Randy Presuhn randy_presuhn at
Wed Sep 24 22:42:32 CEST 2008

Hi -

> From: "Phillips, Addison" <addison at>
> To: "David Starner" <prosfilaes at>
> Cc: <ietf-languages at>; "John Cowan" <cowan at>
> Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 1:15 PM
> Subject: RE: Pinyin
> No. I think that's the point Randy is trying to make. A subtag that means,
> ambiguously, just 'pinyin' can have an implied additional meaning 
> derived from surrounding subtags.

But in this particular case, we started out with a request for a narrowly
and precisely defined variant, namely the Hanyu Pinyin orthography of
Mandarin.  The rest of this discussion has been about broadening
the variant's definition to cover more-or-less related orthographies and other
languages.  I'm guessing that this was a result of a desire to get as
much mileage as possible from the mnemonicity of the subtag "-pinyin",
rather than any specific use cases.

> What is key here for me is whether this distinction is actually important
> for the requesters or others who would use the subtag. If, in practice, the
> only thing that matters is "it's in Latin script and it isn't Wade-Giles", then
> 'pinyin' does that just fine.

Only if that is what "-pinyin" is defined to mean.  I have a hard time imagining
how such a semantic could be useful.  If I cared enough about the material's
orthographies to segregate out the Wade-Giles, I'd also want to be  able to
distinguish the Hanyu Pinyin from other forms.   If anything, I'd find a choice
between "Hanyu Pinyin" and "Everything Else Latn" to be more useful.
But the request, as I recall, was *much* more precisely defined than simple
"Latin script and not Wade-Giles."  It was for Hanyu Pinyin of Mandarin.

A large percentage of the traffic on this list seems to be a direct result
of folks reading too much into the mnemonic value of subtags.  Perhaps
4646-bis should encourage only non-mnemonic registrations, to avoid
repeated waste of time.  But that would be a discussion for ltru at,
not here, and it's really too late to be opening up that kind of discussion


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