A common type of question we have is asking how to translate idiomatic phrases from English to Spanish. This was brought up recently in meta here, as it relates to a specific question, but I would like to form a more complete site policy on these types of questions.
A few examples:
- How do you say 'mind you' in Spanish?
- ¿Cómo se dice "Shit happens" en castellano?
- How do you say "I got you!" in Spanish?
These questions usually have at least two of the following problems in common, sometimes all of them:
- They don't attempt to translate the phrase before asking for help, which is expressly off topic.
- The phrase often has multiple correct translations, often with regional preferences
- The phrase often has multiple correct English versions as well
- The question attracts countless "Here's how I say it in X country" answers from newbies. These answers are often technically correct, but don't add value to the site.
In my opinion, the only reason these questions shouldn't all be closed immediately is explained in this meta post:
If the question is asking about some subtlety, or ambiguity that a dictionary cannot easily answer, then I think it is on topic.
In other words, in these cases, normal translation tools (vocabulary dictionaries) won't help someone. These questions really do require the art and science of a translator.
How do we want to address these?