The tag is awful and should be burninated (deleted) and here's why:

  1. It assumes that everyone is from the same country. "Foreign" just means "anywhere except where I am", and unless you state where exactly that is, there's no real meaning conveyed.
  2. As most people here speak English, it will eventually be commonly used to mean "Anything except English" (or even, "Anything except Hollywood) which is even less helpful.

The Oscar question could arguably be an exception, though I think it would be better just to have an for questions specifically related to the award should it ever become necessary, or just if not.

Any identify-this-x (, ) questions about movies/shows in a foreign language should be tagged with that specific language, like , or .

If you genuinely don't know what language the film was spoken in the film, that's a good indication that your question lacks "sufficient detail to be answerable".


3 Answers 3


The foreign-film tag has been removed according to your unanimously accepted proposal.


I am kind of on the fence for this one, I do understand that "Foreign" does presume the site is exclusively from one country, and leaves a little bit of a bad-taste - however as the site is in the English language, it has been presumed to date that the tag has meant "Non English-Language" rather than non-Hollywood.

But I don't really agree with the statement:

If you genuinely don't know what language the film was spoken in the film, that's a good indication that your question lacks "sufficient detail to be answerable".

I might be able to recognize .... French, German, Spanish, Italian & Japanese - but would struggle with (for example) Ukranian vs Russian, Korean vs Chinese, Hungarian vs Finnish, Swedish vs Danish or Norwegian. I don't think that means if I don't recognize the language of a subtitled movie I catch 5 minutes of I should be denied the opportunity to ask an identification question.

So I'm going to give a slightly 'on the fence' solution. Perhaps we shoud have a fallback tag, and encourage the use of the specific country where known.

I don't think we need to blacklist the foreign-film tag, but we could encourage people to retag for the generic tag, or the specific language.

  • 2
    I'm also not a big fan of the last statement from the question (the one you quoted), as determining the original language of a movie can be difficult when only having watched a dubbed version and not having much memory of the specific scene layout in the first place. But still I don't really see how that would speak in favour of a foreign-film tag. If not knowing the exact language, then well, you just can't tag your question with it, so what. It's not that each and every ID question has all the appropriate language, genre and decade tags anyway, let alone the respective information at all.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Jul 20, 2014 at 1:23
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson - I don't think it does speak specifically in favor of a 'foreign-film' tag. I'm primarily contesting the statement that being unable to identify the language means the question lacks sufficient detail. I make the small suggestion than 'non-english' could be used where the language is unknown, but I appreciate the non-english-as-a-first-language users might find that almost as objectionable.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Jul 21, 2014 at 4:46

If we're trying to find a tag that discusses indigenous work not produced in English Language, but made available to an international audience I think the industrial and critical terminology would be 'World Cinema', as opposed to 'non-english' or 'foreign-film'.

If a movie is produced for a domestic audience, which is rarer and rarer these days (J-Horror, Nordic-Noir, Franglish etc.) we should try and make the distinction of "_ National Cinema" where at all possible.

Basically, if something is shopped into an international distribution, it's 'World-Cinema' as far as any professional cinema distribution company or publication is involved: we should probably adhere to the industrial terminology....

  • This doesn't sound that unreasonable. But the problem I see with this is that it might be as professional to be too compilcated to apply correctly in each and every case. I even find "World Cinema" quite unusual/segregating as well (is US cinema not world cinema?), but I'm admittedly far from an expert. I also can't see the distinction between "_ National Cinema" and "World Cinema" as relevant for the questions/site at all, since it seems primarily to derive from the intended distribution, which I guess is utterly irrelevant to the question if not discussing about this aspect in particular.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 17, 2014 at 23:08
  • So 'World Cinema' is a pre-established, identifiable and practiced terminology within cinema exhibition, and is generally different from '____ National Cinema' because National Cinema is intended for its domestic market, and World Cinema is produced for an international audience: for example, Mrs Browns Boys or The Inbetweeners 2 is National Cinema in Britain/Ireland because it's relevance is based on its TV audience, which is largely Domestic. It's not distribution, its about its intended audience: do you see? Aug 18, 2014 at 0:00
  • ... sometimes a piece of National Cinema 'finds-its-legs' and becomes World cinema: but unfortunately that's something we have no control over, the Cinema Industry is in critical flux at all times... all we can do is respect the distinctions as and when they occur. I do need to stress, however, that for the purposes discussed here, World Cinema is definitely the accepted and circulated terminology: whether we feel we have the scope to refine this into '___national cinema' is a separate debate. Aug 18, 2014 at 0:05
  • Thanks, Ok that clarifies those terms a bit more. Still I don't think this distinction is relevant when used as tags, be it distribution or intended audience, it doesn't seem relevant to the questions. Maybe questions about "World Cinema", but certainly not for ID questions (which are the primary usage of foreign-films so far), where the distinctions between National and World Cinema seems unnecessary, if known at all. If questions about the aspects you mention arise, world-cinema seems a good idea for a tag, but as a general replacement for foreign-films it seems inappropriate to me.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 18, 2014 at 0:11
  • ...It's just a two-edged blade. When seen and used as the established term it is, it seems quite appropriate. But when not used in this way (as is the case for ID questions and thus most of the foreign-films tagged questions), it loses this specific meaning and thus seems as meaningless as foreign-films, since on a site where a clear common viewpoint doesn't exist everything is world cinema if not employing the specific technical meaning of that term.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 18, 2014 at 0:15
  • Oh, and when reading the first paragraph of your linked Wikipedia article, it already evokes exactly that unfitting and subjective meaning of the word as "foreign film" does. But that just as an irrelevant side note from someone who didn't bother to read any further, though.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 18, 2014 at 0:20
  • The Wikipedia article isn't great, I'm afraid, as it gives contradictory and largely nebulous definitions. If you looked a little further, you'd quickly realize how embraced the terminology is: to try and clarify further World Cinema is non-English Language cinema intended for an international audience. It's interpretation is largely non-subjective in this sense, whereas Foreign Film changes definition every time it's used by a different person. That's why the term World Cinema has been embraced, to standardize this distinction. Aug 18, 2014 at 0:45
  • unfortunately, however much we disagree with this, nothing said here is going to effect its designation by the Movie Industry: our choice is simply to recognize and accept it (with all the problematic minutiae you discuss) or try and create a new, unique piece of terminology. I don't see Foreign-Film as a workable tag, as (mentioned above) it's subjective to the referent. Aug 18, 2014 at 0:50
  • "It's interpretation is largely non-subjective in this sense" - Yeah, I see that, but it's the "this sense" that seems hard to enforce nor relevant for all questions. But I agree the discussion might be overlong already. I'd sum up my position that a world-cinema tag might make sense if used with the meaning you describe, but in this case I would not propagate its usage for ID questions, but only for general questions pertaining to "World Cinema" in particular.
    – Napoleon Wilson Mod
    Aug 18, 2014 at 0:52

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