I was creating some synonyms for tags yesterday, and I created the tag syntax as a synonym for word-order. I wonder, though, if it should be the other way around. Syntax is the linguistic term that deals with matters of word order that these questions are generally about; it is a more accurate term. Should we try to set these sort of terms as the default? So, if we did that, then we'd want syntax over word-order... and going further, phonology over pronunciation, morphology over word-formation?

What do people think about the type of terminology we should have in our tags?


I think there is value in distinguishing questions about pronunciation (“Is ‘forte’ pronounced ‘fort’ or ‘for-tay’?”) from questions about phonology (“Sounding ‘æ’ vs. ‘ɛ’ in English phonology”), so I wouldn’t support making those two tag synonyms.

I think that the “plain English” terms (‘pronunciation’, ‘word-order’) should be used for questions about particular concrete examples of words or constructions, whereas the linguistics terms (‘phonology’, ‘syntax’, ‘morphology’) should be saved for questions about processes and generalities about the English language. Therefore in my opinion the question about the Great Vowel Shift (“Written English Vowels are Odd”) should have the ‘phonology’ tag, whereas the question “Pronunciation of comparable” is fine to keep the ‘pronunciation’ tag. I do think the question “Is there a difference between the pronunciation of a teenager, and the pronunciation of an adult?” should probably be tagged with the ‘phonology’ tag and not the ‘pronunciation’ tag.

  • I think phonetics safely captures pronunciation, but that question (æ vs. ɛ) blurs into phonology a bit. – Charlie Aug 25 '10 at 20:35
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    I see what you mean, nohat, although it seems like it might be hard to find the line between warranting the technical term and the general term in many cases. But I'm certainly willing to see how things play out. – Kosmonaut Aug 26 '10 at 1:31
  • So, would you say that word-origin and origin should be synonyms, but etymology should not? – Kosmonaut Aug 26 '10 at 10:35
  • @Kosmonaut: My 2¢: etymology and word-origin should indeed be synonyms. I don't any distinct use for both, and "etymology" is sufficiently well-known a word outside of linguist circles anyway. – Jonik Aug 26 '10 at 15:01

I think that people asking pronunciation questions in particular are unlikely to know the technical term, so I think I'd be more likely to go less technical (at least on that one).

  • That's a fair point, but questions can and should be retagged. – Charlie Aug 25 '10 at 20:36

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