I was the originator of the EN/FR translation proposal. I'd like to know what our attitude to translation-style questions will be here.

I'd be inclined to have a policy of not accepting one-word questions (like on EL&U), unless they are very interesting words. One thing that is very hard to find on the interwebs is all the nuances of a given word, I think it would be interesting and useful to allow that, and work out some way to present it cogently.

Update: thinking about this since asking the question. I realise that I'm coming to this site still with my 'translation proposal' mindset, so I completely expect the site to be bilingual. I may have to put some water in my wine :)

Résumé : Quelle sera notre attitude sur les questions de traduction ? Je serais enclin à refuser les questions portant sur un seul mot (comme EL&U), sauf mot exceptionnellement intéressant. C'est assez difficile de trouver sur le web un éventail complet des nuances d'un mot, je pense que ce serait intéressant et utile de l'autoriser ici, et de rechercher une manière de le présenter de façon cohérente.

3 Answers 3


I agree that it would be great to allow some subset of translation questions. I know that English Language & Usage basically doesn't, but I'm personally of the opinion that that policy is too strict.

I would word the FAQ with respect to translation questions something like this:

Tricky translations (eg. idioms needing paraphrasing), to French (but not from French), are allowed. The person asking the question should, however, give a rough translation into French (even if just from eg. Google Translate) at the same time as quoting the phrase to translate in the original language.

FSL (‘French as a Second Language’) questions (ie. rather basic questions) are allowed, as long as they are not general reference.

  • The problem in EL&U is that the site is about English and in English, so the 'source' language from translation is undefined. Here, the site is about French, but in English, so (implicitly) we're talking about translating to-from FR-EN.
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 20:32
  • @Benjol Well, I think one can generalize a bit and say that the source language can be any language, and the target languge the topic language of the site. That would mean one could ask for translation (of tricky stuff) from any language to English. That could apply in the same way for the respective other language and usage sites.
    – Jez
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 20:34
  • Jez, maybe, but I'd still say that the 'lingua franca' of Stack Exchange is English, so it is automatically the default 'other' language on any site. I'm not sure you'll get much mileage on EL&U asking them for help translating from Farsi.
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 20:45
  • @Jez: yet you voted to close the question in German - doesn't that contradict your "any language" approach?
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 12:20
  • @Joubarc Here I'm talking about translating a phrase from another language to French. However, that's not the same as what language the question has to be phrased in. I'd allow questions phrased in French or English, but translation requests from any language to French.
    – Jez
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 12:50
  • OK, I understand the difference. Thanks for clarifying this. (I guess I just didn't expect someone could agree on one and not the other). I'll go and ask a question in English about a Dutch translation to see what becoms of it.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 12:57
  • Done: french.stackexchange.com/questions/298/… I even tried to downgrade the English a bit (not that it would have been that great to start with)
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 13:27
  • @Joubarc I support questions in French only, but translation questions from any language to French. Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 13:39
  • @Gilles: I knew you supported French-only questions (made me appreciate your German question even more, btw). I guess it's hard to be also in favour of translation being only from French to French.
    – Joubarc
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 13:49

I largely agree with Jez. My position is that, if we are to be a bilingual site, we should:

  • Allow questions asking for translations from English into French are allowed. They are subject to the same requirements as other questions, especially the refusal of general reference questions (if the answer can be found in a bilingual dictionary, the question doesn't belong here). A typical translation question would ask how to translate a word or expression in a particular context (with at least the whole sentence given).
  • Do not allow questions asking for translations from French into English as such; however, it is fine to ask for an explanation in English of what a difficult French sentence means.

Je suis largement d'accord avec Jez. Ma position est que :

  • On peut poser une question demandant une traduction de l'anglais vers le français. Ces questions ne doivent pas être trop élémentaires (si la réponse se trouve dans un dictionnaire bilingue, la question n'a rien à faire ici). Une question de traduction devrait typiquement concerner un mot ou expression dans un contexte précis (au minimum avec la donnée d'une phrase complète).
  • La traduction du français vers l'anglais est hors-sujet en tant que telle. Par contre, on peut demander une explication en anglais d'une phrase française compliquée.
  • 1
    Translating whole sentences seems too much like unpaid work (and the number of potential sentences is way higher than the number of potential words). I think it would be more useful to say that we can help people translating words, but in the context of a given sentence.
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 5:38
  • @Benjol Good point, I've toned it down. Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 6:53

This proposal has been lumped together with translation en <-> fr, so I am strongly against disallowing a translation direction and I think that it is quite disrespectful to the people from the other proposal who supported this one.

Why would you want it to be off-topic to find the equivalent to a complicated French phrase?

  • I'm (obviously) sympathetic to what you say, but I think the main argument against is about FOCUS. I would love to be able to work out a way to respect those who committed to my proposal, but not at the price of having a site which is crippled by a split identity.
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 7:27
  • Translating to French leads to a discussion of nuance between several French sentences. Translating from french leads to a discussion of the nuances between several sentences the target language and I don't think it should be topical (and we probably won't get the needed expertice excepted perhaps for English). Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 19:56

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