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In a political context, foreign mean "relating to different country" where the country from which the difference is measured is determined by context. For example, if, on History SE, you were discussing French history, then foreign would mean "non-French".

But what does it mean in relation to the English language? In the UK, languages such as Gaelic and Welsh are not foreign. By the same logic, Navajo is not a foreign language in an American context. But is Gaelic a foreign language in Canada where it is spoken by only a few immigrants? But those immigrants have been there just as long as the English speakers, so if Gaelic is a foreign language then perhaps English is too.

Even if we know what a foreign language is in the context of one country, what does it mean on an international site such as English Language SE? I suspect many would say that Japanese is a foreign language in this context, but where do we draw the line?

I note there is a related question but although alien and foreign mean much the same thing, foreign is usually understood to relate to a language used in a different country and alien is not usually used in this context.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Robusto, choster, Jason Bassford, TrevorD, Neeku Apr 9 at 16:53

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    It means what you think it means. Unless the person you're talking to thinks differently, in which case you have a problem. – Hot Licks Apr 4 at 1:27
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    I'm having trouble understanding what your problem is. Can't foreign have different meanings depending on context? Can't non-English languages be foreign in the context of EL&U (which would include Gaelic and Welsh as well as Navajo, French, and Japanese)? In the EU, could not French and German and Italian be non-foreign in that context, while at the same time German would still be foreign to citizens of France? – Robusto Apr 4 at 2:07
  • My 2 cents are that it would be bizarre to describe a language as foreign on an international forum - you would say something like this is an English language forum - posts in other languages will be removed. I would not personally use foreign at EU level either. I think the post above is right in linking the term to a country/state. I wouldn't disagree with French etc. being 'non-foreign' within the EU, but I think that's because the concept 'foreign' is inapplicable. I would just say they are all EU languages. – Minty Apr 4 at 3:49
  • Typically, I see "foreign language" used to mean a language I don't speak, or in education, where the more modern term, in the US at least, is now "world languages." – aparente001 Apr 5 at 3:54
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    ... As stated by @Robusto above, "foreign [has] different meanings depending on context". – TrevorD Apr 5 at 23:06