Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c RESUBMISSION

CE Whitehead cewcathar at
Mon Jan 22 23:13:57 CET 2007

>From: Addison Phillips <addison at>
>To: CE Whitehead <cewcathar at>
>CC: ietf-languages at
>Subject: Re: Request for variant subtag fr 16th-c 17th-c RESUBMISSION
>Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 12:02:06 -0800
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>I think you missed my point. I'm not arguing that there isn't a
>difference. Or that language isn't variable or hasn't evolved etc. I don't 
>mean to show disregard for the variations of French. It's just that they 
>aren't what concerns me here: I have no doubt such variations are real and 
>exist. Very similar kinds of things can be said of (for example) English: 
>the English of Shakespeare, for example, is typically "translated" into a 
>more modern form, despite being considered to be "modern English" (as 
>contrasted with Middle English). It doesn't matter, since I'm not debating 
>or disagreeing with the distinction. My point was that it wasn't clear what 
>to do looking ONLY at the requested records (as a registry user would do).
>In particular, I note that you don't need the subtags '1606nict' and 
>'1694acad' to distinguish late Middle French from early modern French 
>documents. 'fr' and 'frm' do that quite nicely.
>If the point of '1694acad' is to distinguish "Early Modern French" from
>more modern "Modern French", that's fine. But the distinction (perhaps
>necessarily) is quite fuzzy: some documents will be closer to Middle
>French and some closer to Modern French (or proto-modern French) and so
>forth. Your registration request seems more focused on differentiating
>these documents from "late middle" documents. Similarly, the point of
>'1606nict' would be to distinguish "Late Middle French" from "regular"
>Middle French. Tagging transitional documents is tricky business already
>(there is an element of--perhaps arbitrary--judgment necessary).

Hi, thanks for your reply.  It makes some sense.
Note that French from the time of the Pleiade until some point in the 17th 
century (depending on the author) was of almost one kind; and quite distinct 
from frm in the 15th century (Villon).  Yet I was told we did not want to 
blur this distinction and I agree as there are differences still between the 
16th and 17th century documents; in the 17th century documents the French 
may be less stable at times, with language elements harking back to the 15th 
century and evidence of more modern spelling/pronunciation.

The 1694 subtag can apply to all 17th century documents but is meant 
specifically to apply above all to those that are outside of the various 
literary salons.
Perhaps this needs a comment.

>Identifying language variation is a tricky business below a certain
>level of granularity. For most uses, these subtags will be unnecessary.

I think they will prove useful.
>But certain communities will find some utility in them. The
>problem is creating sufficiently clear descriptions and distinctions to
>allow them to be generally useful in those domains. And, for registration 
>purposes, demonstrating that there won't be many other potential subtags 
>with different (perhaps arbitrary) distinctions for this same time period 
>(that is, register quickly and repent at leisure).
Students of French will certainly appreciate the 17th century subtag I think 
as the differences between some of it and modern French might be confusing.
>Finally, I would echo Doug's response, which is that the Description fields 
>are extremely long: they are more suitable for Comments. And I would avoid 
>placing URIs into your comments/description, since URIs tend to be fungible 
>over time (the "Cool URIs" dictum [1] notwithstanding)
>If I were to request these records, I would tend to make them look more 
>like the below. Note the omission of additional notes such as "used in 
>Americas", "not completely stable" and so forth: these things go without 
>saying or belong in external references. Note also that I removed the 
>additional bits from the subtags--I would suggest that these might not be 
>necessary and the year-only subtags have at least some history in the 
>registry for indicating beginnings/ends of orthographic regimes:
>Type: Variant
>Subtag:  1694
>Description: Early Modern French
>Prefix: fr
>Comments: 17th century French, as catalogued in the "Dictionnaire de
>    l'académe françoise", 4eme ed. 1694; frequently includes
>    elements of Middle French, as this is a transitional period
>Type: Variant
>Subtag: 1606
>Description: Late Middle French (before 1606?)
>Prefix: frm
>Comments: 16th century French as in Jean Nicot, "Thresor de
>    la langue francoyse" 1606;
Thanks Addison!
These requests look great.

Best wishes
>Globalization Architect -- Yahoo! Inc.
>Internationalization is an architecture.
>It is not a feature.

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