I don't think we need all of the tags: (9 Qs), (20 Qs), (9 Qs), and (20 Qs). I'd like to get it down to one tag that encompasses all these concepts, if possible.

Question: How can we tidy up the [etiquette], [politeness], [social-norm], and [formalities] tags?

By the looks of things there's confusion between "formality" ([noun] relating to etiquette) and "formal" ([adj.] conservative writing, elaborate grammatical structures, etc.). So "formality" is related to "etiquette", but "formal writing" is not (e.g. writing an academic paper), and this tag is being improperly used.

(Edit: I originally included , but I now think that would be incorrect. This is just how to refer to people in Chinese [not necessarily about politeness, etc.].)

For the broader context, there are related tags: (3 Qs), (4 Qs), (5 Qs) (which looks like it should be merged into (19 Qs)), and (24 Qs).

Even thought it's long, it's useful to have the lists of questions for comparison (and for the record):

  • 1
    I'm not very good with names but I can try to give some ideas. Maybe I would keep social-norm instead of etiquette, politeness, and formalities. And I would create the tag formal-language or formal-writing to replace the confusion in the current formalities. I find a bit obscure the term terms-of-address though, I would possibly try to replace it by the introductions tag.
    – Puco4
    Jul 28, 2020 at 9:35
  • 1
    status-planned => (a) some [formalities] questions need to be retagged first, then (b) I intend to merge/synonym-ize them all into [politeness] (assuming no one says "hold on a minute" in the meantime). I don't think it matters much what it's called; blackgreen makes a reasonable argument (and there are more [politeness] questions than any of the other options)
    – Becky 李蓓 Mod
    Jul 30, 2020 at 12:09
  • 1
    It looks like we should have a tag meaning something like [formal]... umm... there is a [casual] tag already (which basically means [informal]). Hmm
    – Becky 李蓓 Mod
    Jul 30, 2020 at 12:14
  • There's also the [congratulations] tag (4 questions) which probably could be merged into [politeness]
    – blackgreen
    Aug 2, 2020 at 22:26
  • I'm not sure if "congratulations"-realted questions like What's the difference between 恭喜發財 and 恭禧發財? or Etymology behind the phrase 恭喜发财 (Kung Hei Fat Choy) and its usage during Chinese New Year? work well as [politeness]. There is a [greetings] tag too. And [introductions]. They don't feel all that different.
    – Becky 李蓓 Mod
    Aug 3, 2020 at 6:28
  • @Becky李蓓 what about [terms-of-address]? Kind of narrow, also a merge candidate for [politeness]
    – blackgreen
    Aug 6, 2020 at 9:07
  • I took a look at those when I originally wrote this post, but thought they were sufficiently different. They're about terms of address like 大姐 and 学哥 and 外婆. (At this stage, I'm mostly trying to stick to the the most obvious tag changes.)
    – Becky 李蓓 Mod
    Aug 6, 2020 at 9:42

2 Answers 2


tl;dr [politeness] makes for better UX

I think creating a brand new tag is probably unnecessary, as we already have a few that are more or less viable, and it might confuse people who used them in the past.

I suggest to examine what we have:

  • etiquette: the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

  • politeness: behaviour that is respectful and considerate of other people.

  • social-norm: collective representations of acceptable group conduct as well as individual perceptions of particular group conduct.

  • formalities: the rigid observance of convention or etiquette, strictly conventional behaviour.

"Social norm" seems excessively abstract and marginally related to language. "Formalities", given the definition, can be adequately represented by "etiquette".

So at this point, the choice is between "politeness" and "etiquette", whose meanings overlap.

Personally I prefer "etiquette", as I think it leaves less room for ambiguity.

However I think "politeness" is better for more people. I guess it's more likely that a learner of Chinese, maybe who speaks English as a second language, thinks to themselves: "How can I sound polite in Chinese?", instead of "How do I follow etiquette in China?". Yes, with tag synonyms typing "politeness" may still yield "etiquette" without much friction, but "politeness" is more immediate, and raises less questions ("Is using 您 instead of 你 really about etiquette?", etc.).

I propose to keep "politeness" and synonymize the other ones.


blackgreen already edited the tag wiki, e.g., the tag excerpt says:

For questions about polite expressions, etiquette, formalities, social norms, etc.

I did this:

  1. Merged/synonymized into ; 5 of them had the word "polite" in the title anyway. However, I'm not 100% comfortable with how this question is tagged: Is there any official way to translate Chinese names into English? but maybe it's okay.

  2. Merged/synonymized into . I'm not seeing any problems here.

  3. Renamed to . This refers to formal language (as opposed to informal language), which is distinct from polite language (as opposed to impolite). I feel it's too confusing to call it "formalities", though. I changed the tag excerpt to:

    Questions about formal Chinese, as we might use e.g. in official documents, or when communicating with an employer.

    (feel free to change this; it's just what I thought of at the time of writing). There are many questions which might need this tag.

    There were some questions tagged which were related to "politeness" which I manually edited.

  4. I renamed/synonymized to , partly for symmetry. I changed the tag excerpt to:

    Questions about informal Chinese, e.g., casual talk between friends or relatives.

    (feel free to change this too). Again, there are many questions which might need this tag.

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