[OT but brief] ISO 5218 (was: Re: Pinyin)

Lang Gérard gerard.lang at insee.fr
Thu Sep 25 16:14:15 CEST 2008

Dear Doug Ewell,

Sure I know ISO 5218, and in fact the "national  french natural identification for natural persons number" was "invented" in 1941 (so far before ISO 5218 was published)
by the statistical national service, and became social security identifier only in 1946. 
I only wanted to show that, even if you seriously write and think that some given code scheme has strictly no significance and the same concerning the choice of the considered code elements, you will almost surely find some interest group to think, maybe seriously, that there was an hidden and detrimental intention  in this choice.
And, in fact, there was an hidden intention in the choice of this scheme for this identification number, because this scheme was to serve for mobilization of a secrete army inside a country that was at that time partly occuped by an adverse army (and the considered identification number was effectively used in this way, but only in Algeria !). So, there was an urgent need to make a difference between boys and girls. If this hidden intention can be considered as detrimental for wemen, I really do not know !.
Gérard LANG

-----Message d'origine-----
De : ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no [mailto:ietf-languages-bounces at alvestrand.no] De la part de Doug Ewell
Envoyé : jeudi 25 septembre 2008 14:59
À : ietf-languages at iana.org
Objet : [OT but brief] ISO 5218 (was: Re: Pinyin)

Lang Gérard <gerard dot lang at insee dot fr> wrote:

> For example, the social security identifier in France is a numeric-13 
> number, the fisrt one being 1 for men and 2 for wemen. Andd wemen 
> organizations have protested because 1 is before 2. So, I proposed to 
> choose a digitalization only using bits (0/1), so that the fist digit 
> could be 0 for wemen and 1 for men, and so we have 0 before 1 in the 
> natural order, but this was not accepted.

The convention that 1 = male, 2 = female conforms to ISO 5218, as I'm sure you know.  Probably it was felt better to conform to an existing standard than to invent a conflicting one, a principle which [ObLangtag] we try to follow in BCP 47 as well.

The Wikipedia article on ISO 5218 says, "The standard explicitly states that no significance is to be placed on the fact that male is encoded as
1 and female as 2," so evidently ISO has also faced (or anticipated) criticism over the alleged "priority" of 1 over 2.

Doug Ewell  *  Thornton, Colorado, USA  *  RFC 4645  *  UTN #14
http://www.alvestrand.no/mailman/listinfo/ietf-languages  ^

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