Summary: de-DE-1996 is better than de-1996-DE

Martin Duerst
Sat, 27 Apr 2002 00:15:36 +0900

Dear language specialists,

Rather than continuing too much on the current threads, I have
tried to sum up the arguments for my (and others') position
that de-DE-1996 is better than de-1996-DE (not necessary in a
particular order):

- In various fields of discourse (e.g. food, legal), the differences
   between DE/AT/CH break mutual intellegibility. There is no such thing
   for the difference between 1996 and 1901.

- The difference between DE/AT/CH is relevant in speech and writing
   (don't confuse this difference with dialects); the difference
   between 1996 and 1901 is only relevant in writing.

- People (and in some cases systems, see Torsten's Mozilla example)
   are already used to see the country identifier in second place.
   Indeed, the specification says that a two-letter code in second
   place is a country code. It is knowledge that we can and should

- At least between DE/AT on the one hand and CH on the other hand,
   there are clear orthographic differences (the absence of the sharp s
   in the CH variant) in both 1901 and 1996 orthographies.
   [And no, the sharp s hasn't been abolished in DE-1996 and AT-1996,
   only reduced in usage.] So even a model that puts orthography before
   vocabulary doesn't give a clear preference for putting the years first.

- HTTP content negotiation. This is designed so that it is easy to
   match a request for de-CH with a document labeled as de-CH-foo,
   but not easy to match a request for de-CH with a document
   labeled de-foo-CH. While I guess that both content negotiation
   on DE/AT/CH and on 1996/1901 will be relatively rare, I think the
   case for negotiation on DE/AT/CH is significantly stronger than the
   case for negotiation on 1996/1901.

- At this time of change, the difference between the orthographies
   receives considerable attention. In a few years, as a few years
   ago, this difference will be mostly forgotten. The country-specific
   differences won't disappear very soon, and won't get forgotten.

- There has been a claim that all authors write with the intent
   of either using 1901 or 1996 orthography. That's probably true
   for people publishing and for schoolchildren. Otherwise, people
   don't consiously write to a specific orthography the same way
   they don't write conciously to a specific vocabulary.

Regards,   Martin.