Proposal: Arabic Language

Would this proposal allow English questions about Arabic?

For example:

How could I tell whether تَنَاوَلْتُ is past I or present she?

All I have seen so far are peple talking about stopping free translation services.

4 Answers 4


I am personally 70% against english questions about Arabic. English questions are fine to a point when asking questions similar to your example, which seem to be an easily answerable mistake, and easily explainable in English, but when these questions turn to attempts to comprehend deeper Arabic grammar with grammar of other languages seems to simply turn into a mess. Those that ask these questions should (and may Allah forgive me if I am wrong to expect this) be able to ask their questions in the plain language.

So to jump to the conclusion of what I want to say: I would say questions like the one in your example are fine, to satisfy the fact that we are a site for non-native learners, but we should definitely not allow total english questions in consideration that this site is going to also be fore native learners, linguists/scholars, and experts.

So what I am saying is: we should allow enough to satisfy/in consideration for the learners, but not so much to spoil the quality and benefit for the others.

  • 1
    Sounds reasonable enough: allow questiions that show some effort and comprehension of the language but disallow those which are a blatent "do my work for me" questions. This is how it works on StackOverflow so it sounds more than appropiate that this is how it would work here too
    – Sammaye
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 13:14
  • What about an English question that asked a question about a very narrow set of grammar, like...umm, genitive declension of diptotes?
    – Sammaye
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 13:16
  • @Sammaye haha, you would have to then explain what that is in the question :) basically, if what you ask receives a whole answer of transliteration, then the question isn't good in english.
    – مجاهد
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 13:47
  • I guess all I can do is try out some questions and see if they get upvoted/downvoted :)
    – Sammaye
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 14:01
  • @Sammaye this is the time for defining the site we want, we need example questions, both to be up-voted and down voted, when we get to beta that will be a different story.
    – مجاهد
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 14:04
  • 6
    Right, I'm a learner of classical Arabic and I feel that English questions should be allowed if they show some knowledge and comprehension of Arabic, particularly as far as concepts are concerned. (Not necessarily really easy "do-my-homework" questions with specific exercises). The reason I'm saying this is that learners' conceptual questions and answers in English would really add up to create a good reference for learners on stack exchange. I'm concerned that you're only 70% for English questions. I saw the sample questions and felt a tad bit intimidated at the number of questions in Arabic.
    – user961627
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 7:03
  • 3
    I agree with @user961627 - I would prefer if questions in English were allowed as this makes it less intimidating to novices, especially given the different script. If you look at the Japanese StackExchange site, nearly all the questions are asked in English, with the correct Japanese used. Better yet, encourage a question to be written in both. Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 22:17
  • @AdamElsodaney We have had a number of discussions on the topic: discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/17766/… discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/q/17570/112766
    – Sammaye
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 11:28
  • 2
    I am in the favor of asking questions in both Arabic and English only, as I assume that the majority of contributors speak English. Hence, I find it acceptable to ask in English. Nevertheless, we - users and contributors - should define the scope of the site, in terms of target audience, are they "totally new" to Arabic, or have acquired "language's basics".
    – Omar
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 21:17

I think the policy on most other language sites is to encourage questions in [language] and allow questions in English. Depending on the development of Arabic.SE, there may be many or few questions in English/Arabic, but as far as I know no site has had any problems in allowing in English, too, since many core community members are probably near-fluent in both languages.

As for other languages, it is certainly possible to answer a question in English, using either English or Arabic terminology. There are many people who study Arabic in English.

About "stopping free translation", on the language sites I frequent, a question is closed as "off-topic" if it's a pure translation request, basically of the form

What does this say?

without any indication of what the asker has done to try to answer this question him/herself. But a question like

I understand [this part] of [this sentence], but I'm not sure about the nuance of [this word] in this context. [More details]

is not really asking for a free translation, but for an explanation, which could be fine. I don't think allowing questions like these would do much harm. On the contrary, it may actually help to keep your site active and healthy, since many language sites are short on questions (most language sites have around 3 questions per day, allowing questions in English).


As long as the question concerns the Arabic language and as long as the fact that the question has been asked in English does not prevent it from receiving an intelligent answer, I don't see a reason why it should not be allowed to ask it in English.

  • 2
    As is common practice on other sites in the stackexchange universe, I would like to invite down-voters to leave a comment. Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 10:37
  • 2
    I second your opinion. I have asked some questions on Spanish SE in English and have received proper answers. Asking in English isn't an issue whatsoever.
    – Omar
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 21:08
  • 2
    Asking in English isn't an issue at all! We should accept & answer questions as long as they are useful for the learners and to give benefites!
    – F. Julian
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 15:33

You don't have to reinvent the wheel on this one. There are a large number of language sites on Stack Exchange. All of them have faced this question and come up with policies on it. You are not bound by their decisions, but you should be informed by them.

  • "reinvent the wheel on this one"? what is this meaning?
    – user107161
    Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 22:51
  • The wheel has been invented. There is no need to invent it again. This is a common English metaphor. Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 23:46
  • I am English and I am unsure what you mean, the usage is too broad, it has no meaning here
    – Sammaye
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 7:21
  • 1
    You are not the first people to face this problem. You can learn from those who faced it before you. @Sammaye. Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 8:57
  • 1
    In what sense though? The response is such a broad one to such a broad question you could mean any number orf things. We need examples and explanations of what exactly you think has already been done and how it worked out on other sites and a hypothesis of how it would work here. It like Adam in a comment above, he has basically given an exact answer using other sites as an example, you have basically given an old saying but no explanation.
    – Sammaye
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 9:04
  • I guess what TRiG meant is the same as Adam Elsodaney said in his comment to the question. We should look at other language sites and see what they do, because every language site had to face this question and most of them found a way (or: their way) to deal with it. Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 10:42

You must log in to answer this question.

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