meanings in both languages. Here we have a clearly visible connection with German language, and therefor I think that this question is

More Yiddish: “Es Lauft die Jauch, die Millech brennt..."
Here the OP asks for a translation of a Yiddish word in a Yiddish sentence into English. He tried to interpret the Yiddish word “Jauch” as a German word “Jauche” (this phenomenon is called “false friend”) and got a weird translation. Since it is a translation-request from Not-German to Not-German it should be off-topic, but the question also implicitly asks for the etymology of the German word “Jauche”, and so we again have the connection to German language which makes the Question

Marmelade = Eingemachts?
The OP asks if a Yiddish word also exists in German language.

Is "Säegermacher" the Yiddish word for "watchmaker"?
Asks, if a Yiddish word has a German origin.


  • off-topic 2
  • on-topic 11
  • already closed 1
  • Disagreement about the dialect distinction aside (Yiddish strikes me as much closer to German than other dialect pairings that are commonly cited) Mi Yodeya isn't necessarily a good place for Yiddish questions. Many of the questions that haven't been closed seem to have some relevance to issues of religious life or historical practices, and those that have been (1, 2) read as general language questions, even if the site seems to generally be more permissive than average with things. – Maroon Aug 22 '15 at 17:16
  • (It's possible that I've gotten something wrong, but it would seem like inconsistent practice on their part if they included just any Yiddish question, when they don't allow just any Hebrew question.) – Maroon Aug 22 '15 at 17:20
  • Well, if a question is off-topic on Mi Yodeya, this doesn't mean that it has to be on-topic in German-SE (or in any other board). I'm sure, there are lots of questions, that are off-topic on both sites. But fact is: This here is a Board about German language, in its modern form, its old forms and its dialects. But Yiddish is none of them. It is a distinct language, as different from German as Dutch. Maybe some day there will be a Yiddish-StackExchange, where all this questions can be asked. But German-SE is the wrong place for Questions that don't touch aspects of German language. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 22 '15 at 17:29
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    No, what I'm trying to get at is that ignoring the fact that I disagree with the language-dialect distinction you make, it's incorrect that these off-topic questions necessarily "should be shifted to mi yodeya" were they to be deemed off-topic, which is something you state in some of your examples. – Maroon Aug 22 '15 at 17:31
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    I like this answer for it provides the clearest set of scoping rules, and seems to find a good balance between inclusionism and exclusionism (sorry for borrowing words from WP's struggle). What I've come to dislike is that it provides no satisfying answer to "Where to point if it's off-topic?". I think "goto My Yodea" is too narrow, because some of the off-topic examples should be pointed to EL. It does not feel good to point to another non-perfect-fit SE, which will probably close the Q again. Bad UX. I'm unable to offer a better rule for off-topic redirections. Leaning towards inclusionism. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 23 '15 at 19:11

Questions and answers about Yiddish and its relationship to German are on topic and welcome here.

We do not have many questions tagged but quite some good answers nicely explaining common peculiarities or varieties in meaning. We also have a solid base of expert users who could answer questions about Yiddish.

Some questions may be better suited for Mi Yodea but whenever we also need experts on the German language I see no reason why this should not be on topic here.

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    So Dutch, Afrikaans and Luxembourgish are also ontopic? FWIW, "we have experts" is not a good reason; we may have English experts on Computer Science but that does not mean we should allow questions about English there. – Raphael Jun 5 '14 at 8:30
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    Yeah sure, questions on Dutch, Afrikaans or Luxembourgish that need expertise on the finer points of the German language are on topic too, what makes you believe they are not? – Takkat Jun 5 '14 at 9:09
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    Note that Luxembourgish and Yiddish are much closer to modern German than Dutch and Afrikaans. So I would have no problem with drawing a line there. – Wrzlprmft Jun 5 '14 at 9:19
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    @Takkat The help only says: "for speakers and learners of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation". That seemed rather clear-cut to me: "German" is the language as spoken in Germany, maybe including Austrian and Swiss derivates, but certainly not the other four languages mentioned here. While related to German, they are not (a form of) German in the modern sense but their own languages. If you allow these, why not, say, Swedish which shares many characteristics with German, too? – Raphael Jun 5 '14 at 9:36
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    Note that in the answer I cite, the Yiddish perspective was neither asked for nor necessary. Furthermore, FWIW, out of the ten yiddish questions, seven are basically asking for translations from Yiddish to German (all asked by the same user) so they are, arguably, not even questions about Yiddish. I was more concerned with questions like "How to say X in Yiddish?" or answers like the one I link in the question, namely "In Yiddish, it's X" if the question is "What is Y in German?". Do you think these are ontopic/fair? – Raphael Jun 5 '14 at 9:45
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    Is there any reason you want to restrict questions to "contemporary German as spoken in Germany/Austria/Switzerland only"? If so then don't hesitate to write these up in your own answer and let the community agree or disagree. Just my 2 ct: as long as we do not suffer from too many unanswerable questions here I can't see why we should narrow our topics. – Takkat Jun 5 '14 at 9:48
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    Ah another point. There is no (and never will be any) on-topic guide for answers - this should be dealt with by voting. – Takkat Jun 5 '14 at 9:55
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    @Takkat I don't have a strong opinion about what should be ontopic here, only about what is (modern) German and what not. I read the faq and concluded that they were offtopic, which at least some disagree with. I don't care either way (although I don't think that questions help the site if they have no relation to what the average German speaker/learner experiences). In any case, if the scope is to include (distant) relatives of German (to some extent), this should be codified in the FAQ! – Raphael Jun 5 '14 at 12:25
  • I agree with “Questions about the relationship between any language and German are on-topic” since they concern an aspect of German language. But if a Question about any other language is missing this connection to German, then it is off-topic in German-SE. And Yiddish definitely IS an independently living language. It is not any other languages dialect. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 12 '15 at 13:22

Following Wrzlprmft's link, questions about Middle High German are on-topic - when tagged accordingly.

Same should apply to questions related to Yiddish - or anything else for that matter - as long as at least one major aspect concerns German!

If such questions bother you, ignore the corresponding tag.

I would find it sad if we narrowed our topics. In the unlikely case of such questions taking over: Area51.

  • youtube.com/watch?v=aYs6NlgcrVU I instantly think of German. – user6191 Jun 5 '14 at 21:03
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    I can make out the odd word in that song, but I'd have guessed Dutch (don't really know Dutch, so...). Definitely not German. – Raphael Jun 6 '14 at 10:51
  • Of course it's not German. Take this passage: "Meydl, meydl, ch'vil bay dir fregn, Vos ken vaksn, vaksn on regn? Vos ken brenen un nit oufheren? Vos ken benken, veynen on trern? //Refrain// Narisher bukher, vos darfstu fregn? A shteyn ken vaksn, vaksn on regn. Libe ken brenen un nit oufheren. A harts ken benken, veynen on trern." You have to admit that the resemblance is remarkable. – user6191 Jun 6 '14 at 12:37
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    Can't, as long as I don't hear it. ;) Well, in the refrain I do, but that's basically just two words. I don't know enough Germanic languages to estimate how close a fit it is compared to others. – Raphael Jun 6 '14 at 14:56
  • The only word (in this passage) I didn't understand is "benken", but that's easily looked up. And "Tum" in the chorus. ^^ – user6191 Jun 6 '14 at 15:38
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    @Raphael: this is the same with a slightly different spelling: Mädel, Mädel, ich will bei dir fragen: Was kann wachsen, wachsen und regen? Was kann brennen und net aufhören?... - note that spelling a dialect never follows our conventions. – Takkat Jun 6 '14 at 18:32
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    Exactly! First I thought it's "und", too, but it's "wachsen ohne Regen" :) Should've spelled it "ohn"... – user6191 Jun 7 '14 at 14:26
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    Well, Middle High German is on-topic because Middle High German is an old form of German, and this board is about German language. But Yiddish is not an old form of German. German and Yiddish have common origin, but this is true for German and English too. Yiddish is a separate language, and therefor off-topic in any other languages SE-site. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 12 '15 at 13:32

We could send a ambassador to "Mein Judäa" and ask, if we can send all new questions over there; they already have a Tag "Yiddish" with 3 Pages of questions: https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/yiddish

Else, I think as long as there isn't an own Yiddish board, we should accept such questions as related, even if those questions stay open for months. If there is low interest and knowledge, there will maybe no such board for a very long time. If such a thing evolves, we could move all the questions marked Yiddish over there. If such a thing evolves, we could lead all following questions marked Yiddish over there. (correction due to hint from Martin.

There seem to be some people who think, that suitable questions should be answerable from most native speakers of German, and since most of them only know two dozens of Yiddish words but probably not knowing, that they are Yiddish, it wouldn't fit here. But look at other sites, for example SO. There you may ask questions about Plankalkül which nearly nobody can answer, but of course they are on topic.

I guess some people fear about the 100% answer quote. Don't make yourself sick.

  • I accidentally downvoted this answer and was unable to revise it (since edits haven't been made since), so I'll offer my thoughts on this proposed policy. Migration to Judaism.SE wouldn't necessarily be appropriate (per my understanding of what is on-topic there and the response I've so far gotten to my attempt to double-check). That said, I think the second half of your suggestion is more or less a good idea. – Maroon Aug 22 '15 at 21:45
  • @userunknown: Yeah no, they do. Normally I wouldn't worry too much (particularly if I thought the post was slightly borderline anyway), but here I felt like I should explain so as to not give the "illusion" of one more user entirely disagreeing with the answer here. (Granted, there are some cases where this shouldn't be an issue, but I feel like those are mostly when the community veers heavily in one direction or another to begin with anyway, and this isn't one of them.) – Maroon Aug 22 '15 at 22:44
  • Thanks for the heads up -- and I'd still agree, since I think your last point is mostly good. :) Granted, it might be bad if I write relatively bad questions in tags with very lower priority and few experts, but the worst cases should be obviously bad to most anyone, and often enough, people can find some of the questions that aren't bad interesting even if they don't know much about the specific topic (and would not be able to answer). – Maroon Aug 23 '15 at 5:26
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    @user Your "look at SO, specialist Qs must be valid" hit me square in the chest so to say - you are right that just because it is a Q requiring specialized knowledge, it shouldn't be off-topic, as per SO. However, the German SE is pretty much non-comparable in terms of user counts so we should make sure to do everything in our power to make all material on the German SE accessible to almost every/the average (non-regular) German SE user. In contrast to SO, the German SE cannot afford to lose drive-by users just because they cannot even read a specialist question. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 23 '15 at 19:24
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    @hiergiltdiestfu: Your argument is, that hard question will make us lose drive-by users? Isn't a drive-by user immediately lost by definition? Why is it, that this problem only affects GL and not other sections? – user unknown Aug 24 '15 at 5:39
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    @userunknown I'm saying that even specialist questions must be as accessible as possible on GL (-> transliteration of Hebrew / compare my other comments in this Q), because we cannot afford the same behaviour and mindset of SO, for GL is much much smaller and not established enough to afford to lose potential regulars, who will show up as drive-by-users (ie. users who found the site through Google et. al.). SO has enough regulars and enough page rank and enough Q-frequency, even per tag, that even inaccessible specialist Qs will not produce a noticable deterring effect on non-regulars. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 24 '15 at 9:59
  • @hiergiltdiestfu: You have to do what you think is the right thing to do, to attract the right users. Do you know how people react? No, it's fearful speculation. Maybe the person you're annoying is the one with interest in Yiddish. – user unknown Aug 24 '15 at 14:43
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    @userunknown You know, it appears that this is already the case in this discussion thread :) I'm not qualified to comment on the question on a scientific basis, so I offer my average-joe observation, which admittedly might not be good enough. This whole renewed discussion and especially your SO-has-specialist-Qs-too has already swayed me back to inclusionism (compare other answers' discussions), so I'm kind of taken aback that even an inclusionist compromise like "allow all Yiddish questions as long as they make an effort to be accessible to all visitors" earns so much fire from your side. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 24 '15 at 14:52
  • Ich versteh die Logik nicht. Wenn man nur wenige Fragen zu Jiddisch hat, dann wird das kaum Leute vertreiben, die davon nichts verstehen. Wenn es aber viele Fragen dazu gibt, dann verliert man wohl eher User, wenn man diese ausschließt. Die Mehrzahl der User versteht vielleicht auch wenig von Geschlecht, Grammatik, Zeit und Präpositionen. Am besten man schließt alle Fragen pauschal aus - es könnte sich wer überfordert fühlen. – user unknown Aug 24 '15 at 15:15
  • Ja, Zynismus, schön :) Vielleicht doch deutsch für den letzten Versuch, mein Englisch scheint den Punkt einfach nicht rüberzubringen: Du hattest mich bereits in Maroons Frage überzeugt, dass der Ausschluss von Spezialisten-Fragen Blödsinn ist. Daraufhin hatte ich mir eine Regelergänzung jenseits des Scopes gewünscht, um auch Fragen in fremden Charsets einem breiteren als dem Spezialistenpublikum zugänglich zu machen, weil wir hier weder im Elfenbeinturm, noch auf StackOverflow sind und ich eigentlich gern beide User-Gruppen bei allen Q&As dabei hätte - die Hebrew-Spezis, und die Langweiler. – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 24 '15 at 19:16
  • Und nebenbei: Auf SO werden Fragen als Unclear-what-you're-asking geschlossen, wenn sie in einem Nicht-Latin Charset gestellt werden, auch wenn es garantiert Teilnehmer gibt, die die Fragen verstehen, selbst wenn sie z.B. mit kyrillischen Zeichen formuliert werden. Das ist nämlich der bessere Vergleich, als der mit dem Plankalkül. Beispiel: stackoverflow.com/questions/32113747/… – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 24 '15 at 19:18
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    Oh, I see, I firstly fell into German. Well - maybe I don't get your point. Now you're voting to allow questions written in Hebrew charset, as well as in simplified Chinese or Japanese, Arabic, ...? IMHO this is a different topic, orthogonal to this one. – user unknown Aug 25 '15 at 1:51
  • It's alright, there'll be some kind of consensus eventually, and the two of us will both be more or less able to live with it. Have a nice day :) – hiergiltdiestfu Aug 25 '15 at 7:09
  • @Wrzlprmft: Was stört Dich an "stay open" so, dass Du es zu "stay unanswered" editieren musst, ohne einen sinnvollen Editlink zu hinterlassen? Why do you think you should correct "stay open" without editing hint? – user unknown Aug 30 '15 at 19:09
  • @userunknown: Ich bin davon ausgegangen, dass Dir die besondere Bedeutung des Wortes open (im Bezug auf Fragen) in Stack Exchange bekannt ist und daher keiner weiteren Erklärung bedurfte. – Wrzlprmft Aug 30 '15 at 19:18

The question is good and must be asked. But hey, guys! As long as we are talking about 14 questions out of thousands, some of them even obviously related to German language, this is a waste of time. I was horrified to see so many void discussions running in circles.

Does Frisian have its place in this site? Should Swiss dialects go together in a single sub-SE? Can Dutch and Afrikaans coexist under the same heading? Is Québecois too far from Europe to be handled with and by French speakers? All this is irrelevant, if it only concerns a fraction of the "mother site".

Should Alsatian be sent to the French section to ask for the meaning "Hol mer de coq ussm jaddin!" (or whatever they would say/write)? If you did not understand up to now that languages are not drawers for Erbsenzähler ("pea counters"), but a moving continuum without borders and fences, then you are not at the right place here.

If a Yiddish word or sentence needs explanation, which is requested on this (our) site, because the poster thinks that German speakers know the answer, then it must be allowed here. S/he is probably more likely to find an explanation among the millions of German natives and hundreds of language variants than in a specific Yiddish places. And if not, s/he will go look elsewhere. Don't worry, if difficult questions take more time and stay unanswered for longer. They will not spoil your nicely arranged German garden (like the cock), they will enrich it like rare flowers.

So please, close this question. Spend your time more pleasantly. Do not push out anybody. And when the number of questions deriving from the principal Contemporary High German (Modernes Hochdeutsch) exceed a couple of percents one day, then maybe come up with a proposal to group all related questions in a "Close-To-German-SE" and not just one type of them.

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    So your definition of scope is "whatever the asker thinks people on this site are competent in"? (That would lead me back to beer brewing.) – Raphael Aug 31 '15 at 14:35
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    No. (Where is that citation that you seem to assign to me?) – Dirk Sep 3 '15 at 20:50
  • "If [...] the poster thinks that German speakers know the answer, then [their question] must be allowed here. S/he is probably more likely to find an explanation [here] than [elsewhere]." -- if that line of reasoning were sound, it would readily extend to other topics that meet the criteria state. A review of German beers would (arguably) fit the criteria (there are other examples), but such questions should certainly be offtopic here. Hence, your line of reasining is fallacious. (Reductio ad absurdum.) – Raphael Sep 4 '15 at 8:07
  • That is the only part of your post where you do other than rant, so I took it that that was your core message. – Raphael Sep 4 '15 at 8:08
  • I see, you are looking for a general rule for on/off-topicness of a question. That is a good approach, albeit not expressed in your OP, which is rather specific. Your polemic attempt to boil down my answer to one sentence misses the point. I would rather summarise: The number of questions related to Yiddish (like other language examples I mentioned for illustration) is too small to make this discussion useful, because there is no better alternative to ask them (e.g. by splitting them off from this site). Probably you should trust their askers a bit more. – Dirk Sep 7 '15 at 21:43
  • Now, as you seem to seek general advice how to decide what to consider off-topic, here is my attempt to answer this subsidiary question: Questions about a language that is related to German, because of common roots (e.g. german dialects, yiddish, alsatian, frisian and in some aspects even persian) or common settling areas (like border dialects with german loanwords), in past or in present, should be accepted, as long as their number is negligible (an arbitrary 1%.) and there is no specific SE site, which is more likely to contain a higher number of competent answerers. – Dirk Sep 7 '15 at 21:47

Yiddish is not a German dialect (like Schwäbisch or Bairisch), and it is not a dead, ancient variation of German (like Middle High German). Yiddish is a living language with about 1.5 million speakers, and so it is one of the 10 living Germanic languages with more than one million active speakers.

This is the list of those languages:

  1. English: approximately 340 million native speakers and 1500 million people who speak it as 2nd or 3rd language
  2. German: 95 million native speakers, 80 million as 2nd or 3rd language
  3. Dutch: 23 million speakers
  4. Swedish: 10 million speakers
  5. Afrikaans: 6 million native speakers, plus 10 million as 2nd language
  6. Danish: 5.5 million speakers
  7. Norwegian (counting Bokmål plus Nynorsk): 5 million speakers
  8. Low German: 5 million 1st and 2nd language speakers (status as language is disputed)
  9. Yiddish: 1.5 million speakers (before the holocaust there was 12 million speakers)
  10. Scots: 1.5 million speakers (status as language is disputed)

Other living Germanic languages, each with less then 1 million speakers are: Frisian, Icelandic, Faroese, Luxembourgish, Pennsylvania Dutch and Plautdietsch. The status as language is also disputed at some of this small languages.

But the status of Yiddish as a language is not disputed. Old High German is the common root of German and Yiddish. But then, 1000 years ago from today, the German branch developed from Old High German to Middle High German and some centuries later to New High German.

But the Yiddish branch developed from Old High German 1000 years ago to Old Yiddish and later into two branches of New Yiddish, which are West Yiddish and East Yiddish. But West Yiddish died out in the 18th century. So when you refer to modern Yiddish, you mean East Yiddish.

Yiddish and Ukrainian was the two official languages in the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917 - 1920).


Yiddish is a independently and living language. So Yiddish belongs to the same class a English or Dutch.

This means: If questions about Yiddish are on-toppic in German-SE, then questions about English or Dutch must be on-toppic too. But such questions are off-topic. And therefore:

Questions about Yiddish are off-topic

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    By the same argument, questions on Low German are off-topic? – chirlu Aug 12 '15 at 10:56
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    @chirlu: Yes, if we all here take the point of view, that Low German is a independently language. No, if we all here take the point of view, that Low German is a German Dialect. So, before we can decide if questions on Low German are on- or off-topic, we must decide if Low German is a Language or a Dialect. But we don't have this choice in the case of Yiddish. Yiddish definitely is not a Dialect of any other language. It is a separate language, like Afrikaans or Danish. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 12 '15 at 13:01
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    Could the downvoters explain their position? This seems like the definitive answer. – Raphael Aug 12 '15 at 14:47
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    @Raphael: Saying that “Yiddish is a language different from High German” is as much a matter of opinion as saying that “Low German is a language different from High German”. There is no objective definition for what constitutes two different languages, as opposed to two dialects of one superlanguage. – chirlu Aug 12 '15 at 18:03
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    @chirlu Well, there is the science of linguistics. Can you give a reference which states that Yiddish is a dialect of modern German? – Raphael Aug 12 '15 at 18:16
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    @Raphael: As I said, there is no definitive criterion for distinguishing between languages and dialects (if you don’t believe me, start, e.g., at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect#Dialect_or_language). Under the mutual intelligibility test, Yiddish and modern German certainly belong to the same language. – chirlu Aug 12 '15 at 18:32
  • @chirlu: So, if there is no definitive criterion for distinguishing between languages and dialects, then why are we all so sure that Dutch is a language, not a German dialect? If it is true what you say, we could say, that it is unclear if Dutch is an own language or a German dialect, and since it might be a German dialect, all questions about Dutch are on-topic here in German-SE. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 12 '15 at 18:56
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    @chirlu: Quote from de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialekt (In the middle of the section “Ausbausprache, Abstandsprache, dachloser Dialekt”): »Ausbausprachen sind zum Beispiel das Jiddische oder das Mazedonische, die linguistisch zwar dem Deutschen bzw. dem Bulgarischen nahestehen, aber gleichwohl in ihrer eigenen Standardvarietät über einen so breiten auch schriftlichen Anwendungsbereich verfügen, dass dieser weit über denjenigen eines Dialekts hinausgeht.« – Hubert Schölnast Aug 12 '15 at 19:02
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    @chirlu: Quote from “your” source en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialect#Dialect_or_languageBy way of contrast, although Yiddish is classified by linguists as a language in the "Middle High German" group of languages, a Yiddish speaker would not consult a German dictionary to determine the word to use in such case. – Hubert Schölnast Aug 12 '15 at 19:06
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    @Hubert Schölnast: You are misinterpreting the quote in two ways. First, your highlighting stops too early; it doesn't say as a language, it says as a language in the MHG group of languages. Second, and more important, the article discusses multiple approaches for a language vs. dialect definition, and the very point is that Yiddish is a separate language under some of these definitions and not a separate language under some others. – chirlu Aug 12 '15 at 19:14
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    @Hubert Schölnast: why are we all so sure that Dutch is a language, not a German dialect? Faulty assumption; I'm certainly not sure. But the Netherlands has both an army and a navy, so Dutch passes as a language at least under that definition. :) Note, however, that on-topicness is not necessarily bound to the notion of what is one language. We can make choices. – chirlu Aug 12 '15 at 19:23
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    @Raphael: This seems like the definitive answer. – I disagree. Whether it is a separate language or not has nothing to do with on-topicness (and as already detailed in previous comments, is not as clear as one may think). What is relevant here is whether the similarities between Yiddish and German allow for a sufficient overlap between the audiences interested in these topics. Or: Are we sufficiently interested and capable in answering questions on Yiddish? – Wrzlprmft Aug 12 '15 at 21:26
  • @Wrzlprmft Of course you can go ahead and define an arbitrary scope: include Yiddish and Swedish, exclude English and Dutch, and include beer brewing. I for one appreciate consistency. By the way, is there any meta discussion that establishes a community consensus on Yiddish being ontopic while other, similarly related languages are offtopic? – Raphael Aug 12 '15 at 21:30
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    @Raphael: I do not want to define a scope. The community has to do this. There are black and white cases such as beer brewing, but I think that Yiddish clearly isn’t one of them. If you want consistency, we would have to agree on a criterion when a language is sufficiently different from German to be off-topic. As long as this does not happen (and I am rather certain that it never will), we have to decide about each related language separately, when the issue comes up. Fortunately those languages are sufficiently few that we can actually do so. – Wrzlprmft Aug 12 '15 at 21:54

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