I decided to remove 44 instances of the acceptability tag. I more or less stand behind this decision, though I do acknowledge that there are deeper issues we need to look at before proceeding, and acceptability has a specific meaning:
To talk about "correctness" in language implies that there is some abstract, absolute standard by which words and grammar can be judged; something is either "correct" or "incorrect" -- and that's all there is to that. But the facts of language are not so clean-cut. Instead, many students of usage today prefer to talk about acceptability, that is, the degree to which users of a language will judge an expression as OK will let is use pass without noticing anything out of the ordinary. An acceptable expression is one that people do not object to, indeed do not even notice unless it is called to their attention.
Acceptability is not an absolute, but is a matter of degree; one expression may be judged more or less acceptable than another. "If I were in your shoes" may be judgled more acceptable than "If I was in your shoes," but both are considerably more acceptable than "If we was in your shoes." Moreover, acceptability is not abstract, but is related to some group of people whose response it reflects. Thus most Americans pronounce the past-tense verb ate like eight and regard any other pronunciation as unacceptable. Many Britons, on the other hand, pronounce it as "ett" and find the American preference less acceptable. Acceptability is part of the convention of language use; in talking about it, we must always keep in mind "How acceptable?" and "To whom?"
So then two questions:
- Are either of these tags useful on questions?
- In what circumstances are they useful? (provide example of specific questions, please)