At the moment, https://korean.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic states that "Requests for translation that contain no particular question about the Korean language" are off-topic. That wording was arrived at here.

However, the earlier question What is the policy for translation requests? suggested allowing small translation requests.

Should we change https://korean.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic to allow small translations? If so, what restrictions (if any) should we keep in place?

  • Although the question this was asked in relation to was reopened through making it a different type of question, it would still be good to iron out this inconsistency, so I'll 'feature' this for a bit if no-one minds! Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 13:34
  • Made a few tweaks to the on-topic page just now, based on the input below (thanks)... of course they can always be tweaked further... Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 22:16

3 Answers 3


I don't think we want to unreasonably restrict questions that are at heart still fairly specific questions about the Korean language just because of how a question is phrased, so I'd be happy with allowing small translations. However, if we do this, it would be good if questions could make clear (ideally in the title) what aspects of sentence the asker is finding difficult. Doing this should:

  • Make it easier for others to find the questions via search engines
  • Inform those who answer what they should focus on in their answer, which will save them time
  • encourage the asker to think once more whether there is a dictionary or grammar resource that might answer their question before posting. (We do say that we don't allow 'general reference questions', so it would seem sensible to be consistent)
  • allow us to direct the asker to duplicate questions if we already have a good answer that explains the problematic word or grammar

EDIT : Also happy to include questions about how to say something in a certain context, as suggested elsewhere.


I think that users should be wary of asking a question like "How can I say XXXXX?" and just leaving it at that. However, just a little context can make such a question entirely allowable.


How do I say "I like pizza"?


How do I say "I like pizza"? I need to introduce myself tomorrow to a Korean speaking client at work and I want to use a bit of Korean. I know next to nothing about Korean though.

The second question is pretty much asking the same exact question as the first, but the added context of the second helps us answer the question better. We know what politeness level to use and we are aware of the asker's abilities in Korean.

This being said, I think that we should be rather loose on this. I would personally prefer that a user ask a weaker question than never ask any questions for fear of being rejected.

So, conclusion, I think that we should be willing to allow questions like "How can I say XXXXX?" while also pushing for the askers to provide context. As long as the request for translation is less than a few sentences, I am fine helping.

  • The only possible problem I've noticed about being flexible on other sites is that it can lead to "why was this question closed, and this one not" kind of discussions. We don't have many close happy-users now so it's not a problem, but if we want to set a low bar, i wondered if we could do that explicitly. Basically I probably made a mistake setting that wording at odds with the previous meta question and I'm just wanting to fix it! Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 23:14
  • It sounds like we're happy with translations either with a bit of context or with a specific question attached, and it's just plain 'how do you say _________? thanks" that wouldn't be welcome. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 23:16

There is more to translation than simply the literal words.

If seeking a "translation" of a common phrase or idiom - or some piece of slang, a literal translation is not what is required. Common metaphors and similes don't always have the same resonance in different languages. A correct answer would be how the concept of the idiom is expressed in the target language.

This form of translation is surely acceptable.

You can compare it to the number of similar requests for translation of idioms on the EL&U and ELL sites. Some of which ask for translation between variants of English around the world.

  • Thanks for your response. How do you think such a question should be asked? Is it acceptable just to ask "what does xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxx mean", or should the problem the asker is having be explained a little? Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 12:47
  • @topomorto: Ideally, something like "How do I say xxxx?" with a little explanation. But there has to be some flexibility..
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 12:54
  • What wording would you suggest for korean.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic ? (Both for the on- and off- topic bits?) Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:25
  • @topomorto: Perhaps one more bullet in on-topic, something along the lines of Equivalents of idioms or popular cultural references. In off-topic, I think the current wording works.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:33
  • I think that's already allowed under our rules, because if the asker mentions their awareness that there's an idiomatic aspect, or even if it can be inferred that a literal translation seems nonsensical and that's the heart of the problem, that will make it a 'particular question about the Korean language'. Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:41
  • @topomorto: Granted.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:42
  • What about taking things further and allowing even non-idiomatic translations in cases where the 'actual problem' is made clear? Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:00
  • @topomorto: Yes, where a translation clarifies a point of Korean for the questioner, that is a question about the language.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:04
  • Would you be happy to upvote my suggested answer (in the interests of building consensus), or do you think I've made unreasonable restrictions there? Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:13
  • Whoops, should have done that to start with.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:15
  • Thanks. Sorry to 'badger' you but we don't get much action in this meta so was keen to get your opinions! Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:19
  • No worries, I don't come here as often as I should. My Korean is very rusty.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 15:24

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