Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c Resubmitted!

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Wed Jan 10 22:17:22 CET 2007

>I'd like to pick up on something Peter Constable said a while back when I
>asked about tagging language varieties which span the boundaries between 
>639 languages.
>I wrote:
><<As a linear list of languages, ISO 639 may divide up varieties which
>belong together from another point of view, and which would be kept 
>in a different linear classification.>>
>and Peter replied:
><<Categories with scope = macrolanguage, as introduced with ISO 639-3, 
>for this very purpose.>>
>At first sight macrolanguages looks like the proverbial sledgehammer for
>this purpose.  But let me guess how it could work (for the historical 
>example we have been considering).  We create a macrolanguage containing
>"fr" and "frm", and probably "fro".  We create a subtag for the overlapping
>area, and make it a subtag of the macrolanguage, but not of fr, frm or fro
>individually.  If allowable, this would seem to meet the need.  It is
>attractive in that it avoids having to tag an overlap text as fr or frm,
>which may appear to the tagger to be a meaningless operation.

But I think that fr can encompass frm and fro because fr is French and 
French does encompass in some sense Old and Middle French.  That's why I 
proposed the tags.
>Is this mechanism technically acceptable?  If so, I suggest we examine the
>consequences of making "16siecle" and "17siecle" subtags of a French
>macrolanguage tag.  If not, had Peter some other macrolanguage mechanism in
>mind?  Otherwise, it will be back to discussion of the subtag method.
>Ciarán Ó Duibhín.

That is a possibility, but we have no other macrolanguage other than fr 
which of course is and is not one maybe.

It's a language foremost in any case, rather than a macro language.

(The point I was making was that some varieties of 16th and 17th century 
French could be classified as variants of the modern language though they 
retained some features of Middle French; and in fact were also variants of 
Middle French to some extent as they fell between the two.)

Thanks for mentioning the macrolanguage option though.

But I don't know what to make of such an option at this point; there are 
many versions of French, the Creoles, etc., and I think the new registry is 
coming out and that should make what tags there are available a bit clearer.

--C. E. Whitehead
cewcathar at

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