Happy to take stab at helping us speak a common language.
I think the term “Tone Mapping” and “Tone Mapping Operator” largely comes from the computer graphics side of the coin whereas in historical terminology the topic as a whole is referred to as “Tone Reproduction” and the “Tone Reproduction Curve”. Where the former is largely used in the context of Image to Image “mapping”: HDR EXR to SDR JPEG for example. Whereas the latter definition is largely used in reference to Scene to Image “reproduction”, where both the Scene and resulting Image have “Tone” or “Tone Scale”, but the objective quality metric is the “reproduction” of “Tone” from one domain to another.
I’m sure you could point out many examples of each term used in an alternative manner, but that’s generally how I would look at it.
The term “Tone” its self is not scientific. There is a reason this does not show up in any color appearance models, nor the CIE Vocabulary (e-ILV | CIE), it is exclusive to the media/imaging community.
I would place the origin of this concept in our community/domain first to Hurter and Driffield and their pioneering work on sensitometry, and later to L.A. Jones for his investigation of Tone Reproduction across the full imaging chain. I’ll leave it to the reader to explore the works of these individuals.
Specifically with respect to Jones and his 1920 “On the theory of tone reproduction, with a graphic method for the solution of problems” (https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-0032(20)92118-X). He defines the problem space as “…the extent to which it is possible by the photographic process to produce a pictorial representation of an object which will, when viewed, excite in the mind of the observer the same subjective impression as that produced by the image formed on the the retina when the object its self is observed…”. He then goes on to say “The proper reproduction of brightness and brightness differences…is of preeminent importance…”. Brightness does have a definition in the color science community, to quote Fairchild “…visual sensation according to which an area appears to emit more or less light”. Jones utilises an explicit simplifying assumption, which I believe is largely implicit in most discussions of “Tone Curves” or “Tone Mapping Operators”. That is, that all objects in the scene are non-selective, and the imaging forming mechanism is also non-selective. Non-selective meaning it absorbs/reflects all incident electromagnetic energy equally. He uses this simplification because “under such conditions values of visual brightness are directly proportional to photographic brightness.”
There are of course deviations in perceived brightness of the scene and reproduction with respect to many factors, reflective selectivity being one of them, that breaks the simplifying assumption. However, the simplifying assumption is used both for convenience, and to focus analysis on the primary principal component of Image Reproduction, or more specifically Tone Reproduction. With the added assumption that the dominant illuminant in the scene and the image viewing environment is the adopted illuminant, you could call this problem space more specially “Neutral Scale Tone Reproduction”.
All that to say, “Tone Reproduction” is largely focused on the reproduction of Scene brightness (and relative brightness) of non-selective objects onto a non-selective Image medium.
I would argue that the implicit assumption (of neutrality/ non-selectivity) is generally held by most that discuss the topic, and that rather the reference to “Film” is significantly more vague and less defined than “Tone”. “Film” being an incredibly varied and complex quantum mechanical piece of technology with over a century’s worth of innumerable manifestations. “Film” has done many things, from image my teeth at the dentist, help prove Einstein’s general theory of relativity, to being scratched with a knife by an animator and projected.
We would do well to define “Film” in the same rigour as “Tone”, because I don’t believe the objective here is to emulate a single batch of a single brand of photo-chemical film processed on a certain day.