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The meta question here gives good reasons why tags should be in English, but the discussion does not cover works that were in a foreign language to begin with. I think this is an edge case that needs to be clarified.

If someone wants to ask a question about such a work, should the corresponding tag be the original title, or an English translation of that title? What if it's a bad translation into English? What if there are several? Which one should be used?

This was triggered by my attempt to tag my latest question about a French TV show with its original title. I needed to vent a little on chat when the grave accent è in the tag name was converted to a plain e. @Jenayah referred me to the meta question linked at the top. I wasn't really sure that covered this case.

An extreme case would be the weird 1991 Soviet adaptation of The Lord of The Rings, Хранители (transliterates as Khraniteli). Google Translate renders it as "Keepers", Wikipedia as "Keepers of the Ring", but I was told it translated directly to "Guardians". I can't imagine any other tag than . Anything else would detract from its "specialness".

I think that rather than a "tag in English", we might have to go for "tag the best-known title".

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  • This seems like a straight duplicate. Use the English translation if one exists and clarify in the tag wiki.
    – Valorum
    Sep 20 at 6:45
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    @Valorum: "the discussion does not cover works that were in a foreign language to begin with" that makes this quite obviously not a duplicate.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Sep 20 at 7:43
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You can't just take a foreign word and respell it to "look English."

Let's get the specific example out of the way first: "la-derniere-vague" is neither English nor French. French considers the grave accent on è to be mandatory, so "derniere" is a misspelling according to French orthography (and there's no such word at all in English). There are only two strings that could possibly be valid tag names here:

  • la-dernière-vague
  • the-last-wave

The question is, which of those two names should we use?

In general, tag names should favor English where it is reasonable to do so, because we are an English-speaking site and tags can only have one true (displayed) name. This issue has been discussed at length and I don't think it would be appropriate to re-litigate it here. Tag synonyms can take care of people typing a different name, so this should not be too much of an inconvenience, anyway.

On the other hand, there may be some cases where the English name is problematic, for example because it is ambiguous (many adaptations under the same name) or poorly-recognized. It might be appropriate, on a case by case basis, to make exceptions in recognition of these problems. I am not going to attempt to set out specific rules for determining when those exceptions should be made, except to say that the tag should actually be an official name of the work (or an official translation thereof). If a work was never translated into English, then use its non-English title, because that is the only title which is unambiguously correct.

As for transliteration of non-Latin alphabets... I have no idea. That's a more complicated topic and it would probably be better to address it separately. Certainly, tag synonyms should exist between the Romanized and original spellings, assuming the tag is popular enough for anyone to bother with setting them up. As for which one should be primary (assuming there's no reasonable English name), I would suggest picking the name which is more likely to be recognized by a larger group of people, and take it to meta in cases of disagreement on specific works.

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  • On the note of synonyms feel free to flag for new tags to have a synonym added. I, myself, and I presume the rest of the mods, would be more than happy to add one as appropriate. If anyone more knowledgeable with the specific work that started this meta feels the need for a synonym please flag the relevant question and explain what's needed!
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Sep 27 at 7:40
  • You didn't bother to read that the tag system automatically changed the è that I typed to an e?
    – Spencer
    Sep 27 at 9:51
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    @Spencer: I interpreted your post as saying that a human converted the è to an e. If the tag system did that automatically, it's a bug and you should report it to MSE.
    – Kevin
    Sep 27 at 17:41
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    The French may well consider the accent on the word derniere to be mandatory but that does not mean that they would not read or understand it without it.
    – Valorum
    Sep 27 at 17:51
  • @Kevin - That character does not exist in English, as far as I'm aware.
    – Valorum
    Sep 27 at 17:51
  • @Valorum: And that would be fine if the tag were in English. But there is no such word as "derniere" in English (at all) or in French (it's misspelled). So if we're going to insist that tags are "in English," let's actually use English, and not some weird misspelled French.
    – Kevin
    Sep 27 at 18:01
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    @Kevin - If you want to argue that site tags should support French (e.g. non-English) characters, I fail to see why we can't use the same argument to try to say that it should support the other eighteen thousand non-English characters.
    – Valorum
    Sep 27 at 18:36
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    @Valorum: Well, yeah. They should. What's your point? Unicode has been around for years. It's not a new technology.
    – Kevin
    Sep 27 at 18:36
  • @Kevin - Because it's not a multilingual site. It's an English language site for people what speaks English.
    – Valorum
    Sep 27 at 18:37
  • @Valorum: My answer already says we should favor English tags where reasonable. But sometimes, it's not reasonable, and in that case, you have to call the tag something.
    – Kevin
    Sep 27 at 18:39
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    @Kevin I highly doubt MSE would regard it as a "bug" but you are welcome to report it as such. It is a common practice to use a reduced character set for indexing purposes, and converting accented Latin characters into the nearest ASCII equivalent is a common manifestation of this. Remember that tags are more about indexing than they are about anything else.
    – Spencer
    Sep 27 at 18:58
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    At the risk of turning this into a conversation, the range of characters is often restricted (for example, in URLs and email addresses) to reduce the cases of letters that look the same. I don't think there's any real intent to deceive, but a user may not be able to tell the difference between Copyright and Сopyright, which use Latin and Cyrillic characters that both look like "C".
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 27 at 22:16
  • ^_^ Of course, for websites, it's the risk between sending someone to CitizensBank.com/log-in and СitizensBank.com/log-in where the latter one might be a different site that saves your password and then routes you to the actual site.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 27 at 22:18
  • @FuzzyBoots: I don't know what browser you're using, but in Chrome, when you hover the second link, it is obviously fake.
    – Kevin
    Sep 27 at 23:21
  • @Kevin I heard about some un-experienced computer users who still fall for those phishing tricks because they don't check the displayed link by hovering it first. Otherwise, I agree with your viewpoint about using actual English tag when possible and using actual foreign tag when needed.
    – Clockwork
    Sep 28 at 8:09

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