Specifically, when the fictional language is used in places outside of the works they appear in:

What does this elvish text from UC Irvine say? is okay

Grammar and quality check for a Klingon warning notice for server room is a current question, has 3 close votes at the moment

Is this Gallifreyan, and what does it say? is a surprising request because there's so little to go on, but it had an answer

What is written on my Mjolnir? is about a licensed product with runic gibberish

There may be more, I only looked through the first couple pages of a search for "translate", and they may have appeared in other ways.

It may not be enough to be too concerned about, but with one such question locked by a CM (I think the context was not good on that one, but that could be edited out), and a current one getting a close vote, I'm wondering about how to vote.


1 Answer 1


I see no reason to consider these questions undesireable:

  • They're not off-topic. These questions are asking about fictional languages from science fiction or fantasy contexts; that seems thoroughly under our umbrella.

  • They're not primarily opinion-based. There's always going to be a single, unambiguously correct answer: either the correct translation or some variation on:

    It doesn't mean anything; here's a statement from the creator saying they just took random symbols and mashed them together

    If there's no translation guides available, then we're asking if we should close a question because it has no canon answer, something we are opposed to.

  • They're not too broad. Depends on the question, obviously, but I fail to see how a single translation could fall under this.

  • They're not unclear. For the most part, anyway.

  • They take advantage of the expertise we cultivate. Our knowledge domain is the sum published output of science fiction and fantasy media, and the behind-the-scenes and fandom context surrounding that media. We are the perfect people to address questions about this sort of thing, and I struggle to think of anyone better suited.

  • 7
    "We are the perfect people" YEAH WE ARE!
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 20:32
  • I agree with everything you said, however I can't stop feeling it's... weird-ish. I'm not sure if a "Fictual Language" tag wouldn't actually help sort things out
    – Oak
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:16
  • On other language sites such as ELU, translations are off topic. Don't know if the same concept hold true here.... but every translate question would only be specific to that user and even though I am new here, I think SE wants QA that applies to all.
    – Skooba
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 6:11
  • 4
    @Skooba All translation questions are not necessarily off-topic on ELU, either. “Please translate this long Spanish paragraph into English” is off-topic there (that's what translators are for), but “Which of X and Y fits better as a translation of Spanish Z?” is perfectly all right there. Similarly for most other language-specific SE sites that I know of. It's also a lot harder to find material for fictional languages, which invalidates the most common reason for grammar-check questions (on ELU at least): lack of prior research. Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 22:26
  • I've actually had 2 translate questions myself, one for Latin to English and one for bad Russian to English. So, we don't seem to have a policy against real language translations, either.
    – user31178
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 21:58

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