Proposal: Language code "de-DE-trad"

Mark Crispin MRC@CAC.Washington.EDU
Wed, 13 Feb 2002 12:32:41 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 13 Feb 2002 21:26:35 +0100, Torsten Bronger wrote:
> > If this is the case, then how did this come to be adopted?  The German
> > speaking nations are all (presumably) democracies, which presumably also
> > means that their respective governments can't get away with something like
> > this.
> Sometimes the government doesn't ask.  And since it wasn't about taxes,
> there wasn't enough protest to make it undone.
> <suppressanger>presumably...</suppressanger>

Don't be angry.  Governments, and their unilateral actions, are the enemy.
Not people.

This isn't well known in Europe, but the US government officially metrified
the US in 1866.  That's right, 146 years ago.  Entire generations of American
schoolchildren have been indoctrinated about how wonderful metric is, but it
hasn't changed the fact that the American people are opposed to metrification
and will not allow it to happen.

Not that metric confuses us: when we see a bolt that looks like a 5/16, but is
too big for the wrench, yet is sloppy with a 3/8 wrench, we know perfectly
well that it's an 8mm and we get out our metric tools.  We know that when
we're in Canada, a 100 km/h speed limit sign means 60 MPH, a 40 km/h sign
means 25 MPH, etc.

The point being that governments can't get away with doing something like this
in a democracy unless the people let them.  I think that it's quite important
to this discussion to understand if this new orthography is going to succeed,
or if the people of the affected nations are going to render it into an
impotent joke (much like the metrification of the US).

If the new orthography turns out to be a joke, then the chosen names of the
language codes should reflect that.  No matter what we, or any governments,
may have to say about it, the people will use the most convenient name for
their way of expressing German.  And what is the "most convenient name" may
not necessarily be obvious.

> > And if this is the case, what is the likelihood that the government after
> > the next elections will toss it out?
> None.  It's difficult to explain, but such things go a very long way.

I understand the reluctant to tackle reform again in the wake of a failure;
but what barrier would there be to the next government in some number of the
(three?) affected countries saying "it was a mistake, we're tossing it out and
retaining the old status quo"?  In other words, bowing to what the people have
already decided?

I'm sorry if this question sounds stupid.  At least in the US, it can happen
that the government announces a change to something, and is compelled to back

> > What are the substantive differences that would be noticed by, say,
> > someone who studied German for 3 years in high school 28 years ago?
> Not very substantial, but recognisable.  My estimate is that every fourth
> sentence contains a difference.  But that's just a rough guess.

Can you give me any examples?  I think that I remember hearing something about
ess-tset being abolished?  That would probably sadden some American kids, who
remember their pride at finally mastering the arcane rules of when you can use
ess-tset...  :-)

Put another way; suppose I (the person who studied German for 3 years 28 years
ago) tried to compose text in German.  I know that I'd make grammar and
vocabulary choices that would mark it as "not the work of a native speaker."
But what mistakes would be made in terms of the new orthography, assuming that
I don't hyphenate?

I'd like to understand what these changes are.