Mon, 3 Jun 2002 14:18:53 -0500

On 06/03/2002 11:43:02 AM Harald Tveit Alvestrand wrote:

>Isn't there any reference ANYWHERE which talks about what should or should
>not be considered "American Spanish"?
>if not, I suggest you add to "any other relevant information" that:
>"this tag is supposed to be a collective tag for the language variants
>es-mx, es-ar, es-sv, es-ni, ........" - you complete the list.....

I think this would not be a good thing to do, since it assumes some
understanding of what it means to be a collective tag and what collective
tags are useful for, neither of which is specified anywhere. The problem
with simply saying "this is a collective tag for es-mx, es-ar, etc" is that
it leaves users and implementers completely without direction as to how it
should be used. Without any constraints, it amounts to introducing
something that's a partial synonym to several other things, with everyone
left to decide when to or not to count things as equivalent. (Some have
felt strongly that we need to avoid synonyms on the basis that they will
only create problems in implementation. Quasi synonyms would make things
even worse.)  As I mentioned in an earlier message, I don't have any
objection to "es-americas" provided it is stated clearly what is meant by
it and what kinds of appropriate usage are envisioned for it.

For instance, should it be appropriate for a user to indicate their
language preference as "es-americas" and for a server to deliver content
tagged as "es-mx" or "es-ar" or etc. -- whichever is available? Probably
not. If data is tagged as country specific, e.g. "es-ar", then that likely
implies that it uses vocabulary or other forms of usage peculiar to
Argentina and that it would not necessarily be fully understood by people
from other countries. Of course, a user may not be concerned about such
dialectal issues. But if that's the case, then they would probably specify
their preferences as "es" and not "es-americas" -- I suspect it's pretty
unlikely that someone might have no problems whatsoever with variations
from anywhere within the Americas but then get hung up on differences
between the Americas and Spain (or elsewhere).

It's my understanding that the usage for which this is being requested is
more the opposite: people in the localisation industry want to create
content that will work across the Americas, meaning that if a user
indicates a language preference of "es-mx" or "es-ar" or etc. then a server
should match that against content that has been tagged as "es-americas" --
and that this is appropriate precisely because the content has been
tailored to make it work reasonably well for users throughout the region --
the language used in the content is like a least common denominator of all
the dialects of the Americas, so to speak.

So, I would not be in favour of Harald's specific suggestion, but I agree
that something needs to be said about what the proposed tag is supposed to
mean. I don't think the request should be accepted without added

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <>