I have just edited the tag wiki for and have found in the 'related tags' section the tag .

is about

Questions about conversations between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or film.

and is

For questions related to conversation or speech

What separates the two tags?
Should they be merged?

  • Conversation is unscripted. Dialogue is a scripted interaction which is designed to look like conversation. Subtle difference, maybe; but there is a difference.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 19:37
  • @AndrewLeach Is there not some appropriate hypernym then? At the moment neither tag has very many uses and so it might be worth fusing them. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 21:09
  • You can't do hypernyms with tags, only synonyms. And these two tags are definitely different.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 21:13
  • @AndrewLeach I see your point, could you post that as an answer? Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


You're right the two tags are related — as indeed the system shows.

  • Conversation is an unscripted interaction between two or more persons.

  • Dialogue, as "a feature of a book, play or film," is a scripted interaction designed to look like a conversation.

The two tags are not synonyms: the scripted nature of one which is absent in the other is an important difference. Conversation is off-the-cuff, unconsciously spoken, while dialogue has had a third party consider it carefully in order that it appears to be instinctive. In reality, it's anything but.

Thus the dialogue of spoken conversation in JK Rowling's Harry Potter books, for example (about which we have had a number of questions) is not the same as conversation which real children have in the schoolyard1.

Nor is there a hypernym available. The tagging system doesn't handle hierarchies; it's only able to make equivalences at the same level. If we invented a hypernym like and then linked both and to it, all three would become synonyms. The synonym system is designed to help with common misspellings like dialog for dialogue, or with alternative terms like spelling and orthography.

1 Sorry, Harry Potter isn't real. Perhaps that should have been in spoiler markup.

  • Can you expand on how the scriptedness is an important distinction? I'm not sure I see anything of significance in it.
    – Hellion
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 13:08
  • @H Trying to explain subtle differences isn't always straightforward. Perhaps the current revision will do?
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 13:47
  • Much better, thanks. :-)
    – Hellion
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 14:28
  • What do you mean Harry Potter isn't real?
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 15:18
  • Actually, there is technically only one party dictating all of the dialogue in most written stories: The other two are just figments of that first party's imagination. This is probably the most important distinction, as dialogue can be quite unnatural if the sole party considering it, did not consider English As She Is Spoke adequately. Less importantly, with some reluctance, I should add that dialog is arguably a variation spelling of dialogue, like donut is to doughnut, rather than an outright misspelling.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 11:15

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