Language for taxonomic names

Phillips, Addison addison at
Mon Sep 22 23:30:18 CEST 2008

If you want to go down the path of having a full-fledged language code, your starting point would be to request one from ISO 639. While this list can register primary language subtags, it is frowned upon generally and not permitted until ISO 639 has said "no" already.

If you want to register a variant subtag (your second and third options), you should start by reading the relevant section of RFC 4646. Among other things, variant subtags have content/length restrictions for the subtags themselves and you should have a pretty good idea of what you want the Prefix (i.e. the primary language) to be.

'zxx' has some things to recommend it in that case, such as if you don't wish to perpetuate the idea of these names being "Latin".



Addison Phillips
Globalization Architect -- Lab126

Internationalization is not a feature.
It is an architecture.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:ietf-languages-
> bounces at] On Behalf Of Andy Mabbett
> Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 1:59 PM
> To: ietf-languages at
> Subject: Language for taxonomic names
> Some years ago,, I raised the prospect of a special language code
> for
> the taxonomic names (also called "scientific names" of living
> things:
>    <
> /000576.html>
> These are also sometimes called "Latin names", but are not Latin;
> they
> include many Greek words (or words derived from Greek, with
> Latinised
> endings) and more modern neologisms from any other language, or
> proper
> names. They should not be translated as though in Latin
> Discussion petered out, both due to digression discussing the
> admittedly
> frivolous examples I gave, and because personal circumstances
> prevented
> my further involvement at the time.
> The issue arose again recently:
>    <
> June/027271.html>
> on Taxacom, the mailing list for discussion of taxonomy in the
> digital
> era, and several options were considered.
> I would again like to ask for discussion of the matter, and
> suggestions
> for a solution.
> The options would seem to be (listed in my order of preference) to
> treat
> taxonomic names as being in:
>     *    a unique language, say "tax"/ "tx"; or "bio"
>     *    a sub-set of Latin la-tx
>     *    a "zxx" case, say "zxx-taxo"
> The first of these has the advantage of resolving at the highest
> level,
> to something unique to taxonomic names, and would allow for subsets
> for
> the taxonomic codes:
>     *    tx-icbn
>     *    tx-iczn
> (some on Taxacom argued that these are separate "languages"; see
> also
> <> &
> <> - though that's not a view I
> share.)
> I'm open to other suggestions, also.
> Thank you.
> --
> Andy Mabbett
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> Ietf-languages at

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