How does one decide which tag to use:

  • History: Questions about the history and trends of the English language
  • Historical Change: For questions about how the English language has changed over time.

The difference between "history and trends" and "how … changed over time" is too subtle. These descriptions sound like rewordings of each other, and there doesn't seem to be any significant difference between them.

  • Most of the tabs are rewordings of other tabs; there is no rational or scientific principle of organization, so looking for one is not a good use of attention, I'm afraid. Pay no attention to the tabs here; they sort of work but they don't help and they don't make sense. Mar 1, 2021 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


The two different versions presented below were written to draw deliberate attention to the historical changes which the lexicon of English, and in a few places its syntax, has undergone following the historical event of William’s Conquest in 1066, for no other event in our language’s long history has brought so much change to our language as that one did.

On tallying the toll of years

We don’t know; there likely is no unsameness for you to tease out between them. Did you see how some seven-and-fifty of those askings come clad with not one but indeed both your two tags? As with all ELU’s tags, our folk have always put these to a bubbling hotchpot of misfired goals all unalike.

I bid a mingling of the twain that would leave us one named tag in their stead, for I do not know how best to sift free the shiny seeds of those tags from the unwanted chaff that wraps and hides them.

First we had best hone this new tag’s meaning, no? Shall we not try to say here and now what we wish this tag to be for, if we can? Rightly speaking, what shall we hold the “history” of English to be for us?

Is it that tale begun by the Ænglisc-sprǽcende boaters who leaving their homelands in the eastern marshes dared the narrow sea to reach Britain anent fond hopes that they might settle those lands left fallow after the crumbling western “Imperium” of Old Rome had little by little withdrawn from them, whether these had been wholly emptied or otherwise?

Is it the tale spun of their tongue alone, or is it also to be that of their folk as well?

I foresee your answer will be that it is to be of their tongue alone, but even this leaves much turf untilled. Is it about how their writings looked once we had foregone our forefathers’ ᚠᚢᚦᚨᚱᚲ for that way of writing followed by the “Romans” who had lingered long in those lands before we roamed thither? Shall it be only of the words, whether those be spoken or written, or shall it also be of their meanings? Even so, then for either end I can but deem our clearly-Greek tag “etymology” well and good, and enough.

Or is it also to be about the many shifting ways these words have come to be put together as Father Time has worked his whittling ways upon our living tongue as it has grown, such as by setting first one word before the other but then later only the other before the first, as well as how these ways have themselves wandered wide over the strands of tide and time?

I take it that this should also be about their sounds, right?

What would you have us do about all this? It is, after all, your very own webhome to do with as you will or nill.

On accounting for the ages’ changes

Good question! There’s probably no real difference for you to discern between members of the pair. Did you notice how some fifty-seven of those questions were labelled with not just one but both your two tags? As with all ELU’s tags, people have always chosen them really randomly according to whatever purpose had suited them at the moment. They’re really all just circumstantial accidents that have already occurred. Don’t imagine they signify anything profound.

I suggest we simply merge the two tags so that just one would remain, because I’ve really got no idea how to separate the desirable kernels we would see retained from the bland exteriors enclosing them that we’d rather discard.

First we should decide what we prefer this new tag to be used for, no? Properly speaking, what shall we consider a theoretical question-tag about the changing history of English to denote in our site’s context?

Is it the story that commenced when those initial English-speaking inhabitants departed their villages from the humid terrain to our east to traverse the channel separating Europe from Britain, aspiring to establish new domains left unguarded after the Western Roman Empire disintegrated and gradually departed, even when that didn’t leave the countryside completely unpeopled?

Is it the history of their language alone, or should it also be the history of their people whose many arrivals and departures have so altered our language’s subjacent and its surface textures alike?

I anticipate your response will be that it’s supposed to just be about their language only, not those using it, but even this provides too much terra incognita. Is it about the language of the scribes who copied ancient manuscripts after we’d discarded our ancestors’ runic alphabet in favor of the Latin script used by the local Romanized middle-class that preëxisted before we emigrated to those places? Shall it be only of the forms written or spoken, or should it also extend to cover their various denotational or connotational senses? If so, I lament to report that I must judge our current Greek-looking etymology label sufficient for such purposes.

Or is it also to be about the changing syntax of how to assemble pieces of words and entire words in toto to produce more extensive phrases and sentences as immortal Chronos has manipulated our nascent language like changing the normal orderings we use to place our words in, and how those strategies and traditions have evolved across the aeons?

I assume this should also be about their pronunciations, right?

What would you prefer for us to do about all this? It is, after all, your very own website to do whatever your please with, however this should prove to suit your fancy or fable.


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