We agreed that questions exclusively about dialects are off-topic when they don't related to the Italian language.

But sometimes the OP doesn't know whether the expression is dialectal or not, especially if she's not a native speaker, so some questions in the form

What's the correct use of X?

implicitly (or explicitly) become

Is X a dialectal expression?

In case the answer is yes, how should we deal with such questions? Should we consider them off-topic since the expression is dialectal? Or are they on-topic since the question is actually not about the usage of a dialectal term, but just about clarifying whether is dialectal or not?

An example is the question Origini ed etimologia della particella 'nee' alla fine di frasi in dialetti del Nord Italia.

The expression is clearly dialectal, but the OP didn't know it. I answered explaining the meaning and clarifying that it's a dialectal term, but I then wondered whether it should be closed instead.

5 Answers 5


Even though questions like the one in the example are about a dialect, the true value of the question (and the answer) is in informing a non-native speaker that the term is dialectal.

This is worth a question, since the disambiguation can help the user in understanding the proper usage of the Italian language. For instance a non-native speaker can learn that being nee a dialectal term, it shouldn't be used when standard Italian is required, and other expressions such as capito? should be preferred.

Bottom line, I think we should allow questions asking whether a term is dialectal or not, since they have value in improving the Italian language usage.

  • And yes, that's me answering myself and being bipolar (che neanche Marzullo) Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 18:27

My idea:

  • if the question comes from someone who doesn't know that the term dialectal, it's ok and the answer should clarify this;
  • if the question itself proposes a comparison between standard Italian and another Italian (minority) language (i.e., commonly called "a dialect"), then it's still ok, because it could give an enrichment to our knowledge of Italian itself.

I think if the OP asks for an expression or a word which is strictly dialectal, the question is to be closed; but if the question is relatead to an expression that people commonly use in Italian speech, as nee in nord-ovest or as accortenza in Naples or as sorbole in Boulogne or as anvedi in Rome or as picciotto in Sicily, then it deserves to remain opened and to have an answer.

To be more clear, questions like "I have heard picciued during a trip in Sicily. What does it mean?" belong to the first case. Here, phoenetic issues aside—which impede to write a dialectal word in absence of a phonetic alphabet—, it is clear that the term is pretty local and that it is not used in contexts where people want to speak Italian.


That was what I meant when I said "Let's wait for some real questions."

Still, the answer to the previous discussion holds: The questions where [f]or instance, there might be doubts about whether a term (and its usage) is dialectal-only or it's an actual Italian term should be considered on-topic.

I'd propose the following good practice:

  • answerers should clearly state in their answers that it's a dialectal term (if possible, clarifying also geographic borders of its usage);
  • answerers should provide an example of a regular Italian way of saying the same thing;
  • answerers should not go into details of etymology, orthography, examples of usage, literature-songs-clerical references for this dialectal term, but only for its Italian analogue (if needed);
  • answerers should not provide analogues from other dialects (e.g., "No, it's the word used in Milano only, but generally we in Lombardia use..." - "Oh, right, it's just like we in Bari say...");
  • somebody should tag the question with the "regional" tag if the OP hasn't done it.

It doesn't matter if the user didn't know the expression is dialectal. It was a legitimate mistake, but questions about dialects are still off-topic and they have to be closed.

Answering is not appropriate, since voting to close and answering at the same time is kind of shady.

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