Currently we have the two tags and .

I thought I'd take a crack at making tag wikis for them since I have an intuition of what they mean but for some help with a precise technical definition of each I looked up Wikipedia and found this for Historical linguistics:

Historical linguistics (also called diachronic linguistics) is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:

That seems to make it clear we should merge them but then a few sentences into the page for Language change we have this:

Two linguistic disciplines in particular concern themselves with studying language change: historical linguistics and sociolinguistics.

So is this right that is an umbrella term covering both and ?

Whatever the answer to that, what should we do about these two (or three) overlapping tags?

  • 1
    If you want an umbrella term covering historical linguistics and sociolinguistics, the one I've hear most often is "language change and variation." That covers the diachronic-variation part of sociolinguistics, the changes-in-progress part of sociolinguistics, and also most or all of historical linguistics. Nov 5 '11 at 22:28

Sociolinguistics and historical linguistics clearly do not overlap, so there are not three overlapping tags. Historical linguistics concerns itself with language change in the past and also reconstruction of ancient languages. Sociolinguistics concerns itself with (among other things) presently-occurring language change. So language change is the (or perhaps one) intersection of historical linguistics and sociolinguistics, but not appropriate for merging into either.

  • In that case do you think all three tags are needed or just the two non-intersecting ones? Sep 21 '11 at 7:38
  • 3
    All three. Language change in the historical sense could be interesting to a sociolinguist without them caring as much about the rest of historical linguistics, and vice versa. So the tag should remain to allow people to follow language change questions.
    – Aaron
    Sep 21 '11 at 15:22
  • 3
    And historical linguistics isn't necessarily about language change at all. For instance, a lot of work is done trying to establish the relationships between different languages, and while this might pull on ideas about language change, it doesn't have to. You can ask "How is Basque related to other languages?" or "Where did Basque come from, and how did it come to be an isolate?", and neither has anything directly to do with how Basque has changed.
    – Nathan
    Sep 30 '11 at 16:02

The consensus seems to be that all three tags are distinct and worthwhile, and that's good enough for me.

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