German Orthography language codes

J.Wilkes jwilkes@metabit.com
Wed, 6 Feb 2002 21:17:51 +0100


On 6 Feb 02, at 20:37, Torsten Bronger wrote:

> I propose the language tag "de-DE-1996" for contents written in German
> and using the new orthography introduced in Germany in 1996.
> 
> Since it was also introduced in its neighbour countries Austria and
> Switzerland, the subtag "de-AT-1996" denotes the Austrian variant.
> 
> "trad" as the second subtag means traditional orthography:
> "de-DE-trad" and "de-AT-trad".
> 
> If no second subtag is given, there is no default; if the interpreter
> is aware of the variants, it may use heuristic methods to choose
> between them, or assume new orthography.

I support this proposal.
A reason for me to join this mailing list was to find out whether such a 
separate tag is reasonable and how to introduce it.
 
I had - and have - some difficulties with naming the respective tags; 
however, I feel "-trad" is the right suffix for the traditional orthography.
I can't think of anything better (that is, neutral), so -1996 is fine with me 
as well. 

It may be of interest that the new orthography does not only introduce 
differents spellings, but also ambiguities and changes in meaning to 
some words and phrases. This may be not intended, but is factual 
nevertheless. 
Therefore, having a more precise tagging will help both human readers 
and software.


> Some comments:
> 
> I convert XML files to high-level LaTeX.  Therefore I have to map XML
> language codes onto LaTeX identifiers.  With the above codes, I could
> cover the whole of LaTeX's language capabilities.  (E.g., it loads
> different hyphenation patterns for both orthographies.)
> 
> The traditional spelling is not only used in legacy documents, it's
> still the official variant in Schleswig-Holstein, the northest part of
> Germany.  Besides, many people stick to the old form.

Also, all documents and literature written before 1996 abide by the 
traditional orthography. In many cases, a transformation into the new 
orthography could deform the meaning, especially with poetry.
Changes in punctuation rules have severe impact on documents where 
exact meaning is important, as legal documents. Laws or contracts 
written before 1996 will get a different interpretation if read as de-DE-
1996.
 
> Although it's highly unlikely, the use of a year subtag allows for
> further reforms or revisions of the last one.  However, covering
> orthographies before the digital age is way beyond language codes, so
> "trad" is fully sufficient.
> 
> I can't say anything about de-CH though, because I don't know what it
> means.  The reform was also enforced in Switzerland, but there is a
> Helvetician variant of German in existence that uses *very* different
> vocabulary anyway.

I don't know either whether SchwyzerdŁtsch is de-CH; its SIL code is s-
GSW.
 

Johannes Wilkes, Bonn, Germany.