1. Wikipedia uses Hiberno-English as the canonical form and uses Irish English as the autolinked-to synonym for the same thing.
  2. IrishEnglish with a dash and Irish-English with a hyphen are two different things, a fine distinction that we cannot represent in tags due to lack of en-dash support. In contrast, Hiberno-English suffers no such ambiguity.
  3. No matter which of or is chosen as the canonical form, those should not be two different tags; one should be the synonym of the other.

I’ve gone through and retagged all the questions tagged with Irish-English to be tagged with Hiberno-English. I’ve also spruced up its tag wiki and excerpt a wee bit.

Could we therefore please have a tag synonym/merge/magical-alias created so that whenever someone types in “Irish English” for a tag, this gets automagically retagged to “Hiberno-English” instead?

Background and Reasoning:

The canonical name for this on Wikipedia is Hiberno-English, which is why I chose that version of the tag. Now, they do recognize the synonym: if you look up Irish English on Wikipedia, you will notice how it automatically redirects you to the Hiberno-English link. All I’m asking if for us to have the same sort of aliasing that they do, to help prevent confusion.

Why they should have chosen the H-version as the canonical form and the I-version as the synonym — rather than vice versa — I cannot say for sure. I only know that is what they have done, and it seems sensible enough to me.

Certainly the word Irish used alone when referring to language leaves it ambiguous whether it’s an English tongue or a Celtic one that’s under discussion. Imagine if you are talking “Irish–English relations”, like “US–UK relations”: both of those are talking about two different countries, and it is asking a lot for people to tell the difference between an en dash and a hyphen in Irish–English compared with Irish-English (Plus our tagset doesn’t support dashes, only hyphens.) With “Hiberno-English”, no such ambiguity exists, so for that reason if no other it seems the preferable term.

I don’t actually care particularly strongly just which one of Hiberno-English or Irish English winds up being the canonical version. I just think that because the two terms do in fact here on ELU refer to the same thing, there should not be two distinct tags for the same thing. That requires a tag synonym and a merge.

I did the work of the retagging because there were questions in both tags, but I don’t strongly care how it reads provided that the two spellings go to the same place. This is exactly what tag synonyms are for. But because there are only a couple of dozen questions with this tag, we don’t have the power as tagsyn voters to effect this change. That’s why this is a support request for moderatorial intervention.

If people have an allergy to Hiberno-English as “too fancy” and don’t care that “Irish-English” is ambiguous in a way that the former term is not, so be it. There still should be only a pair of synonyms. But those same people will probably also next request that the Orthography tag and its tag-synonym Spelling have their canonicity reversed.

  • 4
    What was wrong with 'Irish-English'?
    – Mitch
    Dec 8, 2014 at 2:00
  • 1
    @Mitch: Both tags existed, so I am trying to merge them. I flipped a coin.
    – tchrist Mod
    Dec 8, 2014 at 2:59
  • 3
    I'm going to ask, knowing that I risk being ridiculed but I don't see the difference in meaning between Irish—English and its hyphenated version Irish-English. If the tags make no distinction between a dash and a hyphen, where is the problem? I would also have thought a tag called gaelic-celtic would take care of any ambiguities that an Irish tag (if it exists) might have.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 8, 2014 at 15:57
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Irish–English refers to something that relates to both England and Ireland and is thus comparable to Brazilian–Mexican or US–UK or Chinese–Japanese. Irish English means ‘English as it is spoken in Ireland’ and is comparable to American English or British English. Since tags have to be one word per tag and hyphens are used as word separators, the tag ends up being called irish-english, even though it’s really two words. Dec 8, 2014 at 16:57
  • 2
    @JanusBahsJacquet fine, I get that Irish-English is ELU's tag system for writing "Irish English". Whenever I have written the full form of BrEng (Some prefer BE) it been two words without the hyphen. I'm asking about the difference in meaning between the hyphen and the dash, in Irish—English and Irish-English. A difference which tags cannot account for.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 8, 2014 at 17:14
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Irish is a language in its own right, a Celtic tongue. The Hiberno- prefix, in contrast, is not.
    – tchrist Mod
    Dec 9, 2014 at 5:54
  • Yes, I'm aware that Irish is a language. That's why I suggested a gaelic-celtic tag that specifically refers to the Irish and Scottish languages and avoids any misunderstanding that an Irish tag (which is currently non-existent) might create.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 9, 2014 at 6:07
  • Re typo in “I only that that”, I can correct it to “I only thot that” if you like :) Dec 11, 2014 at 17:31

2 Answers 2


As requested by tchrist:

Unlike Hugo, I would prefer Hiberno-English as the main tag.

Within the field of linguistics (as applied to Ireland and her languages in particular), Hiberno-English (or Hibernian English) and Irish English are actually two distinct terms with (slightly) different meanings:

  • Hiberno-English is the variant of English that is currently spoken in various dialects on the Emerald Isle (Republic and Northern Ireland)
  • Irish English is English spoken as a second language by native Irish speakers, with all the usual first-language influences that entails.

In other words, a speaker of Hiberno-English is normally a native English speaker (who may or may not even know that a great many of the words they use is of Irish origin), while a speaker of Irish English is not.

Given that ELU is about English, not Irish, Hiberno-English is of greater relevance to our needs.

This distinction is (usually) upheld when dealing with the current status of Irish and English in Ireland today in linguistic articles, etc.; but outside this narrow scope, they are nearly always synonymic, and even linguists who are not specialised in Ireland in particular often use them indiscriminately.

As such, it would be absurdly persnickety and nitpickety of us to have separate, non-synonymic tags for the two here (especially since one of them would be all but useless in our context anyway), and I thus agree entirely with Hugo that they should be synonymised; but I think we should let ourselves be guided by the consensus within the field, even if it isn’t very widely known outside a small field of scholars.

  • 1
    Excellent, except we don't say Emerald Isle. To refer to the geographical unit, just say the island of Ireland.
    – smci
    Dec 10, 2014 at 13:53
  • @smci I can see that you are not a poet.
    – tchrist Mod
    Dec 10, 2014 at 13:55
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    Do you have a citation for the statement that "Irish English" refers to the English of Irish speakers? I've never come across that. Rather I hear both "Irish English" and "Hiberno-English" used in Ireland of the form of English we speak, with some not using the latter for those form that are more influenced by Ulster Scots than by Irish.
    – Jon Hanna
    Dec 15, 2014 at 12:15
  • @Jon I’m afraid I don’t have one at the ready. I think Ó Siadhail in his book on Modern Irish uses Irish English in this way, but it’s been a long while since I read it, and I can’t be quite sure. I’m also fairly sure that in some of Pedersen’s surveys on the Irish of Ros Goill or Tory or some such place, he talks about how Irish English has influenced the local Hiberno-English in modern, recorded times. Apart from that, I come across articles every so often where it’s clear they use the terms this way, but I usually just read and discard them out of incidental interest … Dec 15, 2014 at 12:50
  • Thy wish is granted.
    – tchrist Mod
    Sep 10, 2016 at 23:56
  • It's usual to use Scottish English for English spoken in Scotland (as distinct to Scots or Scottish Gaelic), American English for English spoken in the USA, Indian English for English in the Indian subcontinent, Jamaican English for English spoken in Jamaica (as distinct to Patois/Patwah), etc. I don't see why we need to break from that model for the Irish.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 22 at 10:54

I agree to make the two synonyms.

I'd prefer Irish-English to be the main tag and Hiberno-English to redirect to it, as it's perhaps a bit clearer, but don't mind too much either way.


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